Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Don't entrap me, bro!

A long time ago I wrote about the ethical issues involved with police "creating" opportunities for crimes and then arresting people. The examples then were police posing as horny 14 years olds (I really hope I don't get a bunch of search hits from THAT) on the internet or leaving a car parked with the keys in it. Yes, what the people were doing might technically be a crime but there's really no crime to commit unless the police were there setting it up.

Well, apparently police in New York have been leaving bags and wallets at various places in the subway system. An unsuspecting person picks it up and fails to contact the owner and they are under arrest for stealing from the police department. That may seem shady enough but they've now taken it up a notch by adding credit cards to the wallet.
Now the [strategically dropped decoy bags] contain real American Express Cards, issued under pseudonyms to the Police Department. Theft of a credit card is grand larceny, a Class E felony, so anyone cops believe has the intention of stealing the decoy wallet or bag could face up to four years behind bars.

So, you pick up an unattended bag and suddenly you're staring a felony charge in the face? How long exactly do you have to try to find an owner? Apparently not long.
Freelance photographer Carlos Alayo says he was late for a business meeting when he spotted a wallet lying abandoned on a subway platform bench.


He picked it up and put it in his bag, with every intention of later finding its owner, but as he rushed to board the 6 train last Wednesday at Grand Central, he felt a hand on his shoulder.

"Where's the wallet?" the undercover cop asked him.

[snip]

After giving the officers the wallet, he was frisked, made to put his hands against the wall and hand over his identification so they could do a criminal history check.

"It wasn't even crossing my mind what was inside [the wallet]. I was trying to get to my appointment," Alayo said.

"It made me feel like I was a criminal, like I did something wrong. The look on [the cop's] face, it was like he already knew that I was arrested.

"He said, 'Don't lie to me, just tell me how many times you've been arrested.'

"That just stabbed me right there in the heart."

Alayo, who is from Peru, felt the eyes of all the rush-hour commuters on him as he was searched by officers.

"I was so ashamed, my face went red and people were looking," he said.

"God knows what they were thinking, a Spanish guy on the platform surrounded by cops. It made me feel very uneasy inside.

"I've been in this country 17 years and not felt discriminated against until that day," Alayo said.

I can't for the life of me understand how this can possibly be legal.

Also in the linked piece is a bit about more Cops Gone Wild with Tasers. Since 2004 70 people in the US and Canada have died from tasers and police in Wichita just tased a deaf man as he was getting out of the shower. They busted into his home on a false report. The man came out in a towel to see police with their guns pointed at him.
“I kept going to my ear yelling that I was scared. I can’t hear! I can’t hear!”

Officers were worried about their own safety because at the time it appeared Williams was refusing to obey their commands to show his hands. That’s when they shot him with a Taser.

Can't hear? Too bad, we've got tasers and you're just a deaf African-American standing there in a towel. Zap!

Don't want to pay your parking ticket? Zap! Here's a YouTube video of a cop in Utah tasing a guy over a speeding ticket. The guy that got the ticket is an idiot but the cop seemed way too eager and way too proud about tasing this guy.

Then there's "Don't tase me, bro!" guy at the Kerry event. Getting upset with a political figure and then freaking out when police start dragging you out? You better belive that's a zappin'!

I realize these things are supposed to be nonlethal and it can be better than shooting someone with a real gun but that doesn't give you the right to start using it on every asshole you meet.

But, I don't want to just rip on police in this post so I'll finish with some good news from Minnesota. The St. Paul police are apparently taking a sensible approach to this summer's protests at the Republican National Convention.
There will be no police officers infiltrating protest organizations, Bostrom promised. Police will be in uniform, not war-like tactical gear, he said. There will be no contract cops, similar to the Blackwater security forces. St. Paul police, not the Secret Service, will be in charge of policing outside the convention site at Xcel Energy Center.

"The city of St. Paul is a free-speech zone," Bostrom said. "I say that proudly. I was disappointed when I saw what Boston did (in handling protesters at the 2004 Democratic Convention). I don't understand this idea of putting people in a pen someplace so they can express themselves. That's not the way we will do things."

To see what "free speech" looked like in Boston go here.

Anyway, this Bostrom guy seems pretty cool. He's a native of St. Paul and graduate of St. Thomas and says he just wants everyone to leave with a good feeling about the city. And he's also either very committed to taking everything seriously or has a great, dry sense of humor.
To date, Bostrom has shown he's a good listener and extremely patient. For instance, after a long, passionate speech about the "atrocities" committed by the Bush administration, a local career activist had this question:

"Why don't you arrest the criminals inside the convention center and stop worrying about the good people on the streets?"

After listening, without interrupting, Bostrom answered calmly. "So the question is, 'Why don't local police officers make arrests based on international law?' We don't have that authority."

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1 Comments:

Blogger rcombs said...

Damn right- thats Minnesota nice, bitchez.

7:26 PM  

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