Videos of Baltimore Cops Allegedly Planting Evidence Test Body Camera Programs – Rachel M. Cohen August 5 2017, 6:30 a.m.

Baltimore has been wrestling with yet another police scandal. Last month, the city public defender’s office discovered body camera footage showing a local cop placing a bag of heroin in a pile of a trash in an alley. The cop, unaware he was being filmed, walked out of the alley, “turned on” his camera, and went back to “find” the drugs. The cop then arrested a man for the heroin, placed him in jail. The man, who couldn’t afford to post the $50,000 bail, languished there for seven months. He was finally released two weeks ago, after the public defender’s office sent the video to the state attorney.

The officer, Richard Pinheiro, has been suspended with pay, while two other cops in the video have been placed on administrative duty as the investigation pends. More than thirty other cases the three officers were to serve as witnesses for are now being dismissed. On Monday night, the Baltimore Sun reported that the public defender’s office found a second video that appeared to show different cops “manufacturing evidence.” (The second video has not been released.)

Police body camera footage of officer Richard Pinheiro allegedly planting drugs at a crime scene. Courtesy of Baltimore’s Office of the Public Defender

Now, as the credibility of the entire police-worn body camera program is called into question, the public anxiously waits to see if these two videos will actually lead to any sort of consequences. At a press conference on August 2, Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis stressed that the body camera program — which he’s committed to — is still fairly new, and there have been some understandable growing pains as officers adjust to the new technology. “While [those gaps in video footage were] ugly, and while I’m disappointed that officers in these two incidents did not have their cameras on, I think it’s irresponsible to jump to a conclusion that the police officers were engaged in criminal misconduct,” he said, urging the public to withhold its judgment until the investigation is complete.

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An Amazon Echo Can’t Call the Police—But Maybe It Should – EMILY DREYFUSS 07.16.17


Despite what you may have heard, an Amazon Echo did not call the police earlier this week, when it heard a husband threatening his wife with a gun in New Mexico. On Monday, news reports took Bernalillo County authorities’ version of those events credulously, heralding the home assistant as a hero. The alleged act also raised an important question: Do you really want to live in a world where Alexa listens to your conversations, and calls the cops if she thinks things are getting out of hand?

The good news is that you don’t live in that world. Amazon’s Alexa can’t, and did not, call 911. Google Home can’t do it either. No voice-assistant device on the market can. That doesn’t invalidate the core question though, especially as Amazon Echo, Google Home, and their offshoots increasingly gain abilities and become more integral to everyday life. How intrusive do you want to let these devices be? Should they be able to call the police? Maybe not even just when specifically prompted, but because they may have heard, for instance, a gun shot?

The Bernalillo County incident almost certainly had nothing to do with Alexa. But it presents an opportunity to think about issues and abilities that will become real sooner than you might think.

A Quick Debunk

The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department reported, specifically, that when a man drew a gun on his wife in a home where an Amazon Echo was placed, he said to her, “Did you call the sheriffs?” and the Echo misinterpreted that as a command to call the sheriffs, who then showed up at the front door. The authorities later clarified that someone in the house could be heard in the 911 recording yelling, “Alexa, call 911.”

This could not have happened as described. Amazon’s Echo requires a “wake word” to activate; the default is “Alexa,” but you can also customize it to “Echo,” “Amazon,” or “Computer.” And while they can make calls, an Alexa-powered device can only call another Alexa-powered device. Not only that, but it can only call other Alexa devices that have enabled calling, and have been added to your contact list. Most importantly, these exchanges don’t take place over the public switched telephone network, the worldwide network that allows wireless or land phones to actually make calls.

In other words, the sheriffs would have needed an Alexa device of their own for that to ever work, one that the couple in the domestic dispute had in their contact list. Later, the police said that the Alexa was used in combination with some kind of home phone or cellular phone system. That at first sounds more plausible, but is actually also technologically impossible, as the Echo does not support calls over Bluetooth.

Someone called the police that day. It just wasn’t Alexa.

Alexa, Why Can’t You Call 911?

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Police, protesters face off at Dakota Access pipeline – By James MacPherson | AP November 21 at 1:42 AM

Law enforcement and protesters clash near the site of the Dakota Access pipeline in Cannon Ball, N.D. The clash came as protesters sought to push past a bridge on a state highway that had been blockaded since late October, according to the Morton County Sheriff’s Office. (Morton County, N.D. Sheriff’s Department/Associated Press)

CANNON BALL, N.D. — Tension flared anew on the Dakota Access pipeline as protesters tried to push past a long-blocked bridge on a state highway, only to be turned back by a line of law enforcement using water cannon and what appeared to be tear gas.

Sunday’s skirmishes began around 6 p.m. after protesters removed a burned-out truck on what’s known as the Backwater Bridge, not far from the encampment where they’ve been for weeks as they demonstrate against the pipeline. The Morton County Sheriff’s Department estimated 400 protesters sought to cross the bridge on state Highway 1806.

A live stream early Monday showed a continued standoff, with large lights illuminating smoke wafting across the scene.

At least one person was arrested. Protesters said a gym in Cannon Ball was opened to aid demonstrators who were soaked on a night the temperature dipped into the low 20s or were hit with tear gas.

Rema Loeb told The Associated Press he was forced to retreat from the bridge because he feared being doused with water on the freezing night. Others, he said, needed medical treatment after being hit with tear gas.

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Police Body Camera Use–Not a Pretty Picture – By Larry Greenemeier on August 4, 2016

A new study finds flaws in the policies governing how officers use wearable cameras

A police officer wears a body camera on during an anti-Donald Trump protest in Cleveland, Ohio, near the Republican National Convention site July 18, 2016.| Credit: Courtesy of JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

A police officer wears a body camera on during an anti-Donald Trump protest in Cleveland, Ohio, near the Republican National Convention site July 18, 2016.| Credit: Courtesy of JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

A police officer wears a body camera on during an anti-Donald Trump protest in Cleveland, Ohio, near the Republican National Convention site July 18, 2016.| Credit: Courtesy of JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

At a time when police across the U.S. are being watched warily by the citizens they serve, many departments are embracing wearable cameras to document their interactions with the public. Police and rights activists alike had hoped recording incidents on patrol would help discourage violence against officers as well as increase transparency in how police treat citizens. But a report released this week questions how much law enforcement agencies are telling the public about the use of the cameras—and the footage they collect.

The latest body-worn camera scorecard from the The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, working with technology and policy consulting firm Upturn, examined 50 U.S. police departments and pronounced them lacking in most of the study’s eight criteria. These benchmarks include how well police protect the privacy of those they record, whether officers are allowed to review footage before filing their reports, how long the footage is retained and whether civilians can view footage in which they appear. A number of civil rights organizations, privacy advocates and media outlets developed the criteria in May 2015 to influence how departments implement and use the technology.

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When American police are entitled to use deadly force – Jul 18th 2016, 23:41 BY S.M. | SAN DIEGO

RECENT police shootings of apparently blameless black men in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Falcon Heights, Minnesota have shed fresh light on a decades-old concern: the alarming rate at which police officers use lethal force on civilians. Tallies by the Washington Post show that police shot and killed 990 people in America in 2015 and 552 people so far this year. “The discretion whether to employ deadly force is…the gravest power that a society can delegate to one of its agencies,” Wade McCree, the solicitor-general under Jimmy Carter, noted in the 1970s. Just how much discretion do police have?

Quite a bit is the answer, though less than they once had. In 1985, the Supreme Court considered the case of Edward Garner, a 15-year-old boy who was shot and killed by police after he ignored calls to “halt” and fled on foot from the scene of a burglary. The officers pursuing Mr Garner (who was later found with a stolen purse and $10) did not believe him to be armed, and indeed he carried no weapon. But Tennessee law, codifying a long-standing common-law rule, held that “[i]f, after notice of the intention to arrest the defendant, he either flee[s] or forcibly resist[s], the officer may use all the necessary means to effect the arrest.” By a vote of 6-3, the justices found that legal standard too permissive. “The fact that an unarmed suspect has broken into a dwelling at night does not automatically mean he is physically dangerous,” Justice Byron White wrote. Deadly force “may not be used unless it is necessary to prevent the escape and the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.”

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In Baton Rouge, Simmering Mistrust Divides Police, Community – GREG ALLEN July 14, 20164:58 AM ET (Heard on Morning Edition)

A memorial for Alton Sterling at the Triple S Food Mart in Baton Rouge. Sterling was fatally shot by a Louisiana police officer last week.

A memorial for Alton Sterling at the Triple S Food Mart in Baton Rouge. Sterling was fatally shot by a Louisiana police officer last week. — Greg Allen/NPR

The Triple S Mart in Baton Rouge has become a shrine and a gathering place for activists. It’s where Alton Sterling was shot and killed by police officers just over a week ago.

Standing in front of a large mural of Sterling at the convenience store, his son, 15-year-old Cameron Sterling said he hoped his father’s death would help bring people in the city together.

“My father was a good man,” Cameron said. “That was a sacrifice to show everybody what was going on.”

A police affidavit says Sterling was reaching for his gun when he was shot by officers. Sterling’s supporters believe the videos of the shooting show otherwise.

The investigation is now in the hands of the federal government — not local prosecutors — and many in Baton Rouge believe that’s for the best.

Two Baton Rouges

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Obama tries to mend tattered ties with police – By SARAH WHEATON 07/12/16 06:17 AM EDT

As the president heads to Dallas to grieve the five slain officers, he is trying to overcome deep mistrust among some in the law enforcement community.

President Barack Obama pauses while speaking about the events in Dallas at the beginning of his news conference at PGE National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland, Saturday, July 9.

President Barack Obama pauses while speaking about the events in Dallas at the beginning of his news conference at PGE National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland, Saturday, July 9. | AP PhotoAs the president heads to Dallas to grieve the five slain officers, he is trying to overcome deep mistrust among some in the law enforcement community.

Even as President Barack Obama offers a healing message to the grieving citizens of Dallas on Tuesday, his administration is trying to heal its relationship with police who have felt aggrieved long before five officers were assassinated by a man claiming solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Obama has the delicate task of reigniting his earlier efforts to elimiate bias and cut down on aggressive policing — a call from many in the public after police killed two black men in separate incidents that originated from seemingly minor infractions last week — while confronting the fatal consequences, even for good cops, of the roiling distrust in the communities they serve.

Obama’s spokesman said that he’ll try to speak to both concerns at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, where he’ll appear along with Vice President Joe Biden and former President George W. Bush.

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People wounded in deadly clashes with Mexican police are avoiding hospitals – Vice News Published on Jul 8, 2016

Nine people were killed and dozens more were injured in recent deadly clashes between a teachers’ union and police forces in the town of Nochixtlán in Mexico’s southern state of Oaxaca. More than two weeks later, the Mexican government has yet to release any information on its investigation into who started the violence and who decided to disperse the protest with live ammunition.

The protesters —teachers and residents of Oaxaca — are often seen as troublemakers in Mexico. They claim this was a massacre that included snipers hiding in the town when the riot police were deployed, and that some of the victims were not even involved in the protests. Most of them have avoided taking their allegations to the police for fear they will be the ones put behind bars and accused of initiating the violence.

VICE News went to Nochixtlán to meet some of the wounded whose fear of contact with the authorities has limited both their medical care and the advance of the investigation.

Watch “After a month of blockades in Mexico, teachers say they’ll keep protesting” –

For One Police Force, Body Cams Are Critical—Not Annoying – LAURA MALLONEE 06.10.16. 7:00 AM

12/3/2014 Evesham Township, New Jersey Evesham Township Police Department.  Officer Christopher Chew answering questions about the body camera and how it works.

Officer Christopher Chew of the Evesham Township Police Departments answers questions about how body cameras work during an office demonstration. — DEVIN YALKIN

About one third of the 18,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide require officers to wear body cameras. The small devices attach to their chest, and record every interaction with the public, no matter how inconsequential.

Departments started adopting cameras in 2014 after a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, fatally shot Michael Brown and an officer in New York choked Eric Garner. Many tapped the Obama administration’s $75 million body cam program to finance the cameras, which proponents say protect officers and citizens alike. Studies suggest that may be true. “Adoption has certainly rushed ahead of research,” says Maria Ponomarenko at the New York University School of Law Policing Project. “We should learn a lot more in the next few years.”

Evesham Township, New Jersey, deployed body cams in 2013 after setting a lawsuit alleging excessive force. Al Jazeera sent photographer Devin Yalkin there about a year later to see what effect the devices had and what people thought about them. “It was so routine and second-nature,” Yalkin says. “I don’t think they thought twice about [them].”

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