Places NOT to watch your Pr0n…

From the record vault of bad ideas. A Texas man chose a rather unusual place to catch a quick porn flick:

Police issued a citation for a man accused of watching pornography on his car DVD player. Cameron J. Walker, 24, of Irving, was issued misdemeanor citations for obscene display or distribution, not having a driver’s license and having an open container of alcohol, Fort Worth police said. – [Yahoo/AP]

Well, ya know, his wife probably kicked him out. That’s why he didn’t have his wallet. Or something. All right, I’m grabbin’ at straws. I got nuthin’. But what other reason would you possibly have to decide to kick back in your car with a cold brewski and watch a porn DVD in public?

Police cite man for watching porn in car – [Yahoo/AP]

It’s Official. It’s illegal to make money using magic.

I read an interesting article today about magician David Copperfield:

FBI agents have seized nearly $2 million in cash from a Las Vegas warehouse owned by illusionist David Copperfield, local media reports said on Thursday.  – [Yahoo/Reuters]

Interestingly, the article fails to mention exactly why they felt it would be a good idea to relieve Mr. Copperfield of his millions. Was it the fact that he saved it in a warehouse? Did he make it magically appear and didn’t pay taxes on it? Too much money for a magician?  He’s a freakin’ magician! Eh! Who knows.

Of course his lawyer says they are cooperating with investigators, but if you could walk through prison cell walls, release yourself from any handcuff, and make magically money appear,  why would you bother to resist?

FBI raids illusionist Copperfield and finds millions – [Yahoo/Reuters]

Why we need better psych profiling for law enforcement.

I have mentioned on a couple of occasions that I believe that our Justice system here in America needs a serious revamp. I have no illusions about the complexity, inherent problems and near impossibility of creating a perfectly just, adequate and equitable legal system in any country. But here in the US, we have so many resources available that there are some things that we have no excuse for not implementing some basics that would seriously help balance out some of the flaws in the justice system and law enforcement, as it stands today. Articles like the ff, where an off-duty Wisconsin Law Enforcement Officer wigged out and went on a jealous killing spree, only cement my opinion:

An off-duty sheriff’s deputy went on a shooting rampage early Sunday at a home where seven young people had gathered for pizza and movies, killing six and critically injuring the other before authorities fatally shot him, officials said. – [Yahoo/AP]

I know police officers are people too, but shouldn’t there be checks and balances? A requirement for a Specific kind of person for these positions? Even the possible motive for the killings makes no sense:

The circumstances of the shooting were hazy Sunday and it wasn’t immediately clear what the gunman’s motive was, but the mother of a 14-year-old victim said the suspect may have been a jealous boyfriend. – [Yahoo/AP]

A jealous boyfriend? Really? He went on a shooting spree out of jealousy? Even though this motive is entirely speculation at this point, it still begs the question, how did someone like this make it into the force? I know many progressive law enforcement offices use psychological profiling in their hiring process, and I don’t know if the Wisconsin Sheriffs dept. is one of them, but I really think it should be a standard practice, not just in progressive law enforcement establishments, but across the board.

I think that along with periodic evaluations and a statistical analysis of officer behaviour in reference to their psych evals over time and as a whole, could help nip these kinds of problems in the bud. In fact any force that is intended to exercise any level of control over the general populace needs to have this kind of testing done. Maybe I’m beating a dead horse into glue. But come on. Isn’t it worth the lives that would be saved, and the prevention of unfair police brutality to implement something like this universally?

Off-duty Wis. deputy sheriff kills 6 – [Yahoo/AP]

Sex on the job? Only of you’re a sex worker…

So I came across an unusual story about an officer who decided to get himself some nookie while on duty:

The jury quickly came to a unanimous verdict as the policeman proved he was able to respond to all emergencies as he was equipped with an earpiece tuned in to the police radio frequency.

“If there was a call for me, I would have answered it and I would have dealt with it,” he told the court, according to the Times newspaper.

His lawyer Kevin Baumber believes that the inspector certainly misbehaved, but his bad decision is not a crime. – [Yahoo/AFP]

So here’s my issue. I am not sure what he was being charged with, but how, in the name of all things holy, did this officer prove that he was on duty? To my knowledge an “on-duty” police officer is supposed to be on patrol right? It may just be me, but I find it difficult to see how he could have been on patrol while engaged in the horizontal mambo.

A police officer in the sack is one less officer on the street, or on patrol, or wherever they are supposed to be. Yes, perhaps this is no different from playing golf, but that would still mean he was off duty. Unless he is trying to tell us that he gets paid to play golf whenever he feels like it. Sure he could have responded to a call, but how many crimes are prevented simply because a cop was physically present at the scene?

Even if we disregard the ethically and morally dubious nature of this case, there is a very big difference between being present on the street as a physical, visible deterrent to crime, and being retroactively available to assist after the crime has been committed. How did these jury members not see that?

I’m beginning to think that part of the problem with the world today is that nobody is holding anyone else accountable for their irresponsible actions. Probably because they don’t want to be held accountable for their own actions either. At this rate we will all be going to hades in a hand basket…

British cop proves he was still on duty during sex romp – [Yahoo/AFP]

Sheriffs Deputy drunken shenanigans…

Just read of an unusual DUI case involving an off-duty Sheriffs Deputy:

Charlotte Moore, 36, a jail deputy, was off duty driving her 2004 Pontiac Grand Am on Saturday when she was pulled over by her husband, Elko County Sheriffs Deputy Mike Moore, a police report said.

In two separate accounts of the incident, Mike Moore indicated she initially was pulled over for either speeding or making an illegal turn.

She allegedly left before being administered a portable breathalyzer test, the Elko Daily Free Press reported.

Mike Moore pulled her over again and called for backup. He left shortly after another officer arrived. – [Yahoo/AP]

Now this case is of interest to me for several reasons. First, obviously, as a sheriffs deputy who had probably jailed many inebriated drivers, she should have known better than to drink and drive herself. But the other more interesting point for me was that her husband actually pulled her over twice, and allowed her to be arrested for DUI.

Now I can only speculate about how strong their relationship is, but things like this have a tendency to become points of embitterment. How many people, given the opportunity, would have simply taken the easy route, covered it up, taken the wife home and let her sleep it off? Maybe he had a choice and maybe he didn’t. But if he did have that option, and chose to take this route, I think he did the right thing, and only hope that his integrity is rewarded.

Though I have to admit that in this day and age, I doubt that it will…

Husband pulls over his deputy wife twice – [Yahoo/AP]

The “Hello Kitty” police!!

Unruly members of the Bangkok Thailand, police force are soon to become a part of an unusual brigade:

Thai police officers who break rules will be forced to wear hot pink armbands featuring “Hello Kitty,” the Japanese icon of cute, as a mark of shame, a senior officer said Monday.

Police officers caught littering, parking in a prohibited area, or arriving late — among other misdemeanors — will be forced to stay in the division office and wear the armband all day, said Police Col. Pongpat Chayaphan. The officers won’t wear the armband in public.

The striking armband features Hello Kitty sitting atop two hearts.

“Simple warnings no longer work. This new twist is expected to make them feel guilt and shame and prevent them from repeating the offense, no matter how minor,” said Pongpat, acting chief of the Crime Suppression Division in Bangkok. -[USA Today]

HA! I’d like you all to give a warm round of applause for the “Hello Kitty” Brigade!! I am totally enthused by the number of creative disciplinary measures that I have been seeing lately. And this one is a doozy.

I mean what better deterrent is there than for a tough, macho Thai police officer to have to parade around in public with a hot pink “Hello Kitty” arm band on their arm, with hearts and everything!! I’m sure their adoring public with absolutely love it!

I love it…!

Bad Thai cops to endure Kitty shame – [USA Today]

First no arms… Now no sight? Aren’t these driving hazards?

Look, I have nothing against differently abled people trying to remain mobile. In a previous post I talked about a guy with one leg and no arms who taught himself to drive. Remarkable. I would not attempt to impose my own limitations upon what they should be able to do. But anyone with a modicum of common sense would apply some self imposed limits on what they should or should not be doing:

Police in the Baltic state of Estonia stopped a man who was driving erratically at the weekend, only to find he was blind.

The 20-year-old was driving in the southern city of Tartu early Sunday — helped by instructions from his 16-year-old passenger.

“At first they thought he was just drunk, but the man kept missing the tube for the breath test, then they realized he was blind” and arrested him, Tartu Police spokeswoman Marge Kohtla said Monday. – [Reuters]

I suppose if you watched the move Scent of a Woman in which Al Pacino plays the part of a blind ex-military man, you may remember the scene where Chris O’Donnells’ character is persuaded to let him drive, guiding him verbally, as they careen through the streets of Brooklyn NY.

Newsflash! That was a movie folks!! Trying this for real is simply irresponsible. Driving is a visual sport. You can’t have blind folk driving any more than you can have a boy girl scout. What was he thinking?!

It is hard enough to drive when you can see. Forget it if you can’t. At least until technology comes up with cybernetic optical implants. Then you can do whatever you want. Really. You can. You will. Just wait and see. Literally…

Blind man arrested for driving car – [Reuters]

Armless Driving… Wow…

there are stories that I occaisionally run across that leave me both laughing and questioning at the same time. This happens to be one of them:

A man with no arms and one leg who wouldn’t stop driving despite a long list of traffic violations was sentenced to five years in prison Friday on felony driving and drug charges.

Wiley taught himself to drive after losing both arms and a leg in an electrical accident when he was 13. He has already spent more than three years in prison for habitually driving without a license, kicking a state trooper and other charges.

He once had a valid license, but it has been suspended several times since 1985, according to his attorney. He starts the car with his toes, shifts with his knee and steers with the stump of his left arm. He turns on the lights with his teeth.

In his most recent brush with the law last May, Wiley sped off in a Ford Explorer when police approached him at a convenience store, officials said. Officers pursued, but called off the chase after eight minutes because they did not want to put others in danger, police said. – [USA Today]

I hardly know what to say. While it is admirable that this guy taught himself how to drive in spite of his crippling accident, it is unfortunate that he had the poor judgement to use the one good leg he had left (or the prosthetic replacement for the other) to assault a police officer.

I suppose that it would be difficult for anyone to have to live with the kind of limitations this guy has had to. I’m sure I would hate to have to be tied to one place day after day. I can see why he wanted to be able to get out and about. Things like this prove that being disabled is usually a challenge of the mind. If you can overcome your own or others misconceptions about what you can and cannot do, you find that you really aren’t that limited. It’s just a pity he has so many other problems to deal with.

Armless man gets 5 years for driving – [USA Today]

Automated plate readers: A violation of civil rights?

The Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Springdale, OH Police department has the local ACLUs panties in a twist over the use of plate scanners on police cruisers:

The Mobile Plate Hunter 900 – two cameras mounted atop a cruiser – can read up to 900 license plates an hour on vehicles driving at highway speeds. …

… “It’s unreal,” Springdale Police Chief Mike Laage said. “It’s the best technology out there.”

The State Highway Patrol has been using the plate hunter in six spots along the Ohio Turnpike, but Springdale police are the first to use it on regular patrols.

Since the patrol began using the scanners in 2004, it has recovered 95 stolen cars – valued at $740,000 – and made 111 arrests, said patrol spokesman Lt. Shawn Davis. The plate hunter has made roads safer, he said. …

… The scanner’s gaze is too wide and it’s an infringement against the innocent drivers whose plates get captured, said Jeff Gamso, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio.

Using the plate hunter to scan all license plates is a civil rights violation and could lead to government abuse of the information, Gamso said.

I think they should just knock it off,” Gamso said. “Is the marginal benefit likely outweighing the danger of increased surveillance of everything we do?”

Laage finds nothing wrong with casting the wide net. – [WBNS10TV/AP]

Well I have to admit that I am on the fence on this. This system has many advantages. It is indiscriminate, and does not profile anyone based on color, creed, etc., like a regular police officer could. It is also noninvasive, i.e. traffic stop is not required to do spot checks etc. and it does it’s job while on public roads, where there should be no reasonable expectation of privacy.

But while I can clearly see the advantages of this system, as a law enforcement tool, like any tool, it can be abused. There does not seem to be much difference between this and the covert surveillance of American citizens by government agencies without probable cause or due process.

I’m sure many will agree that we don’t want an America where our every move is observed, logged and recorded by government agencies, and our every action subject to the interpretation of a paranoid. Technologies like this always seem to take us closer, one step at a time, to that scenario…

Plate reader draws objections of ACLU – [WBNS10TV/AP]

Lawsuits: Gang violence deterrents? Or Prejudice?

I just read a troubling article regarding cities using lawsuits to pro-actively disrupt gang activity:

Fort Worth and San Francisco are among the latest to file lawsuits against gang members, asking courts for injunctions barring them from hanging out together on street corners, in cars or anywhere else in certain areas.

The injunctions are aimed at disrupting gang activity before it can escalate. They also give police legal reasons to stop and question gang members, who often are found with drugs or weapons, authorities said. In some cases, they don’t allow gang members to even talk to people passing in cars or to carry spray paint.

“It is another tool,” said Kevin Rousseau, a Tarrant County assistant prosecutor in Fort Worth, which recently filed its first civil injunction against a gang. “This is more of a proactive approach.”

But critics say such lawsuits go too far, limiting otherwise lawful activities and unfairly targeting minority youth.

“If you’re barring people from talking in the streets, it’s difficult to tell if they’re gang members or if they’re people discussing issues,” said Peter Bibring, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. “And it’s all the more troubling because it doesn’t seem to be effective.” – [Yahoo/AP]

I find this turn of events troubling for a number of reasons. First it is a very dangerous thing for anyone to implement any kind of enforcement that violates an individuals rights, especially when they have yet to actually commit a crime. And re-purposing laws so that actions that are legal for the average citizen become illegal for a specific demographic is simply unethical.

These cities have, in effect, sued a demographic, without regard for either the innocence or guilt of any of the individual members of that demographic. They have surreptitiously made gangs illegal. And in doing so, they done little more than legitimize prejudice.

The ability to stop, search and detain a person without probable cause, and for no other reason than their age, race, or the color of their clothes, is unconstitutional. Plain and simple. The increasing willingness of American police forces and lawmakers to violate an individuals rights in the name of keeping the peace is becoming a common and disturbing trend nowadays, especially in The Peoples Republic of Kalifornia. The end does not justify the means.

It is wrong to apply laws differently depending on such things as race, stereotypes, clothes, age, etc. Creating second class citizens does not solve problems, only exacerbate them. History has taught us that any demographic unfairly treated, will bear no concern for the fair treatment of others. It simply creates a vicious cycle. It may appear to be a a good solution in the short term. But unfairly treated people have long memories, and as a long term strategy, it is a no-win.

Be very careful America. I see a very ugly pattern developing. At the rate we are going, we will soon all be prisoners, held captive by the illusion of freedom…

Cities sue gangs in bid to stop violence – [Yahoo/AP]