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LA Police Officers Suspected of Tampering With Their Monitoring Systems 322

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the watchers-hate-being-watched dept.
An anonymous reader writes "An internal audit conducted by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) in March revealed that 'dozens of the [voice] transmitters worn by officers in Southeast Division were missing or damaged.' In the summer of 2013, this same division was found to have mysteriously lost 45% of the antennae placed on their cars to pick up the signals sent by their voice transmitters. The Southeast Division of the LAPD covers an area that has 'historically been marred by mistrust and claims of officer abuse.' For decades, the LAPD had been closely monitored by the U.S. Department of Justice, but a federal judge in 2013 decided to end that practice after being assured by the LAPD and city officials that the LAPD sufficiently monitors itself via dash-cams and voice transmitters. A formal investigation is currently being conducted to determine whether or not police officers intentionally subverted mandatory efforts to monitor and record their patrols."
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LA Police Officers Suspected of Tampering With Their Monitoring Systems

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  • Easy fix (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @11:09AM (#46705427)

    For any officer found with damaged or missing recording equipment, suspend without pay or confine to desk jockey. Unacceptable to claim equipment is broken or doesn't work so the policy goes to the wayside.

  • Should be punished (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @11:10AM (#46705437)
    There should be strict rules in place that any equipment malfunctions or damage must be reported as soon as reasonably possible, or sever penalties will result. Of course, the police union would fight this tooth and nail.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @11:11AM (#46705441)
    Anyone remember the police beating case in Maryland where the dash cams of ALL SEVEN police cars on the scene simultaneously malfunctioned? Accountability is not a thing many officers appreciate.
  • Re:Easy fix (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Joce640k (829181) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @11:11AM (#46705443) Homepage

    Just deduct the repair bill from their pay. They'll soon start working.

  • by DigitAl56K (805623) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @11:16AM (#46705499)

    I wonder if the damage was reported and tracked over time, and if you could correlate this with who was assigned the equipment immediately prior? The results would probably paint a good heat map against the list of officers as to what subset was behind the damage.

  • The Law (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bayoudegradeable (1003768) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @11:18AM (#46705513)
    Ha. Please find me someone with more contempt and disdain for the law than.... law enforcement! Shocked they would be breaking rules. What's next?
  • by TC Wilcox (954812) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @11:24AM (#46705579)

    Nobody should be constantly monitored. Be that at work or in private.

    That's pretty obvious to anyone who doesn't live in a totalitarian state or the US.

    Society allows police officers to use violence against members of society. They are supposed to only use that privilege under certain circumstances, but many officers have already demonstrated poor judgement and used violence when they should not of used it. The point of these cameras is to provide a control against people who can legally assault the public (police officers) as well as give officers a defense if they are ever accused of using violence inappropriately. This monitoring is necessary because police have already shown themselves to be irresponsible. Any police officer that is intentionally interfering with the recordings should be charged with destruction of evidence.

  • by swb (14022) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @11:28AM (#46705615)

    How do they know it is malfunctioning? It wouldn't surprise me if the system was designed to be tamper-resistant, so they may not have even read-only access to the data collected so they can't even sanity check if it is working.

    Maybe an obviously broken antenna would indicate that it wasn't working, but I would imagine that might be assuming a lot about their technical knowledge and they may reasonably assume that some minor damage to an antenna doesn't mean its broken, based on experience with other antennas on other equipment.

    I'm sure there's some deliberate malice going on here on some level, but then again, making them wholly responsible for the ongoing technical functionality of equipment they have little or no control or diagnostic ability or skill to manage would be reasonably objectionable.

    There's also the unintended consequence of overly-severe penalties, one of which may be over-reporting potential damage due to the risks of not reporting it. The last thing you want is half the cars in a sector sitting in the motor pool and the officers unavailable for calls because they don't know if their widgets are broken.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @11:28AM (#46705629)

    Did you think that the most corrupt, malevolent police force in the country would just roll over and let something intended to make them accountable actually do its job?

  • Re:Easy fix (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @11:30AM (#46705639) Homepage Journal

    For any officer found with damaged or missing recording equipment, suspend without pay or confine to desk jockey. Unacceptable to claim equipment is broken or doesn't work so the policy goes to the wayside.

    I'd throw tampering and obstruction charges in on the second offense.

    If anything, cops need to be held to the letter of the law more strictly than those of us who are not tasked with enforcing it.

  • Easy solution (Score:4, Insightful)

    by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @11:47AM (#46705799)
    Here is a simple rule. If a cop doesn't have an active recording device then he isn't a cop; he is just some guy waving a gun and threatening people. Also invalidate any evidence that a "cop" gathers while not on video and audio. So if a cop searches someone and "finds" drugs and there is no video then it didn't happen; that combined with the stop and frisk being considered a mugging these cops would be polishing the lenses and making sure the equipment was in perfect working order.
  • by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @11:58AM (#46705895) Homepage

    How would you like to have your every move and word recorded and transmitted by your employer every second of every working day?

    Nothing about my day job provides for use of force, arrest, and charging people with criminal acts which could lead to their incarceration.

    Given the history of abuses from the LAPD (and lots of other PDs) ... the stakes are much higher, and we've passed the point where we can just assume all police are honest.

    So, you'll forgive me if I don't go all "boo hoo" about the level of tracking being applied to them. We see plenty enough stories which indicate cops can often have very little regard (or understanding) of the law.

    Quite frankly, I don't believe there's enough tracking of police officers.

  • Re:Easy fix (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @12:01PM (#46705939)

    If anything, cops need to be held to the letter of the law more strictly than those of us who are not tasked with enforcing it.

    Justice is never found in applying the law differently to different groups.

  • Re:Easy fix (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hawguy (1600213) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @12:08PM (#46706029)

    Just deduct the repair bill from their pay. They'll soon start working.

    Seems like it would be more effective if judges held police responsible for proper functioning of their recording devices, and gave the benefit of the doubt to those that accuse the police of wrongdoing when the mandated surveillance equipment that could prove the allegations was mysteriously "out of order".

  • Note to self... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DdJ (10790) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @12:19PM (#46706125) Homepage Journal

    ...do not rely on monitoring system that treats a complete lack of information as a complete absence of incidents.

  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @12:27PM (#46706189) Homepage

    These law enforcement officers are experiencing the same thing we have been in the wake of the NSA documents. Being watched all the time is wrong even if you are doing nothing wrong.

    Anti-authoritarians think people should not be watched all the time, even though it would mean catching a few extra criminals. Law and order advocates think police should not be watched all the time, even though it would mean catching a few extra officers who abuse their position. If we believe that people intrinsically want to do good, the truth is they are both right.

    The premise of the United States experiment is that people can and should be trusted to do good most of the time -- despite the real risk and cost of doing so -- and should only be watched when it is justified. Merely being a police officer does not mean you are suspected of being a dirty cop. Merely being a person with one or another political viewpoint does not mean you are suspected of being a terrorist. Merely being a person from a certain socioeconomic class does not mean you are supected of committing a crime.

    In America, we presume innocence. That is not just a standard of the justice process, it means we trust our citizens -- whether acting as individuals, political activists, or police officers -- to do good. We believe in our citizens even when we are on opposite sides of a fence, and we know they believe in our society even when their expression of that belief differs from ours. When we have reasonable suspicion that they have violated that trust, we investigate them -- but not before.

  • Re:Easy fix (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @12:31PM (#46706229)
    But they don't have to damage their device every day. Only on the days they're planning on pocketing some money from a drug bust. That's still a low cost.
  • by GrumpySteen (1250194) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @12:37PM (#46706279)

    It is possible people are vandalizing the cars

    Sure, but... "new rules were put in place requiring officers to document that both antennas were in place at the beginning and end of each shift. To guard against officers removing the antennas during their shifts, Tingirides said he requires patrol supervisors to make unannounced checks on cars."

    "Since the new protocols went into place, only one antenna has been found missing,"

    As soon as it became likely that the vandalism be caught, the vandalism suddenly dropped to almost zero despite the fact that only the officers knew of the change.

    So no... it's not possible that the public is vandalizing the cars.

  • Re:Easy fix (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @12:48PM (#46706369)

    Justice is never found in applying the law differently to different groups.

    Perhaps. However, there is an inherent inequality here because the law inevitably grants certain additional rights and powers to police officers that are not enjoyed by the common citizen. It is not unreasonable to assign proportionately greater responsibility to them as well.

  • Asinine (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Spazmania (174582) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @01:00PM (#46706457) Homepage

    As I read these responses, I'm forced to wonder: would any of the posters tolerate having every spoken word recorded by The Boss throughout their shift? Even one of you?

    I understand the history here, the past bad deeds from members of this particular police force,. Nevertheless, these voice recorders sound to me like an outrageous invasion of the person of officers who individually have been accused of and found guilty of nothing at all.

  • Re:Asinine (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zlives (2009072) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @01:02PM (#46706471)

    it is for the officers own protection against false litigation.

    see what i did there

  • Re:Asinine (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lgw (121541) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @01:02PM (#46706475) Journal

    I don't do my job "under the color of authority". If you have special legal privileges that the common man does not, additional oversight becomes appropriate, where it wouldn't be for the common man. Corruption matters more.
     

  • Re:Asinine (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @01:17PM (#46706647)

    As I read these responses, I'm forced to wonder: would any of the posters tolerate having every spoken word recorded by The Boss throughout their shift? Even one of you?

    1) Lots of people do already. For instance, call center employees.
    2) While not necessarily at the 'recording every word' level, many more jobs have constant surveillance. Cashiers, for example, almost always have a camera pointed at them. Perhaps it's video only, but not always.
    3) The police have the power to arrest you, injure you (if they claim it was necessary), even KILL you. What were the words of Uncle Ben? "With great power comes great responsibility". We need to hold the police greatly responsible for their actions.

  • by fyngyrz (762201) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @01:49PM (#46707001) Homepage Journal

    This isn't surveillance of a private individual; this is monitoring the performance of someone doing their job; a job they are paid to do, a job they can opt out of, a job they have incurred obligations with regard to. It's perfectly legitimate.

    Further, these people are given extraordinary power over citizens; the saw "with great power comes great responsibility" pretty much covers why monitoring them makes good sense from the citizen's POV. Even if we didn't know these particular officers have demonstrated that their cadre is well supplied with lawbreakers, and that more generally, they all are dishonest enough to observe the "thin blue line", it would still make sense to monitor them, just for their own assurance that specious claims against them could trivially be refuted. The fact that these idiots are intentionally killing that benefit by incapacitating the monitoring capability is a strong indicator as to why they're doing it: Almost certainly, something else is going on they are afraid will be seen -- add their known history of malfeasance, and we've got good reason to insist those cameras and audio recorders run though the entire shift, on every individual.

  • Re:Asinine (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Redmancometh (2676319) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @01:52PM (#46707039)

    The difference here is A) My organization is not cloaked in the legitimacy of the state to use violence in the gain of civil order. B) My organization isn't known for beating black men to death, robbing people, raping women via searches, and harrassing people for no good reason.

    If we were our organization would be rather unpopular. Something like this type of monitoring would inevitably follow, and you would either deal with it or quit.
    Though on the ot her hand Chase bank basically got caught funding mass murder and no one is (to the public's knowledge) being surveilled.

  • Re:Asinine (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dishevel (1105119) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @01:54PM (#46707079)
    When you give someone the power to kill you there comes with it some accountability. These people are entrusted with the ability to rob you of your constitutional rights. A large portion of them currently are more worried about protecting their buddies than protecting the public. So, in short. Fuck their non existent right to privacy while being paid by the public.
  • Re:Easy fix (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fyngyrz (762201) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @01:55PM (#46707083) Homepage Journal

    Yes, the current situation is unjust. So is the suggestion that police officers be held to a higher standard.

    Wait, what? We give the police the power to arrest, injure and even kill us without consequence, to accuse us and have their word taken over ours in a court of law, and we're not supposed to hold them to a higher standard? Are you completely out of your mind?

  • Re:Asinine (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pr0fessor (1940368) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @02:12PM (#46707259)

    I know boat loads about call centers my first tech related job was in a call center, help desk for dial-up and later dsl.

    I was actually trying to say if it's important enough that you need to record the college kid helping you setup dial-up or dsl then a police officer is far more important and should definitely be recorded

  • Re:Asinine (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Belial6 (794905) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @03:46PM (#46708189)
    You know, you don't have to be sexist and racist to make your point. The police are known for beating PEOPLE to death. Some of them black, some of other races, including white, asian and hispanic. Police have also been know to rape PEOPLE. Yes, men as well as women.
  • Re:Whoa (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fyngyrz (762201) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @06:24PM (#46709349) Homepage Journal

    Not all human beings are able to arrest me.

    Not all human beings are able to have their word taken over mine in court by default.

    Not all human beings are able to injure me and get away with it.

    Not all human beings are able to invade my home and get away with it.

    Not all human beings are able to kill me and get away with it.

    Not all human beings are able to restrain me and get away with it.

    Not all human beings are able to force me to stop my car and get away with it.

    Not all human beings are allowed to go fogging down the road, dangerously far over the speed limit just because some pretty lights are on and/or they're making a loud noise. ...and so on.

    So look here: I'll grant you that cops aren't 100% faultless nor is it reasonable to expect them to be, but, I think it's important to point out that when a cop makes an actual mistake, we need to look really hard at it even if we conclude all the response that's required is pointing it out, and more data is better in that case.

    Furthermore, when "not 100% faultless" really means "cop is a scumbag criminal", or "cop is aiding and abetting a fellow cop who is a scumbag criminal by conspiring to hide their misdeeds and is therefore also a scumbag criminal" then yes, we do need to see who and how they are hurting people as they violate the public trust so we at least have some chance to clean house. This is oversight of power in public service, and it is, I believe, *entirely* reasonable when any serious degree of force and/or authority is delegated.

  • Re:Asinine (Score:4, Insightful)

    by EvolutionInAction (2623513) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @07:35PM (#46709895)

    This is crazy. It's not being recorded when you're on a call that makes call centers horrible, it's how you're treated the rest of the time. It's the parts where when you're not on a call you've got supervisors getting upset. It's when you acknowledge the person you're talking to is a human being with better things to do and get yelled at for not selling hard enough that makes it horrible. These things do not translate into recording the police.

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