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Crime Government

Dallas Police Falsely Credit TrapWire System For Arrests 31

In April, the Texas Department of Public Safety told a reporter for the Dallas Morning News, inspired by information leaked by Wikileaks to ask about ways that the agency might be compromising citizen's privacy and other rights, that the TrapWire behavioral analysis system employed in combination with surveillance equipment posted at various high-profile locations around the state had resulted in 44 arrests. However, after numerous public records requests for more information about those claimed arrests, the agency admitted that the true figure is somewhat lower: namely, zero. The story naturally involves "millions" of dollars (though an exact figure for the zero-arrest system isn't named), and Austin-based Stratfor, a company that's been named a few times here on Slashdot.
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Dallas Police Falsely Credit TrapWire System For Arrests

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  • by Dr_Barnowl ( 709838 ) on Monday June 22, 2015 @07:36AM (#49960769)

    Even if it was true... millions of dollars for ... 44 arrests?

    Wonder what the arrest rate of 20 extra pairs of feet on the street is?

    • by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Monday June 22, 2015 @08:07AM (#49960857) Journal

      Even if it was true... millions of dollars for ... 44 arrests?

      Wonder what the arrest rate of 20 extra pairs of feet on the street is?

      Yep, everything's bigger in Texas: the State Police and the police state.

      Even if it was true... millions of breaches into the innocent communications of private citizens for... 44 arrests.

    • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
      Considering that the Brits are now in the dozens of millions of pounds for standing two (2) policemen outside the Ecuadorian embassy for a couple years, I'd think hundreds of millions of dollars. What this really means is that the system is completely broken and money just disappears, which is to be expected in a corrupt nation.
      • by akpoff ( 683177 ) on Monday June 22, 2015 @12:55PM (#49962995) Homepage

        None of the stories I've seen put the figure at "dozens of millions of pounds". This article [] from The Telegraph puts the figure at £11.1 million. The article notes that £6.5m of that figure are "police officer pay costs that would be incurred in normal duties" and mentions overtime costs and "indirect" costs, tallying together to an additional £3.8m. Also, if the picture in the article shows a typical guard detail we see at least 4 uniformed officers, not 2.

        We should also take into account those 4 officers are not engaged in regular beat policing but the very specific task of waiting for a very specific person to exit a specific location. There's also the very real possibility this is a politically-motivated policing detail with all the visibility and CYA costs that come with it.

        The point may yet be valid but to a lesser degree and perhaps not at all just based on numbers. And with the other factors the Assange case may be so unusual that no meaningful comparison can be made.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Even if it was true... millions of dollars for ... 44 arrests?

      Wonder what the arrest rate of 20 extra pairs of feet on the street is?

      I can tell you haven't read the article, it's supposed to be some service to detect people casing a location.

      You all can debate the value of THAT, but I'd expect this system to generate zero arrests, and feed into other intelligence tools.

      What's the point of posting if you don't know what you're talking about? I suppose if "surveillance detection" lead to ten thousand arrests a year you would have been OK with that and finished your powdered doughnuts instead of jumping in here?

  • by Mostly a lurker ( 634878 ) on Monday June 22, 2015 @07:43AM (#49960785)
    Apart from the obvious stench of corrupt commercial dealings, we should not forget that data collection by law enforcement has not always been for crime fighting purposes. Recall, for instance, J Edgar Hoover's uses for such data.
  • DPS != Dallas Police (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 22, 2015 @07:48AM (#49960797)

    DPS is the state law enforcement agency. Dallas Police is the police force for the City of Dallas. Maybe that's not an important distinction, but I think basic facts are important for the credibility of a story.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    How about doing the policing job first, instead of focusing on the toys and lying about them so you can keep playing and pretending you're doing a decent job of your actual job?

  • by MitchDev ( 2526834 ) on Monday June 22, 2015 @07:52AM (#49960817)

    The police wonder why fewer and fewer people trust them at all...

    • Re:And still... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ememisya ( 1548255 ) on Monday June 22, 2015 @08:06AM (#49960855) Homepage
      There's an old Turkish saying, I'll be that guy and translate it. "A barking dog won't bite." It basically means that anyone who is serious about a crime (terror category or the normal category, not sure how it falls into which one, but I suspect one has more beards) is not going to advertise it online or otherwise. Take a look at 9/11, there weren't a lot of tweets about it before hand. Yes indeed sacrificing your privacy only buys paranoia on a large scale, bloated budgets, broken citizens, and smug authorities.
    • As do the Slashdot editors, who can't even be assed to double-check that the city of Dallas and the State of Texas might have separate police forces.

  • by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Monday June 22, 2015 @08:01AM (#49960843) Homepage Journal

    "DPS puffs up its stats the way Donald Trump puffs his hair."

    Face it, cops are cops. They get off on the adrenaline rush when the make a bust, and then they get off on bragging about it afterwards. And, of course the bragging gets inflated.

    Except, in this case, they never even made a bust!

  • Still trying to parse that first paragraph, er sentence.
  • by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Monday June 22, 2015 @08:17AM (#49960875) Journal
    The Trapwire info page [] reads like a Hollywood advertisement for the Precrime unit in Minority Report.
    • by mlts ( 1038732 )

      I am not sure from reading the page what exactly Trapwire does. Does it sit, grab facial recognition data, and try to put two and two together if it notices a person at certain places at certain times, then sound an alert to the local security that "so and so is a risk" because they were first at Spatula City, then the Duct Tape Shoppe, now they are showing up at the Vend-A-Goat convention?

      I wonder if this is a spinoff from the software used in LV gambling establishments where if someone is banned from one

  • Expecting to have an Evidence Based Surveillance Policy is like expecting to have Evidence Based Drugs Policy.
  • How surprising ... Heritage Foundation, National Post, (3x) Fox News... oh and one from PBS.

What this country needs is a good five cent ANYTHING!