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  #151  
Old 02-10-2019, 05:47 PM
Shodan Shodan is online now
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Originally Posted by SamuelA View Post
Also, you probably don't commit any significant crimes.
This is the reason that I do not feel threatened by the justice system.

False convictions are rare, and the police are neither lazy nor indifferent. They do not routinely plant evidence, they are not more interested in closing cases than arresting the right person. They do not coerce confessions out of the nearest available suspect.
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I just am trying to understand how reality fits with your observations.
The reality is that most criminals are stupid, and most police are not.

That is not a bug, it's a feature.
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If you believe our justice system is excellent, why does America need to lock so many people up for so much longer compared to comparable European countries? Why do we have higher crime rates even though they "coddle" their prisoners with better treatment and rehabilitation?
This is GQ, and the above is going to be a matter of opinion.

Regards,
Shodan
  #152  
Old 02-10-2019, 06:34 PM
SamuelA SamuelA is offline
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Originally Posted by Shodan View Post
This is the reason that I do not feel threatened by the justice system.

False convictions are rare, and the police are neither lazy nor indifferent. They do not routinely plant evidence, they are not more interested in closing cases than arresting the right person. They do not coerce confessions out of the nearest available suspect.
The reality is that most criminals are stupid, and most police are not.

That is not a bug, it's a feature.

This is GQ, and the above is going to be a matter of opinion.

Regards,
Shodan
Agree or disagree. An efficient justice system prevents crime while minimizing harm to those who transgress.

After all, take the limit case. Just execute anyone who commits a crime, no matter how minor. Assuming you could accomplish this (North Korea and other despotic states seem to show this is feasible), you'd have almost no crime, right? Since all the people who have criminal tendencies probably slipped up and are now dead.

So if the U.S. one has all these people rotting in cages, and comparable wealthy nations have an order of magnitude less people in cages, doesn't this mean the U.S. system is factually less efficient?

And doesn't this make it a poor system from this analysis, without bringing in any subjective opinions?
  #153  
Old 02-10-2019, 09:34 PM
K2500 K2500 is offline
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Originally Posted by Shodan View Post

The reality is that most criminals are stupid, and most police are not.

That is not a bug, it's a feature.

Regards,
Shodan
Got a cite?
  #154  
Old 02-10-2019, 10:41 PM
Corry El Corry El is offline
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Originally Posted by SamuelA View Post

1. Also, you probably don't commit any significant crimes. Probably the worst crime you normally ever commit is you probably fib slightly on your taxes for deductions or you might pirate a book or movie. You probably also speed like nearly every driver. So if the justice system nails you it would be for a crime you did not commit.

2. If you believe our justice system is excellent, why does America need to lock so many people up for so much longer compared to comparable European countries? Why do we have higher crime rates even though they "coddle" their prisoners with better treatment and rehabilitation?
This seems on both counts a strange kind of argument in the context of this particular thread, and the claims a number of posters have made, or implied, that's it common for the police to search for no reason, plant evidence, convict innocent people on purpose etc.

1. People who commit crimes *should* be the targets of the police, no? They still should have their rights respected, but it seems harder to logically argue it's a problem if they are suspected or scrutinized by the police...since they committed crimes.

Nor though it's not directly relevant do I see the point, ever, in indirect personal attacks like 'you probably do X'. For example Shodan either cheats on taxes or doesn't. It's not a probability spectrum. You can ask Shodan if you really think it's relevant to the argument. I personally don't cheat on my taxes, and AFAIK that's very common, probably the usual case.

Traffic infractions, like speeding except in certain jurisdictions where it can be crime, aren't crimes. But the police are incentivized to find people committing actual crimes, and do use enforcement of traffic laws as a tool to find crimes. I again find it hard to see how a logical argument could be constructed why they shouldn't, if it's real traffic infractions, or how the 'every other developed country' gambit would work in that case. Police in other countries aren't also using traffic laws as a way to give suspected serious criminals a closer look? I really doubt that.

2. The implication that the difference in incarceration rate between the US and other rich countries explained to any significant degree by a large number of innocent people being locked up is far fetched. The problem of people being wrongly convicted has to be measured by its own standards, compared to not happening at all or virtually never as should be the goal. It doesn't have to be a significant % of all people behind bars for it to be a problem, and IMO it's implausible to claim or imply it is a high %.

The US does have a relatively high murder rate among rich countries, but realistic solutions to that if any would have to focus on the plain reality that that's caused by more people *committing* murders in the US. Although to some degree it's probably also from local cultures of non-cooperation with the police so that *nobody* is convicted for too high a % of murders and that waters down deterrence. Local distrust of the police could be the fault of the police so there it would actually be relevant to police behavior. But local distrust could also stem in part from the same sub-cultural dysfunction that causes a high rate of murders committed, highly demographically skewed (and US demography is pretty different from other rich countries).

For crimes in general it's yet more obscure because the US does not have a high overall crime rate by developed world standards, mainly a high murder rate.

Last edited by Corry El; 02-10-2019 at 10:45 PM.
  #155  
Old 02-10-2019, 11:25 PM
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echoreply echoreply is offline
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Originally Posted by Corry El View Post
1. People who commit crimes *should* be the targets of the police, no? They still should have their rights respected, but it seems harder to logically argue it's a problem if they are suspected or scrutinized by the police...since they committed crimes.
But that's the catch, how do we know people being targeted by police are the ones committing crimes? The whole point of this discussion is that police don't get to bother people just because they think they're the kind of person who commits crimes. Depending on the exact action they want to undertake police need to have reasonable suspicion based on articulable facts, probable cause, or possibly to have convinced a judge of those things and gotten a warrant.
  #156  
Old 02-11-2019, 02:29 AM
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pkbites pkbites is offline
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I don't see any wells being poisoned around here. Just people expressing a different perspective from yours—justifiably different. Your colleague pkbites is holding his own here just fine. If you don't want to participate that's fine, but your post was just threadsnitting.
Yeah,but Loach is still smarter than me. I get sucked into these threads with the idea of giving some insight into the job. But you've got the knowitalls, the people with per-determined ideas of law enforcement, the "this is how they do it on Law & Order" types, and the hamburger flippers/lives in parents basement types. And, of course, the legal eagle types.

In other words, after 37+ years on the job (25 years on my first career, including a rank as Detective, and 12 years so far on my second career for another agency after full, honorable retirement from the first) I apparently don't know what the fuck I am doing, according to many on these boards.

Which may be true as I continually get sucked into these threads.

*sigh*. I have tonight off, i'm going back to my drinking. All cops are drunks, dontchaknow?
  #157  
Old 02-11-2019, 09:50 AM
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Inigo Montoya Inigo Montoya is offline
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[Moderating]

That will be an official Warning for personal insults. You should know better than that.
Well you're the mod, so yes sir. Not sure what the insult was though. The implication that he would be bewildered to find himself in a prison cell even though he was innocent? (Bewildered means confused)
  #158  
Old 02-13-2019, 09:49 AM
MikeF MikeF is offline
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SamuelA , I think you may be mixing up pkbites and me. No biggie, I’m just sayin’. Anyway, of the 2000 drug arrests that I was involved in, only a minority were the result of consent searches. For the most part, when I approached you I already had probable cause to arrest or, at least, search. This is because I was in a drug unit that specialized in this stuff. We took our time and made a case. Patrol, on the other hand, has a more difficult time because of the time constraints and, in most cases, the person they are dealing with is a complete unknown.

Second, human nature is funny. People don’t always react the way common sense would lead you to believe they will. The consent searches I was involved in were part of what was known at the time as an Interdiction Program. It worked like this: The largest city in my jurisdiction (I was a county detective) has its own police department and has a bus station that handles a fair amount of direct routes to and from New York City. It was common knowledge that the locals would go to NY, buy their dope and return on the same day. Since the going retail price was twice as high locally as in NY, it was easy to make a fair amount of money.

So, a group of both county and local guys went to specialized training to how to spot possible traffickers (based on behavioral cues) and then interact with them on a consensual basis with the ultimate goal of gaining a consent to search their person/belongings. Sometimes the local officers would recognize a person as a known gang member or drug dealer. To be clear, from a legal standpoint, we didn’t need any type of suspicion at all to initiate a conversation. We didn’t even need RAS to ask for consent to search but we normally tried to get it before asking. We could have just picked people at random and sometimes did. This wasn’t a scientific study but we found that people who behaved in a way that piqued out interest were more likely to be holding.

The rules were pretty simple. Once you picked somebody out, no more than two plainclothes officers would approach them. No badges, weapons or handcuffs were to be visible. Normally, one officer would speak to the person and the second would stand back and observe, sometimes in view of the traveler and sometimes not. The first officer, while walking alongside the person, would identify himself by showing his badge briefly and ask if they minded speaking. The whole approach and interaction was designed to be as low key and non-coercive as possible since coercion would likely be alleged as a defense if an arrest was made.

If they refused to talk to talk with us we would just let them keep on going. If they agreed to talk to us, we would explain who we were and what we were doing. We’d then ask if they minded answering a few questions. If they agreed to do so, we would ask things like “Where are you travelling from?” (We already knew they just stepped off the NY bus. if they lied about that, our suspicions would be heightened), “What was the purpose of your trip?”, “How long were you there?”, “Who did you visit?”, “Name?”, “ “Last name?” “Address?” This was done in a conversational manner, not like an interrogation and no notes were being taken. If someone was telling the truth, they would have answers for these questions without having to think about it. If they were lying, the hesitations would be obvious and they often couldn’t give answers. The might claim to have been visiting a friend but couldn’t supply a last name or what street he lived on. Their luggage or packages might be inconsistent with their story. They may claim to have spent a few days in the city but have only a box of sneakers in a bag.

We would ask if they were carrying anything for anyone or if there was any chance someone slipped something into their bag while they were sleeping. Was everything in their possession theirs? This was an attempt to provide them an out and sometimes they took it. “Well, my cousin asked me to bring this package to his mother who lives in town. I have no idea what’s in it.” “Well, somebody COULD have put something in my bag when I went to the bathroom”.

If the person answered the questions in a forthright manner and everything made sense we would just say, “Thanks for your cooperation and have a nice night”. If we thought their story had too many holes in it or they were otherwise acting nervous (visibly shaking, looking around, dry mouth, visible pulse in their neck etc.), we would ask them for their consent to search. We actually had a form for them to sign that advised them of their right to refuse or stop us at any time. If they agreed, would do the search right where we were standing. To take them to a room or separate area could be construed as coercion.

Its been a long time but my best guess is that 75% or more of the people who consented had drugs or guns on them. “Why in the world would they consent?” you may ask. I don’t know but my best guess is they thought if they said, “No” that would make them look guilty and if they said “Yes” maybe we would think they weren’t holding and just leave them alone.

We were trained that if the person was loud and defiant, they were almost certainly not holding. People who are dirty don’t usually want to aggravate the police or draw attention to themselves. When we encountered such a person we usually just thanked them for their cooperation and sent them on their merry way. Sometimes, we’d try to reason with them and explain what we were trying to do but that almost never worked. For whatever reason, the word never made it out on the street that all you had to do was refuse to talk to us and we would let you go.

The whole thing was a cat and mouse game with the bad guys changing tactics and us changing to catch up with them. We would average a couple of arrests a night, mostly for drugs and guns but some warrant arrests. Once, a couple a females drew our attention and ultimately consented to a search of their overnight bags. In the bags were hundreds of condoms and not much else. They were in town to sell something other than drugs. Off they went to set up shop. On another occasion a guy had all the indicators - he was meeting someone but didn’t know the guy’s name, had never been to town before and was clearly nervous about something. He consented and in his backpack he had these bricks tightly taped up with packing tape. He said he didn’t know what was in them. We opened the bricks. It turned out to be coffee. You have never seen such a relieved person in your life. Our best guess is that someone was doing a dry run and testing either us, the carrier or both.

The whole thing came to an end when the lawyer for a guy carrying a kilo of cocaine taped to his torso alleged racial profiling. The guy’s mother was a big shot attorney in D.C. He ended up pleading guilty for a pretty light sentence. For whatever reason, our local D.A. decided to end the program rather than fight the racism charges. This really pissed us off as we viewed this as an admission to the accusation. But, since no one would believe that people moving drugs knowingly consent to searches, something nefarious had to be going on. Only there wasn’t and we couldn’t help it that the town was nearly 80% minority and the bus ridership an even higher percentage than that.
  #159  
Old 02-13-2019, 05:45 PM
Tired and Cranky Tired and Cranky is offline
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Thank you MikeF and pkbites for sharing your law enforcement perspectives.

MikeF, your description of consensual encounters is excellent. I don't doubt for one minute that the overwhelming majority of people you asked consent to a search. Your agency's policies appear reasonable and I don't think they were intended to have any discriminatory effects. I don't think they are really race-neutral though.

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Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
The consent searches I was involved in were part of what was known at the time as an Interdiction Program. It worked like this: The largest city in my jurisdiction (I was a county detective) has its own police department and has a bus station that handles a fair amount of direct routes to and from New York City. It was common knowledge that the locals would go to NY, buy their dope and return on the same day. Since the going retail price was twice as high locally as in NY, it was easy to make a fair amount of money.
Your screening mechanism involved asking for consensual encounters of people coming off buses. You admit that the people on the buses are disproportionately minorities so it seems we've already started with a biased screening mechanism.

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Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
So, a group of both county and local guys went to specialized training to how to spot possible traffickers (based on behavioral cues) and then interact with them on a consensual basis with the ultimate goal of gaining a consent to search their person/belongings.
What makes you believe that these behavioral cues were more likely to catch drug traffickers than other people? Did you systematically test people who weren't displaying those cues to see if their rates of carrying drugs were higher or lower than the people displaying those cues?

This study (pdf) suggests that factors like paying in cash and using broken luggage when traveling indicates a person is a drug courier. https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a620185.pdf Do you suspect that poor people are more likely to use broken luggage and lack credit cards to buy tickets with? Do you know that, in America, black and brown people are more likely to be poor? In light of those facts, do you think these screening criteria are racially neutral?

That list is so long that it describes nearly everyone. So, using a list of those "behavioral cues" gives plausible justification for police to stop anyone. These behavioral factors lists are just the training that racist officers need to rationalize discriminatory stops if they so choose.

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Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
We could have just picked people at random and sometimes did. This wasn’t a scientific study but we found that people who behaved in a way that piqued out interest were more likely to be holding.
Would you please describe how you randomized your selection process? Or by "random" do you mean that you just picked the people you wanted to talk to even though you had no reasonable articulable suspicion? That's not random.

Presumably, you were interested in people who traveled back and forth to New York as potential drug couriers. How did the racial makeup of the population you picked "randomly" compare to the racial makeup of all people who traveled between this city and New York in the same day? (Hint: The racial makeup of the people on the bus doesn't match the racial makeup of all the relevant travelers once you add in people in cars.)

Was nervousness one of the factors that piqued your interest? Do you believe that minorities are more likely to be nervous when "voluntarily" encountering police officers?

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Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
The rules were pretty simple. Once you picked somebody out, no more than two plainclothes officers would approach them. No badges, weapons or handcuffs were to be visible. Normally, one officer would speak to the person and the second would stand back and observe, sometimes in view of the traveler and sometimes not. The first officer, while walking alongside the person, would identify himself by showing his badge briefly and ask if they minded speaking. The whole approach and interaction was designed to be as low key and non-coercive as possible since coercion would likely be alleged as a defense if an arrest was made.
Why do you believe that plainclothes officers are less coercive than uniformed officers? Trust me, the badge is enough to tell them that you have guns and handcuffs. If a uniformed officer approached me, I might think that he is patrolling the station and just happened to take an interest in me for whatever stupid reason. A person approached by plain clothes officers might more likely conclude that the officers have been observing him or her for some time and that they won't let the person go easily.

I'll admit, two officers is less coercive than 20 and no guns visible is much less coercive than guns drawn.

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Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
If they refused to talk to talk with us we would just let them keep on going. If they agreed to talk to us, we would explain who we were and what we were doing. We’d then ask if they minded answering a few questions. If they agreed to do so, we would ask things like “Where are you travelling from?” (We already knew they just stepped off the NY bus. if they lied about that, our suspicions would be heightened),
Did you expect them all to answer "New York?" Anyone traveling long distances on a bus might have to make a connection in New York. Ask someone connecting in New York from Montpelier where they were coming from and they might truthfully answer "Vermont." Is that a lie? Do you know who makes multiple connections on buses? Poor people. Do you know that poor people are more likely to be minorities?

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Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
We would ask if they were carrying anything for anyone or if there was any chance someone slipped something into their bag while they were sleeping.
Every person with any self awareness should know that they don't watch their bags 100% of the time. Everyone should answer "yes" to whether someone could have slipped something into their bag. If people watched their stuff as closely as this question implies, pickpocketing would be impossible.

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Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
If the person answered the questions in a forthright manner and everything made sense we would just say, “Thanks for your cooperation and have a nice night”. If we thought their story had too many holes in it or they were otherwise acting nervous (visibly shaking, looking around, dry mouth, visible pulse in their neck etc.), we would ask them for their consent to search. We actually had a form for them to sign that advised them of their right to refuse or stop us at any time. If they agreed, would do the search right where we were standing. To take them to a room or separate area could be construed as coercion.
Did you know that unarmed black men are more likely to be shot by police than unarmed white men? Could that be a non-nefarious reason that unarmed black men are more nervous when talking to even very professional police officers?

https://www.vox.com/identities/2016/...al-disparities

Parents of black children give them "the talk" which basically trains their children to be fearful of and to defer to the police. Many black people consent because they have been trained that when the police want something, they should do it.

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Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
We were trained that if the person was loud and defiant, they were almost certainly not holding. People who are dirty don’t usually want to aggravate the police or draw attention to themselves. When we encountered such a person we usually just thanked them for their cooperation and sent them on their merry way.
I'll bet white people in America feel a lot more free to yell at police officers than black people. That yelling at police makes them less likely to be arrested is a form of white privilege. I say this as a white guy that has yelled at cops more than once.

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Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
The whole thing came to an end when the lawyer for a guy carrying a kilo of cocaine taped to his torso alleged racial profiling. The guy’s mother was a big shot attorney in D.C. He ended up pleading guilty for a pretty light sentence. For whatever reason, our local D.A. decided to end the program rather than fight the racism charges. This really pissed us off as we viewed this as an admission to the accusation. But, since no one would believe that people moving drugs knowingly consent to searches, something nefarious had to be going on. Only there wasn’t and we couldn’t help it that the town was nearly 80% minority and the bus ridership an even higher percentage than that.
I totally believe that almost everyone consented to the search. I also believe that none of you ever lied about whether someone consented. I still think your method of identifying drug couriers racially discriminated even if the method wasn't designed or employed with that goal in mind. Heavier policing of minorities using inherently biased methods is one reason why minorities get arrested for drug crimes at much higher rates than white people even when other evidence indicates they do drugs at the same rates. https://www.vox.com/identities/2018/...york-city-nypd
  #160  
Old 02-13-2019, 07:22 PM
Translucent Daydream Translucent Daydream is offline
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I would recommend that you never consent. There is a chance that they will go away if you don't consent to a search or back off or whatever, but when I lived in Texas (North of Dallas) I got stopped on the side of the road on my way to work (for a government job) and this cop looked like he was ripped on meth or something. He was all over the place, never really said why he pulled me over in the first place, and demanded to search my pickup. I figured since I had nothing illegal, it would be faster just to let him poke around and let me go so I wouldn't be any more late to work than I already was.

BIG DAMN MISTAKE.

He dug through my very empty truck for 45 minutes. This jackass got so mad that he didn't find drugs/stolen diamonds/headless hookers/whatever he was looking for that he ripped the hatch off of the center console, breaking the hinges that were on it clean off, broke the bezel that surrounded the dash around the radio, and broke off a coin tray trying to pull it out. This was a pretty new truck at the time, so to get the parts to everything Tweeky Barney Fife broke in my truck cost me over $600 dollars at Friendly Chevrolet. I was able to fix them on my own, but it would have been over $2,000 to have the dealer do it I'm sure.

I tried to put a claim in to my insurance but they won't pay it out on it since the police did it. They let me turn in my receipt from the Chevy house and apply it to my deductible for the year.

If they want to search your car they will whether you consent to it or not, but if they don't really want to and are fishing, they might just give up and let you go.

Oh ETA: I never got a ticket or warning for anything. Cop just said "You're free to go." After 45 damn minutes.
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Last edited by Translucent Daydream; 02-13-2019 at 07:23 PM.
  #161  
Old 02-14-2019, 09:04 AM
DesertDog DesertDog is offline
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Can you rescind permission to search? "Hey, man, you're taking way to long and breaking stuff; I no longer give you voluntary permission to search my truck."
  #162  
Old 02-14-2019, 09:25 AM
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Can you rescind permission to search? "Hey, man, you're taking way to long and breaking stuff; I no longer give you voluntary permission to search my truck."
IANAL, but yes, you can always take back your voluntary consent to search. And doing so shouldn't become probable cause or reasonable suspicion.
  #163  
Old 02-14-2019, 10:16 AM
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Can you rescind permission to search? "Hey, man, you're taking way to long and breaking stuff; I no longer give you voluntary permission to search my truck."
Here's my previous thread including that very question. The consensus was that yes, you can rescind permission, and they have to respect that, unless they've found something that turns it into a probable cause search - so if they've found the machete with blood and hair on it, next to a blood soaked duffle bag, you're going to have a very tough time preventing them from opening the duffle.

Last edited by muldoonthief; 02-14-2019 at 10:19 AM.
  #164  
Old 02-15-2019, 01:03 AM
LTU2 LTU2 is offline
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Can you rescind permission to search? "Hey, man, you're taking way to long and breaking stuff; I no longer give you voluntary permission to search my truck."
Yes, you can revoke a search, the same as 5th AM waiver, you can waive, then revoke the waiver. One of the first cases concerning consent was the 1973 Bustamonte case.

The consent must be knowingly and voluntarily given. An officer need not inform the driver he can refuse the search, but if they are not informed, it may/possibly, be considered coercion, etc. on the officer's part.

If consent is revoked, it is no longer "voluntarily given".

Last edited by LTU2; 02-15-2019 at 01:06 AM.
  #165  
Old 02-15-2019, 08:57 AM
DesertDog DesertDog is offline
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Good to know. As you can imagine, stop and search stories are quite common in the Burner* community. While I've not heard anything as extreme as TD's experience, there are many tales about a long search turning up anything and the cops driving off leaving them to restow their gear. Since most Burners practice what we call tetris-packing this takes a long time as well. As a consequence, almost no one give consent and we're back to the how long to wait for the dogs to show up question.

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  #166  
Old 02-15-2019, 02:33 PM
MikeF MikeF is offline
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That’s a lot of questions and I’ll do my best to answer them, sort of in the order you asked them.

If the screening was biased, it was biased against people who arrive from NY by bus as opposed to people who arrived from anywhere else. If intelligence, experience and common sense tell you that NY is where he drugs are coming from, that’s where you put your effort. Why waste time and resources in an effort to give the appearance of being unbiased?

Bias is defined as “prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.” We weren't prejudging anyone and I don’t see how what we did could be considered “unfair”. Maybe its just semantics but bias has a certain negative implication, especially when applied to law enforcement.

This was not a scientific study so there was no systematic effort to check people who weren’t displaying the cues. Determining the scientific validity of what we were doing was not our goal. As I mentioned, sometimes we did check people who weren’t displaying cues just… because. Maybe the bus was mostly empty and we didn’t note anyone that drew our attention. Or maybe it was a slow night and we didn’t have any arrests. This weren’t truly random stops in that we didn’t spin a wheel to determine who we approached. More like, “How about him?” “O.K. Why not?”

We had no way of knowing ahead of time how tickets were purchased, so credit card versus cash had nothing to do with it. Sometimes the person had their ticket receipts with them. If they showed that they had been in NY for less than a couple of hours, our suspicion would be raised. Broken luggage was never an indicator. The vast majority of the people we encountered didn’t have “luggage” at all. Usually, it was just a plastic shopping bag(s) or nothing at all. Soft backpacks weren’t uncommon but I can’t say that we ever noticed those being broken at an unusual rate. This was primarily a day trip route and it was a bit unusual to have someone with suitcases stored underneath in the cargo area.

Racial neutrality wasn’t our goal. Catching drug and gun runners was. We were keying on behaviors, not skin color. You seem to be a bit hung up on the randomness of who we talked to. This was never intended to be a random process. As a matter of fact, it was designed to not be random. The racial make-up of people who travelled to NY in cars was of no concern to us. We were talking to people who took the bus. These were the “relevant travelers”. As a matter of fact, the racial make-up of the people who took the bus was also not a concern or ours. It’s a predominately minority city (24% white the last I saw). If the bus travelers were representative of the entire community then one would expect the passengers to also be ¾ minorities. We never did a statistical analysis but my best guess would be the ridership was closer to 90% minority. In the end, it doesn’t matter.

Yes, nervousness was factor in determining whether or not to ask for permission to search. But it wouldn’t be the sole factor unless the person was coming out of their skin. Some people tend to be nervous when encountering the police even if they have done nothing wrong. With experience you can usually filter the Nervous Nellie type out. However, nervous behavior combined with inconsistent statements (and in, some cases, a known record of criminal behavior) is a different matter. This begins to reach the level of RAS. Which, by the way, we did NOT need to approach, talk to or request permission to search. As far as I know, even today RAS is required only for consent for motor vehicles.

I can’t cite a particular case but the courts have held that plainclothes officers are less intimidating than a uniformed officer when it comes to these types encounters. The question becomes, “Did the person have reason to believe that they were not free to leave?” Factors impacting that belief might include number of officers, uniforms, weapons visible, demeanor of officers, location of encounter (was the officer blocking the person’s path or were they taken to a secure area for the encounter or search?). Our tactics and whole approach to these encounters was to minimize the person’s belief that they were being detained. We didn’t want to lose evidence at a suppression hearing. As a reminder, the person also signed a form indicating that they understood they could refuse consent or withdraw it at any time.

As to where they were coming from – if they said something consistent NY travel, that’s O.K. Maybe ask if they made any stops. But if they said they were coming from DC, something in the opposite direction or a local route, more questions would follow. “”Do you have your ticket/receipt?” etc. If there was a reasonable explanation, fine. If the lies started to pile up we would request consent. In extreme cases we would request a search warrant but they were very rare.

Regarding unwatched baggage - the question wasn’t, “It is in any way remotely, humanly possible that someone slipped something in your bag”? The answer would be “Of course, anything is possible.” Before we would ask that sort of “out” question we already were highly suspicious. I don’t know about you but if I were traveling alone on a bus, I’d be damn sure that I didn’t leave my bag unintended or allow anyone to be close enough to putting stuff into it. Its common “street” sense. If someone says that they don’t know exactly what is in their bag, you have to wonder. Not once did we encounter an unwitting mule. Who is going to put their valuable drugs in the bag of someone else without their knowledge and risk not getting them back? That’s T.V. stuff, not real life.

Yes. I know that minorities are more likely to be poor than whites.

I don’t really want to get into a debate about blacks being shot by white cops. There are plenty of other threads for that. Maybe blacks do have a reason to be nervous when contacted by police. To repeat, nervousness (alone) would not lead us to request consent. We had many blacks tell us, in no uncertain terms, “No. Thank you”. And they were free to go. From my point of view, there is no lack of blacks (or whites) who feel free to tell the police where to get off. Hey, its their right to do so as long as they are not interfering with my duties or getting physical.

Sorry, but I fail to see how we discriminated. Short of putting up a booth with a sign that said “Come talk to me if you want to” I don’t see how we could have been any less coercive. We had no control of the demographics of the city population or bus ridership. The facts were these: the city was populated by a poor minority population. As a result of that poverty, some turned to drug dealing. A cheap source of drugs was a two hour bus ride away. No worries about getting stopped by the Troopers, potentially losing a car to forfeiture. Hell, no need to own a car or have a valid license at all. Even relatively large amounts of drugs can be carried in a sneaker box or backpack. In short, the bus was an inexpensive and relatively safe way to move the drugs. In response and within the law, we sought to counter that. Just because our arrests didn’t match the city’s demographics doesn’t lead to the logical conclusion that we were biased or discriminating. The interdiction program was only one facet of drug enforcement. If that’s all we did, I could see your argument. But we also did things like buy/busts, wiretaps and undercover operations. Like it or not, most of our defendants ended up being minority. In drug work you go where the evidence and informants take you, whether or not it is politically correct. I gather that you disagree. Please show me how were biased in our actions.
  #167  
Old 02-19-2019, 10:24 AM
Tired and Cranky Tired and Cranky is offline
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Thanks MikeF for the thoughtful response. One thing I want to make clear is that don't think you or your colleagues had any racist motives or intention to discriminate on the basis of race. I just think that your methods ultimately led to a racist result, whether you intended that or not. As a bonus, the selection process also enables outright racism, so if other officers using the same tools want to be racist, these tools enable them to let their white supremacist flags fly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
If the screening was biased, it was biased against people who arrive from NY by bus as opposed to people who arrived from anywhere else. If intelligence, experience and common sense tell you that NY is where he drugs are coming from, that’s where you put your effort. Why waste time and resources in an effort to give the appearance of being unbiased?
If people coming from New York are the target, you could also have pursued a proportionally similar number of people who came from New York by car (e.g.,, more white people). I recognize that it takes more resources to tail cars from New York and pursue voluntary encounters or pretextual stops with drivers, but the result is that you were screening poor black people and not richer white people. In the end, more poor black people than richer white people would get arrested for this crime even if they were offending at the same rates. This is an example of systemic racism. This is a harsh result when we use arrest and conviction rates based on biased law enforcement tools to justify policing the minority community more heavily, perpetuating the cycle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
Bias is defined as “prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.” We weren't prejudging anyone and I don’t see how what we did could be considered “unfair”. Maybe its just semantics but bias has a certain negative implication, especially when applied to law enforcement.
I'm asking that you examine whether what you were doing was really as fair as you thought it was at the time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
This was not a scientific study so there was no systematic effort to check people who weren’t displaying the cues. Determining the scientific validity of what we were doing was not our goal. As I mentioned, sometimes we did check people who weren’t displaying cues just… because. Maybe the bus was mostly empty and we didn’t note anyone that drew our attention. Or maybe it was a slow night and we didn’t have any arrests. This weren’t truly random stops in that we didn’t spin a wheel to determine who we approached. More like, “How about him?” “O.K. Why not?”
The tools you were using to select candidates were unreliable and could be used to justify an encounter with almost anyone. If there is a racist cop anywhere in America using this training, they are using it to justify harassing black people. That may not be what you were doing but you can't speak for your colleagues everywhere. New York's stop and frisk program demonstrates how similar methofs were used disproportionately against black and Hispanic people.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
Racial neutrality wasn’t our goal. Catching drug and gun runners was. We were keying on behaviors, not skin color. You seem to be a bit hung up on the randomness of who we talked to. This was never intended to be a random process.
To be clear, I don't think the process should be random. I think it should target people based on reliable indicators who may be gun or drug runners. You said you weren't trying to assess the reliability of your screening criteria. The problem is that no one assesses it very well and the screening criteria are disproportionately used to justify encounters with poor black people than others. The result is imprisoning poor black people for more crimes than similarly situated white people even though black and white people use drugs at similar rates.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
The racial make-up of people who travelled to NY in cars was of no concern to us. We were talking to people who took the bus. These were the “relevant travelers”.
Cars can't carry drugs or guns? What makes you think that someone driving to New York isn't bringing back guns or drugs? Why aren't people who go back and forth in cars also "relevant travelers?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
Yes, nervousness was factor in determining whether or not to ask for permission to search. But it wouldn’t be the sole factor unless the person was coming out of their skin. Some people tend to be nervous when encountering the police even if they have done nothing wrong. With experience you can usually filter the Nervous Nellie type out. However, nervous behavior combined with inconsistent statements (and in, some cases, a known record of criminal behavior) is a different matter. This begins to reach the level of RAS. Which, by the way, we did NOT need to approach, talk to or request permission to search. As far as I know, even today RAS is required only for consent for motor vehicles.
The factors police rely on to justify searches (and presumably your voluntary encounters) describe nearly 100% of the population. As New York's experience with stop and frisk show, they are disproportionately used to select minorities. This is a racist result.

Also, "filtering out the Nervous Nellie" is another source of potential bias, particularly if officers are more likely to "filter out" white people than black people.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
I can’t cite a particular case but the courts have held that plainclothes officers are less intimidating than a uniformed officer when it comes to these types encounters. The question becomes, “Did the person have reason to believe that they were not free to leave?” Factors impacting that belief might include number of officers, uniforms, weapons visible, demeanor of officers, location of encounter (was the officer blocking the person’s path or were they taken to a secure area for the encounter or search?). Our tactics and whole approach to these encounters was to minimize the person’s belief that they were being detained. We didn’t want to lose evidence at a suppression hearing. As a reminder, the person also signed a form indicating that they understood they could refuse consent or withdraw it at any time.
Again, black people in America are less likely to feel free to leave if a cop doesn't want them to because they are still more likely to suffer violence from police officers than white people even when they are unarmed. The textbook example of "voluntary encounter" almost never actually feels voluntary to the person approached, and it feels less voluntary to black people. Courts have accepted a lot of bullshit assertions over the years and some of that bullshit might just be that plain clothes officers are less intimidating than uniformed officers; I have no evidence one way or the other and I am sincerely curious if this is true. I don't doubt for an instant that courts believe it is true and that their beliefs shaped your department's practices. Your department is trying to do the right thing. It's not clear that they or the courts actually know what is the right thing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
From my point of view, there is no lack of blacks (or whites) who feel free to tell the police where to get off. Hey, its their right to do so as long as they are not interfering with my duties or getting physical.
You have a perfectly professional viewpoint of "contempt of cop" but many indefensible arrests of argumentative people during voluntary encounters will prove that not all of your colleagues share the same view.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
We had no control of the demographics of the city population or bus ridership.
You have control over whether you pursue voluntary encounters with a population of disproportionately black people on buses or disproportionately white people in cars. You chose to go after disproportionately black people largely because they are easier targets. That is a form of systemic racism.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
Just because our arrests didn’t match the city’s demographics doesn’t lead to the logical conclusion that we were biased or discriminating. The interdiction program was only one facet of drug enforcement. If that’s all we did, I could see your argument. But we also did things like buy/busts, wiretaps and undercover operations. Like it or not, most of our defendants ended up being minority. In drug work you go where the evidence and informants take you, whether or not it is politically correct. I gather that you disagree. Please show me how were biased in our actions.
I would hope that your arrests would match the demographics of offenders. Instead, the method you described likely matched the demographics of bus riders. Again, evidence in America points out that blacks and other minorities are more likely to be arrested for drug crimes even though they use drugs at the same rates. The difference in those arrest rates are one sign that the tools we use to catch drug offenders are biased against minorities, even if the people using those tools aren't themselves racist. This is a form of systemic racism. Maybe your other methods weren't as biased as the methods you described in this thread but I was only addressing the voluntary encounters you described here.
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