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Blind Squirrels get it Right: Mike Koval Named Madison’s New Police Chief

As a criminal justice instructor, it is important to identify trends that might prove problematic for future law enforcement officers.  In 2009, the Spingola Files began spotlighting the issue of government surveillance.  Due to the influence of lobbyists on Capitol Hill and at various state houses throughout the country, domestic spying has grown persistently worse.  In an effort to conceal the impact of America’s ever growing electronic iron curtain, at least one government official — James Clapper — has lied to congress.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CV7ecTqvkOc

President Obama has also told a whopper as well.  During an August 2013 appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, the President declared, “We don’t have a domestic spying program.”

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/08/06/209692380/obama-to-leno-there-is-no-spying-on-americans

Holed-up in the White House, one has to wonder if the President is simply out of touch or has lifted a page out of the NSA’s playbook by attempting to sweep the truth under the carpet.  Just take a short drive along most major thoroughfares in southeastern Wisconsin.  Then, spend a few minutes counting all the cameras mounted at large intersections, the square white box cameras posted along the interstate, and the automatic license plate readers attached to squad cars — all paid for, in large part, with federal government grant money.

Yesterday, however, something out of the ordinary occurred.  The City of Madison appointed a new police chief.  Sgt. Mike Koval has worked for the Madison PD — save a two-year stint with the FBI — since 1983 .  A well-liked, gregarious police trainer with a law degree, Koval is uniquely qualified to have his finger on the pulse of liberty and security.  After his appointment was announced yesterday afternoon, Koval promised “to change the talking points” now circulating within the nation’s law enforcement community.

“Koval said he wants to reform an image of officers so that they’re seen as guardians of the public rather than militarized warriors,” wrote the Wisconsin State Journal’s Nico Savidge.

“We have to strike that balance,” said Koval, “between individual rights, personal liberties (and) police limitations on those powers that have been granted to us.”

http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/mike-koval-picked-for-madison-police-chief/article_467b4026-cf9b-54a7-8458-8404cfd1ed8b.html

President Franklin Roosevelt once said, “Even a blind squirrel can find a nut sometimes.”  SF is pleasantly surprised that a usual “blind squirrel,” the Madison Police and Fire Commission, ‘got it right’ by selecting Koval.  Hopefully, during one of the state’s junkets for police chiefs, Koval and Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn, who hasn’t seen a Big Brother surveillance system that he hasn’t liked, will have a heart-to-heart chat about America’s post-911 version of COINTELPRO, and the state’s two, 21st century versions of the old Special Assignment Squad, now dubbed intelligence fusion centers.

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at Amazon.com.

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit www.badgerwordsmith.com and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2014

The One Last Hope? Rand Paul and the Right Side of History

If Rip Van Winkle fell asleep in 1990 and woke-up today, would he recognize the United States as the land of the free?  Initially, he might, until, of course, he picked-up a newspaper (news on the Web did not exist in 1990).  Then, it wouldn’t take Mr. Van Winkle long to realize that the freedoms Americans had formerly recognized were auctioned off by federal, state, and local politicians, to leaders of high-tech companies who made significant campaign contributions.

Like crack addicts, politicians, especially those on the state and federal level, are constantly on the lookout for their next fix.  When the money tree shakes, the politicians scramble to collect the falling dollars.  Only a dolt would believe that this cash is simply handed over to the campaign committees of politicians with no strings attached.  And the news media, which treats politics like a sporting event, is all too willing to play the role of an official score keeper by portraying candidates as viable based on the amount of money stuffed away in their campaign war chests.

After all, it is the desire for campaign cash — that pipeline of revenue skimmed from the goods and services that the public and/or the government over pays for — that underwrites a politician’s lust for power by maintaining or securing committee chairmanships.  Unfortunately, this practice of money-hungry politicians on steroids has transformed America into a nation of ‘freedom on paper only.’  It has also turned our political leaders, such as the President and his director of National Intelligence, into prevaricators.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/07/27/1227008/-Clapper-Admits-He-Lied-to-Congress-in-Letter-Posted-by-Senator-Wyden

Only one national political figure, U.S. Senator Rand Paul, has sought to mobilize those of us — the taxpayers — who over pay for the goods and services used to fund these de facto campaign kickbacks. Speaking, at all places, the University of California-Berkeley, Paul drew a standing ovation from a crowd of millenniums as he denounced the American surveillance state.

http://www.politico.com/story/2014/03/rand-paul-privacy-university-of-california-berkeley-104834.html

Sen. Paul is conveying a message eerily reminiscent to that of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill — from the shores of New York City, to the beaches of Waikiki, an electronic iron curtain has descended across the American continent. All of us are being watched, not just by the NSA, the FBI, the intelligence fusion centers operated by state and local police, but also by the U.S. military.

Today, the Washington Examiner reported that the U.S. Navy’s Law Enforcement and Information Exchange (LinX) is keeping tabs on Americans by collecting data compiled from criminal histories, arrest reports, traffic citations, and even field interview cards filled out by cops on the beat.

http://washingtonexaminer.com/navy-database-tracks-civilians-parking-tickets-fender-benders-raising-fears-of-domestic-spying/article/2546038

“More than 1,300 agencies participate, including The FBI and other Department of Justice divisions, the Department of Homeland Security and the Pentagon,” notes the Examiner’s Mark Flatten. “Police departments along both coasts and in Texas, New Mexico, Alaska and Hawaii are in LinX.”

Herein, lays the problem with the Republican Party, which supposedly is an advocate for limited government.  The neo-conservative wing of the party has yet to see a government surveillance program that it does not like.  When voters, especially young people, hear GOP candidates speaking in glowing terms of limited government, many simply roll their eyes and think, ‘Why do they support a foreign surveillance court that gathers the telephone records of every American? Hum, sounds more like China than America.’

Recently, a student of mine drafted a paper that purported to show how Republican appointees to state and federal courts — most notably the U.S. Supreme Court — have “stripped away” many of the rights citizens maintained just a few decades ago and “turned American into a virtual police state.”  Admittedly, even though I have used many of these judicial changes to my advantage as a detective, I had to concur with his thesis.

Which begs the question: as the wave of totalitarian electronic surveillance presents itself, is it possible that Rand Paul can save the Republican Party from a generation or more or resounding Presidential election defeats?

Along with an electronic iron curtain reference, when it comes to Big Brother creeping further-and-further into our lives, Senator Paul might want to incorporate this Churchillian theme into his repertoire of freedom:  ‘But if we fail to control the monster of technology, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new dark age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of high technology. Let us, therefore, brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the United States lives for a thousand years, people will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at Amazon.com.

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit www.badgerwordsmith.com and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2014

Hackers & Blackmail: Our Future Electronic Concentration Camp

In his 2006 book No Place to Hide, journalist Robert O’Harrow, Jr. painted a troubling picture of America’s brave new world, where technology would track our every move.

Eight years later, O’Harrow’s writings have proved prophetic.  Within the scope of the last month, 110 million Americans have had their personnel data compromised courtesy of security flaws at Target.  Sources say that Target customers routinely had their driver’s license scanned after making certain purchases.  This data, along with specific credit card information, is now in the hands of Russian hackers.

“I’ll never shop at Target again,” said woman who had contacted SF.  “I felt very uncomfortable when they scanned my driver’s license at checkout.  I just thought that, being a major corporation, Target would have its act together.  Was I ever wrong.”

Today, Sen. Al Franken,  chairman of a Senate Committee on Privacy and Technology, demanded that Ford Motor Company discontinue the GPS tracking of persons who have purchased that company’s vehicles.

During recent remarks, Ford’s Vice President of Jim Farley stated, “We know everyone who breaks the law; we know when you’re doing it. We have GPS in your car, so we know what you’re doing.”  Farley went on to say that Ford is not supplying its customers’ data to anyone, although Franken claims that evidence exists that Ford is tracking individuals who drive their company’s vehicles and is supplying the data to third parties.

Then there is the NSA showing, yet again, why this Orwellian agency is an acronym for Never Say Anything.  The British newspaper, The Guardian, just published a piece indicating that the NSA routinely vacuums over 200 million text messages each day.

Unfortunately, this is just the beginning.  Things are bound to get  much, much worse.  Just wait until hackers get their hands on the medical records of Americans and use them to blackmail individuals.  It is not a reach to imagine a scenario where a ransom is demanded in bitcoin.  If this ransom goes unpaid, the hackers will disclose a list of psychiatric medications or disclose an individual’s personal medical information online.

And regardless of what our politicians promise, it will only be a matter of time before state and federal government DNA databases are compromised.  Imagine what an insurance company might be willing to pay for this information prior to underwriting health and life policies.

So keep playing with all those high-tech gadgets and continue believing that those who’ve warned of the Brave New World’s electronic concentration camp are simply delusional crackpots.

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective.  He is set to appear on TNT’s show “Cold Justice,” on February 14.   His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. I & II, is available at Amazon.com.

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit www.badgerwordsmith.com and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2014

2014 Spingola Files’ Predictions

Get your scorecard ready.  After a gathering at Spingola Files’ HQ in Wales yesterday, SF is prepared to offer its 2014 predictions.

On Crime:

  • Milwaukee homicides will remain near 100 as morale at the MPD continues to ebb.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court will prohibit the NSA from broadly vacuuming the metadata from Americans’ cellular telephone accounts.  Instead, the high court will narrow the government’s collection of such information to those individuals who reasonably pose a threat.
  • The NYPD’s controversial stop and frisk program will continue, although politically correct verbiage will be inserted about such searches.
  • Terrorists will attempt an attack at the Winter Olympics in Russia.
  • The City of Madison will appoint an academic as its next chief of police.
  • In exchange for a guilty plea and further cooperation with the government, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will be spared the death penalty and occupy a cell in Florence, Colorado.

On Sports:

  • The Green Bay Packers, after their defense allows over 400 yards in a blowout loss to the San Francisco 49’ers, will show Dom Capers the door.
  • The Seattle Seahawks will upset the Denver Broncos in a snowy NYC Super Bowl.
  • With the 21st pick in the 2014 NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers will select Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson.
  • The Minnesota Vikings will name Darrell Bevel as their next head coach.
  • The Milwaukee Brewers will win 82 games, but will not make the playoffs.
  • The Milwaukee Bucks proposal to build a new arena will fall on deaf ears.

On Politics:

  • Scott Walker will win re-election as governor with 52 percent of the vote.
  • Republicans will take control of the U.S. Senate by two seats.
  • To increase Paul Ryan’s and Gov. Walker’s Presidential chances at the GOP nomination, Wisconsin will move its Presidential Primary to February 16, 2016, with Reince Priebus leading the charge.
  • In the fall, 50 million Americans will lose their health care coverage and be dumped into the Obamacare exchanges by their employers.

On Finances:

  • The stock market will see a 25 percent correction; recover slightly, but then finish down 12 percent in 2014.
  • Gold prices will increase 15 percent in 2014.
  • The price of electricity will increase as much as 25 percent in some locales due to new Obama administration EPA mandates.
  • Food prices will increase 10 percent in 2014.
  • The unemployment rate will be virtually the same at the end of 2014.
  • The Chinese will tighten their money supply in an effort to combat inflation.

SF will revisit this post and compare our scorecard with the predictions of others at this year’s end.

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available in audiobook format at Amazon.com.

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit www.badgerwordsmith.com and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2014

Milwaukee’s 2013 Per Capita Murder Rate Worse than Chicago’s

The 2013 Milwaukee homicide numbers are in and they continue to defy a national trend.  While the number of murders in many large cities (i.e., New York and Chicago) ebbed, Milwaukee’s increased by 15 percent.

Statistically, a person in Milwaukee was more likely to become a victim of homicide than an individual in Chicago (see the below chart).   In 2013, the number of homicides in the Windy City fell 17 percent.

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City                           Population          Number of Homicides          Ratio

Milwaukee              598,916                  106                                        1:5650

Chicago                   2,714,856               413                                       1:6572

________________________________________________________________

“A fatal shooting on New Year’s Eve and a couple of nonfatal shootings concluded a violent year in Milwaukee,” the first sentence of an article in today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes, “in which more people were killed by assailants than in any since 2005.”

http://www.jsonline.com/news/crime/fatal-shooting-brings-2013-c-homicide-tally-to-106-b99175576z1-238380301.html

A New Year’s Day article in the New York Times praised Chicago officials for implementing strategies that reduced the number of dead human bodies at the Cook County morgue.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/01/us/fewer-murders-in-chicago-this-year-after-a-brutal-2012.html?_r=0

Sources within the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) point, in part, to Chief Edward Flynn’s administrative strategy, which, they claim, is purposely designed to marginalize the MPD’s Criminal Investigation Bureau (informally known as the Detective Bureau).

“It’s tough to find highly qualified detectives to volunteer to work homicide,” said one high-ranking source.  “Many of the really good detectives have retired or, extremely frustrated, have found a place to lay low until he’s [Flynn] gone.  And those with initiative have their knees cut out from them towards the end of their respective shifts in order keep a lid on overtime.   In the interim, the department, until recently, hadn’t offered a promotional exam for the rank of detective in years.

“Here’s a question the media should ask: why is it that, even though the numbers of some categories of crimes have declined, clearances rates have not? If deterrence — the chance of getting caught — plays a role in the criminal mindset then failing to clear crimes empowers future criminality.”

In the late 1990s, Milwaukee had 300 detectives in its ranks.  Today, the source says, the number of detectives has fallen nearly 35 percent.  This is due, in part, to a shift in administrative philosophy, which now mandates that police officers sent to certain felonies, such as robberies and burglaries, conduct the primary investigation.  In many instances, some detectives claim that, by the time the follow-up reaches their desks, inexperienced officers have inadequately processed the scene or have failed to canvass the area for potential witnesses.

As 2014 unfolds, it will be interesting to see if city officials address the rising murder rate, as well as other issues impacting overall MPD morale.  Absent any pressure from the media, though, it is likely that the status quo will remain unchanged, even as the gang invested city in the corrupt state 90 miles to Milwaukee’s south somehow manages to get a grip on its murder rate.

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available in audiobook format at Amazon.com.

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit www.badgerwordsmith.com and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2014

Roadblocks, Buccal Swabs, and Big Brother-Policing

raodblock

Over the course of the past week, SF has received a handful of inquiries concerning a bizarre, new law enforcement tactic: stopping motorists at roadblocks and then asking — some would say demanding —  that driver’s submit to have the interior of their mouths swabbed.

Yesterday, RT reported that the LAPD will set-up roadblocks and supposedly ask motorists to “consent to a voluntary portable oral fluids test of their gum line and cheeks” on New Year’s Eve.

http://rt.com/usa/portable-drug-test-lapd-902/

Some of those who’ve contacted SF asked how such roadblocks and searches could take place in the United States — in “the supposed the land of the free.”  Another wrote that “roadblocks are something I’d expect to see in China, not in America.”

The U.S. Supreme Court, however, sees roadblocks differently.  In the summer of 1990, the high court held, by a 6-3 vote, that “sobriety checkpoints” (i.e. roadblocks) were legal.  This decision was more or less authored by now deceased Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who was raised in Shorewood, Wisconsin; whereby, the court held that roadblocks did, in essence, violate the Fourth Amendment, but this violation of the Bill of Rights is minor.

Ironically, when the government violates the Bill of Rights for the ‘public good’ the courts pretty much cover for its agents.  That being said could one only imagine what would happen to a citizen, like Edward Snowden, should they make a similar argument in court.  After all, Snowden proved that officials from the Obama administration and the NSA had lied, under oath, to members of Congress. A hunch tells me that, should he ever return to the United States, the Supreme Court will not be as kind to him as they were to roadblocks.

As far as the use of buccal swabs to gather evidence at roadblocks, this is a fairly recent law enforcement phenomenon.  In a previous post, SF spotlighted some of these highly controversial stops, which appear to be funded, in part, by grants from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

http://www.badgerwordsmith.com/spingolafiles/2013/12/19/its-time-to-stop-feeding-the-beast/

NHTSA is a bureaucratic agency the continually lobbies Congress to pass more intrusive, Big Brother-type laws.  Earlier this year, NHTSA demanded that automakers install “black boxes” in each vehicle that record virtually every function of the driver.  Police officers will soon be provided equipment, paid for with federal grant money, to search these boxes whenever an exigent circumstance presents itself (i.e. an accident or a moving violation) or with a court order.  Earlier this year, NHTSA announced its support to have the alcohol limit lowered to .05 percent of blood alcohol content.

http://www.theharrisburglawyers.com/2013/05/nhtsa-recommends-reducing-blood-alcohol-content-for-driving-under-the-influence-charges-from-08-to-05-but-is-safety-the-consideration/

Under the proposed NHTSA guidelines, a 180 pound man, who has not eaten a full meal, would reach 0.05 after consuming three beers in 90 minutes.  A 135 pound woman, who had not eaten a full meal, would near 0.05 if she consumed two beers in 90 minutes.

In all reality, unless something changes, the writing — about where all of this is heading — is already on the wall: absolute sobriety for ALL persons operating a motor vehicle of any kind and the collection of human DNA by the government at birth.  SF predicts that, should present technological trends go unchecked by lawmakers, and public complacency continues, these two laws will be on the books in most states by 2025.

Note: In Wisconsin, state law currently prohibits law enforcement from using roadblocks.

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at Amazon.com.

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit www.badgerwordsmith.com and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013

The Winner of the Spingola Files’ 1st Annual LEBOY Awards are…

No doubt, 2013 has been an interesting year for law enforcement. The Boston Marathon bombings, increased surveillance, drones, the NSA scandal, and police militarization, have all been hot topics.  As the calendar prepares to turn and usher in 2014, the staff at Spingola Files’ HQ spent the better part of a week sifting through books that represented the best in 2013 police related fiction and non-fiction.

So today, after considerable debate, SF has announced the winners of its first annual LEBOY (Law Enforcement Books of the Year) Awards.

Winner:               Non-Fiction

Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces

Author:                Radley Balko

Publisher:            Public Affairs

The brave new world of American policing is something that often divides old school cops from their contemporaries. The belief amongst the officers of yore is that the feds look down their noses at local law enforcement.  Since the attacks of 9/11, however, the federal government has spent billions of dollars constructing a national surveillance state.  To accomplish this goal, Uncle Sam has funneled grant money to local law enforcement in the hopes of purchasing Big Brother buy-in.

Journalist Radley Balko’s book, Rise of the Warrior Cop, spotlights how federal grant money and fear of terrorists lurking behind every corner has transformed the local police into virtual storm troopers.  Personally, as a critic of government spying absent a reasonable suspicion of wrong doing, I agree with about two-thirds of this book. I am, however, aware that many tactical enforcement officers view Balko’s assertions of the coming (if not already present) police state as “bunk.”

Nonetheless, Rise of the Warrior Cop is a book that judges, cops, journalists, attorneys, and policy makers should read.

http://www.amazon.com/Rise-Warrior-Cop-Militarization-Americas/dp/1610392116/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

Winner:                 Fiction

Psychic Reprieve: Deception & Reality

Author:                 Mitchell Nevin

Publisher:            Lemon Press

With the exceptions of Tom Clancy and Vince Flynn (both of whom passed away this year), few can weave a fictional story with non-fictional topics like Mitchell Nevin.   His first novel, The Cozen Protocol, is a Milwaukee law enforcement classic. As such, the crew at SF thought Psychic Reprieve might not rise to the same level, but it clearly did.

Psychic Reprieve takes a look at the criminal justice system from the eyes of three offenders, one of which is a former Chicago police sergeant brought down by a corruption scandal. The novel explores some serious issues, like serial murders and terrorism, but also depicts the resiliency of the human psyche.  After all, nothing is more American than perseverance, self-deprecating humor, and a few good laughs that reflect back on society.

If you’re a casual fan of baseball, a person interested in psychics, are concerned about surveillance, or just enjoy one-liners, Nevin’s latest novel will not disappoint.

www.authormitchellnevin.com

Congratulations to the winners of the Spingola Files’ LEBOY Awards.  Hopefully, 2014 will bring more than a few interesting LE reads our way.

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at Amazon.com.

http://www.amazon.com/Best-Spingola-Files-Volume-Steven/dp/0979683998/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1364048098&sr=8-1&keywords=best+of+the+spingola+files

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit www.badgerwordsmith.com  and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013

It’s Time to Stop Feeding the Beast

Manipulation has always been a part of politics.  Remember the anti-Barry Goldwater ad showing an atomic bomb exploding while a young girl played with a flower?  How about the famed Willie Horton spot employed by Bush 41?

At the federal government level, however, the strategy of playing to one’s fears and stretching the truth has been replaced by subterfuge and outright lies.

First, there is the Obama administration’s argument that having the NSA seize the data on over 280 million Americans’ cellular telephones does not equate to domestic spying.  The NSA’s own charter restricts the agency to gathering information on foreign nationals, not American citizens on American soil. Why then did the Obama administration use a foreign intelligence surveillance court to obtain data on American citizens?

Only a “secret” court using apparently “secret” rules would approve a request from the government seeking swaths of information in order to conduct a fishing expedition.  The Fourth Amendment requires that a court order be signed by a magistrate, and supported by Oath or affirmation, “particularly” describing the alleged offense, the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.  In the case of the metadata seizure, the government, according to a Federal Judge Richard Leon, has not met this burden.  In fact, when asked, the government could not provide any information to Judge Leon about a single terrorist act that the collection of metadata had prevented.

And unlike the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Smith v. Maryland, the metadata obtained by the NSA does more than simply record telephone numbers in a pen register.  Cellular telephone technology enables the NSA to track a user’s location and to geo-tag, via GPS and tower triangulation, the person being called. Granted, while the actual telephone records might be owned by a third party (Verizon, Sprint, etc.), the device itself, which emits its location, is owned and operated by the user.  Common sense dictates that Americans, absent their consent, have a reasonable expectation to privacy when it comes to their location, unless the government can show that an individual is involved in criminal activity. Absent this showing, the NSA’s metadata collection is little more than domestic spying.

The government’s thrust for the metadata of Americans is just one example of a federal government out of control.  Using grant money to hook the local police into a culture of control and surveillance, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTSA) have ushered in a new phase of Orwell’s America.

In late November, an NBC affiliate in Texas reported, “Police officers in Fort Worth, Texas, set up a roadblock on a busy city street last week, and directed motorists into a parking lot, where they were asked to submit samples of their breath, saliva and blood.”

The non-consensual roadblock that unduly interpreted the lives of every day Americans was funded by a NTSA grant.  Its purpose, according to the news report, was to gather “random sampling…to determine how many motorists are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.”

http://autos.aol.com/article/police-ask-random-drivers-for-saliva-breath-blood-samples/?icid=maing-grid7%7Cmain5%7Cdl14%7Csec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D409229

In Redding, Pennsylvania, local police and a federal contractor conducted a similar operation.  “A private firm,” reports the Redding Eagle, “with a federal contract – and backed up by city police – forced motorists off Laurel Street and into a private parking lot Friday to question them about their driving habits and ask for a swab of their mouth.”

One individual, whose was detained even though he had violated no law, was Ricardo Nieves, who told the Redding City Council, “I feel this incident is a gross abuse of power on many levels.”

“The checkpoint” according to the newspaper, “was supposed to be voluntary, but Nieves said he had to refuse several times over a five-minute period before the woman taking the survey let him go.”

http://readingeagle.com/article/20131217/NEWS/312179910&template=mobileart

Is this the same America that was once the home of the FREE or does this type of conduct eerily resemble that of the police state in the People’s Republic of China?

The federal government is the equivalent of a 600 pound man whose size is set to cause a cataclysmic death.  Only one thing can save him: calorie restriction.  And with our elected officials in the tank for the security-industrial complex and their well-connected lobbyist on K Street, our freedoms and prosperity will soon be crushed unless we stop feeding the beast.

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at Amazon.com.

http://www.amazon.com/Best-Spingola-Files-Volume-Steven/dp/0979683998/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1364048098&sr=8-1&keywords=best+of+the+spingola+files

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit www.badgerwordsmith.com and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013

Spingola Files, the Local News & Stocking Stuffers

Over the course of the past month, I have appeared on two Milwaukee news broadcasts to address a couple issues that I feel passionate about: homicide investigations and the vast overreach of government surveillance.

On November visit to to Milwaukee’s CBS 58 news, I spoke about the issue of biometrics.

http://www.cbs58.com/news/local-news/Real-ID-or-real-nightmare-231998111.html

On December 2, reporter Myra Sanchick, of Fox News 6 in Milwaukee, conducted an interview with me regarding the death of Walter Ellis, Milwaukee’s infamous north side strangler.

http://fox6now.com/2013/12/02/death-of-serial-killer-leaves-questions-unanswered/

In Best of the Spingola Files, Volume I & II, I discussed the complicated deaths associated with Ellis and other suspects in a four part series entitled “The Detectives in the Rye.”

Christmas/Hanukkah Stocking Stuffers

When shopping for the holidays, please consider giving the gift of books.  My latest, Best of the Spingola Files, Volume I & II, is now available in print and audiobook format.

http://www.amazon.com/Best-Spingola-Files-Volume-Steven/dp/0979683998/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1386709924&sr=8-2&keywords=spingola+files

Mitchell Nevin’s first novel, The Cozen Protocol, is also available in audiobook format.  For a limited time, the e-book version of the novel is available for just 99 cents.

Nevin’s latest novel, Psychic Reprieve, is currently in the process of being formatted into a screen play.  The e-book version of this outstanding book has been discounted to $3.99 for the holidays.

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective.

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit www.badgerwordsmith.com and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013

Wisconsin Lawmakers’ Attempt to Rein in Surveillance State

Whether one thinks of him as a traitor or a whistleblower, Edward Snowden’s leaks of information pertaining to NSA spying illustrate one thing: our government and its leaders will lie to the American people whenever they deem it necessary.

Typically, these so-called “noble lies,” a term coined by the philosopher Plato, are premised on protecting our national security interests.  In reality, no matter what the underlying purpose, untruthfulness on the part of public officials undermines the rule of law at every level of government.

In August, President Obama, during an appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, proclaimed, “We don’t have a domestic spying program.”

Even though he is isolated in the White House, even a casual observer must wonder what planet the President is living on.  Has he driven down a major thoroughfare in his limo and observed surveillance cameras capturing the movements of Americans?  What about the millions of closed circuit television cameras (the square white ones) found virtually every mile or two on high traveled portions of interstate highways?  Has the President conveniently forgotten that his own administration is providing grants to local law enforcement for automated license plate readers that capture, geo-tag, and store data on the locations of our vehicles absent a reasonable suspicion? What about the NSA’s Utah Data Center, a facility that creates electronic dossiers on millions of Americans?

During my tenure at the Milwaukee Police Department, a long-time detective frequently echoed the mantra that “abuses lead to restrictions.”  If this now retired detective’s warning rings true, then the wide spread abuses and overreaching of our government, at all levels, is about to be met with a slew of regulations.

Fortunately, the state legislature in Wisconsin is finally grabbing the proverbial bull by the horns.  Two proposed bills seek to curtail the ability of the government to spy on its citizens.

The first initiative would restrict the ability of so-called Intelligence Fusion Centers from using GPS cellular telephone technology to monitor the movements of citizens without court authorization.

http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/bill-would-require-warrants-for-law-enforcement-tracking-of-cellphones-b99158195z1-234978781.html

As things currently stand, operatives at the Southeastern Wisconsin Threat Assessment Center, located on the second floor of Milwaukee’s Police Administration Building, can keep close tabs on any cellular telephone user who leaves their “location services” on.   The software used is very Orwellian.  Even though local tax dollars are used to fund the MPD’s fusion center, federal officials and city leaders believe much of the data captured and stored is exempt from Wisconsin’s open records law.

Another bill takes aim at information accumulated from Automated License Plate Readers (ALPRs).  These devices are either mounted on squad cars or at fixed locations.  Once a license plate is capture it is time stamped and geo-tagged.

http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/proposed-wisconsin-bill-would-set-rules-for-license-plate-readers-b99155494z1-234324371.html

The proposed bill would limit the amount of time that law enforcement can maintain the license plate information after its capture.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the Milwaukee Police Department has photographed over 9.6 million license plates since 2008.

Of course, Wisconsin’s law enforcement community is not particularly pleased with these restrictions, which limit its authority to spy on citizens absent a reasonable suspicion on any wrong doing.  Statist politicians, such as former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and big government police chiefs, like Milwaukee’s Edward Flynn, appear to view electronic surveillance and other measures that stretch the Constitution to its limits and beyond as a god send.

For example, Flynn, like Bloomberg, is a supporter of the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy, which require officers to have a reasonable suspicion to stop a person but seems to forgo the reasonable articulable suspicion necessary for a lawful pat down.

http://inpublicsafety.com/2013/08/the-ongoing-battle-of-stop-and-frisk-nypd-faces-epic-battle-today-while-detroit-police-chief-pledges-to-continue-practice/

Yet if surveillance initiatives are a god send then why does the government feel the need to conceal their activities from open records laws or, as was the case with the NSA, outright lie about them? Could it be that these leaders are fearful of what its citizens may learn: that America has become the land of the watched and home of the “Brave New World” that Aldous Huxley foretold in 1932?

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at Amazon.com.

http://www.amazon.com/Best-Spingola-Files-Volume-Steven/dp/0979683998/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1364048098&sr=8-1&keywords=best+of+the+spingola+files

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit www.badgerwordsmith.com and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013