Archive for November, 2012

Source: Milwaukee Police in the Midst of Procuring and Using Drones

In several earlier posts, the Spingola Files (SF) reported that local police departments in southeastern Wisconsin might soon be using drones to conduct surveillance.

Last week, SF learned, through a good source, that the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) is seriously considering procuring at least four drones at a cost of $15,000 each.  While the MPD is carefully researching and considering its Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) options, a likely candidate is the Draganfly X-6 drone, which weighs less than five pounds.  These hover craft are equipped with high definition cameras and also have infrared capabilities. 

Federal law currently permits law enforcement agencies to operate drones weighing less than 30 pounds without authorization from the FAA.  The UAV operator, however, is required to maintain a line-of-sight visual of the flying object.

The Draganflyer X-6 is electric and makes little noise while hovering.  The X-6 ‘s power source is an easy to install battery pack.  When the battery runs low, a computer directs the drone to return to the operator, who then installs a fresh battery.  This particular UAV does have the capability to see through the walls of buildings with the use of infrared heat sensors.  The X-6 can also follow vehicles and zoom-in to capture its license plate, as well as images of the vehicle’s occupants.  

Last month, the Seattle Police Department announced that it is set to deploy the Draganflyer X-6. To get closer look this particular UAV, view the below link.

“The drawback to this type of drone [the X-6],” said a source “is that it can’t be operated from a remote location. Ultimately, law enforcement will want this type of capability—rendering expensive helicopters obsolete.”

Make no mistake about it, though, the smaller Draganflyer X-6 UAV is a valuable tool.  During protests or civil disturbances, the MPD could conduct surveillance of crowds, stream live video to a command center, and then store photographs and video of participants.  Operatives at the MPD’s Intelligence Fusion center, using facial recognition software, could then, in less than an hour, identify those involved by comparing photographs from Wisconsin’s Real ID biometric database—obtained from drivers’ licenses, ID cards, and/or booking photos.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. I, is available at

Spingola’s soon-to-be-released book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You, is set for release in December 2012.

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, please visit:

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2012

How Government Officials, Entrepreneurs & Stalkers Use ‘Back Doors’ to Monitor Your Movements

Over the course of the past year, SF has taken the mainstream media to task for its failure to inform the public about the ever expanding, post 9/11 surveillance state.

Libertarians and Constitutionalists argue that our federally elected officials used the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, committed by Islamic radicals, as a pretext to gut the Fourth Amendment protections of ordinary Americans. Some experts believe that since 9/11, the federal government has spent $350-$600 billion building a high-tech, domestic spying infrastructure designed to chronicle the day-to-day movements of virtually all individuals absent a suspicion of wrong doing.

Earlier this month, Fox News 6 in Milwaukee—to their credit—did an investigative segment on Automated License Plate Recognition (ALPR) technology.

While the Fox News 6 report does an excellent job explaining how police agencies use the technology, the segment failed to elaborate on how local, state and federal authorities plan to store and use the data captured by license plate readers installed on squad cars, bridges, toll roads, and poles along interstate highways.

At a 2010 National Institute for Justice Conference, Dale Stockton, a program manager for the Automated Regional Justice Information System in San Diego, addressed a panel of police officials and prosecutors concerning the politics of sharing ALPR data, and was recorded saying:

“We’re probably not going to have any centralized national giant bucket of license plate reader data. It probably wouldn’t stand the court of public opinion, and it’s probably something that, given where we are in the rollout cycle, wouldn’t easily be done, but we can develop regional sharing capability…”

What is this “regional sharing” initiative that Mr. Stockton describes?

“Regional sharing” is bureaucratic speak that makes use of a series of loopholes permitting law enforcement, in virtually any jurisdiction throughout the United States, to obtain the information collected by ALPRs specific to the date, time, and geographical location of any particular vehicle.

“Every law enforcement agency has a connection to Nlets,” Stockton told the conference attendees. “Nlets would serve not as a storage unit but as a pointer system, something akin to a Google, so that when you check a plate, Nlets would point you in the direction of where that plate can be found, and the result of that would be a query in one state by an investigator could give an indication of plates of interest in other states, and then that information can be pulled back in of a particular license plate.”

The Nlets network Mr. Stockton is referring to is the Web portal for the International Justice and Public Safety Network, an online, password accessible data base for authorized law enforcement users—an online file accessible to hackers.

Making “buckets” of data collected from the license plates of vehicles parked in supposedly public places or operated on public roadways is something voters, elected officials, and policy makers should openly and honesty debate. This discussion—one with huge privacy implications—can only occur when public officials—those who wish to use tax dollars to purchase the equipment and staff intelligence fusion centers—are straight forward and do not attempt to hoodwink the public and the mainstream media.

When it comes to ALPRs the issues that matter are data access, the security of the numerous data bases involved, and the length of time that the data is stored and/or available for retrieval.

In Minnesota, for example, information obtained by ALPRs is a public record.  Five organizations have filed an open records request for Minnesota’s entire 2.5 million records captured and stored in that state’s ALPR data base.

At least one of these organizations sells data to the public online. In other words, a stalker or anyone else seeking the dates, locations, and times of a particular individual would know the whereabouts of this person’s vehicle if captured by taxpayer funded ALPRs.

In Wisconsin, as the Fox News 6 report notes, an open records request made through a local police agency does reveal when and where a license plate was tagged by an ALPR.

To view a list of the Wisconsin law enforcement agencies making use of ALPRs, visit this link:

Sources claim that the Milwaukee Police Department currently has 15 squad cars outfitted with ALPRs, although none are currently attached to fixed locations within the city limits proper. Smaller police departments, such as Crivitz, Coleman, and Ripon, also have ALPRs, while larger jurisdictions—Madison, Eau Claire, and Waukesha—are in the process of applying for federal grants to cover the $15,000-$17,000 cost of a single ALPR unit.

Make no mistake about it: the annual trillion dollar deficits the federal government’s been racking-up since 2009 won’t stop local law enforcement agencies from applying for their share of ‘free money.’


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. I, is available at

Spingola’s soon-to-be-released book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You, is set for release in December 2012.

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, please visit:

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2012

‘If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Buy ‘Em: Free Enterprise and the Media

Earlier this week, I was contacted by a person with some financial clout.  Like the 49 percent (those who voted against re-electing President Obama) he was extremely disappointed with the election’s outcome.  To his credit, however, instead of griping about the ‘economic illiterates’ that voted for high unemployment and $6 trillion in new federal debt, this individual is actively encouraging  those who advocate for limited government and the free enterprise system to put their money where they mouths are.  Instead of donating billions of dollars to Super Pac organizations, he argues, those who still believe in our nation’s founding principles need to use their savvy investment skills to purchase media outlets, especially newspapers, and turn them around by creating a product the makers, not the takers, might actually read.

The “maker-class,” as he describes it, consists of able-bodied Americans willing to pull their own weight free of government subsidies, such as food stamps, SSI, heat assistance, rent assistance, and free cellular telephones.  For the first time in our nation’s history, he believes, last week’s election made one thing clear: the mainstream media is in the tank for the Democrat Party, as the press has given a free pass to President Obama on several debacles.

During Operation Fast and Furious, ATF agents made high-powered firearms available to Mexican drug cartels. When one of the guns was later used to kill a U.S. Border Patrol agent, the scandal broke and the president simply claimed he was unaware of the operation.

The mainstream press, including the New York Times and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, simply swept any significant coverage of the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya under the rug until after the election.  With drones sending real time video to the White House situation room, the administration’s national security team watched as an Al-Qaeda affiliated organization attacked the consulate with rocket propelled grenades, started the building on fire, and dragged the U.S. ambassador through the streets.  Those in the White House stood idle as four Americans died.  Once again, President Obama claimed to have little real-time knowledge of the event, but then, for over the course of the next two weeks, claimed the attack was a spontaneous demonstration sparked by a YouTube video, even though his own CIA director alleges, that within 24 hours, the government was fully aware that a terrorist organization perpetrated the murders.

Last week, after CIA Director David Patraeus resigned due to an extra-marital affair, the Wall Street Journal reported that the FBI uncovered the affair in May, but the administration permitted Patraeus to stay on the job until after the election. Once again, President Obama claims he had no knowledge of the matter, even though Patraeus’ mistress was alleged to have classified documents in her possession.

Obviously, there is a pattern here, but those in the mainstream media, still feeling the tingling running-down their legs, are once again giving the President the benefit of the doubt.  Just look at all the softball questions lobbed to Obama at last week’s so-called press conference.

In the interim, the federal deficit just for the month of October was up 22 percent; Boeing is slated to lay-off 25 percent of its management team; Hostess has laid-off 18,000 employees; and GE Medical, with a sizeable presence in Pewaukee, will let 125 highly-paid employees go at the end of the year.  With third quarter corporate profits flat or on the decline, the stock market—an indicator of what the economy will look like six months to a year down the road—is down almost four percent since Election Day.  To make matters worse, some respected analysts, such as Marc Faber, predict a 20 percent decrease in overall stock values will soon occur.

Yet a lead story in the November 17, 2012, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (JS) is that one major reason Americans voted to reelect the President was the overall performance of the economy—not the checks or the subsidies that the “taker-class” receives. This JS article illustrates how out-of-touch the media and many consumers of the mainstream press are about economics, finances, and the state-of-the nation.  In a sense, though, a lack of financial acumen by such a large percentage of the American populace should not come as a surprise, since a recent survey, conducted by, indicates that over 45 percent of American adults have less than $500 in total savings.

So, what would it take for the “maker-class” to procure a piece of Wisconsin’s mainstream press? The crew at SF spent the better part of a week crunching the data.  The research team discovered that just two newspapers dominate the southeastern and northwestern portions of the state: the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the privately-held Eau Claire Reader-Telegram.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is owned by the publicly traded Journal Broadcast Group (Stock symbol: JRN), which operates 35 radio stations and 14 television stations in 12 states, but only one major newspaper—the one component that is bleeding the group dry.  To date, the desks’ of reporters at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel are growing increasingly fewer with another round of employee buyouts.  Moreover, the local news section is so lean that reports of homicides receive just a paragraph of coverage. The what, how, and why questions—standard fodder to note when writing an article—are rarely answered, unless it is explained by a government bureaucrat.

But the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is bound to fail because its business model is extremely flawed.  The paper seems intent on targeting city dwellers—the so-called ‘urban demographic’ of younger, supposedly upwardly mobile-types, as well as inner-city readers. The problem is that those under 30-years-of-age rarely read newspapers. They get their information from social networking sites or Web sites operated by People or US magazines. This is precisely why the Obama campaign dispatched the president to cable network shows and radio stations that target younger voters.  Moreover, one-out-of- three of the JS’s other target audience, inner-city residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, have incomes below the poverty line, making it difficult to attract substantial advertisers.

The JS’s other mistake is giving much of its content away for free at its Web site, Simply displaying a headline and then charging per-article or offering the alternative of an annual subscription would raise revenue.  That being said the only way the JS will become profitable is targeting an audience that is interested in its content and has the resources to purchase its advertisers’ products. Hence, targeting suburban readers, focusing on matters of finance, and establishing an editorial page that champions free enterprise and constitutionally limited government, are the keys to success.

Looking at the numbers, SF believes, that sometime in the near future, the Journal Broadcast Group will quietly shop its newspaper operation.  Eventually, shareholders will demand that the company do so.  With the stock market set to tank, SF predicts that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel could be had for a charm within the next five years.

So how long will it be before Wisconsin’s version of Rupert Murdoch opens his or her check, purchases the JS, and then uses their business and marketing skills to make the operation profitable? Only time will tell.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. I, is available at

Spingola’s soon-to-be-released book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You, is set for release in December 2012.

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, please visit:

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2012

Coming Soon: Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II–Here’s Looking at You

The holidays are right around the corner. One of the gifts that keeps-on giving is an electronic book reader, such as Amazon’s Kindle Fire. For those who prefer the i-Pad or i-Phone, a Kindle app is available for free.

If you are fortunate enough land such a stocking-stuffer, be sure to checkout Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You, an e-book, available exclusively at, set for release early next month. 

This is the second of the Best of the Spingola Files book series.  In Volume II, I take a look at some puzzling cold case homicides, walk readers through the Drew Peterson investigation, and detail some of the equipment and techniques utilized by the post 9/11 American surveillance state.

For more information on these and other interesting books, visit


Drones, Investments, and the Fiscal Cliff

With the re-election of President Obama and Republicans picking-up seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, one thing is certain: the federal government will continue barrowing money at record levels to underwrite the ever growing American surveillance state.

Some sources claim the Obama administration spent nearly $80 billion in the last fiscal year building and maintaining a domestic spy apparatus.

One of most significant threats to privacy are nano-drones—small, insect like robots that can fly into homes, take DNA samples, and, with the use of small cameras, peer into the windows of dwellings.

One would think that his type of surveillance should be illegal, but is it?

Our nation’s highest courts have consistently ruled that privacy as it relates to a homeowner’s curtilage is not applicable from the air.  In other words, since drones have the ability to fly above a property line, advocates believe the surveillance they conduct—no matter how intrusive—would be lawful absent a court order.

On the Economic Front

With the election over and the accomplice media satisfied with the result, pundits and reporters are now, finally, deciding to focus on America’s looming debt crisis.

As things currently stand, the country is quickly approaching the so-called “fiscal cliff”—a term referring to deep cuts in military spending and staggering tax increases.

Some argue that it is better to go off the cliff now than kick-the-can down the road further, forcing our children to deal with trillions of dollars more in new Obama debt.

One such person is libertarian investor Peter Schiff, who addresses some of the challenges facing the country and individual investors in this Schiff Report video blog:

A few years prior to the meltdown of housing prices, Schiff accurately predicted the bubble’s burst. Several economists, at the time, called his prediction ‘crazy.’

In this video, Schiff predicts that a severe economic crash is coming to American financial markets thanks to the big government, anti-free market economic policies emanating from Washington.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. I, is available at

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, please visit:

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2012

SF’s Analysis: How the GOP Lost the Presidential Election

Over the course of the past few days Republican strategists have engaged in some soul searching regarding their party’s chances of again winning a Presidential election.  In hindsight, some pundits blame former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s ‘play it safe’ campaign strategy.  Behind the scenes, there is some talk that hundreds-of-thousands of evangelical voters failed to vote for the GOP candidate because of his Mormon religious beliefs. Others charge that the GOP’s refusal to grant de facto amnesty to illegal immigrants—by way of what the Democrat Party calls ‘comprehensive immigration reform’—cost Gov. Romney the votes needed to win the election.

To some extent, empirical data exists to support these arguments.  Romney did receive 3 million fewer votes than John McCain, which suggests some former GOP voters shied away from the Romney/Ryan ticket.  Meanwhile, Hispanic-Americans cast 50 percent fewer votes for Romney than George W. Bush, who supported a pathway to citizenship for those in the country illegally.

Another explanation for a Romney loss is the candidate’s unwillingness to roll in the mud with those from the Chicago political machine.  Many believe that in the third debate, Romney gave President Obama a free pass on the tragic loss of life at the U.S. Consulate in Libya. Former GOP standard bearer John McCain has called the Obama administration’s actions in the aftermath of this attack a “cover-up.”

Having spent the last few days looking over the data with the SF staff, I believe two factors contributed to Romney’s defeat: a sizable loss of Hispanic votes and the Republican Party’s abandonment of libertarian principles.

Exit polls indicate that 11 million Hispanic-Americans cast ballots in the 2012 Presidential election but only 2.3 million voted for Romney.  Had the Republican candidate received the same percentage of Hispanic support as George W. Bush, Romney would have garnered another 2.3 million votes, leaving just 700,000 votes between himself and President Obama.

At the Republican National Convention, the neo-conservative wing of the GOP—a group with several advisors in the Romney camp—went out of their way to isolate Ron Paul, whose candidacy received a large chunk of its support from voters between the ages of 18-29.  Had the Romney camp incorporated some Paul’s libertarian philosophy, the GOP might have eliminated Obama’s 700,000 vote margin in the popular vote.  Here are two examples: what if the GOP platform would have included planks that agreed to explore the impact of legalizing marijuana and strict controls on government surveillance?  The numbers suggest that support for such language would have likely resulted in Romney winning Colorado and possibly other states, like Wisconsin, where Democrats campaigned almost exclusively on college campuses.

Meanwhile, the Obama team did what patronage politicians from Chicago do best: make empty promises to key demographic groups. For Hispanics, President Obama allegedly championed immigration reform, although when the Democrat Party controlled both the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate during the first two years of his term, Obama ignored Hispanic concerns.  To the gay community, Obama claimed to support gay marriage, but said this was an issue the states should consider. In other words, he would do little if anything as president to change federal law.

On the other hand, the 2012 election did make one thing perfectly clear: the neo-conservative wing of the Republican Party—at least at the national level—is dead.  If the GOP is sincere about ever again occupying the White House it needs to make amends with Hispanics—the vast majority of whom are family oriented, socially conservative Catholics—and once again incorporate a truly constitutionally sound, limited government philosophy into its core set of principles.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. I, is available at

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, please visit:

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2012

Before Casting Your Vote on Tuesday…

Tuesday is Election Day. Unlike many major newspapers, political hacks, and partisan bloggers, the Spingola Files (SF) is not in the business of telling Americans how to vote.  That being said SF is a site that focuses on law enforcement issues and the rights of the citizenry to live free from excessive government intrusion.

But no issue is larger than the fiscal health of the United States government.  Even though our national debt is quickly approaching that of Greece’s as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product, the German economy is not large enough to bail us out.

Right now, one of every three tax dollars collected by the federal government is used to pay just the interest on the national debt.  This amount is sure to rise even if the federal government does not borrow another penny. Why? The Federal Reserve has kept interest rates artificially low.  Those who buy Treasury bills or U.S. bonds, get a return of about 1.5 percent. However, when interest rates increase to traditionally modest levels of 5 to 7 percent, at current debt level, almost four of every tax dollars collected will go just to pay the interest on the debt. The Obama administration’s policy, pursued through the Federal Reserve, is to print more money to make these interest payments, which devalues the dollar and causes prices for commodities to rise.  This is why food prices are up 30 percent over the last four years and the cost of gasoline has nearly doubled, even in a low-growth economy.

President Obama’s 2013 proposed budget—one that would add another $1.2 trillion to the national debt in the next fiscal year—was voted down 99-0 in the U.S. Senate and 414-0 in the U.S. House of Representatives.  In other words, not one member of Obama’s own political party voted for his budget that would lead the country off the fiscal cliff.

President Obama claims he can solve the budget crisis but modestly cutting spending (although he has never specified a single cut) and raising taxes on those who make over $250,000. This plan is nothing more than smoke-and-mirrors.  If every penny of those who made over $250,000 were taxed, the revenue raised could only fund the federal government for 98 days.

SF believes the only way to prevent an eventual federal government default is reforming entitlement spending, streamlining and prioritizing the defense budget, and dramatically reforming programs that provides checks to abled-bodied non-retirees to sit at home.

The fundamental rule of Economics 101 is if policy makers want more of something subsidize it; if they want less of something tax it.  But the policy of the current administration is to tax success—those who run small businesses, work overtime, and create innovative products—while subsidizing a growing underclass by elaborately spending billions of dollars on wasteful programs like food stamps, SSI, and free cellular telephone program giveaways.  Our federal lawmakers already use the tax code to punish success in order to underwrite handouts.  With the Obama administration advocating even higher taxes on producers, is it any wonder why our nation’s economic productivity has decreased each of the last three years while the number of those on the dole has increased exponentially?

As things currently stand, over 46 million Americans are on food stamps, an increase of nearly 47 percent since Obama took office.  Since 2009, food stamp growth is 75 times higher than job creation.

Cleary, if the status quo stands, the United States government is an unsustainable operation.  What does this mean? In Greece, their retiree’s version of Social Security checks decreased 50 percent and their minimum wage was cut by over 20 percent.  The Greek unemployment rate is now over 25 percent, even though Germany, through the European Union, has agreed to bail them out.  No nation is large enough to bailout the United States.  If our government misses a single payment to bond holders, the global economy will collapse.

If you’re a police officer, firefighter, a member of the Teamsters Union pension fund, and the bond market collapses, you can kiss your current pension promises goodbye.  As the lyrics to that old Billy Preston song correctly surmise, “Nothin’ from nothin’ leaves nothin’.”

But besides reprioritizing defense spending, dramatically reforming poverty programs, and entitlements, the federal budget is full of pork that could be easily slashed. Let’s start with the nearly $80 billion that the federal government is spending each year constructing the American surveillance state. Have you noticed all those cameras on the Interstate or mounted at the top of poles at busy intersections, as well as the chemical sensors at weigh stations? These programs are paid for with borrowed money.  In the interim, these high-tech gadgets have done little to improve clearance rates for major crimes. Instead, over 1,100 private corporations that make-up the security-industrial complex profit from this wasteful spending that a nation at the edge of the fiscal cliff can no longer afford.

So, before casting your ballot look past the rhetoric.  As this clip from YouTube, during the 2008 campaign, suggests, pay close attention to what President Obama and Gov. Romney have done, not what they’ve said.

In other words, hold those who break their promises accountable on Tuesday.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. I, is available at

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, please visit:

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2012