Archive for March, 2013

DWD Strikes Again; an FBI Official’s Parchment Shredder; the Police and the Paranormal

Sadly and yet predictably, the body of 24-year-old Nick Wilcox—a Milwaukee resident last seen alive celebrating New Year’s at a pub on Old World Third Street—came to the surface of the Milwaukee River on Thursday.  Two Milwaukee police officers observed the young man’s body floating in the river adjacent to Pierre Marquette Park.

In my new book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. I & II, I spent a chapter, entitled “Leaving for College? Take Some Common Sense Along, too,” discussing the risks involved with binge drinking from the standpoint of personal protection. I understand that the last people a teenager or someone in their early 20s wants to listen to is their parents. As such, encourage your child to take the advice of a former homicide detective—one who has scraped human remains off of sidewalks and tavern floors.

In Oshkosh, La Crosse, and Milwaukee, highly intoxicated men, for whatever reason, are drawn to bodies of water like aluminum to magnets.  There are three easy steps young people can take to make sure that, after a rough night on the town, they wake-up in a safe environment.

Although DWD (drowning while drunk) tends of be a male phenomenon, women, if over served, sometimes become sexual victims.  Having had candid conversations with a handful of coppers who routinely patrol Milwaukee’s Water Street, sober men—too cheap to pay a cover or buy a drink—often stand outside nightclubs at bar time waiting to take advantage of the alcohol-fueled inhibitions of inebriated women.

When planning a night out, it is important to come-up with a plan to ensure the safety of those you care about. This is serious business, so take my advice, and read the tips I provide in Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. I & 2, available now at Amazon.com.

Is the FBI Being Wronged by the Bill of Rights?

In a free society, judicial oversight ensures that government agents have a legitimate basis to believe criminal activity is occurring before seizing personal papers, eavesdropping on private communications, or intruding in private domiciles. Probable cause—the quantum of evidence that would lead a reasonable peace officer to believe that a crime has been committed, is being committed, or might be committed—is a relatively low burden to meet.

This burden of proof, however, is apparently not low enough for the FBI.  At an American Bar Association luncheon, the FBI’s general counsel, Andrew Weissman, told those in attendance that the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) limits agents’ abilities to conduct surveillance of some Web-based communications, such as Google’s g-mail.

“We’re making the ability to intercept communications with a court order increasingly obsolete,” Weissman said, while lamenting that “criminals” make use of some Internet applications to communicate. He noted that a “top priority this year” for the FBI is congressional approval or an executive action that permits federal law enforcement to conduct surveillance of World-Wide Web password accessible accounts without a court order.

No doubt, Constitutional protections sometimes make gathering evidence more difficult, which is precisely why the founding father’s ratified the Fourth Amendment. If the FBI believes that the activities of those involved in criminal activity merit a significant threat to public safety, then its agents should conduct the necessary due diligence and seek judicial orders.

In 2008, congress approved several amendments to the 1978 the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

“Specifically, the new legislation dramatically expands the government’s ability to wiretap without meaningful judicial oversight, by redefining “oversight” so that the feds can drag their feet on getting authorization almost indefinitely,” noted ARS Technica reporter Timothy Lee. “It also gives the feds unprecedented new latitude in selecting eavesdropping targets, latitude that could be used to collect information on non-terrorist-related activities like P2P copyright infringement and online gambling. In short, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 opens up loopholes so large that the feds could drive a truck loaded down with purloined civil liberties through it.”

And what would discourage federal law enforcement from continually asking congress and/or the President to incrementally chip away at the privacy protections of Americans, since lawmakers have winked-and-nodded at virtually every request to marginalize the Fourth Amendment since 2001?

‘Gimme, gimme, gimme,’ continues to be the mantra of law enforcement officials as they seek to curtail the civil liberties of Americans in the name of public safety.  It is time for an adult in the room to stand-up, draw a line in the sand, and tell these officials that, if they can’t get the job done the way others have managed to do so since 1791 (the year the Bill of Rights were ratified), then it is time to step aside.

Soon-to-be Released Novel Focuses on the Paranormal and the Police

Recently, I was asked to review a substantial portion of the manuscript for Mitchell Nevin’s soon-to-be released novel, which explores the intersection where law enforcement and the paranormal meet.  Most detectives are extremely skeptical of psychics, although a handful insist that those with ‘special abilities’ have proved helpful. Nevin’s new novel is based primarily in Milwaukee, Chicago, Eau Claire and the Twin Cities, although several other towns gain mention. The plot is concise, free-flowing, and well researched.

According to my publisher, the new novel is still a work in progress.  If readers have had any experiences with psychics—good, bad or indifferent—please visit www.mitchellnevin.com and feel free to comment, as the author is still interested in gathering input.

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest print edition only 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


Google Glasses Have Law Enforcement “Giddy” at the Possibilities

googleglass

When it comes to high-tech government surveillance—the electronic concentration camp New York City’s nanny-state mayor, Michael Bloomberg, revels in creating—law enforcement administrators on the lookout for ‘free federal money’ and politicians addicted to handouts in the form of campaign contributions—conveniently search for innovative ways to turn technology against the citizenry.

Recently, I have had a few matter-of-fact conversations with those who believe “Google glasses” will someday become standard equipment for police officers on patrol.

At a cost of $1,500 each, “Google Glasses” enable a wearer to shoot video, search the internet, and send e-mail via voice command.

“Each pair of glasses is fitted with a miniaturised camera and web browser which displays digital information on a tiny screen — a clear plastic block the width of a pencil — just in front and slightly above a wearer’s eye,” Daily Mail reporter Tom Leonard notes.  “The arm of the headset, which sits near the wearer’s temple, acts as a touch pad. By sliding your finger up and down it, you can scroll through the text visible in your eyepiece. To select something on the screen, the user simply taps the headset.”

Last October, LifeonTech.com found Google’s efforts to acquire the company Viewdle as “particularly interesting.”  Viewable is a facial recognition software company that “specializes in augmented reality and automatic face tagging.” In other words, if this technology is incorporated into Google Glasses, wearers could compare the faces of those they view against private sector databases, enabling them to know the identities and backgrounds of those nearby.

Behind the scenes, high-ranking federal, state, and local law enforcement officials are giddy about the possibilities of these hands-free glasses.  Imagine a scenario where a cop on the beat could simply look at an individual walking down the sidewalk and, instantly, compare that person’s image against biometrical information—computer generated software that assigns a mathematical equation to faces, ears, and noses—stored in every state’s department of motor vehicle’s data base and the FBI’s $1.2 billion Next Generation Identification system. Within a matter of seconds, information federally subsidized intelligence fusion centers purchase from private sector companies, such as ChoicePoint and Acxiom, could alert the officer to their target’s occupation, credit score, hobbies, family members, and the identifies of close personal associates.

Moreover, law enforcement envisions another scenario—the collection of faces and license plates observed by the viewer, which would then get time-stamped, geo-tagged, and stored indefinitely. When an individual becomes a suspect, a protestor, or maybe even a political opponent, government agents could access these data bases to create a timeline concerning their precise whereabouts.

One can only imagine the data just one Milwaukee police officer wearing such glasses could input by viewing a crowd at bar time on Water Street.

As I detail these types of intrusive technologies to others, many people tend to shrug their shoulders as if the say, ‘Oh, well, this is the world we live in.’ There is, however, no need to act like sheep being led to the slaughter. Call your state and federal representatives. Sure, many elected officials, especially those receiving campaign contributions from lobbyists affiliated with companies that profit by marginalizing our freedoms, might seem stand-offish. Nonetheless, they do, supposedly, work for those they purport to represent and not the members of the security-industrial complex.

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest print edition only 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


Tonight: New Program to Spotlight NSA’s Surveillance State

As many of you may know, after leaving Fox News, Glenn Beck formed his own network, The Blaze.

Tonight, at 7 PM, a new Blaze program, For the Record, takes a detailed look at America’s post-9/11 surveillance state. The show’s host, Laurie Dhue, also formerly of Fox News, interviews a former employee of the National Security Agency (NSA) turned whistleblower.

For the Record explores a secretive new NSA facility, the Utah Data Center, described last fall in Wired Magazine.

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/ff_nsadatacenter/

This morning, Glenn Beck interview Ms. Dhue on his morning radio program. Having spent a considerable amount of time researching government surveillance, tonight’s show, part of a four part series, is one that anyone interested in law enforcement and government should watch.

The Blaze is s subscription service that costs $9.95 a month; however, the site does offer a two-week free trial offer.

www.theblaze.com

Moreover, Laurie Dhue’s personal story of her 15-year struggle with alcoholism—the same demon Beck battled—illustrates that people can eventually claw their way back and reclaim their professional standing.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1355452/Secret-battle-Laurie-Dhue-reveals-secret-15-year-battle-alcoholism.html

In the print edition of Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. I & II, I discussed the NSA’s perceived mandate to turn their intrusive eavesdropping capabilities inward in a chapter entitled, Why the NSA is an Acronym for Never Say Anything.

http://www.amazon.com/Best-Spingola-Files-Volume-Steven/dp/0979683998/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1363211388&sr=8-1&keywords=best+of+the+spingola+files

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

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, please visit:

www.badgerwordsmith.com/the_psychology_of_homicide_presentation.html

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013


Sheriff Clarke’s “Hollywood Voice” a Match for Talk-Radio

Clarke

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, Jr.

One of the most polarizing figures in southeastern Wisconsin is Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke. In a sense, Clarke is kind of a duck out of water—a law-and-order conservative who was elected to office as a Democrat in a liberal county, even though he often aligns himself with Republican office holders.

One would think, though, that the sheriff’s Dirty Harry persona would resonate well with members of his department’s rank-and-file and other county sheriffs, especially his unrelenting, mano-a-mano efforts to thwart the gun-grabbers.  Instead, Clarke’s take-the-bull-by-the horns management style has alienated those who should be his biggest supporters, namely the deputies whose jobs he has fought obstinately to spare from the chopping block.

Having worked with David Clarke in the Milwaukee Police Department’s homicide unit, I am well aware of his passion for victims’ rights and his respect for the values enumerated in the Bill of Rights.  Philosophically, when it comes to the role of law enforcement and public safety, there’s probably not a dime’s worth of difference between Sheriff Clarke and I.  That being said our styles of management are the antithesis of each other’s.

Whereas, Clarke—an official elected by the public—embodies a top-down approach to organizational leadership, I generally prefer to delegate the administration of most tasks to qualified managers and/or subordinates.  After all, the sheriff, the chief-of-police, captains, and, to a lesser extent, shift commanders, are department heads or managers who just so happen to carry guns. Their primary focus should consist of fostering relationships with those controlling their department’s budgets, setting the agency’s agenda, getting buy-in from those under their command, maintaining discipline within the ranks, and communicating effectively with the public.

No doubt, on occasion, high-ranking law enforcement administrators will have their differences with judges, the district attorney’s office, members of the media, and the mayor and/or the county executive.  Typically, though, smoothing out these differences behind the scenes enables an elected department head or a de facto political appointee, such a police chief, to further advance their agency’s agenda and improve public safety.

Whether it is out of frustration or an unwillingness to capitulate core values, Sheriff Clarke has aired a lot of dirty laundry in public—calling out Chief Judge Jeffrey Kremers, claiming that Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele suffers from “penis envy,” and apologizing in a letter to U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham for Chief Flynn’s antiquated and nonsensical testimony in support of an semi-automatic rifle ban.

Nonetheless, when given an opportunity, Clarke is a very effective communicator.  Even Piers Morgan made note of the sheriff’s “Hollywood voice.”

Yesterday, I had an opportunity to listen to Sheriff Clarke as he filled-in for Milwaukee talk-radio host Mark Belling during the show’s Five- O’clock hour on WISN radio.  If and when Clarke decides to retire his gun-and-badge, he most definitely has a future as a talk-radio host (to catch a short portion of the sheriff’s performance, click the link to the following Podcast):

http://www.belling.com/player/?station=BLNG-IP&program_name=podcast&program_id=MarkBelling.xml&mid=22953955

No doubt, Clarke came armed with a lot more than the emotional rhetoric Chief Flynn regurgitated during an appearance before a U.S. Senate sub-committee.  In Milwaukee County, the sheriff noted, over a 12-year period only 44 percent of the cases brought to the DA’s office involving the straw purchases of guns for felons where charged, which resulted in offenders serving  an average of just seven months for a crime that carries a maximum penalty of ten-years in prison.

Personally, as far as WISN radio hosts are concerned, I would prefer to hear more of Sheriff Clarke and less from two of the other infrequently used fill-ins, whose attached-at-the-hip relationship to the special interest, Patriot Act-wing of Republican Party is rather dull and predictable.  If Clarke can broaden his repertoire to include other issues, his stock as a talk-radio host will rise exponentially.

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You, is available at Amazon.com.

http://www.amazon.com/Best-Spingola-Files-Vol-ebook/dp/B00AGZTALE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354972268&sr=8-1&keywords=spingola+files

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, please visit:

www.badgerwordsmith.com/the_psychology_of_homicide_presentation.html

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013


What DHS Deployed Drones Can Do to You–and, Yes, it is Scary

dronemap

In a previous post, I asked readers of SF to sign a petition asking Gov. Walker to regulate the use of drones over the skies of Wisconsin.

http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/restrict-wisconsin-drone-surveillance.html

Now, a report has surfaced that the Department of Homeland Security will ask drone manufacturers to equip these Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) with systems that will ascertain whether American civilians are armed. DHS has also mandated that drones deployed within the US have the capability to locate, track, and follow cellular telephone users.

http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-57572207-38/dhs-built-domestic-surveillance-tech-into-predator-drones/

I encourage the readers of this blog to scroll down and read the previous posts concerning a new UAV video surveillance system called ARGUS.  After viewing this video, plese consider signing the petition calling on Wisconsin’s governor to take executive action on restricting the use of drones and their totalitarian surveillance systems.

UPDATE: Everyday, it seems new information surfaces regarding the use of drones. No doubt, UAVs, if used properly, will protect public safety and law enforcement officers in the field. That being said high-ranking law enforcement officials have bigger, bolder ideas—those that will directly impact your privacy and liberty—as the article at this link explains:

http://www.cnbc.com/id/100515357

ANOTHER UPDATE: In a letter to Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said, “It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force [via a drone strike] within the territory of the United States.”

http://washingtonexaminer.com/eric-holder-drone-strikes-against-americans-on-u.s.-soil-are-legal/article/2523319

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

Copyright (c) Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013


Spingola Files Print Edition Only Book Now Available

THUMBNAIL_IMAGE

In the past, I have fielded emails from a number of people who prefer traditional books to Kindle or Nook e-readers. Many have asked when the “Best of the Spingola Files” book series would be made available in paper.

I now have an answer.

Yesterday, my Wisconsin-based publisher, Badger Wordsmith, released Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II—a combined, print edition only book—currently for sale at Create Space and, within a week, at Amazon.com.

https://www.createspace.com/4189215

“Rick Sandoval, a highly regarded, second generation Milwaukee police officer, penned the book’s Forward,” an excerpt from a news release at CBS News reports. “Retired Milwaukee PD captains Mike Massa and Glenn Frankovis, attorney Kelly McAndrews, and nationally known liberty activist Kaye Beach, provided endorsements of “Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & 2…”

On the pages of this book I discuss about 40 matters of criminal justice import, including:

· The strangulation slayings of several women on Milwaukee’s north side

· The suspicious deaths of almost a dozen men in the hard-drinking college town of Lacrosse

· A recent uptick in violent offenses in the city of Eau Claire

· A brief history of La Costra Nostra operatives in Milwaukee and Madison

· A critique of the police investigation into the murder of UW-Madison co-ed Brittany Zimmermann

· The intrusive technologies of America’s post-9/11 surveillance state.

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

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, please visit:

www.badgerwordsmith.com/the_psychology_of_homicide_presentation.html

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013