Archive for April, 2013

Majority of Americans: Surrender No More Rights for Alleged Security

Within the past three months, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has spent millions of dollars of his personal wealth to produce slick ads in support of gun control.  Just last week, America’s nanny-state mayor lectured his subjects by proclaiming that “…our laws and our interpretation of the Constitution I think have to change,” due to potential terror threats.

A new Fox News poll, however, illustrates that for the first time since 9/11, more Americans say that they are unwilling to concede additional freedoms to off-set the risks of terrorist attacks.

http://www.wnd.com/2013/04/americans-fear-government-more-than-terror/

Reading between the lines, the reason for this shift in public opinion seems clear: Americans realize that, in the name of fighting terrorism, the federal government has hijacked the Bill of Rights to monitor them instead of focusing its efforts on Islamic Jihadists.

“Think about it,” I noted in an April 20 post, “how do the surveillance cameras mounted atop traffic control signals on 124th and Burleigh prevent acts of terrorism? Wasting taxpayer dollars to conduct surveillance of Americans diverts resources from the real problem: extremist groups and foreign nationals overstaying student visas that pose a real threat to this nation’s security.”

After all, the Boston Marathon bombings spotlighted the federal government’s intelligence failures. During one news report, an FBI source, a journalist explained, said that the bureau gets thousands of tips every year, similar to the ones provided by the Russian government, but lacks the resources to thoroughly investigate each one.

Really?

According to creditable sources, the U.S. government has spent $500 billion creating a nationwide surveillance state. Yet, we are told, this unprecedented amount of money, which flowed far too freely from our treasury, is not nearly enough?  To put things in perspective, this amount of cash is so large that could underwrite the budgets of the City of Milwaukee for the next 333 years.

Surely, $500 billion is an excessive amount, some of which was needlessly wasted placing surveillance cameras at intersections in locales like Eau Claire, Wisconsin, a city of 60,000.  Unless the bureaucrats at the Department of Homeland Security—the agency that disperses federal grant money to states and municipalities—believe that, when selecting potential targets, blindfolded Jihadists simply throw darts at a map of the United States, spending so much as a dime to place surveillance infrastructure in a city like Eau Claire does absolutely nothing to protect our nation from acts of terror.

Moreover, the federal government’s failures in Boston exposed the duplicity of politicians, as the current mayor of Chicago once said, intent on using a good crisis to funnel gobs of money to large corporations—members of the post 9/11 security-industrial complex—that either directly, or through their K Street lobbyists, write large checks to the campaigns of their supporters on Capitol Hill.

Telling the American people that the billions of dollars this country has literally thrown at 1,900 private sector companies, as well as the 800,000 people that take part in counter terrorism activities, is not enough is a scandal in itself. Clearly, some people have no shame.

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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


Michael Bloomberg’s Very Revealing Constitutional Faux Pas

Less than two months after a populist U.S. Senate filibuster forced the executive branch of the federal government to concede that using drones to kill American citizens on U.S. soil is bad policy, New York City Mayor Michael “Big Brother” Bloomberg’s relentless assault on freedom and liberty continues unabated.

“We have to understand that in the world going forward, we’re going to have more cameras and that kind of stuff,” said Bloomberg during an April 22 news conference. “That’s good in some senses, but it’s different than what we are used to. And the people who are worried about privacy have a legitimate worry, but we live in a complex world where you’re going to have a level of security greater than you did back in the olden days, if you will. And our laws and our interpretation of the Constitution I think have to change.”

Make no mistake about, when elitists propose a reinterpretation of the Constitution their intent is to place this sacred document through the shredder of statist legalese.  If Bloomberg et al were honest in their intentions, a process already exists to change or amend the United States Constitution.  However, since the implementation of a Chinese-style police state is about as popular as AIDS, the Machiavellian-types—constantly on the lookout for new ways to get their hands in our wallets and their boots on our necks—emphasize the Constitution as a living document.

The living document mantra stems, primarily, from the incorporation of technological advances into the legal body fabric.

For example, one question I sometimes pose to students is, “What does the Constitution say about motor vehicle searches?” The answer is rather easy. The Constitution says absolutely nothing about motor vehicles since none existed in 1788, the year the document was ratified.  Ninety-one years later, Karl Benz received the first patent for a reliable two-stroke combustion engine. As a result, laws and legal concepts pertaining to motor vehicles on public roadways required interpretation from the judicial branch to clarify issues like the reasonable search and seizure clause of the Fourth Amendment.

Nowhere in the Bill of Rights does it state that a rich, eccentric politician can stand in front of the media and myopically deem our Constitutional protections from overzealous governmental reach a product of “the olden days,” as if our freedoms and liberties went the way of the electric typewriter.

And what bold idea is New York City’s nanny-state mayor now advocating?  An expansion of government surveillance, even though the $500 billion our nation has already spent in this area has failed miserably in several instances, including the attacks on Boston. As I mentioned in a prior post, surveillance cameras will not prevent terrorist attacks. Individuals intent on dying are undeterred by technology that captures and stores their images.

http://www.badgerwordsmith.com/spingolafiles/2013/04/20/a-few-thoughts-about-boston/

No doubt, political correctness is the reason politicians continue to travel down the same road of wide-spread Orwellian surveillance, even though a prudent course of action—one that would prevent actual terror attacks while preserving our freedoms—is tracking, monitoring and investigating, those with an actual motive.

Had Milwaukee’s police chief, Ed Flynn, advocated suppressing the criminal activities of the Latin Kings by placing surveillance cameras on traffic control signals in a predominately African-American neighborhood on the city’s north side, many would say that the police chief is either very uninformed or his department has an ulterior agenda. Why, then, do so many Americans, as well as a majority of the mainstream media, fail to challenge the surveillance initiatives advocated by Bloomberg and the federal government that target millions of Americans while ignoring the obvious?

After all, it is not rocket science to connect the dots. What do the shoe bomber, the Time Square bomber, the Ft. Hood shooter, and the Boston bombers, all have in common?  President Obama, I know it’s difficult to say it—Islamic Jihad.

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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


A Few Thoughts About Boston

Some observations about the terrorist acts on Boston—the second, not the first, successful attacks in the U.S. since 9/11.

People in this country react in bizarre ways. For example: gathering in a park and cheering after the second suspect was taken into custody, as if the US had won some type of international sporting event. I used the conclusion of this event as a somber moment to reflect upon the fact that two relative simpletons managed to terrorize an entire city, kill innocent civilians, and law enforcement officers.

As far as the lock down, call it 20/20 hindsight, but the tactic itself may have actually helped the suspect elude capture, as thousands of eyes remained inside. Ironically, once the “stay sheltered” ban was lifted, a set of eyes observed something suspicious. Plus, this tactic sends a message to other wannabe Jihadists that they can shutter an entire metro area with a few pressure cookers.

Certainly, the boots to the ground teams on the street did an outstanding job. However, I think this case merits a thorough, top-to-bottom policy review. Once again, all the high-tech fusion centers, NSA electronic listening, etc. failed to provide the intelligence needed to prevent the attack. The shoe bomber hopped aboard an airliner undetected; the underwear bomber successfully took a commercial flight, even though he was on the no-fly list (due to his name being misspelled by one letter); while a bombing in Time Square was prevented by a faulty detonation device and a vender who had spotted a suspicious SUV. In each of these instances, surveillance—as a means to prevent terror attacks—failed miserably.

So much for sacrificing liberty for security—a doctrine Benjamin Franklin warned against.

Sure, after the fact, video surveillance has proved valuable; although it appears private video footage broke the Boston case open. Moreover, during this investigation Americans learned that suspect #1 traveled overseas for six months, posted strange things on social media, and was red flagged by a foreign government (probably Russia), which asked the FBI to check into his activities. One would have thought suspect #1 would have been one of a hundred individuals fusion center operatives would have kept close tabs on.

So, the question needs to be asked: was the $500 billion our nation has spent since 9/11 to employ over 800,000 people and create a vast electronic intelligence apparatus worth the expense?

In the past, I have argued that surveillance does little to protect Americans.  It is like saying surveillance can prevent a homicide.  No doubt, if the police are proactive, officers can stop suspicious persons or investigate information that comes to their attention, but, at the end of the day, law enforcement generally locates the deceased, chalks out the body, erects crime scene tape, and attempts to find the perpetrator—all, of course, after the fact. If a person is intent on dying as a part of a terror attack, surveillance will do little besides enable investigators and the media to replay the blast.

What can the government do to prevent terrorism? Discontinue the surveillance of large swaths of the American populace, 99.999 percent of whom will never commit an act of terror, and, instead, focus our resources on those with a motive.  Think about it: how do the surveillance cameras mounted atop traffic control signals on 124th and Burleigh prevent acts of terrorism? Wasting taxpayer dollars to conduct surveillance of Americans diverts resources from the real problem: extremist groups and foreign nationals overstaying student visas that pose a real threat to this nation’s security.

As far as the media, they continue to report that this was the first terror attack since 9/11, which is simply regurgitating the government line.  Ft. Hood was a terrorist attack. As was the case in Boston, the assailant, Army Major Nidal Hasan, was radicalized from within and took his orders from a far. Classifying Ft. Hood as “work place violence” is akin to claiming that Kim Kardashian’s pregnancy is an immaculate conception.

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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


Lack of Biometric ID Might Shed Insight into Boston Bombing

In an era when a typical news cycle runs 24 to 48 hours, the mainstream media appears frustrated with the pace of the investigation into the Boston Marathon bombing. Unlike many of the crime dramas portrayed on television, investigations of this nature are painstakingly methodical.

In his blog, journalist Steve Prestegard noted my belief that the improvised explosive devices used in the Boston attack were strategically placed after bomb sniffing dogs had swept the area and were not, as some media outlets speculated, left in trash receptacles.

http://steveprestegard.com/2013/04/18/about-the-latest-obscenity/

Yesterday, the FBI released still photographs of two suspects.  By appealing to the public for assistance, it appears that investigators, up until this point, were unable to link the persons of interest through the use of facial recognition software.

Created with the technological support of defense contractor Lockheed Martin, the FBI’s $1.2 billion Next Generation Identification (NGI) network—a system previously tested in a handful of states—uses 3D partial facial recognition software to develop a list of up to two dozen possible suspects. Data bases containing biometric images (mathematical dimensions that measure and catalog eyes, noses, ears, and other facial features) include the new, REAL ID compatible driver’s licenses, international passports, and existing booking photos. Digital images from social networking sites can also be imported to NGI.

Here’s a hint to those who believe Boston is a “homegrown” terror attack: the lack of biometric images linking the suspect in the white ball cap to a fairly expansive data base might mean that this person has been in the country for a relatively short period of time, especially since many states, through their individual DMVs, currently obtain biometric photographs from applicants as young as 15-years-of-age.

Gun Bill Goes Down in Flames

As even casual observers of American politics can see, members of the far-left often show outright contempt for the Second Amendment. The president claims he supports gun ownership, even though reports have surfaced that, during his tenure as a law school instructor, Obama, according to some sources, made statements advocating a handgun ban.

Many believe the Obama administration used the families of Newtown victims as political props to press for restrictions on gun rights, even though the bill rejected by the U.S. Senate would have done little, if anything, to prevent the Sandy Hook School shootings. Adam Lanza, the man who perpetrated the slayings, killed his own mother and then confiscated her firearms to commit the homicides. Lanza did not purchase these guns.

Having worked in law enforcement for decades, I have spoken to several investigators who question the need for more gun laws when those already on the books are under enforced.  Empirical data strongly suggests that those who violate state and federal gun laws receive what is tantamount to a slap on the wrist. This is precisely why straw purchases—a process by which individuals prohibited from possessing firearms solicit non-prohibited persons to buy firearms for them—continue to flourish.

As I noted in an April 10 news release, policeone.com conducted an extensive survey of 15,000 police officers, the vast majority of whom believe gun control might actually cause more problems than the legislation seeks to solve.

Moreover, the overall percentage of firearms’ related deaths attributed to school shootings is tragic but miniscule. Sadly, 92 percent of firearms homicides are committed with handguns, primarily in central cities. Reading the polling data, SF believes gun control measures are losing public support, as the vast majority of law abiding Americans, it appears, do not believe they should surrender their freedoms because big-city police chiefs cannot get a grip on naro-gang violence.

Take Milwaukee, for example, a city that comprises just 10.9 percent of Wisconsin’s population but, in 2010, accounted for 55 percent of the state’s homicides. Why would gun owners in Eau Claire or Green Bay concede their Second Amendment freedoms because Milwaukee, in comparison, is spiraling out-of-control?

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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


Privacy Advocate: “Drones are the Ultimate Totalitarian Technology”

Last week, during a return trip from the Twin Cities, the Spingola Files stopped over in Hudson, Wisconsin, to interview privacy advocate Miles Kinard, the author of the e-magazine exposé, American Stasi: Fusion Centers and Domestic Spying.  Kinard has spent considerable time researching the intrusive capabilities of government operated drones and other government surveillance initiatives.

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SF:   By 2017, some privacy experts believe law enforcement will likely control over 30,000 drones that the government will use to monitor Americans from the skies. Why do you see drones as an issue that affects the public?

MK:   There are two reasons: total 24 x 7 surveillance that is cataloged and stored, and extensive electronic tracking and monitoring, all done without even a simple reasonable suspicion of any wrong doing. In other words, surveillance for surveillance sake.

SF:    How could drones keeps tabs on us 24 x7?

MK:   DARPA, one of the companies that makes-up the security-industrial complex, has developed a 1.8 billion pixel wide-ranging surveillance camera the company has dubbed ARGUS. The definition is so solid that, from just under 17,000 feet, ARGUS can record all things publicly visible within a 15-mile radius of the drone. I’m talking objects as small as six inches.

                [SF has asserted this link to allow readers to view the capabilities of ARGUS] https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=QGxNyaXfJsA

SF:   What other things can drones do to track and monitor those of us who are simply going about our daily lives?

MK:   The Department of Homeland Security is requiring manufactures of the drones that the DHS intends to purchase to be equipped with IMSI-catchers. These devices act as a vertical base transceiver station that mimics the cellular telephone towers within a 15-miles radius. From just under 17,000 feet in the air, one individual DHS drone could obtain all the numbers of every cellular telephone user in contact with each tower within its reach.

SF:  So these cellular telephone “catchers,” as you described them, could record and keep tabs of cell phone users as these signals bounce-off individual towers without the users’ consent and/or without the consent of the cell tower owners?

MK:    Yes, IMSI devices mimic towers—then record and download the data intended for the towers without the consent of any of the parties involved. In past the government has argued that these towers are owned by private companies and simply leased by users. Hence, the government argued, the users do not have a Fourth Amendment expectation of privacy.

SF:   Well, then, what would prohibit drones, especially those deployed by DHS, from intercepting telephone calls?

MK:  IMSI software currently available can compel a cellular telephone to link up with what is referred to as “no call encryption”; whereby, the digital signal is then converted to recordable audio.  One of the key provisions of the USA Patriot Act revised the definition of electronic eavesdropping. No longer does intercepting and storing a telephone conversation require judicial oversight.  A court order is not mandated unless an agent of the government accesses the stored file to listen to or see the data [i.e. the telephone conversation].

SF:   So, from the air, the government would be able to see what we do on the ground and hear what they couldn’t see?

MK:   Drones are the ultimate totalitarian technology.  Judicial precedent handed down by the courts gives Americans virtually no privacy protections from surveillance conducted from the sky.  When a homeowner erects a stockade fence as a barrier for privacy, if a police officer on the ground were to stand on an object to peer over the fence that would likely be considered a curtilage violation. Yet when a drone records the same data from the air, the courts deem that perfectly lawful, even without a court order. Some of the drones local law enforcement is actively seeking are called nano-drones, which are disguised as hummingbirds or insects; therefore, most people would have no idea when they are being watched or what the government is collecting.

                [Video link to the Rutherford Institute] https://www.rutherford.org/multimedia/on_target/the_empire_strikes_back_attack_of_the_drones/

SF:  In regards to relatively large cities, what are the ramifications of drone deployment?

MK:   Well, for example, when coupled with the ARGUS surveillance camera, four DHS drones could record every public movement and document all cellular telephone activity in the city the size of Milwaukee. This data is recorded and stored. So, if a government agent wanted to know what had transpired at a particular location five days, four hours and ten minutes in the past, they could easily do so.

SF:   What can the public do to protect their privacy from this Orwellian technology?

MK:    Pick-up the telephone and call your state and federal representatives. Understand that you will likely run into some resistance.  Members of state legislatures and congress of both political parties have a lust for two things: campaign cash and political power. They need the former to obtain the latter. Drone makers and outfitters—Boeing, BAE, DARPA, General Dynamics, to name a few—understand that money talks. So, unless our political leaders hear a hue and cry from the public, they’ll carry water for those with deep enough pockets to contribute to their campaigns. Unfortunately, many of our state and federal lawmakers are all too willing to take the campaign cash and then pass laws that require taxpayers to fund the technology used to chronicle their movements.

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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


“Dark Minds” and Gun Control

Tonight, at 9 PM (Central Time), I will make an appearance on the Investigation Discovery network’s television series Dark Minds.

Crime author M. William Phelps, criminal profiler John Kelly, and I, revisit the Colonial Parkway murders. Occurring near historic Williamsburg, Virginia, from 1986 – 1989, three couples were found murdered and another couple disappeared on or near the Colonial Parkway.

In 2010, at the request of the victims’ families, the Spingola Files visited Yorktown to profile these complex and troubling cold case homicides. The Colonial Parkway murders are also the subject of a chapter in my recently released book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. I & II, currently available at Amazon.com.

Police Officers and the Gun Control Debate

Courtesy of Steve Prestegard, SF was sent this link from policeone.com detailing the results of an extensive survey of 15,000 police officers’ beliefs on gun control matters.

http://www.policeone.com/Gun-Legislation-Law-Enforcement/articles/6183787-PoliceOnes-Gun-Control-Survey-11-key-findings-on-officers-thoughts/re

Yesterday, I was contacted by a student writer about the coming gun control debate in the U.S. Senate. The writer asked if any of the proposed changes might have prevented the Newtown tragedy.  Here’s my response:

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In the Newtown shooting, none of the gun control measures being proposed would have likely prevented the shooting. First, the rifle was not lawfully purchased by the shooter. He took it, by force, from his mother. As such, a background check, even an expanded background check for private sales or for mental health, would not have prevented the perpetrator from obtaining the firearm.

Moreover, the term “assault weapon,” as defined in law enforcement circles, is a fully automatic rifle (i.e. those that dispatch more than one round with each pull of the trigger). In most states and under federal law, only a handful of people can possess such weapons. The “assault weapons” politicians and some police chiefs seek to ban are semi-automatic rifles, which fire one round for every pull of the trigger. Most hunting rifles and many shotguns used for hunting are semi-automatic. The “assault weapons ban” applies to some semi-automatic rifles but not others. My guess is that some senators [those supporting gun control measures] seek to ban some guns because the look dastardly, but, in reality, they are no more dangerous than 30-06 or .308 hunting rifles. The AR-15 is simply a .22 long (a .223). It is popular because it has very little recoil. The AR-15’s operation is no different than a standard hunting rifle, with one exception: it looks mean. If looks could kill, well, then the AR-15 would merit banning and not a .308, which is a much deadlier round (used by many police snipers).

The magazine capacity matter is probably a moot issue, too. If the government limits a magazine to seven rounds, what would prevent a shooter from bringing 10 magazines? Moreover, since an active shooter is intent on killing many people and then taking his own life, why wouldn’t this type of individual choose to violate the law and procure and use magazines that are unlawful to possess?

The only way any of these gun laws have even a minute chance of working is outright confiscation. That being said the country has ten times as many firearms as it does undocumented immigrants. The same politicians who advocate gun confiscation (Gov. Cuomo in New York, for example) are the same pols who claim it is impossible to confiscate and deport undocumented immigrants. Guns, of course, are much easier to conceal than immigrants, especially since firearms do not work, rent housing, or attend school.  Under outright confiscation, it would take 50 years before many of the guns would disappear. Like the do-gooder intentions of prohibition, an outright ban would cause the price of firearms to increase to the point where gun runners would traffic them into the country in the same manner illegal drugs—which are banned—are now brought in.

Personally, I would like to see more done in the area of mental health. It’s tricky, though, because good people could argue about the criteria used for the background check.  For example, should the government ban any person who takes Zoloft from possessing firearms? Is so, about five to ten percent of police officers would probably be unable to carry. Even if a consensus could be reached on the criteria, what about a person’s medical privacy? Would people in need of mental health services seek assistance if they knew that their names would end-up in a government database? Each solution tends to create another problem, which is why I believe this area deserves more research before solutions are proposed by grandstanding politicians.

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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


When Debacles Occur Watch the Politics

As documented by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a sting operation run by the Milwaukee branch of the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) solidified the concept of Murphy’s Law into the arena of criminal investigations.

Snafus are nothing new to law enforcement.  The Jeffrey Dahmer case is prime example. During one contact, the serial killer managed to slip through the fingers of officers. Then, once Dahmer was in custody, guards at the jail asked the killer to autograph a newspaper bearing his likeness.  Of course, grandstanding politicians—primarily John Norquist, Milwaukee’s mayor at the time—used these embarrassing mistakes as a catalyst to ‘transform’ the Milwaukee Police Department, which caused a Grand Canyon-sized rift between Police Chief Phil Arreola and the MPD’s rank-and-file. Ironically, karma has a way of keeping score, as a real scandal—one that resulted in the moniker “Johnny Appleseed” being uttered by a snickering few—paved the way for the then mayor’s exit.

In the ATF case, a series of discomfiting events gave the Riverwest Operation a black eye.

“Of all the mistakes by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in its flawed gun-buying sting in Milwaukee last year,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporters John Diedrich and Raquel Rutledge wrote, “the loss of the government-owned Colt M4 stands as the gravest threat to public safety.”

The M4, a high-powered rifle with the ability to fire multiple rounds with one pull of the trigger, was stolen from an agent’s SUV while the vehicle was parked at a local coffee shop.  After an intense search that yielded solid suspects, the rifle remains in the wind.

And, while the ATF’s sting ran amuck, the operation did shed some light on property crime in the Riverwest area, as burglars snared $40,000 worth of merchandise the store front rented by the agency to conduct the sting.

Now, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the ATF used a 28-year-old man with a diminished mental capacity to distribute fliers and solicit the public to visit the store. Later, the man was indicted on firearms related charges related to the operation.

The negative press emanating from this failed sting comes on the heels of the little covered U.S. Supreme Court decision in Millbrook v. the United States. In a rare unanimous decision, the court held that the U.S. government can be held liable for abuses intentionally carried out by law enforcement officers as a result of their employment. However, the individual agents have little to fear financially. Under the Federal Torts Courts Claim Act (FTCA), it is the taxpayers that are left holding the bag.

“FTCA judgments are paid by an unlimited fund provided by Congress,” said attorney Jeff Bucholtz, an attorney who argued against Millbrook, “so it doesn’t hurt prison guards or their supervisors when judgments are paid out under the statute.”

After the Operation Fast and Furious debacle—an ATF operation that oversaw the transfer of firearms to Mexcian narco-gang members; whereby,  one of the weapons was later used to murder a U.S. Border Patrol agent—you can bet the missing M4 stolen from the Milwaukee agent’s SUV is causing many  sleepless nights for ATF bureaucrats.

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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