Is Your Department Using Hand-Held Narcotics Analyzers?

With the use of narcotics steadily on the rise in the U.S., more law enforcement agencies are starting to use handheld narcotics analyzers. The simple to use yet highly sophisticated devices can help speed up the legal process, while at the same time helping departments to significantly reduce the cost of testing.

Traditional Narcotics Testing
For decades officers had two options with regard to narcotics analysis. The first was to use a wet chemistry field test. The second involved sending a blood sample to a large and very expensive laboratory along with highly experienced and costly technicians to run the tests and determine the presence of any narcotics and the amount of each in the subject’s blood. Along with being very expensive, lab testing could take several days until the results were returned.

Enter the handheld narcotics analyzer, a simple to use, yet highly accurate device that will allow law enforcement officers, border control officers, customs agents, and many other forms of law enforcement to successfully test for the presence of narcotics using the Raman spectroscopy method.

Safer and Widespread Use
This is a much safer method of testing and is far more accurate than the old wet chemistry field test kit. On top of this, the device can test for the presence of multiple narcotics at the same time. Something the wet chemistry test cannot handle. The devices are currently in use by over 75% of the states and in more than three dozen other countries around the globe. LEOs all agree that these devices allow them to remove suspected drug offenders from the streets more quickly, prioritize their lab needs, and help to reduce costs, all at the same time.

An example of how much the handheld analyzer has already been proven to make a difference is the Phoenix, AZ police department. For decades the city has been plagued with huge case backlogs due to the ever-increasing number of cases and the spiraling costs of laboratory testing. All this on top of the many other challenges involved in successfully prosecuting most drug cases.

After successfully completing a pilot program, the city currently has 20 different drugs approved for field testing using the handheld unit. Not only has this helped to speed up the entire process from start to finish, but it has also helped increase the number of successful prosecutions and helped to reduce cost.

No More Chain of Custody Worries
One of the hardest parts of obtaining a successful conviction is maintaining the proper chain of custody of testing samples from the moment they are collected until they are tested at the lab. By instituting the use of handheld analyzers, every sample and the results are secured using a tamperproof data storage method. The only way the information can be deleted from the device is for it to be connected to the appropriate administrative software. The evidence collected is perfectly safe and can be introduced as evidence, helping to secure a conviction. When you look at the cost savings, the faster turnaround on results, and the increase in valid conviction rates, it won’t be long before all officers are equipped with these devices.

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The Increasing Need for More Women in Law Enforcement

While women do account for a small but growing segment of law enforcement across the country, the number still only sits at approximately 11.6 %. This is an increase of only 8% since the 1970s. The good news for women is that the need to hire more women into law enforcement has started to receive a significant amount of coverage. There are a number of benefits to significantly increasing the number of women behind the badge.

Woman Officers Are Not as Likely to Use Excessive Force
According to a recent article in The Atlantic, one of the two main reasons for the need to hire more female officers is that ” Women officers are less likely to use excessive force or pull their weapon. They are defendants in lawsuits far less often than men, saving municipalities millions in legal fees.” Something that has become more important than ever as police behavior has come under increasing scrutiny from both the public and the press.

Improved Community Relations Starts with Women Officers
According to a report published by the National Center for Women & Policing back in 2003, ” over the last 40 years, studies have shown that female officers are less authoritarian in their approach to policing, less reliant on physical force and are more effective communicators. Most importantly, female officers are better at defusing potentially violent confrontations before those encounters turn deadly.” This alone should be enough to increase the number of women officers across all levels of law enforcement.

Who Better Than Women Officer to Work with Violence Towards Women and Sex Crimes?
This is perhaps one of the most important areas of law enforcement where women officers may be able to make the biggest difference. For example, a woman who is the victim of a sexual assault is far more likely to talk to a female officer. But, unfortunately, in many departments, there simply aren’t enough female officers to go around, if there are any at all. Not only is this situation not going to help the victim, but in the long run, it does nothing to help the rest of law enforcement to complete our mission.

Why Aren’t There More Women in Law Enforcement?
There are any number of reasons why there are not enough women in law enforcement. They range from the unfortunate stereotypes all the way to recruitment and training programs that specifically target males.

No matter how you look at it, there has not been much of an effort to change recruiting efforts for decades, but the time has come for women police officers to take on a much larger role at every level of law enforcement, from local sheriffs all the way up to federal agencies.

The one thing those women who have made the struggle to the top levels of law enforcement would tell women who are interested in a career in law enforcement is, never give up, never let anyone tell that you cannot do something simply because of his gender.

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Will the Proposed Use-of-Force Bill in California Make Anyone Safer?

So, here we go, the California legislature is doing their “best” to address the growing number of officer involved shootings. At the same time, they are also making changes to the legal standards used to judge them. According to House Bill 931, entitled Police Accountability and Community Protection Act (PACP).

The PACP would make it illegal for a law enforcement officer to use “deadly” force unless it was deemed “necessary” under the bill. Sounds great so far, doesn’t it? After all, no police officer truly wants to shoot anyone unless they deem it necessary, do they?

Who Decides What “Necessary” Is?
This is the big question and one that seems to be outlined in the legislation. According to the bill’s authors and others, it goes something like this. If the officer’s use of deadly force is deemed after review, to be unnecessary by both them and their peers, then the officer could be prosecuted. In the event they are not imprisoned, it could still cost them years of hassle that can ruin them emotionally, physically, and financially. They further went on to say this is how we go about protecting the community.

This is not likely to make things any better at all. While hindsight is always 20/20, when you are in the heat of the moment, you have to base your decision on the sensory input and your interpretation of the situation of it unfolds. This could, in fact, lead to the decision to pull the trigger and use deadly force where reviewing the situation via dashcam video, eyewitness reports, and the officer’s own memory may possibly have led to a different decision.

The Supreme Court Weighs In
Fortunately, the Supreme Court Cases of Tennessee vs. Garner and Graham vs. Connor set a precedent regarding the use of any type of police force and how it should be evaluated. The most important passage in the Graham vs. Connor statement is, ” The ‘reasonableness’ of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight.

Keep in mind that at the time, Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote the decision and that there weren’t any dissenting votes on the panel. This is very much like being handed the commandment from atop Mt. Sinai. Despite this, the powers at large in the California State Assembly have chosen to disagree with the decision put forth by the Supreme Court and have instead chosen to propose their own legislation.

The Other Side of the Problem
Under normal circumstances, any legislation that directly affects law enforcement in the state of California is normally drafted after consultations with a number of local police organizations such as the Police Officers Research Association of California. As of this time, no one has made any attempt to consult with these organizations. Leaving officers in limbo as to what type of reactions they face should they be involved in any type of officer involved shooting.

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Traffic Stops are Becoming More Dangerous Than Ever – Are You Ready?

What used to be a routine traffic stop has now become a very dangerous situation as more officers are being attacked and shot on the side of America’s roads every day. The trick to remaining safe is knowing what to do from the moment you hit the lights until the suspect pulls away or is driven away. Here are six steps you should take if you want to remain safe every time you pull another vehicle over:

Be Prepared for the Stop
• Start by keeping a very close eye on the suspect while you are calling the stop in.
• You need to be watching for attempts to conceal, dump, or destroy any evidence.
• Chose a tactically sound location to pull them over.
• Be sure the front seat of your patrol is clear of anything that might slow down or block an emergency exit.
• Keep a close eye on the suspect watching for attempts to flee.
• Be the first one out the door with your feet on the ground.

Be in Control
Taking control of the situation from the beginning is very important. It is up to you to make sure the situation does not spiral out of control from the outset. Use your interpersonal and communication skills to keep the situation de-escalated before angry words have a chance to turn into physical actions.

The Right Approach Tactics
The best thing you can do for yourself at this point is to make sure you are fully aware of the dangers. Position yourself in such a way as to not be in the way of passing traffic or being trapped between the cars. Take advantage of blind spots, the way you use your lights and mirrors to observe the occupants of the vehicle. This can give you more time to react if something goes wrong.

Never Reach into the Suspect’s Vehicle
You should never reach into a suspect’s vehicle, you put yourself at risk of being attacked by being dragged if the suspect decides to try and drive off.

Time is Always on Your Side
Time is always going to be on your side. There is nothing wrong with delaying the stop until the conditions are more favorable to a safe stop. If you are not comfortable, it’s okay to wait for a backup unit. For instance, you should never try to search a vehicle while at the same time trying to monitor the suspect. This exposes you to potential dangers, especially with a felony stop. Do everything by the numbers, it could save your life.

Beware of the Second Approach
Finally, be very aware of the second approach. While your first approach to the vehicle might have gone peacefully enough, never let this put you at ease. Doing so could cost your life. Try changing the way you approach, come up from the passenger side the second time, or work with your partner to swap out between who is the “Contact” and who is the “Cover” officer.

The most important thing you can do is NEVER treat any traffic stop as routine. Even the simplest of stops could be “the one” that gets you injured or killed. It is your job to uphold the law while at the same time to take every possible step to protect yourself.

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A Sign of the Times

A recent report stated that a number of South Carolina State Troopers have started buying their own high-powered rifles and using them to replace the standard issue state-issued shotguns that tend to be less than lethal. Could things really be this bad in the state of South Carolina? The simple fact is that no matter what state you live in, violent crime (especially those against LEOs) is getting worse.

To make things even more interesting, the state’s Department of Public Safety has asked the State Legislature for $500,000 to help pay for enough AR-15 rifles to equip all state troopers. They say the purchase of these rifles has the potential to save many lives, especially in the event of a mass shooting in the state.

It’s True
According to Highway Patrol, Commander Chris Williamson has recently confirmed that a number of front-line troopers have been calling for more high-powered rifles such as the AR-15 in the last couple of years. In fact, approximately 50 officers have purchased their own AR-15s and were employing them in their vehicles instead of the standard issue shotgun.

So, the average AR-15 costs approximately $1,000 in comparison to the average shotgun that costs about half the price. But, should cost really be a deciding factor when it comes to protecting our brothers and sisters in law enforcement? While cost has to be factored in, what the average law enforcement officer may have to face on any given day, a shotgun may or may not be the best choice.

Rule Change
A recent change in S.C. Highway Patrol policies now allow troopers to bring their own rifles to work with them. However, the rifle must meet department standards and the trooper must complete an eight-hour course on the weapon put on by the department. This means that instead of being stuck with a shotgun that holds six shells and four in their pouch, officers now have access to a rifle that holds 30 rounds and can carry a total of three magazines. This gives them a total of 90 rounds with which to do his job.

To date, the agency has managed to equip 150 officers with high-powered rifles for use by their emergency response teams. The new budget request is for the purchase of 535 Sig Sauer M400 rifles. These will be used to equip the rest of the troopers who will also be required to take the initial 8-hour course and then an annual 4-hour refresher course.

Commander Williamson states that these rifles are more accurate at longer distances and that the spread from a shotgun shell could lead to innocent bystanders being wounded. The good news is that to date, none of the South Carolina State Troopers who have been equipped with the new high-powered rifles have yet to be involved in any type of incident where they have had to use them. However, Williamson states that his troopers “can definitely go in there and get the job done.”

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Is “Smart” Technology Going Too Far?

This is a question many citizens are asking as more of this type of technology in the form of drones, smart cameras, body cams, and more become a permanent part of the arsenal used by law enforcement officers across the country. While many of these new devices are intended to make the job of working in law enforcement easier, the general public sees much of it as having serious potential to invade their privacy. What many fail to realize, is that the vast majority of this technology can also be used to protect them and keep them safer.

Enter the “Smart” Camera
One of the newest pieces of technology to be put into use in Delaware is the “Smart” camera. But, unlike most other cameras in use by law enforcement, the video captured by these cameras is fed directly into an AI (artificial intelligence) system that uses information collected such as license plate number or a face to provide officers on the scene with vital information while they are on patrol.

According to David Hinojosa (Coban Technologies the manufacture of the equipment), the new system is a lot like a dash cam on steroids. This system and the use of AI, in general, is one of the fastest growing trends in law enforcement. But at the same time, its use is being viewed with skepticism among those concerned with civil liberties and privacy out of rear the information could be used by LEOs for “profiling” and other nefarious uses.

Predictive Analytics
Another company, Deep Science, is developing AI backed security camera systems for use in the retail industry. This technology can be used to alert law enforcement in the event of a fire, robberies, and many other events. This ability to monitor actions in real-time and provide instantaneous alerting can help those in charge of security be in a better position to do their jobs. Part of the problem is that far too many guards become bored with what they are watching and lose the ability to pick out important details.

While most CEOs don’t suffer from this type of problem, it exists instead in those who are responsible for watching the video that has been captured. Most people who spend time studying this type of video become ineffective in approximately 10 to 20 minutes, making them virtually ineffective. This is not a problem we can ever expect to have to do deal with when the video is being “examined” by AI.

Are There Privacy Issues or Are These Concerns Pointless?
There are huge privacy concerns when it comes to the use of “smart” cams and AI as a regular part of a police officer’s equipment. Since the system is designed to use facial recognition software, there are definite privacy concerns. This is where both state and federal agencies need to ensure they institute the right legal safeguards and procedures to protect the privacy of citizens who just happen to be captured in the video.

The use of AI in law enforcement is inevitable, but what its use does require is that every law enforcement agency assembles a set of rules intended to allow officers to make the most use of this technology while still protecting the privacy of the general public.

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Office Closed for Christmas and New Years

Closed for Holidays

In order to give our staff time to spend with their families during the holiday season, Privacy for Cops will be closed December 25, 2017 and January 1, 2018.

Support Options Limited

Please note that support options will be limited from December 22, 2017 to January 2, 2018. We appreciate your patience during this time.

Happy Holidays!

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Dodge to Up the Game in the 2018 Charger Pursuit Cars

One of the worst situations an officer can find him or herself in is being ambushed from the side or rear while they are in their patrol car. Dodge has announced the installation of the “Officer Protection Package”, developed in collusion with an Auburn, CA-based company, InterMotive Vehicle Controls. This system is designed to alert the officer when there is movement behind or to the sides of their cruiser while it parked.

Movements like these could well be an indication of someone trying to sneak up on the car and ambush the officer(s) inside. While the system is currently being offered to every law enforcement agency in the country, one of the earliest departments to take advantage of this offer was the Anaheim, CA Police Department.

How the System Works
This system is designed to be turned on by the officer when his vehicle is parked. It is easily turned on by a single steering wheel mounted switch. The only other requirement is that all four of the cruiser’s doors must be closed. The front windows can be in any position.

The idea is that whether the officer is involved in surveillance, is talking to dispatch or sitting watching traffic, he has a helping hand to keep him safe. When equipped with InterMotive’s Surveillance Mode Module™ working in tandem with Dodge’s Fleet Safety Group technology including the ParkView® rearview camera, ParkSense® rear parking assistance system and Rear Cross Path detection system, a full view of the back of the car and sides is displayed on a massive 21-inch touchscreen (the largest in the industry).

In the event the system detects movement, the doors are locked, windows roll up automatically, an alert is sounded, the taillights begin to flash, and the reverse lights come on. The best part of this system is that as long as the officer turns it on, the system will spring into action, even if the officer is not paying attention to what’s going on around him.

Offers a Few Seconds of Extra Reaction Time
While this system is not designed to prevent an assailant from trying to sneak up on the officer and attack them, it does have one very important role. This is to provide the officer(s) in the vehicle with what may only be a few extra seconds of extra time to react. This may be all the time a trained officer needs to be able to see what is going on behind his cruiser on the massive screen. The extra time may give the officer a chance to prepare him or herself for what is coming and at to be in a better position to react to it.

This can be enough time to protect the officer from injury or death and at the same time give them enough time to apprehend the potential assailant. This is a win-win situation and should be installed in every police cruiser in the country, giving officers just a little bit more of a sense of security in what is rapidly becoming a very dangerous work environment.

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Going Hollywood in Crawfordsville, Indiana

The action suddenly went from fiction to fact during the shooting a robbery scene in Crawfordsville, Indiana recently. The following may sound humorous, but the reality is that someone could have easily been shot. Also known as being sure of what is going on before you consider the use of deadly force.

It seems that a movie production company was shooting a scene at the Black Step Brewing Company at approximately 7 p.m. according to the official report from the Crawfordsville Police Department. As the scene was being shot, a concerned citizen who was unaware of what was going on saw what he thought to be an armed man wearing a ski mask walk into the bar. Being a good citizen, the person called 911 to report what he saw.

It gets better – when the police arrived, the first thing the responding officers saw was a masked man backing his way out of the bar with a gun in his hand. You can easily imagine their initial thoughts and what came next. The officers ordered the suspect to drop his weapon, but instead, he started turning towards them with his gun still in his hand.

Their first reaction was that their lives were in danger, so they immediately drew their weapons and opened fire on the “suspect.” Fortunately, for both the officers and the “suspect” were not injured as no one was hit. At this point, the suspect dropped the gun and removed his mask. At the same time, he informed the officers that they were only shooting a movie scene and that this was a movie set.

An Arrest was Made
Despite being told this, the actor, Jim Duff, was arrested by the officers until they were able to corroborate his story. Along with this Indiana State Police, investigators were called in to investigate the shooting, which is routine any time an officer is involved in a situation in which they have discharged their weapons.

The moral of the story is that no one should ever point a gun at a police officer. You should always do what the officer instructs you to do immediately. According to Sgt. Kim Riley a State Police spokesperson, “He was the only person who backed out, the only one that came out, and he was in a ski mask and holding a weapon. Whether it’s real or not, you don’t know at that time.”

The owner of the production company Montgomery County Movies said he was glad no one was hurt and that the rest of the cast and crew were all inside the bar, blissfully unaware of what was going on outside. The bottom line is that it was up to production company to notify local police and residents that they were shooting a movie.

This simple step could have prevented the entire situation and could even have saved a life. In hindsight, it is a shame there weren’t any cameras filming what was going on. Who knows, it could have led to the next big hit at the theaters.

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Protecting the Data on Suspect’s Smartphones

Modern technology in the form of the cell phone has created a new source of evidence and one that it is up to the officer who collects the phone to protect this evidence. I can hear you know, “I do protect it, I turn the phone off and lock it up in the evidence room.” Today’s cell phones contain a treasure trove of information that must be secured just as much as the device itself.


On Today’s Smartphones
Whether the phone is using iOS, Android, or Microsoft Windows® for phones, they all store a ton of data, have direct access to the web and can send and receive files in many formats. They also use a variety of communication apps that circumvent even the carriers attempts to provide records when subpoenaed. Among these apps are Skype, Snapchat, and WhatsApp, which all use data instead of the text messaging network.

But, if you want to be able to access this information for evidence, you better know how to protect it from the owner of the phone or his friends. Both Apple and Android phones can be accessed remotely, in many cases even if they are turned off. Once the phone is accessed, the perpetrator can use a special app to completely erase everything on the phone and restore it back to “fresh out of the box” condition, leaving you with a blank phone.

So How Do You Protect the Data
There are several ways you can go about protecting the data you badly need as evidence from being altered or completely erased.

• Kid Gloves
At no point in time should you touch the phone with your bare hands, be sure to wear gloves. This will preserve any prints and not contaminate the phone with yours.
• Keep It Off
If the phone is turned off when it is collected, leave it turned off and simply photograph it for evidence.
• If It’s On
If the phone is turned on, leave it turned on and photograph the screen.
• Keep It Safe
To keep the phone safe from outside interference, place it in a “Faraday” container, wrap it in aluminum foil, or some other form of signal-blocking container. The intent is to ensure that no one can remotely access the phone and tamper with the data it contains.
• Grab That Charger
If you can find it, grab the charger that goes with the phone. Once you place the phone in the container, it will constantly search for a network signal. This leads to rapid battery drainage. You will need to charge the phone in order to access the data.

What Not to Do
Once you have the phone in your custody, the last thing you want to do is attempt to access the data yourself. With most phones after a specified number of incorrect attempts to enter the password, they are designed to lock out the person making the attempt. In some instances, this can be overcome, but no matter how you look at it (even if you are able to access the data), any attempt is actually tampering with evidence. The evidence contained in today’s cell phones can make or break your case, it is your job to protect it.

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