Popular Technology Raising Red Flags

Protecting the Safety of the United States
Used by police departments around the country, facial recognition software that is offered in real time, is a valuable crime fighting technology with law enforcement. In fact, it is a key element in order to get information early — not only for officer safety, but public safety as well.

Surveillance cameras help identify people by their facial features and record people on busy streets. It’s incredibly helpful to LEOs when they are looking for a criminal. But it goes beyond that. This is about protecting the safety of the people of the United States. Terrorists are constantly trying to get into this country. They change their identities, grow beards, wear eye glasses, and wear hats to try and conceal themselves. With facial recognition technology, they would be caught right away. The cameras would see past the beard and hat and would be able to immediately pickup the eyes, length of the nose, jaw bones, etc. Without this, we will be left counting on people to recognize them on the street. Thinking logically, Is that really going to happen?

Privacy Concerns
San Francisco, California is officially banning city agencies, including the police from using facial recognition technology. They are the first city in the nation to take this step. But it isn’t going without controversy. For one thing, the technology is not full proof. Critics say it tends to mis-identify women and people of color, which is a serious privacy and security concern. Oakland and San Jose, California are considering similar measures as well. But do every day people really want this to go away? It seems this might be the first step towards what could very well be a national policy.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

PFC Closed on Memorial Day

Privacy for Cops will be closed on Memorial Day. In honor of the veterans who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces, and who selflessly gave of themselves to protect our freedom, we remember you.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Robocalls and the “One-Ring” Scam

As most of you probably know, robocalls are hitting our phone lines more than ever. And may of them are scammers trying to steal our money and personal information. Between Medicare scams and IRS imposters, to now robocalls, our privacy feels like its under attack.

If you receive a call and they ask you to press a number to get yourself off their call list, just hang up. DON’T ENGAGE! If you get an email that asks for your personal information, don’t reply. Delete it or put it in your spam email box.

Fraud Prevention Tips:
• Don’t answer. If you don’t recognize the number, and it’s a legitimate caller, they can leave a message.
• Hang up on illegal robocalls.
• Use a call blocking app or ask your carrier if they have call blocking service
• Ask a tech-savvy family member or friend for help navigating this process
• Report unwanted calls to the Federal Trade Commission at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov

Finally, a warning about the “one-ring” scam. That’s when you get a phone call from a number you don’t know. The call stops after only one ring, because the scammer is hoping you will call back. It’s really an international number and will appear as a charge on your phone bill, but the money is going straight to the scammers pocket.

Be smart, trust your gut, and don’t give scammers the satisfaction of engaging. Until the government can figure out a way to stop this mess, protect your privacy using the tips mentioned above.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ten tips to help keep your child safe online

The internet has a lot of positive ways for kids and teens to learn. And when it comes to parenting, there isn’t a book to show us how to navigate every step. With school shootings on the rise, vaping flavors that mimic candy, and online predators, privacy concerns are lurking. Xbox and PlayStation games online make it easy for not only kids to communicate with each other, but adult pedophiles as well. For these reasons, it is extremely important to take proper online safety precautions!

Ten tips to help keep your kids safe online:

1. Look at your kids’ cell phone. Be an informed parent and make sure you can get into the device (fingerprint, password) and do random checks. You also need to know that there are spoofing apps that can hide other apps so make sure you know what you should be looking for.

2. NEVER reveal personal information and NEVER give away passwords or share them with friends.

3. Always log off your computer. Otherwise you are taking the risk that a hacker can access your information.

4. Talk and educate your kid on how to stay safe on their devices. Let them know what to do if they are approached by someone online or if they see something that is inappropriate.

5. Follow your kids online. Know their social media accounts (Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, etc.)

6. At night, take your kids devices out of their rooms or turn off the wifi. Many issues with online safety occur while parents think their kids are sleeping.

7. Remind your kids that ANYTHING that is placed online can’t be taken back. Even when they think they have removed something or deleted it, it still exists.
8. Research before you buy! Look at the security settings that are available on any device you plan to buy before you make the purchase.

9. Establish rules and guidelines. What websites and apps can your kid use? Talk about the consequences if a rule is broken in advance, so that your kid knows the expectations.

10. Educate yourself! There are many resources out there, but here are a few recommended sites: netsmartz.org; revisor.mn.gov; cybertipline.com

To help protect the online privacy of kids, the FTC enforces the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which requires websites and online services to get consent from parents before they can collect personal information from kids under age 13. It might seem like a lot of work, but if you educate yourself on the dangers, and implement the safety tips noted above, you are taking critical steps to ensuring the safety of your kids digital footprint.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Off-Duty Officer Ambushed at Home

Can you imagine being at home with your family, peacefully enjoying the day, only to be ambushed by open gunfire outside your home? Idaho Police Officer Josh Rigney was off-duty and at home with his family when a man drove by his house and opened fired. His family was not injured, but Rigney was shot twice while interchanging gunfire with the unidentified man and was later treated at a nearby hospital, where his reported to survive.

According to a neighbor of Rigney’s, the unidentified man was said to be looking through the windows of the neighbor who lives only houses away from Rigney. The neighbor saw him and questioned him about this. Reportedly, the man asked the neighbor where the “tribal cop” lived. The neighbor said she wasn’t sure, but pointed next door to where a tribal patrol car was parked in front of an apartment complex.

The suspect, later identified as Daniel Cook, Jr., fled the scene as Officer Rigney’s wife called 911. The suspect was eventually located, caught in a brief shootout with three on-duty police officers, was hit multiple times, and later died. Thankfully, no other officers were injured during the exchange. A motive for why the suspect was looking for the Officer is unknown at this time. And an investigation is ongoing.

Reminds us of the importance to keep our online personal information safe. Run an online search of yourself and see what you can find. If anything pops up, be proactive and either hire a service who can help you remove your information or try to remove it yourself. It will be a daunting task, but well worth it to protect your information, making it harder for thugs to find you and your family.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Where Does an SRO Stand?

It’s a sad fact that in our nation virtually every school from elementary all the way through college now must have at least one SRO (School Resource Officer) on duty at all times. These SROs are on-duty police officers who like any other have sworn to serve and protect. In most states, they are not employed by the school or the school board. Yet it seems that despite this fact an SRO with the Warren, OH police department was escorted from the elementary school in which he was working.

The Reason
It seems that after warning the Principal of the school numerous warnings for parking in a marked handicap space, the SRO (an LEO with the Warren, OH PD) issued the Principal a citation. Following this, the principal of the school ordered the school’s business manager and head of security to escort the LEO from the campus.
According to Michael Currington, Warren PD union representative, the officer did, in fact, issue the principal several warnings. Keep in mind that marked handicap spaces no matter where are covered under ADA laws, including on school property. Thus, no matter how you look at it, the law states that a citation will be issued, and the vehicle towed if the owner is not present in most states. Citations do vary from one state to the next, ranging from around $250 to as much as $1,000 or more.

Part of the problem may be in the way accessible parking space violations tend to be treated as pretty low on the priority totem. Perhaps the Principal felt that as the “head” of the school they were “above” the law or that because they had no one at the school in need of a marked spot, it didn’t matter. The reality is that Warren PD Officer Adam Chinchic was doing his job as prescribed under numerous federal and state laws designed specifically to protect the handicap.

Instead of being recognized for his diligence in protecting the disabled and enforcing the laws, the Chinchic instead had to endure the embarrassment of being “escorted” from the campus like a common criminal. To make matters worse (if that’s possible), Office Chinchic had to miss a lunch date with one of the little girls at the school.

Who’s in the Right Here?
When you get right down to it, all law enforcement officers are sworn to uphold the law period. No one is above the law, not the officer, not the principal, no one. It is apparent that the officer went above and beyond his duty by taking the time to issue a number of warnings before issuing the citation. At issue, the idea that a school principal feels first that he has the authority to order a law enforcement officer from a public school, second that business manager and head of security went along with it, and third that the same principal feels that he has the authority to park in an accessible parking space. The other issue here is that our educators are supposed to be teaching our children to respect the law. However, when a school principal tries to set himself above the law, it shows our children that it is okay to break the law. The story needs to be followed to see whether or not the Chinchic’s commanders will back him up and whether or not the principal will be made to pay the citation.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Can Police Officers Force You to Use Face ID to Unlock Your Phone?

We lock our phones so that other people can’t access what is on them. We have personal contact information on our cell phones, pass codes, photos, even bank cards are kept on our phones — along with access to apps that provide a lot of information about where we shop, where we bank, and who our favorite people are in the world.

And while it might sound a bit shocking to think that police officers can force you to unlock your cell phone by using Face ID or Touch ID, just picture a criminal who has been arrested and could have photos on their device that would lead them to a missing child, or a weapon that was used in a shooting that could lead to an arrest, or a person’s of interest who was involved in a crime that took place. It could prove beneficial in these types of circumstances. So, if the police need to access data on a cell phone from a person who has been arrested, can they force them to unlock their phone?

The Big Picture and Privacy Concerns

The short answer is yes. However, it does raise privacy concerns. And it isn’t that clear cut, because the big picture is that a police officer must get a search warrant first, so there is an added layer of protection thanks to the Supreme Court. Innocent until proven guilty right? Forcing someone to give up a passcode or unlock their cell phone would force them to give up their constitutional rights and actually violates the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, which as a reminder states that no one shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against themselves.

Still a Long Way to Go

It seems that there is still a long way to go before an agreement is made. And there are many varying legal opinions out there about what to do. You might be better off just using a passcode rather than a fingerprint or face recognition to unlock your cell phone until a definitive court decision is made.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Road Rage on the Rise

Driving behind the wheel can be somewhat stressful. And while we feel somewhat protected in our cars, the space is only a small barrier to the outside world. We can’t predict how other drivers are going to react in certain situations and driving can be one of the most dangerous things we do all day.

Police are seeing a rise in road rage incidents. And according to the U.S. Federal Department of Transportation, road rage fatalities has jumped dramatically. From 110 in 2007, to 487 in 2017. That’s an increase of 350%! But there are a number of ways you can deescalate a situation and avoid road rage.

Some simple safety tips and things to keep in mind:

Be in the proper state of mind BEFORE you get in the car. Relax, start calm, and try not to be in a rush.

Speeding isn’t always going to get you to your location sooner. Your location is going to be there no matter when you get there, so remind yourself that it’s okay to be late. Better to be safe than put your life at risk just to shave a few minutes off your trip.

Aggressive drivers exist! If they are riding your tail, pull over and let them pass. Don’t engage and play their game by slowing down or stepping on your brakes to try and get them off you. That might only infuriate them and cause more aggression.

If someone rolls down their window and starts yelling at you, ignore them. Look straight ahead, roll up your window, lock your door and keep driving.

If you get worked up, take some deep breaths and count backwards from 20. It lowers your heart rate and allows your body to relax so you can stay calm behind the wheel.

Lastly, if an enraged driver follows you, don’t get out of your car. Try to get to a public space with other people, preferably a police department or call 911. And using your horn is almost always an instant agitator, so remember to use it.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Can You Shoot Down a Drone?

Drones are the latest craze, and it seems like everyone is using them for fun, for the news, for security, and many other reasons. Soon they will be delivering products to our doors including fresh hot pizzas, fried chicken, clothes, and much more. But what if the drone is being operated by “undesirable” hands?

Set the Scene
It’s late fall, and the local high school championship is underway. The stadium is packed; you are stationed on the sidelines. The sound of a drone fills your ears, and you look up to see one spraying the crowd with some kind of liquid. They start to panic and run, rubbing their eyes, and trying to get away. It sounds a bit far-fetched, doesn’t it? The reality is that drones are already being weaponized in other countries.

Consider these examples:
• US forces reviewed video footage taken by a captured drone that showed it to be armed with bombs that could be dropped on US positions virtually undetected until it was too late. In this particular case, the noise made by the drone gave the soldiers time to shoot it down before it could do its job.

• Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was the victim of an attempted bomb attack by two drones carrying explosives. One hit a building and exploded before it could reach its target, the other got close before detonating.

• Evidence continues to come in that ISIS is finding new ways to weaponize commercial drones for use in terror attacks around the world.

You might think this would give law enforcement officers the right to disable a suspicious drone using technology or other means. To be sure under the National Defense Authorization Act of 2017/2018 the DOD and DOE have the right to ” detect, monitor, and track” and “disrupt control of, destroy, damage, disable, and seize (using reasonable force of course) drones flying over specific facilities.

Not Much You Can Do
Yet as an LEO, you are still unable to legally do anything that might cause damage to or loss of control of any drone, no matter how threatening it might appear. One of the biggest concerns cited for making this decision is the safety of the general public should you “shoot” down or otherwise disable a drone.

Also, because under 49 USC § 40102, drones are considered as and given the same protections as any other type of aircraft. Thus, the shooting down of a drone would be considered aircraft piracy and thus lead to criminal prosecution as such resulting in a prison term of up to 20 years. If the drone is damaged or destroyed, further prosecution for aircraft sabotage under 18 USC § 32 would only add to the sentence.

Even under the scenario, we started with; you are prevented by law from interfering in the operation of the drone. Your only option is to attempt to find the operator of the drone, arrest them, and then shut the drone down. Even if the drone does not appear to be dangerous, you should still monitor it and if you can find the operator, discuss drone safety with them. One last thing to consider, you are permitted to meet a threat with the necessary level of force, but you may have to answer questions later.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Stingray Tracking Devices

Stingray Tracking Devices, also known as “cell site simulators” or “IMSI catchers,” are invasive cell phone surveillance devices that mimic cell phone towers. They send out signals to trick cell phones in the area into transmitting their locations and personal identifying information. Stingray devices can be incredibly helpful to law enforcement, especially when they are trying to track down a suspect. When they can locate a suspect’s cell phone, it helps Officers gather information about that person, but it can also pickup information from the cell phones of random persons nearby.

Privacy and First Amendment Rights
Law enforcement agencies all over the country use Stingrays. They can be used in vehicles to measure the signal strength of a target phone from different positions to determine the location of a phone. They can also trick phones into sending data without encryption, allowing for surveillance of a phone’s network activity. And in some cases, these devices might even be capable of delivering malicious spyware or software to personal devices.

But is the government being transparent about the use of these powerful tools? The ACLU has uncovered evidence that federal and local law enforcement agencies are actively trying to conceal their use from public scrutiny, and they are continuing to push for transparency and reform.

Who’s Got Them?
In 2018, the ACLU reported that 75 agencies in 27 states and the District of Columbia, own stingrays. Some of those agencies include the Federal Bureau of Investigations, U.S. Secret Service, Immigrations and Customs, Internal Revenue Service, and many more. However, many agencies continue to cover their use of stingrays in secrecy.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment