Monday, November 29, 2010

Boost Your I.Q.

Not that kind of intelligence about brainpower, but criminal intelligence.  Criminal intelligence is information gathered by police on individuals or organizations who they suspect of criminal activity. There will be a public hearing on December 2, 2010, at the Minnesota State Office Building, 3:00pm, Basement Hearing Room on this issue

You may wonder why this matters to you. 

Some of you may know about GangNet and the use of it by the Gang Strike Force. The GangNet database had listed thousands of people listed as "gang members".  The criteria was solely developed and structured by law enforcement.  People's names were added to the database the same way, by police alone.  It was easy to get on the list.  Being seen with an documented gang member, you were listed. If you have a suspicious tattoo that you had done on your trip to Hawaii, you were identified.  Even having a close relative on the wrong side of the law could get you possibly captured in the computer.
But more than that, GangNet was secret, unaccountable, and not transparent.  The individual more than not did not know if their name was in the database.  There was no process for you to find out if you were on the list or even how to get off.  On the other hand, if you applied for a conceal and carry permit you could be denied based on your name being solely in GangNet, or you could be treated as a suspect and be under surveillance or background information gathered on you.

I use GangNet as an example how criminal intelligence is collected and can be used.  Criminal intelligence is not only collected on alleged gang members.

Criminal intelligence can be collected on such simple things as a phone call to the police accusing you of being involved in drugs, or by an anonymous tip with any kind of accusation, or even if you are protesting against the war or big government.

How the local and state police use this kind of data, even with good intentions, raises far reaching civil liberty issues regarding individual privacy, public accountability, and First Amendment issues.  There is a real possibility that innocent people could be speculated upon and branded as a suspect and be placed in a database secretly and unaccountable and then that data being shared throughout the state and to the Federal Government.

There is more information on this issue on a blog post, a press release by the Department of Public Safety, and at the BCA Website, S.F.2575 Work Group.

By informing yourself and going to the hearing on Thursday you can help create standards and direction as to how the Minnesota State Legislature can ensure that the tools of law enforcement to solve crime and keep us safe do not become a device for a particular purpose of a police state.

Because if we have not learned anything from our history, from the abuses of the FBI to what has happened in Minnesota, it is this: a little misinformation and a mask of criminal suspicion can keep out of sight bad behavior and dereliction of duty by even the best intended in the midst of us.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this Rich. I will try to make it there to cover this.