Showing posts with label militarization of police. Show all posts
Showing posts with label militarization of police. Show all posts

Bomb 'Bots Vs. Bad Guys: How Explosives And Xbox Controllers Can Take Down Terrorists

We may joke a lot about the impending horrors of how robots are coming for our jobs, but many times, for the most part, these replacements ultimately will bode well for the labors of the industrial or commercial world.  More importantly, at the top of the line, in each of these instances, the robots are being deployed by human beings capable of critical thinking and (theoretically) feeling emotions.  Now, we will find ourselves being increasingly placed in difficult situations where there are strong arguments both for and against the usage of robots in delicate human-induced situations…

A bomb robot in Arlington, TX, during the 2011 Super Bowl.
Will more such machines quell our quandaries?
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Peppery Pacification: New Crowd-Control Drones In India Feature Pepper Spray

Some police departments used to strive for "less-lethal" weaponry, leading to an influx of options like bean-bag guns, LRAD sound cannons, and all varieties of sprays and chemicals to subdue (but not kill) their targets.  Now, that premise has taken flight on a whole new level: pepper-spray drones.

We can't even control cops that over-use pepper spray...will machines do any better?
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Home, Home On The Range-R: Military-Grade Radar Scanners Can Help Police Spot You Through Walls

Big Brother isn't just watching - he's digging your moves, and he's not about to let something like legality or a concrete, windowless wall get in his way.  "Thanks" to Range-R radar technology, cops can sense motion inside a space without even having to kick down the doors.

According to USA Today, over the last two years, some 50 law enforcement agencies across America have adopted this technology, because search warrants take time and randomly breaking and entering sometimes gets bad press.  With no concern for privacy other than the privacy of the device itself (no notice of the technology nor its intents were released to the public), agencies from the FBI to the U.S. Marshalls to possibly your hometown cop-shop can now track you with the high-tech scanners.

It allows for that extra few seconds of pondering before the strike team swarms the building.
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When placed against an exterior wall, the radar use radio waves to penetrate up to 50 feet indoors and snitch if there's a person inside, where they are, and if they're mobile.  The devices are even sensitive enough to detect breathing, so basically, you have nowhere to hide.  They can "see" through concrete, dirt, adobe, wood, stucco or brick, and are even drone-mountable for you pesky apartment dwellers (or maybe just for the extra-lazy lawmen.)

While plausibly for use in hostage scenarios, firefighting emergencies, or search-and-rescue (according to the manufacturer's website), the Range-Rs have already been used over such inanity as parole jumping.  Originally invented for use in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the devices, made by the L3 Communications company, cost $600 apiece.  Some $180,000 has been quietly spent on them since 2012.

While legal issues surrounding the use of the devices remain tricky, the Supreme Court specifically noted in a 2001 ruling that it was Constitutionally unsound to have police scan the exterior of a building with a thermal camera, and that the ruling would also apply to future radar systems.

"What?  We're just checking to make sure they're breathing...before we put a stop to that."
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So far, this ruling has gone unrecognized, as police maintain they are using the devices for the usual "security concerns."  That tight security apparently precludes even mentioning that the Range-Rs exist.  William Sorukas, a former supervisor of the Marshals Service's domestic investigations arm, even went as far as to say, "If you disclose a technology or a method or a source, you're telling the bad guys along with everyone else."

Well, now the bad guys DO know.  And the good guys too.  Neither side should be happy about it.  What happened to doing police work to catch criminals, instead of stooping to their level and committing crimes to summarily execute "justice"?

Your security is just as important as national security.
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Hold Onto Your Hat: New Bulletproof Caps Can Help You Keep Your Mind In One Place

It's a dangerous world out there, but who can plan to wear a helmet everyplace they go?  Now, you don't have to sacrifice fashion for security thanks to a new kickstarter endeavor,  the Bulletsafe bulletproof cap.

Unfortunately they are not yet available in Stetson style.
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Bearing a 7-oz. hard ballistic panel that sits in the front of the cap to protect the wearer's forehead and frontal lobes, the caps appear to sit as normally as your favorite baseball teams' would.  The caps are not only a fraction of the weight but also a fraction of the cost of a full SWAT helmet, which would be around $400, compared to the Bulletsafe's $129.

A Bulletsafe cap with its internal armor removed.  33% head coverage might not sound like a lot, but it's better than 0% when it comes to your brain.
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Offering "Protection Without Intimidation" is another major feature, alleviating the need for police or other security personnel to be overtly armored.  This aids not only in covert operations but also for keeping relative overall peace thanks to the appearance of a non aggressively-militarized force.  Maybe, just maybe, having officers look a little less threatening might make everyone act in a similar fashion.  Riot helmets, consciously or not, presuppose riots.

Despite the obviously bad idea, you probably want to fight this guy more than some random dude in a ballcap.
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Interested parties can aid the Bulletsafe's development by pledging various amounts, including a special startup price of $99 per cap.  If you have absolutely no need for such gear but appreciate the idea, for $50 one can aid in the donation of a cap to a Detroit-area police officer.  Your name will be written inside so that the recipient can appreciate their "guardian angel."

"Aww gee thanks, CopsSuck420!"
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The product has successfully completed prototype testing and is aiming for NIJ Level IIA security ratings for the headwear.  This means the hat is capable of stopping .40, 9mm, and .38 caliber rounds, which is a considerable achievement for what by all appearances is a lightweight, normal baseball cap.

Can the appearance of peace help the people and police?  Let's hope 2015 doesn't have to find out the hard way.  But, like firearms themselves, a little discreet security can go a long way when it counts.

Check out Bulletsafe's kickstarter for more information!

For an additional donation, you can get one embroidered for your specific job, such as "POLICE", or if you're really daring, a Boston Red Sox logo for your trip to Yankee Stadium.
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Shots Fired? New "Yardarm" Device Reports Police Weapon Use And Location In Real-Time

Police violence, no-knock raids, SWAT invasions, traffic stops gone wrong...all sorts of issues seem to arise these days between citizens and those who supposedly "serve and protect."  Weaponry, which has been made available to local police departments on an unprecedented scale, plays a major role in this.  Since America's glorious Constitution isn't about to let guns go out the window for police nor citizens, it's imperative that a middle ground be reached where our taxpayer-endorsed police forces can be held accountable for their firearm actions with official evidence (and the "body cameras" seem to keep mysteriously losing batteries.)  So, meet the Yardarm.

The Yardarm chip, shown in green, is a witness who can't lie.

Currently in development in Silicon Valley, the Yardarm is a startup venture that could start a serious new trend of keeping cops in check.  Installed in the butt of a pistol, the Yardarm's Bluetooth sensor connects to an officer's smartphone, then notifies police dispatchers when and where an officer carries, draws or fires their weapon.  It can even deduce the direction of the discharge, which could be important later in court for all parties involved.  In the officers' aid, it could help alert dispatchers when a cop is under fire but cannot immediately radio their situation or location.

Yardarm's website states their technology is "designed to seamlessly integrate into existing computer aided dispatch (CAD) and real-time crime center (RTCC) solutions", which provide maps for a dispatcher to track progress on. This could enable more accurate data regarding crime-infested areas and ultimately prove safer for everyone.

Unfortunately, there are no current plans to make Yardarms for nightsticks.

Missouri Senator: Cameras On Cops, Or No Federal Funding

Militarized police forces across America have become a major concern for average citizens. There is a good and reasonable answer to help curtail this, and now, one senator has spoken up. Claire McCaskill, a senator from cop-embattled Missouri, wants all police to start wearing body cameras, lest their federal funding be curtailed.

As reports, her reasoning is reflected by her constituents, and others around the nation. A petition citing similar intents has surpassed 100,000 signatures, requiring the Obama administration to consider the problem. Concrete improvement in police problem reduction has already been proven in a study done by the Rialto, California police department, who wear cameras. Other cities who have taken up this initiative include Fresno, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, and Cincinnati. The issue has been discussed for the NYPD as well.

The ACLU summarized the need for this inexpensive yet effective change to occur by noting its advantages for both parties involved in a police incident. They stated that helmet or body cameras, "have the potential to be a win-win, helping protect the public against police misconduct, and at the same time helping protect police against false accusations of abuse."

Hey police...stop resisting.
Maybe GoPro can release a "GoPo" edition?

Drone Dread Au Poivre: Pepper-Spray Paintballs From Above

In a recent development that's sure not to be reciprocated against with escalating force, South African drone manufacturer Desert Wolf has created a new crowd-control contraption that can shoot protesters with dye, plastic projectiles, or even a beautifully-bouquet'd barrage of pepper-spray-filled paintballs. reports that the Skunk, as the drone is known, has four cameras and four separate ammunition hoppers with which to mete out face-searing force. Controlled by a two-man operating team of a pilot and a "payload operator" (gunner), the Skunk will make its debut patrolling the volatile environment of South African mines. If the Skunk's glaring lights and amplified command orders don't work, the operators may simply rain peppery hellfire down on their charges.

Desert Wolf director Hennie Kieser claims the operators will be watched by microphone and camera to "ensure they aren't too aggressive." Because nothing says "peacekeeping" like pepper paintballs.

The Skunk, stinking things up.  Image courtest

Local Police Deploy Secret Military Grade Electronic Warfare Devices Against Citizenry

Cities and counties around the country continue to use funds from DHS to further militarize local police and ramp up the Democratic and Republican parties' ongoing war on basic constitutional rights and liberties. In the present case, police won't even reveal the nature of the electronic warfare devices being deployed against the people. From the Pontiac Tribune:
‘HailStorm’ is a new device obtained by the Oakland County [MI] Sheriff with monies from a U.S. Homeland Security Grant and so far, there isn’t much information available on what exactly it can and cannot do.  There were no questions asked when Oakland County commissioners unanimously approved the use of this cellphone tracking device previously used by the US military in Iraq.
Undersheriff Michael McCabe told The Detroit News that the federal Homeland Security Act bars him from discussing the Hailstorm device.
Many privacy advocates are questioning why one of the safest counties in Michigan needs the very powerful, super-secretive military device called ‘Hailstorm’. The Detroit News sought basic information about Hailstorm and the county denied their Freedom of Information Act request.
The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, located here in Pontiac, is the only police department in the state of Michigan(that we know of?) currently using the military technology. If you think this is an invasion of privacy, you are not alone.