Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Police unions target 'enemies,' and other stories

Here are a few odds and ends that I likely won't find time this week to turn into individual blog posts but deserve Grits readers' attention:

Police unions target their 'enemies' at Lege
Somehow I'd missed the creation last fall of a new 501c(4) dubbed the Texas Law Enforcement Council by the Texas Municipal Police Association and the Dallas and Houston police unions. The Harris County Deputies Association and the DPS Officers Association have also joined the group. Houston Police Officers Union President Ray Hunt declared, "We have seen enemies of working law enforcement officers with R’s and D’s behind their names," and this group aims to target those "enemies." Their stated goal is to work on pension issues and officer "rights," but TMPA and the Dallas union in particular have been prone in recent years to stick their noses into policy issues at the Lege that really have nothing to do with union business. The group's bylaws specifically state that "A unanimous vote of the Board of Directors is required any time that TLEC opposes or supports a bill.  A member of the Board of Directors for TLEC and their respective member organizations (TMPA, HPOU, and DPA) shall not oppose a bill that is supported by TLEC and shall not advocate in favor of a bill that is opposed by TLEC." It's notable that the new group doesn't include the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, which is the state's largest umbrella group for police unions. The TLEC collaboration may be seen as an effort to shore up union clout in an environment where the big players have often spent as much time feuding with one another at the Lege as advocating on behalf of their members.

Lawsuits against Dallas police costing millions
Reported the Dallas News, "Since 2011, the Dallas City Council has approved 10 six-figure settlements or verdicts for lawsuits against the police department, according to city records. Those payouts have added up to about $6 million." Said the paper, "two things are certain: Video is increasingly playing a major role in the cases, and the city has had to dole out money frequently and in some of the biggest sums since the fake drugs episode in the early and mid-2000s. That scandal rocked the department and led to millions of dollars in lawsuit payments, demotions, firings and even criminal charges."

Austin police detective indicted for on-duty shooting of fleeing forger
A former detective became the first Austin police officer in a decade to be indicted by a grand jury over a shooting incident, the Austin Statesman reported. "[Det. Charles 'Trey'] Kleinert, who retired from the department amid an internal affairs investigation, surrendered himself Monday to officers at the Travis County Jail, where he was booked, fingerprinted and released on bail. It was unclear how quickly the case could go to court. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted on the second-degree felony charge." An accompanying story declared, "Indictments in police shootings rare, convictions even rarer."

Hearne officer who shot and killed 93-year old woman fired
Reported the Houston Chronicle, "Officials voted Saturday to fire the police officer who shot and killed an armed 93-year-old woman last week while responding to an incident at her home in Hearne, a central Texas town of about 5,000 residents two hours northwest of Houston."

Jury: Four Galveston officers used excessive force
The Houston Chronicle reported that, "A federal jury concluded Monday that four Galveston police officers used excessive force during a 2008 wedding party and awarded a total of $48,900 in damages to injured plaintiffs."

Car seizures next step in collecting unpaid tolls
Reported the Dallas News, "Under a new state law, [North Texas Tollway Authority] officials say, about 30,000 drivers are eligible to have their registrations blocked or cars impounded. These top scofflaws have racked up at least 100 unpaid tolls each, and together owe the agency millions." Specifically, "After due notice and a chance to appeal, the agency can now ban drivers from its tollways — fining each up to $500 if caught on one. If caught a second time, the agency can impound their cars, which may be auctioned unless they pay their tolls."

'Forcing change in forensic science'
Check out an article on the newly minted National Commission on Forensic Science, which includes a couple of Texas members.

Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande Valley have highest complaint rates
So says this article from The Brownsville Herald.

Feds won't disclose phone tracking sans convictions
The feds say they don't have to disclose the use of cell-phone location tracking unless a case results in a conviction. That leaves a big accountability gap. There are lots of reasons the government might want to use cell-phone location tracking besides just criminal prosecutions. (See below.) Somewhere in the bowels of hell, J. Edgar Hoover must be smiling.

'We kill people based on metadata'
So says a former CIA director explaining the national security importance of controversial NSA communications tracking.


bail bonds las vegas said...

Isn't any one person or entity that lacks all union ties an enemy to all Unions?

Anonymous said...

TMPA stepped on some big toes this last session and screwed with other union's legislation. Their executives are arrogant and think they run the Texas House.

CLEAT is more open to reforms and better represents law enforcement. Not all CJ unions are jerks. These groups are most likely joining together on the pension fights, as CLEAT and other unions joined together last session in a united fight on pensions.

Anonymous said...

I've read many posts on Bruce Schneier's blog about US cops using drones that are stingray towers, so they MITM attack and harvest all voice traffic and store it forever.

You should also look into the nonsense that is the HTTP/2.0 standard being drawn up by the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force). The working group for HTTP/2.0 originally wanted all traffic encrypted, but police and spy shills convinced them to allow "trusted proxys" meaning AT&T will be allowed to decrypt all traffic for nonsense optimization reasons, at which point the feds, cops and other shady entities can harvest metadata much easier than now.

"Red" Merriweather Coast said...

Houston Police Officers Union President Ray Hunt declared, "We have seen enemies of working law enforcement officers with R’s and D’s behind their names," and this group aims to target those "enemies."

Well, that's creepy.

'We kill people based on metadata'

... but that's the creepiest.