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LAPD officers told to collect social media data on every civilian they stop (theguardian.com)
481 points by perihelions 38 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 379 comments



I'm a little confused by the framing of this article, because LAPD actually can't demand the social media information of everyone they stop. They can ask, and it is problematic that they do since many of the people they stop won't realize that they can simply decline, but the police have basically no authority in the general case to require it.

Without individualized suspicion, the police can barely even ask for ID. They've lost cases over it. Even with suspicion, it's unlikely that they can forcefully demand social media information. (They can, with sufficient evidence, arrest you and conduct a search of your person to try to uncover it, but arrests are a big deal; they can't dragnet arrest.)

With that in mind, I assume the productive article to write here is the one framed around informing people that they shouldn't cooperate with requests like these.


What the police can ask for legally and what they ask for based on a credible threat are rather different.

If 99.99% of the people comply and .001% of the people refuse and the cop involved slugs the non-complying person, giving them a life changing injure. and even if that cop "doesn't get away with it" - gets filmed, get drummed out of the force and the city pays a million dollar settlement, the cops, collectively, will still get away with it and keep doing it since it nearly always works. And the one cop being caught is extremely optimistic.

Even with suspicion, it's unlikely that they can forcefully demand social media information.

How can a cop request information in fashion that isn't forceful? The softest, most polite question is backed by the threat of both violence and arrest.


> How can a cop request information in fashion that isn't forceful? The softest, most polite question is backed by the threat of both violence and arrest.

This is an American-centric attitude towards government and government representatives. The power the government holds over you and I is a monopoly on violence (defined broadly) that they license to specific representatives to enact their will in order to form some loosely held cohesion among chaotic ideas. More simply put, something has to stop us from taking something that is not ours out of perceived hierarchial need.

I'm a liberal man raised by classically conservative parents, the lessons I was taught as a young man were that the government by it's very nature always wants more power and to exercise that power over you. More simply put, if you give an inch the government will forcefully seize a mile. As a result I was taught that innocent men go to jail all the time for a litany of reasons, most of them bullshit to laypeople. This is the foundation of healthy distrust for government and government representatives. There are counter-balances we carry with us, as a yin and yang of sorts.

So, with that explained, how does one take a request for information as non-violent? You don't. You expect that the government is willing to enact it's monopoly on you and choose to seek the most amicable (for you; which is likely less violence) solution. You exercise your fifth amendment, you request representation, and if the representatives so desire it the best you can do is hope to represent your claims at trial. Democracy is fought in the court room, not with the enforcement representatives of government.


The government has won. I say that because the majority of the people in this country are living paycheck to paycheck and they cannot afford any hiccup or else they will be underwater. From there it is an easy spiral down to the bottom. They cannot afford good counsel or even afford to take time off to fight this. This is the perfect environment for a population that will not fight back.

The only hope is that people who are able to fight back do fight back for the rest of us. However we have seen that many people who are able to do this benefit from the current situation. Effectively 80% of this country live to serve the other 20% and thats why I believe we don't see as much progression of many areas as we should.


Agreed. From my perception people knew the system is and always will be imperfect, and relied heavily on the idea that not all people can afford to fight the government, but that at some point the government will mess with someone who can. Democracy in the US is like standing on the shoulders of giants who bravely carved the way ahead for us. One of my favorite examples is Larry Flint who lost his ability to walk, much less his representation as human among other humans, for the principles of free speech. Although you may not agree morally with Larry Flint, you likely stand in his shadow when you say things other people and the government don't like.

That said, when the middle, and upper middle class are so squeezed that they cannot fight the government anymore -- then who is left to? When economic (or class, whatever your favorite rhetoric) mobility has chilled, who will rise to the ranks of those who can fight who have memories of the time when they could not?

Anyway, this is the way these problems are postured in my mind.


> the majority of the people in this country are living paycheck to paycheck and they cannot afford any hiccup or else they will be underwater

While possibly true, that doesn't necessarily mean they are poor. Plenty of middle class people operate on see-money-spend-money. There were plenty of them at Boeing when I worked there - the paychecks were distributed on Thursday morning, and at noon a flood of engineers would run to the parking lot to deposit the paycheck before the checks they wrote bounced.


About 15% of the US population (50 million people) are at or below the Federal poverty rate.

About 6% of the US population (20 million people) are at or below half the Federal poverty rate.

http://poverty.ucdavis.edu/sites/main/files/imagecache/mediu...

No matter how you slice it, that's a lot of people. More than the populaton of California.


My point was that living paycheck to paycheck is not a proxy for being poor.


I think there's a compelling case that it is.

This number is probably the truest measure of a person’s real wealth: What is the largest unexpected financial shock you could sustain without the cost of that to you suddenly becoming ten times the original cost or more? That number isn’t something easy to calculate; it depends on whether you have a family that can help you out, on your income, on whether that shock involves losing your job (and thus your health insurance, if you live in the US), on whether you have access to any other sources of security (including public assistance).

From Yonatan Zunger's "Your 'Financial Shock' Wealth".

https://medium.com/newco/your-financial-shock-wealth-4845e6d...

Other commentators have similar arguments. Economist Emma Rothschild makes the explicit point that Adam Smith's "liberal philosophy" was one of material liberty, that is, of an abundance of material wealth at the individual level, which allows for a freedom of actions without catastrophic consequence.[1] Several recent modern commentators have noted that the chief characteristic of poverty is a lack of choice: if there's only one way to do things right, without consequence, you have no freedom.

Among Zunger's references is the point that very nearly a majority of US households, 47%, cannot sustain an unexpected $400 expense.

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/05/my-secr...

Whether or not living paycheck-to-paycheck is necessarily a characteristic of poverty is of course debatable in specific instances. But one cannot look broadly at the population of the US and claim both that market economics succeeds on the basis of individuals making intelligent and rational economic decisions and that many millions of those people, very nearly if not majority of those same people fail to do so.

Something is very rotten in the "free market".

________________________________

Notes:

1. I'm trying to track down the Emma Rothschild reference, though I suspect it may be in Economic Sentiments: Adam Smith, Condorcet, and the Enlightenment.


That "47% can't sustain an unexpected $400 expense" conclusion does not follow from the actual survey data involved, as far as I can tell. See https://www.cato.org/blog/it-true-40-americans-cant-handle-4... for some details (yes, you may not trust the source), or the actual response data at https://www.federalreserve.gov/publications/2018-appendix-b-... questions EF3, EF5B, EF6B if you want to do your own analysis. The only way to get numbers in the range "47%" out of that data is to add up _all_ the choices other than "put it on my credit card, which I pay off in full" and "just pay cash" in the EF3 responses. But that's an odd thing to do, given that respondents were instructed to select all the methods they would use, not just one method.


Fair point, appreciate your digging out the source. Interpretation of survey responses is ... challenging.

The question works well to answer the question "what sources of emergency financing do you have access to?" It's less well-structured to answer "could you pay for an emergency expense without either selling off nonfinancial assets or incurring long-term usurious debt".

Since multiple selections apply, adding percentages isn't applicable. Though 50% of respondents do mention paying with current cash savings --- that could apply to all or part of an expense.

I do read "unable" and "by selling something" as mutually exclusive, which suggests a 20% portion of the population at least who'd be severely stressed by such an incident.


I really wouldn't assume those are mutually exclusive, based on my experience with survesy, but I agree that 20% is likely smaller than the actual number here. And 14% is an absolute lower bound which assumes that no one checked both "charge and pay off" and "pay cash", which is clearly an unrealistic assumption.

Even 14% is much higher than I would wish for answers to this sort of question, of course.

Anyway, if I had to read the tea leaves I would guess the "real" number is somewhere in the ~30% range based on EF5A and EF5B (EF5B was only asked if the respondent answered they would pay all bills in full for EF5A). That is, 22% of the respondents are having trouble paying existing bills in full (though what that means is another complex question, I bet) and another 11% (14% of 78%) would have trouble doing it if they had an unexpected $400 expense. That gets us to 33%; some of those might be able to recover from the $400 expense over the course of a month or three by temporarily running a small credit card balance and then paying it off, but it's not going to be too many I expect.

Which is pretty horrible. Not 47% horrible, but horrible.


These paycheck-to-paycheck middle class people are not poor. They live rather high on the hog. It's your neighbor with his and hers new cars, and a ski boat on a trailer in the driveway. No matter what their income, they spend it all.

You can feel sorry for them if you like, but I don't.


Let's note where the goalpost started: "the majority of the people in this country are living paycheck to paycheck".

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28462889

And where you'd dragged it to: "There were plenty of them at Boeing when I worked there".

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28463540


The goal post was the implication that paycheck to paycheck people were poor, which is what I object to.

> And where you'd dragged it to

The point being such people are neither rare nor necessarily poor at all.


You seem to be missing or ignoring much of what I'd had to say above.

50 millions live below the Federal poverty line.

47% of Americans cannot meet a $400 emergency expense.

You deny their poverty?

Your personal experience with a comparatively small cohort of Boeing engineers and employees may have been illuminating in any number of degrees. It's a poor basis on which to make assessments of national wealth, poverty, and/or inequality. And even if it were, it still knocks a rather major hole in a foundational premise of free-market economic theory.

Robust sampling and measurement methodologies exist for quite substantial reasons.


> 47% of Americans cannot meet a $400 emergency expense. You deny their poverty?

Yes. You yourself posted: "About 15% of the US population (50 million people) are at or below the Federal poverty rate." You refuted your case.

> small cohort

I've seen these middle class people everywhere I've worked. They're not a "small" cohort. In fact, most of the people I've worked with fell into this category. As far as I could tell, I was the only engineer in the office building who did not deposit the paycheck the same day. I know this because others expressed shock that I didn't.

> it still knocks a rather major hole in a foundational premise of free-market economic theory

No, it doesn't. These people chose to behave this way. It's their right to. Nobody made them buy the boat. One of these boating people would sell his boat when he needed cash, and when he had cash, he'd blow it all on another boat, or a new car, or an RV, or whatever caught his fancy. Free market theory posits that people have a free choice. Not that what they do makes fiscal sense to anyone else.

> It's a poor basis on which to make assessments of national wealth, poverty, and/or inequality.

How much cash is in your bank account is a very, very bad assessment of wealth, poverty, and/or inequality. But that's what you're putting forward.

For another example, I have next to $0 in my checking account, and don't have a savings account. But I'm not poor, even though you'd classify me as poor. I keep it all invested. I only use cash as a transfer mechanism.

P.S. I actually did have a boat once (!) and me and my friends had a couple marvelous summers waterskiing on Lake Washington.


Almost all the young (20s and under) people in my businesses that work low wage jobs have no qualms spending $15 to $20 ordering food delivery for their meals during their shift.

I and most of the rest of management bring leftovers from home or eat a yogurt and some fruits and nuts. My parents would have been very disappointed in me for spending that much on delivered food, especially with how low quality and mal-nutritious it is.


> 47% of Americans cannot meet a $400 emergency expense.

As I pointed out above, this does not seem to be a correct interpretation of the actual survey data involved.

> You deny their poverty?

Yes, given that the claim is based on a misrepresentation (or, more charitably, misunderstanding) of the actual survey data.

I do not deny that there are plenty of people in the US who are in terrible financial shape and really would be thrown for a loop by a $400 expense. They do not make up 47% of the survey population.

The other interesting question that I do not have an answer to is whether the survey sampled individuals or households, and hence how to translate the survey percentages to population (of non-dependent adults?) percentages.


California is probably bigger than you think


At 39.1 million population, it's fewer than 50 million.

https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/CA


yes, but more than 20 (if you slice it that way)


They may not be poor, but the point is that if you live like that, and get arrested, even if you are innocent and released within a few days, you may have lost your job in the meantime, or have incurred fees that you can't cover, or something else the knocks down the house of cards that is your finances. It doesn't matter if you make minimum wage, or $300k/year. If you spend all of your paycheck before the next one arrives, any unexpected cost is going to break you.


That sounds like spending money before seeing money.


A huge imbalance is money, specifically enough to have a lawyer appear on your behalf ASAP. Those with means usually won't ever see the inside of a holding/processing cell because there lawyers are there before they are booked.

This means they need to bail hearing, since the lawyers will even demand immediate bail based on charges.

No jail time, not even 24 hours. No dealing with bail bondsmen. That is huge. Most jails only offer free calls within their area code. Not being in jail means their life continues uninterrupted, as does their job/income. A poor person will likely lose their job if they can't afford bail, as they are stuck an inmate until their hearing. If their public defender is backed up, which they always are, they will likely push thw court date back for more time.

It's just a complete nightmare. The rich have straight up taken control of everything, including the government.


I'd more say that "the US hates poor people". It doesn't help me, as a rich person, that poor people get screwed by the government regularly & repeatedly. In fact it makes my life much worse in a bunch of ways.


Most people everywhere on the planet are either living on today's wages or are dependent on the government itself. In a sense, even if you have financial freedom, you're still dependent on the government ensuring that freedom continues. Money is paper without the body behind it.

If you require a safety-net to speak up for your rights, be prepared to lose them.


>The government has won.

Also consider that now the system has perfect memory. Moving to another county or state, waiting a few years, it doesn't matter.


>> How can a cop request information in fashion that isn't forceful? The softest, most polite question is backed by the threat of both violence and arrest.

> This is an American-centric attitude towards government and government representatives.

Of course, you're right. The US does have this unique tilt. it's not all bad, IMO, good to have some distrust of those in power.

But the real problem is decades worth of thuggish behavior by police officers. The awesome power we grant them is sought out by those who would abuse it. This is compounded by 20th century crime and violence which caused police forces to ratchet up their process for dealing with the public to treat each interaction as potentially life threatening.

So the real threat is implied by the unpredictable reaction when you describe the limits of the police officers' power. Some would recognize their bluff has been called. Yet others would double down.


If there were no implicit threat of violence, I (and most other people I think) would never stop for a cop in the first place, let alone utter a word to one.


A wide variety of government authorities occasionally walk around and talk to citizens - zone officials, fire fighters, etc. People talk to them without them carrying any threat of immediate violence (they carry the threat of later legal action sometimes but that's different).

You might be right about the cops depending on how you mean it. Now, American police may well have created some much distrust in public no one would willing speak to them, everyone would prefer some other level of authority. If you mean effective policing in general requires the constant threat of violence, I'd disagree with you there.


If people thought the reward for talking to a firefighter was a hundred dollar fine, they wouldn't be so willing to casually chat with firefighters either.


This is exactly why in the U.S. when there are evacuations for things like hurricanes, most towns and cities sometimes send firefighters to knock on doors and notify people. They used to send cops, but too many people simply wouldn't come to the door.


It depends on the situation. I have been approached by cops twice--and had no problem with talking to them.

The first case involved a detective investigating an accusation by someone we knew against someone else we knew. There was no suggestion we were anything but observers, no reason not to talk.

The second time was out at a trailhead, I had just finished a hike. They were working with search & rescue extracting someone who broke a bone. They correctly deduced where I had been and came over and asked about the snow conditions high on the mountain. In hindsight I was a little annoyed at how they asked it as I responded a bit too literally--addressing the snow conditions but forgetting the three trees that had fallen across the trail, one of which would have been a substantial obstacle to a stretcher evacuation.


In a working system you stop because someone needs something who provides a valuable service to society. And, we are all part of what makes that system work. That said, the USA does not seem to be there yet.


> In a working system you stop because someone needs something who provides a valuable service to society. And, we are all part of what makes that system work. That said, the USA does not seem to be there yet.

Personally speaking, I don't think the American ideology will ever lend itself to this idea. Our country was born out of revolution and inherent distrust for government. What you're describing seems to align itself more to a world where citizens have a cooperative relationship with government. Both attitudes have ups and downs, strengths and weaknesses, and potential vulnerabilities in my mind.


Australia was originally settled (by white people) by criminals and their prison guards, by your analysis we should be a bunch of people who never talk to the police. However this is not the case, most people will happily give the police assistance if they are asked. Whilst dobbing people in directly is not something that is in the culture, generally we don't fear the police.

Could be something to do with the fact that the police don't generally draw their weapons unless faced with violence.

Of course there are areas where policing is more direct and there are groups that have been historically given a hard time by the law, but these are comparatively small.


To my recollection the Australian government was formed because the colonies voted to unite in 1901. American government was formed to fight the British.

Source: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Australia


That is a warped view of history IMO :), America was born out of the idea that we can make a better place for everyone, one where everyone counts and has a chance to build the life they want (historically a big one was to practice their religion without discrimination as well). It wasn't born out of revolution, it was born from people escaping British society in order to live a better life. And, regardless that was a long time ago, we've reinvented it since then, it is a land of immigrants who want to build a better life for themselves.

I believe American Culture is one that supports each other and society, we have just lost our way and we are in a bit of a battle for the soul of America. It is being hijacked by super individualist who forget they are part of something bigger and that they have a responsibility to society as much as society should respect the individual.

If you have a bike accident people will stop to help. If your car breaks down, people will stop and help. If you have a medical emergency, people will stop and help. If you need directions people will help. The media likes to show fear and we think that is the norm, when in fact the vast norm is that we are always going to help our fellow humans. Cops are still human, despite really bad training that causes them to fear everything and everyone. If a cop asks you to stop and the only thing that makes you stop is the threat of violence I would seriously rethink who I am and my values.


> If a cop asks you to stop and the only thing that makes you stop is the threat of violence I would seriously rethink who I am and my values.

People who deliberately speed don't accept speeding tickets out of civic duty. If you accidentally went five over and are embarrassed by your mistake and want to make it right by eagerly paying the fine, good for you I guess. But if you are instead deliberately doing double the speed limit because you think it's fun and don't care about the law, you are clearly not the sort of person who is inclined to willingly accept the ticket because it's the right thing to do. If you were that sort of person, you would not have been racing your car on public streets in the first place.

There is not a country on this planet in which nobody ever chooses to willingly break the law and flagrantly act in antisocial ways. And there is not a country in this world which will not eventually resort to violence when all else fails to convince a criminal to stop committing his crime. You might be thinking that if the cops don't have guns, then what they do isn't violent. But if you think that, you're obviously wrong. Unarmed well trained police will still wrestle you to the ground when all else fails. Unarmed police officers won't shoot you for refusing to comply, but they sure as shit will manhandle you to the ground and wrestle you into handcuffs. That is violence, and the implicit threat of that violence is used to convince people to go along with them peacefully in a dignified fashion.


I was talking about the American Revolution: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Revolution

That's when our first/temporary government was formed, and it's purpose was the fight the British.

> I believe American Culture is one that supports each other and society, we have just lost our way and we are in a bit of a battle for the soul of America. It is being hijacked by super individualist who forget they are part of something bigger and that they have a responsibility to society as much as society should respect the individual.

We are a nation that celebrates political individualism, which is where the term "liberalism" (little L) comes from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Individualism Individualism is not at competition with the characteristics you described, but it does put freedom squarely on the individual for better or for worse. The counter to this, which you might favor in the moment but regret in the long-run, is collectivism.


If I choose to drive 80mph in a 60mph zone, I am also going to choose not to voluntarily stop to receive a fine for it. I don't believe the average European is any different. The implicit threat of violence in Europe might be more tenuous, indirect or vague, but it is still there. Normal people don't voluntarily fine themselves if they have another choice.


A common assumption is that when dealing with the Police in the US the problem isn't that they will operate within the law and apply it as intended to punish you but rather that they will not operate within the law which almost invariably end with someone getting needlessly harmed.

So the issue isn't that you're speeding, the Police stops you and writes a $50 ticket. You voluntarily speed and voluntarily stop for the fine because you voluntarily try to avoid a bigger punishment under that system. The problem is that you're speeding, the Police stops you, overreact, pretend they saw something dangerous (smelled marijuana, something looked like a gun, you were acting suspiciously, had the wrong skin complexion, etc.), you get pulled out, roughed up, hurt, or killed.


Even if I were to assume that all police officers are perfectly honest and reasonable, virtually anybody who is choosing to break the law would also choose to not voluntarily subject themselves to the consequences. Nobody chooses to speed down the highway then calls the local cops to confess and accept the fine. And if police sirens were nothing more than polite requests to pull over, not demands backed by implicit threats of violence, virtually nobody who is choosing to break the law would heed those requests voluntarily.


As someone else mentioned, this is complete BS.

It certainly does not represent the vast majority of interactions between citizens and police officers in the U.S.

Of course, focusing on sensational outliers as if they were common occurrences is a great way to generate clicks and sell newspapers.


But policing requires the trust of the public. How often, what percentage of interactions go not by the book, before people are worried that it will happen to them? Look at 9/11, so many people terrified of "terrorists" from a desert on the other side of the world while ignoring the local ones who had a pretty strong spree in the 90s.

Trust is earned, not given. Police and supporters can cry all they want about how rare it is for a police officer to shoot you with no reason or warning and get away with it, but the fact that it can happen more than once is enough to destroy any faith in policing for plenty of people


> A common assumption is that when dealing with the Police in the US the problem isn't that they will operate within the law and apply it as intended to punish you but rather that they will not operate within the law which almost invariably end with someone getting needlessly harmed.

This is complete bullshit.


I read a lot of nonsense about the US on Hacker news everyday to the point that it doesn't really bother me that much anymore (I assume it's just temporary ignorance that enough real life experience and context will clear up), but this does bother me for some reason. It's one thing to misrepresent the scale of something or not understand the nuance of something, it's another thing to literally make things up.


> If I choose to drive 80mph in a 60mph zone, I am also going to choose not to voluntarily stop to receive a fine for it

What nonsense is that? It's only the fear that the police officer will beat you that will cause you to stop. Not that you might wake up tomorrow to a towed car, a summons nailed to your door and a jail term?


> Not that you might wake up tomorrow to a towed car, a summons nailed to your door and a jail term?

Both enforced through the implicit threat of violence... What happens if I ignore a court summons? Eventually the cops will find me and wrestle me into handcuffs. And if I try to resist the tow truck driver taking my car, guess what they'll do? They'll call the cops. Or they'll put a lien against my property, which if I refuse to pay, will eventually culminate in me being wrestled out of the building.

And how exactly do you think people are kept in jails? If there were no implicit threat of violence, I'd just walk out of a jail. In many jails this would be possible, but when you do they'll send men to wrestle you into handcuffs and bring you to a jail with stronger security. And of course, they'd never have gotten me into the first jail at all, if not for their threats of violence.


> If there were no implicit threat of violence, I (and most other people I think) would never stop for a cop in the first place

I think this is outlandish. Most people are law-abiding and happily comply with the law and government authority without any threat of violence. I don't think I've ever had it factor into my decision-making.


> Most people are law-abiding and happily comply with the law and government authority without any threat of violence.

Most poeple have never had a practical opportunity to decide whether or not they will choose to comply with the law or government authority without any threat of violence, because the threat of violence is always present if they fail to comply.

This obviously does not mean that people would never comply if the threat of violence were removed. Much of the time the law aligns with what people would choose to do anyway, so compliance comes naturally. The interesting case are those where natural inclination is at odds with the law (or with the orders of a government official), and in those cases I think you might be overestimating the average person's willingness to comply without being forced.


You have taken a theoretical question - the definition of sovereign government and the monopoly on violence - and applied it to reality. It's Alice In Wonderland stuff. That's not how real people function, including (almost certainly) you.


> You have taken a theoretical question - the definition of sovereign government and the monopoly on violence - and applied it to reality. It's Alice In Wonderland stuff.

I'm not seeing an issue here. Theory which one cannot apply to reality is rather pointless; wouldn't you agree?

> That's not how real people function, including (almost certainly) you.

Which part are you objecting to, exactly? That (a) people tend to follow the law when it aligns with what they would have chosen to do anyway, or that (b) they tend not to constrain themselves to following the law when the law doesn't align with their own moral standards and no one is plausibly threatening them with violent repercussions should they fail to comply?


Why does there have to be an implicit threat of violence? If you didn't stop, the cops could take your license plate, find where you live, and send you a ticket for a much bigger crime. Cops don't have to use violence to solve all their problems.


If you continue your scenario, so that the subject refuses compliance even further -- does not pay the fine, ignores court summons -- physical coercion crops up when they are arrested, and perhaps later sent to prison. This may not be "violence" as you meant it, but it is one aspect of what people mean when they say "state monopoly on violence".


If you don't stop, cops will happily chase you in violation of department policy, endangering innocent bystanders[1], then shoot you when you are running away. If you happen to get away the next step is sending a paramilitary team to your house to shoot your dog and throw a flashbang in your baby's crib.

>Cops don't have to use violence to solve all their problems.

They don't have to, but its usually the first resort. There's literally thousands of hours of videos online of cops knowingly making illegal 'requests' on video and threatening arrest for noncompliance.

[1] I had to ride my motorcycle over a curb because a police SUV somehow thought he could outrun a race bike and came flying around a blind stop sign in my neighborhood at a fast enough speed to hit the opposite lane. Policy in my city is no pursuit.


Fake plate or stolen car and you probably can't prove who was driving anyway. That's why camera tickets are generally just fines to the registered owner, no points to the actual driver.


If a police officer has given you a life changing injury simply for refusing to disclose your Twitter account, we've left discussion of the law and what the police "can do" and entered a discussion about what to do about the problem of overtly criminal police. Nobody could have paid attention over the last 2 years (or the last 20) and come away believing there aren't criminal police officers; that is a real thing. It has not very much (some, but not very much) to do with official LAPD policy or their incident questionnaire cards.

But that just brings me back to my point about the framing of this article. If The Guardian believes this question is problematic --- and I agree with them, if they do --- they should write an article about how you don't have to tell the police anything about your Twitter account just because they've stopped you on the street.


> we've left discussion of the law and what the police "can do" and entered a discussion about what to do about the problem of overtly criminal police

I genuinely think this point has long since come and gone. Most encounters with police are going to end fine, but there's basically no recourse in the majority of cases where they don't.


I'm not saying that's not true, I'm just saying it's a totally different conversation. In the world you say we're in, it doesn't matter what LAPD's policies are. The police will just ignore them and do whatever they want.


You're making a much too extreme dichotomy.

The situation is that American police are generally there to enforce the law, generally follow policy but, depending on area, are infested with a minority of types who use or threaten violence whenever it makes their job easier or simply serves their ego. And these forces also tend to have a much larger group who won't say anything about the overt criminals - out of conformity, alienation from civilians or because the intimidation factor is convenient to them. This situation, that is effectively well publicized at this point, fundamentally changes the way police and civilians relation because it goes a lot of police actions a threatening quality and so, as I said earlier, it's hard to have question appear "optional" to the average person stopped by the police.


That world is, broadly speaking, the world we currently live in. Changing that is a long-term effort that starts with reducing their stated powers.


> How can a cop request information in fashion that isn't forceful?

They can explicitly inform you that you are under no obligation to accede to the request and will face no adverse consequences if you choose not to.

Except where explicitly legally mandated to do so, they do not tend to this, specifically because even if it is true, they wish people to perceive and act upon an implicit threat of violence for noncompliance.


>How can a cop request information in fashion that isn't forceful? The softest, most polite question is backed by the threat of both violence and arrest.

I agree, but also they are pretty well trained in scripts for extracting confessions/assent for searches/etc. People simply don't know the law and there's always the hope you'll catch a break.

If Live PD were still on, you'd notice how often the same phrases are used throughout the US. It all sounds like a lawyer wrote scripts for traffic stops and that those training materials were used nationwide. 'honesty goes with me a long way' 'you are being detained you are not under arrest' or whatever.


This really is the key question here.

If my boss is making small talk, and asks what I did at the weekend, of course I am under no obligation to tell him. I can tell him it's none of his business, and I'm quite within my rights to do so. Some people would.

But in the long run, whether it's right or wrong, not answering probably makes my life harder (passed over for promotions, etc.).

So I don't ask this question from those who report to me, because I can't easily ask it in a way that doesn't seem to carry an obligation to reply.

And neither I nor my boss have a gun and a pair of handcuffs.


More likely they give the .001% the 20 questions and maybe a K9 routine that they give everyone who they deem "interesting".


> How can a cop request information in fashion that isn't forceful? The softest, most polite question is backed by the threat of both violence and arrest.

With a smile and a calm voice. Do you really believe every single cop is going to punch you if you don't comply?


It's the same as how a burglar "can't" rob your house. Of course they can, and then you get to attempt legal recourse afterward, which sometimes works.


The burglar does not have qualified immunity.

Burglars are routinely prosecuted and convicted for burglary. That is the difference.


Especially given that the officers were told by higher-ups, you wouldn't want to press criminal charges against the individual officer anyways - you'd be better off with a civil suit against LAPD.


Legal recourse? I suppose people could maybe bring civil suits against burglars, but generally they face criminal charges, and you make an insurance claim?


It's not that bad. No, really. If a cop pulls you over based on speeding and asks for anything else unrelated to that, you simply and politely decline. It's very rare that a cop will risk their job or go through the hassle of taking people in simply for exercising the 4th or the 5th amendment. As a citizen you have many avenues for recourse, your cynicism is unwarranted.

Simply and agreeably assert your rights. More people do it than you think.


you simply and politely decline

And then the cop calls for the drug dog, and suddenly, you're dealing with a dog trained to please it's handler, which in this case means telling the cop that you have drugs in your car. And off to jail you go. As far as the cop is concerned, his thuggish behavior is now vindicated because you're a drug dealing degenerate.


Alternatively, the cop uses a bunch of highly sensitive field drug tests on your car and gets a false positive. In america it seems that's enough to jail people. And then they lose their jobs, their home.


And the SCOTUS has already ruled that a cop cannot make you wait for a drug dog without probable cause (Rodriguez v. United States 2015). So in your scenario you've got a cop who is willing to break the law, and in that case all bets are off.


I’m skeptical that there is a majority of police who aren’t willing to break the law.

Given how rarely police blow the whistle on other police, I’d say there’s evidence that the majority are actively unlawful.


In their mind they are the law.


SCOTUS has made many rulings that cops both know and regularly ignore. There's hundreds of videos online of police threatening a camera person with arrest if they don't provide ID and then blinding or obstructing the camera. All three of those have been explicitly ruled on and leave no question, yet they continue to do it en masse.


“I smell marijuana” is probable cause… it’s been weakened recently, but probable cause doesn’t have to be proven. “Bloodshot eyes” is another one that works for DUI cause.


What if instead of declining you said, “I don’t have a twitter account.” Perhaps it’s less defiant to say that.

Are they operating under the assumption that everyone is on social media, and if you deny it then you’re lying?


You’re not going to jail unless you have drugs in the car.


> You’re not going to jail unless you have drugs in the car

No, you aren't going to jail unless the search “justified” by the drug-dog “hit” reveals something that the police can spin into probable cause of a crime.

Needn’t be drugs, or even actual contraband.


"Probable cause of a crime" means what? That's not an actual legal term. "Probable cause" can be used to justify a search.

You would need to actually be suspected of a crime. If the cops don't find drugs, what crime are you guilty of?


> "Probable cause of a crime" means what?

The usual full expression is something like “probable cause to believe that the person to be arrested has committed a particular crime”.

> "Probable cause" can be used to justify a search.

“Probable cause” is a constitutional requirement for search warrants, arrest warrants, warrantless arrests, and warrantless searches; for searches, the probable cause is that the search conducted will uncover evidence of a crime, which is different than the probable cause for arrest.

> You would need to actually be suspected of a crime.

Well, no, there needs to be probable cause to believe you've committed a crime. Actual suspicion is a much lower standard.

> If the cops don't find drugs, what crime are you guilty of?

There are...like thousands of other crimes, and millions of possible configurations of things that are not drugs that could support probable cause to believe you've committed one of them. Spray paint cans consistent with a recent spate of vandalism (graffiti) in the area is one I’ve personally seen used, beyond things that are inherently actual or apparent contraband, and the “actual or apparent contraband” category extends to more than just drugs.


In america you can be hauled in and convicted of nothing more than "resisting arrest", with no other prior crime or suspected crime. If a cop tries to arrest you and you do ANYTHING other than comply, that's a crime


This is false. Probably cause just means they can search your car. Not that you are going to jail.


Probable cause is the bar for arrest. If they have probable cause, you're getting arrested.


Yes, but without evidence you aren’t going to jail, and if you do you can sue for wrongful arrest.


> Yes, but without evidence you aren’t going to jail, and if you do you can sue for wrongful arrest.

You can sue anyone, anytime, for anything, but even if charges aren't filed or a court dismisses them at the preliminary hearing stage for lack of sufficient evidence, wrongful arrest suits against police are very difficult.


Do you mean "suspected of committing a crime"? "Probable cause" relates to searching or entering private property.


> Do you mean "suspected of committing a crime"?

No, mere suspicion is not sufficient for arrest.

> "Probable cause" relates to searching or entering private property.

It also relates to arrest. The Fourth Amendment provision applying the standard explicitly applies to searches and seizures of persons, houses, and effects. Arrest is seizure of one’s person.


Yes, but probably cause isn’t some binary.

A drug dog’s indications provide probable cause for searching your car, but are not enough to arrest you.


No.


> Probably cause just means they can search your car. Not that you are going to jail.

Probable cause (of slightly different things; the threshold is the same but the subject is different) is the bar for both search and arrest.


There's plenty of DUI arrests where no drugs are present, the driver blows 0.00 on the breathalyzer, and the only "probable cause" for arrest is an officer's subjective "expert" opinion.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWyzPpYslYc

People have been arrested because the police claimed that a standard dose of Tylenol the night before was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If a police officer wants to take you to jail you're going to jail.


There was a guy I read about recently who was arrested and jailed on suspicion of methamphetamine possession for Krispy Kreme donut sugar found in the floorboard of his car. He was released once the lab determined it wasn't meth, but he did go to jail.


> Simply and agreeably assert your rights. More people do it than you think.

Police culture in America is based around disgust and disdain for the notion of “rights”. You can try standing up for your rights, but that is likely to be responded to with “stop resisting!” and a subsequent (constitutionally protected) physical assault.

Then Ted Cruz will go to Jamaica.


> Police culture in America is based around disgust and disdain for the notion of "rights".

All American culture increasingly feels disgust and disdain for the notion of rights. The police culture is the result of that broader problem.


This might be true if police brutality and disregard for rights were new problems, but they're not. The reason these problems with the police are finally being discussed is because there are cameras everwhere now.


There's no way to agreeably assert your rights. The cop wants something from you, and you're saying no. Being extra polite merely increases your chances of a neutral interaction, but you're already starting off on a negative feeling.


I just say "Sorry, my attorney forbids me from any discussion, here's my license and registration"


It is perfectly legal for cops to lie to you about anything at all. Including about what the laws are.


You're talking about legal authority, which is important. However, de facto, police have far more power than that. Remember the police who act without restriction or regard for legal limits, including physical, emotional, and legal abuse, arrests, fabricated charges ('resisting arrest', threatening an officer, etc.) etc.

> They can, with sufficient evidence, arrest you and conduct a search of your person to try to uncover it, but arrests are a big deal; they can't dragnet arrest.

Police do arrest people arbitrarily and without cause; it's not so rare. They don't need a dragnet, they only need to arrest you.

> I assume the productive article to write here is the one framed around informing people that they shouldn't cooperate with requests like these.

That might not be good advice for everyone.


> Without individualized suspicion

That is an illusion, or just words on paper. Look into geofenced cell phone requests by law enforcement for everybody within x boundary at x time of a crime being committed. Look into law enforcement using "predictive policing" software from companies like Palantir. All of those people are individually under suspicion? No one cares anymore. We are slowly becoming a police state, but as long as we're not as bad as x country's police state, it's ok, right?


There's a Wikipedia page for "predictive policing": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Predictive_policing

It links to this interesting article: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20200722/17410744953/appea...


Congratulations, with this citation you've gotten us to the point where the police can lawfully demand identification from you, which is something I concede they can do. You haven't gotten us anywhere near the point where they can compel production of social media accounts during a stop, and you won't be able to.


Are you talking about legally compelled or pragmatically compelled?

Legally I agree with you, but the police don’t appear to operate legally as a general rule.


> You haven't gotten us anywhere near the point where they can compel production of social media accounts during a stop

Well... but they're doing it. The memos tell them to demand social media accounts, and it warns officers that failing to collect this information might come up in reviews and have negative impacts on their career. So we're at that point, regardless of what they are or aren't legally able to do, and regardless of what a judge would rule during trial.

Of course, it's good for people to know their rights; it's good to educate people about what the law says. And sure, the average low-wage, stressed out, busy commuter can roll the dice about what will happen if they say no. Maybe they won't get arrested, maybe they'll just get a harsher ticket written up. Maybe the cop will get visibly angry and demand that they unlock their phone and then hold out their hand, and that person can then try to overcome an entire lifetime of social conditioning to avoid placing their phone into that hand. And maybe the cop will shrug it off and walk away. It's a fun gamble.

But the base action of a cop saying to someone, "you need to give me this" is still going to happen to people regardless of whether or not you say it's supposed to happen. It is good to educate people about their rights, but rights are not a panacea against police abuse.

The awful thing is that it's entirely rational for people who are scared, who are busy, who are stressed, who are poor, and who don't want a confrontation to decide that they're not going to roll the dice and that when a cop tells them to unlock their phone or write down their Facebook username, that it's better to comply. For some people, that might be the correct choice, because antagonizing a cop is too risky for them. In a situation with a large power imbalance, "demanding" or "compelling" information doesn't always need to be backed up by a specific law. It's enough for a cop to tell you that you have to do something, with the implicit suggestion that they could arrest you or injure you if they wanted to, even if they aren't likely to do it.

So saying that cops aren't allowed to do something (while completely legally correct) still doesn't mean much unless you also have a working enforcement strategy that's going to prevent them from doing it. Eventually getting your case thrown out in court over an improper stop is still going to be a traumatic experience for most people, it's still something that someone scraping by on minimum wage can't realistically afford to risk.

You point out (accurately) that arresting someone over this would be uncommon. But this is still a situation where one party might be risking something life changing, and where the police officer is realistically risking very little. Nor does an officer need to arrest everyone who refuses the request, they just need to have a credible threat that they could arrest you. A power imbalance is enough on its own to allow an officer to demand something that most people see as a small concession -- they don't need laws to back that up.


I noticed the same thing. I kept waiting for the writer to say the obvious and responsible thing, "While the police may ask for this information, there is no legal way for them to compel you to provide it." This is part of the problem with living in a quasi-police state: questioning whether the police are allowed to do a thing is literally unthinkable.


This could only be said by someone who is completely disregarding the coercive power of a police "interview".

There is always, always, a subtext of "if you don't wish to cooperate, I may need to exercise my discretion to ...", with the ellipsis being anything from literally tearing your car apart in a "reasonable suspicion" drug search, to some made-up traffic infraction, to anything else that police are trained to use as coercion.

Just because you have some theoretical rights that a judge may at some point months later grant you, doesn't mean the officer can't violate the hell out of you right now and probably get away with it - and end up getting a baseless conviction, or a paper trail in police records, or just make you late for your job interview.


Yeah, I feel that people who dismiss these concerns by saying "well you can always tell the cop no" haven't had many/any adversarial encounters with the police.

I haven't had many, but I had a few when I was in college. When you lawfully refuse a request from the police, they don't just say "ok" and move on. They apply all kinds of pressure. They make veiled threats, they detain you longer, they get angry, they scare you. It is a lot easier to say what you would do while you are safe at home behind your keyboard.


The comment you're responding to was not at all naive: it only says there's no _legal_ way for police to force you to provide this information. You are correct that they can in many ways force you to comply, but none of those ways are legal.

Those ways of applying illegal coercion also break down as more and more people realize their rights and refuse to comply. The more people who force police to act illegally, the more risk there is of trouble for the cop. They can get away with it better if they don't have to do it too often.


They can legally lie to you about what is legal. They can also lie, without any reprocussions, to justify any physical force they feel like using.


I have been interviewed by the police, actually, many years ago. I was 20-something and had long hair and a shitty attitude. I stuck to my guns and told them nothing. It cost me some time, but nothing else. Now, I was privileged in some ways that others are not (ethnicity, location), so some of my good outcome was luck.

So no, I'm not at all disregarding police coercion. However it has not, does not, and will not convince me to surrender my rights.

If you'll forgive me for saying so, your response also is a symptom of living in a police state: regardless of what is right or legal, you expect the police to act with disregard for it and to suffer no consequence for their actions. It's a common-enough belief, but is not universal in civilized societies. This is wrong, nearly as wrong as anything can be in a democracy.


Sounds like something a cop would say: "oh, if you don't cooperate, they'll make life difficult, so you best just keep those civil rights thoughts to yourself!" Thanks, officer, but I'm going to keep refusing those unreasonable searches even if it makes things more difficult. And experience says, those difficulties aren't a given, or even to be expected.


There's what the police can legally demand. And then there's what the police can legally do to make a civilian think they can legally demand anything. Turns out they can pressure you quite a bit during the length of a Terry stop.


My bet: refusing to give up your social media information will be considered probable cause.


That's not how probable cause works. It's not a message board argument. This ain't 'Nam.


Probable cause operates quite different on the street from the way it works in a courtroom. After all, there are few to no penalties for police who make an incorrect call in this regard. Lack of promotion might be an incentive, but not all cops are trying to make detective or captain.


It's not just formal career consequences. It's also that a full request involves a whole rigamarole that the arresting officers have to go through that basically takes them out of their workday for as long as it takes to get you processed, and to complete the paperwork. They have actual jobs they're supposed to be doing. If they routinely arrest people for not revealing Twitter accounts, they won't be able to do that job.

I think for the most part people are well served by being told that they should simply say "no" to requests like these. The article has a different framing, that Californians should instead feel angrily but passively victimized by the process, which is I think not productive.


Cops dislike paperwork, but many of them also don't give a shit about their jobs except insofar as each day gets them one step closer to early retirement, with the payout based on whatever overtime they were able to rack up a few years prior.

Sure, people should just decline to share any information with police and many police won't push the point because it won't play out well. But some portion of the desirable assignments will flow toward those eager beavers who most assiduously supply the desires of the brass for more information. Legalities are one thing, the incentives and internal dynamics of the police department are something else, and they don't always line up neatly. Furthermore, not all police officers are rational utility maximizers who base their decision-making on optimizing their future wellbeing.

The gist of the article is not 'you're being passively victimized again, oh no' but nor is it, as you point out, 'they have nos uch right so don't be fooled.' The news here is that LAPD management have instituted a policy of maximizing data collection for pre-emptive surveillance purposes, which is something quite different from individual cops being overzealous or prosecutorial standards having shifted.

I think it's reasonable for the writer to be descriptive rather than prescriptive, and that it is not his job to act in loco parentis or in loco advocatus.


You know overtime is time and a half, right? Cops aren't worried about OKRs, if they're on patrol then whatever they do in a day is their job. If there's additional must-do work, hey, overtime hours.


Overtime has to be approved by supervisors. Officers can’t just decide to arrest someone with 1 minute to go before the end of each shift to pad their paycheck. They have to find another officer to hand off the arrest processing if they don’t have enough time remaining in their shift. Source: California police officer married to my sibling.

Also I think tptacek’s core point holds. Scarcity is the civilian’s best friend: scarcity of LEOs, scarcity of their shift hours, and scarcity of their time to collect some info which has absolutely zero bearing on their current case.

No doubt some LAPD gang unit officers may request this data more frequently from suspected gang members (even if it doesn’t sound like an optional request), but I tend to think tptacek’s suggestion that this article could have been better written by informing the reader when they are legally obligated to comply with police requests and when they can be denied without increasing any legal liability.


I'm with you on the advisory part.

My impression is that it's all about negotiating the interaction without winding up in a contest of your rights vs them doing their job. If it goes that way, it seems like "this guy was being a real asshole, boss" is all it takes from the officer for justification.

I guess, on the advisory front, tips on non-escalatory language are probably the biggest win.


Does "You May Beat the Rap, But You Can't Beat The Ride" mean anything to you?


Yes. It means the cop knows that you won't get charged or convicted, which means he lacks probable cause for arrest, thereby committing a felony.

https://www.justice.gov/crt/deprivation-rights-under-color-l...

Unfortunately, prosecutors are chicken shit when it comes to criminal cops.


Unless an officer openly admits to deliberately wrongfully arresting someone good luck prevailing on that in court. Even if a prosecutor was willing to, the bar for qualified immunity is extremely low.


Qualified immunity has nothing to do with criminal law.


Ah, yes, I don't know why I was conflating criminal prosecution with civil litigation around police misconduct. Prosecutors could charge and convict them in many cases but you're right, they won't.


Not in this context, no.


Stop resisting! That's it, we're taking you in for public obtuseness and resisting arrest. Yeah, yeah, you can make a phone call at the station, stop resisting.


> My bet: refusing to give up your social media information will be considered probable cause.

It won't be. That won't come close to holding up in terms of legal challenges. And it won't take long to get challenged legally. It's not a close debate, it's not a maybe situation, it won't come close to holding up.

The LAPD may attempt to use that angle - probable cause - in some isolated circumstances short-term, before there's anything specifically legally blocking them, if they're going to get aggressive with trying to procure social media information from people. They would know that refusal to provide social media details as probable cause can't hold up legally to a challenge and they'll risk getting barred from asking entirely, so they'll likely be careful about who they try that tactic on.


There's a lot of room between "probable cause" and "we don't like you".

They can essentially detain you for hours, unless you know the keywords and are able to ask for and actually summon legal support.


Who can afford to legally challenge an entire police department? Probably not the disproportionately targeted...


You've never heard of class action lawsuits?


Being falsely arrested and sent to jail is bad enough. Many people who experience that have no desire to relive the experience through a long-=drawn out and possibly expensive process of litigation.


We live in a world where people get shot for less. You better believe I'm complying with whatever they ask.


You can get shot for/while/after complying with police lawful orders. That’s not a good excuse to pretend like an inquiry is the same as a legal order or forced coercion. Better to know your legal rights so you can know what your options are.

Better to know and exercise your rights when the risk trade off works for your risk tolerance.

In the end, most officers will give more scrutiny if the civilian they are dealing with “fails the attitude test”. Remain calm and when you disagree / reject a request, do it politely and that will increase the odds that the officer won’t spend extra time to find a reason to cite/arrest you.


So what happens if a "civilian" fails the attitude test?

Also, quit with the civilian crap. Cops are civilians too. If they want to play special forces join the military.


It becomes a gamble whether the officer wants to spend more time looking for a reason to detain you.

In my experience, police make lots of quick judgements about whether you are “a criminal” based on how compliant you are with their instructions and how normal your behavior is. If you are a nail sticking out, expect most officers to at least consider putting more effort into looking into what they can cite/arrest you for.

The joke is that given enough time and incentive, any officer can cite any person for a vehicle infraction. Take that, but assume there are tons of other laws (not just vehicle codes) that a sufficiently motivated officer can use.

I suspect it actually takes a lot to make an officer turn just a Terry Stop into an arrest. Maybe a verbal or gesture threat against the officer, maybe an admission of a crime, maybe behaviors that a jury would agree describe a person under the influence. I don’t think just saying “no” to a question on the first ask will cause any arrests. LEOs are very experienced at using small psychological tricks/nudges/anchoring to get what they want with compliant detainees.


> I suspect it actually takes a lot to make an officer turn just a Terry Stop into an arrest.

If I've learned anything over the last few years cops hate being recorded. It doesn't take much to set them off. And they'll use the fact that you are recording them, you don't stop, and therefore resisting their command.

In my college years I would drive from SE Florida to the mid-Atlantic and there were lots of small town ticket revenue towns along the way. I've never been arrested but have been detained, illegally, many times for petty, imaginary reasons.


You don’t smile during your cavity searches eh? Must be hiding something in there.


There are a lot of things the police can't do, but do do and get away unscathed because of union or department backing. I wouldn't be surprised if they beat a person to death for refusing to give this info up.

Personally im not taking a fucking chance. If they ask, I'll provide any info I have. I am trying to live, not demonstrate to a cop that I know my rights he is violating. If you think that's a wrong mentality to have then maybe we should step back and figure out how to make actual progress to de-escalate a police state.


> the police have basically no authority in the general case to require it

Top Note: tptacek, uncooperative with police.


Which gets an officer no further than they were by itself. That accusation may slightly hurt your character if that officer testifies against you, but politely declining to give that info and remaining calm during the stop is the best chance you have of not being unnecessarily arrested.

A rogue officer acting under color of law with an axe to grind against you won’t act any differently if you are compliant with the social media handle info or not.


If a cop requests your ID, it's a gamble as to whether it's worth your time to assert your rights.


Of course. I would just give my ID up. I would not give information about my social media accounts.


Look at this guy, not using his real name on his social media. Book him, Zuck!


Presenting your government ID is sometimes a legal order (depending on state laws and what the context is). Enumeration of these social media handles is not (AFAIK).


More confusing to me is that interview cards have effectively always had a aka field and police records have “known” associates fields. I remember my parents gleefully showing me their FBI files that outlined that info (and how frequently wrong it was).

Is it bad that cops dragnet data? Probably? Is it shocking? Of course not, it’s one of the reason the proponents of the bill of rights demanded it. It’s what cops do.


If I was asked by a cop during a traffic stop for my social media account I’d give them either a link to Rick Astley or goatse depending on my mood.


> If I was asked by a cop during a traffic stop for my social media account I’d give them either a link to Rick Astley or goatse depending on my mood.

That's stupid. Don't do that. Refusing is fine and legal. It's your right! Lying is not fine and is illegal, and you can be arrested. Supplying false information when you can supply no information is a bad idea.


AFAIK, lying to a local LEO is not always illegal. Lying to a federal officer is.

But I agree with the gist: just kindly decline.


Lying to a local LEO is not always illegal. My (non-lawyer) understanding is that lying in ways that misidentify you is always illegal in California. Especially during a traffic stop. Basic Googling suggests CVC 31 (or CVC 20 if it's a state trooper)


Yes, lying about your primary government identity is ill-advised.

Lying and saying that you don’t have a social media account isn’t so clear.


I can't see why you're confused, since your second sentence is the basis of the entire story. The article offers a summary of research establishing that collection of this information is treated as a departmental priority rather than being collected on the initiative of individual officers; thus it's news, not life or legal advice.


You as an individual will have no clue if police have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to detain and identify you. Police do not have to tell you why, they do not have to prove they are in the right. If you do not comply then you are criminally charged with non compliance, refusing to identify, obstruction of investigation, etc. And now you are arrested.

Reality is police have far too much power, and the few cases they lose mean nothing to them. That's covered by insurance, paid by tax payers, and those officers never face criminal charges for their criminal acts, because DA's value their jobs.


Simple solution is to always deny having social media to anyone you physically interact with.


Now you've lied to a police officer.


It's not alway illegal to lie to the police. Each state is different, but in most states you only have to be truthful about your identity and when you are under oath.


In California, if you give false information to a police officer and they in some meaningful way rely on that information to their detriment, you're probably culpable for some offenses. As a general rule, you should not lie to police. I think this is like 60% of the "don't ever talk to police" meme; the reality is much more subtle, but if you take away the message that you can troll them, you can actually get in trouble, and it's better just to shut up.


That’s an interesting one. The validity of your past statements ultimately rests on whether you understood what you were being asked. If someone does find themselves having talked it seems at least a court in the US would throw out the “statement” if you had a good lawyer. This is why people are often acquitted when a witness either changes their story or becomes non credible. Besides if the court believe that someone is lying in any way, nothing about their testimony can be trusted


> This is why people are often acquitted when a witness either changes their story or becomes non credible.

Citation needed.

I would argue that charges are more likely to be dropped, but juries overwhelmingly convict (something close to 98% of all cases that make it to a jury trial IIRC).


You're getting downvoted but IMO you're right. Just don't answer.


What constitutes "social media"? Is this social media? Is there a legal definition yet?


Not talking to pigs is a good start.


Have two! One under your real legal name which is 100% pure. Inspirational quotes, photos of you with your Church group feeding the homeless, etc.

And one under your gangster name that shows you posing with your glock and waving bundles of cash.


The article is yet another unsubstantiated piece by the author (will not mention his name here), in line with other extremist and poorly sourced clickbait pieces like this one:

‘A nightmare scenario’: how an anti-trans Instagram post led to violence in the streets'

The documents released by the Brennan Center simply do not support the claims of the news article. This fits a pattern of the author citing anonymous sources and then public sources which do not back up his story. It's unfortunate how low the Guardian's standards have fallen that they would allow this mishmash of agit-prop on their newspages.


Wonder what they would write about me on their cards: "Sometimes posts to this orange hackers-only discussion forum. Says has no Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, FB or Reddit accounts..."

/Of course, you shouldn't talk to them without a lawyer, this is mostly a joke comment


"Thinks of self as some sort of hacker, but is really just pretender. Hasn't even changed topcolor"


What good is the top color when you are browsing this on the command line.


We've had ANSI escape codes with colors since I don't know when, time for you to update your command line browser and join the rest of us with our colorful terminals :)


Hey, I like to have it match the favicon :(


Don't fix what isn't broken!


Not having a social media presence is probably highly suspicious too. Or at least it will be soon.


i told a CBP officer that i didn't have facebook (i don't) when i was trying to enter the US a bunch of years ago (she said she was literally searching me on facebook and couldn't find me).

she said it was suspicious.


I keep social media accounts around but I don't really post anything. I guess it's only a matter of time before some cop looks at that and decides I'm abnormal enough to be investigated.


Yup--I have a FB account, only used for participation in some FB hiking groups, I never even look at my wall. I have a couple other accounts that were purely because it was needed to read, I've never written anything with them. I must be extraordinarily suspicious. Combine that with a clueless look at my travel history and it's straight to Gitmo time. (I have been in some countries that would be big red flags if visited now--but back then weren't an issue.)


I guess there's a need for social media deep fakes, so to speak.


The original source for this article https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/lapd...

The original note (Series A) talks about retention, ~~not collection~~.

>... directing concerned personnel to retain information gleaned from social media that “may disappear before, during, or after a crime.” The memo advises that retaining this information enables investigators to obtain a warrant for a social media account more easily.


It's further down in the document. Series I

    > The I-Series includes two documents relating to Field Interview
    > (FI) cards. LAPD officers fill out FI cards to document people they
    > have stopped or questioned; these cards can be completed on anyone
    > an officer comes into contact with. The first document is a July
    > 2020 memo from the Chief of Police, Michel Moore, to all LAPD
    > personnel. In the memo, Chief Moore urges officers to diligently
    > record all information in the FI cards, which would be subject to
    > review by Department supervisors “for completeness and validity.”
    > As noted above, former Police Chief Charlie Beck had sent officers
    > a memo in May 2015 telling them to collect social media and email
    > account information in FI cards. The second document is a copy of
    > the FI card form, which shows that LAPD is gathering subjects’ date
    > of birth and social security number, with a disclaimer stating that
    > subjects are obligated to provide their social security numbers
    > upon an officer’s request. The FI cards also have a field to collect
    > social media and email account information. The Brennan Center
    > surveyed other cities’ policies regarding FI cards and found no
    > other police department that collects social media and email account
    > information, though details are sparse.


It's weird that the actual index card[1] seems to contradict that paragraph. There aren't separate fields for social media info and email addresses. They're just both listed as examples of what to put in the "Additional Info" field.

TBH I think the Guardian article is a bit alarmist. Basically they're combining the implications of a pair of memos:

1. A memo from 2015 basically saying "We're updating the description of the additional info field to suggest that you collect someone's email address or social media names"

2. A memo from a different chief 5 years later, basically saying "please don't get lazy and put incomplete or inaccurate info down when you fill out these forms". My perception of the July 2020 memo is that the Chief encouraging cops to CYA when talking to witness about what happened at last summer's protests. Anyone who has worked in a documentation-heavy bureaucracy has probably seen similar memos.

Sure, it's technically true that the second memo is encouraging LAPD to be more thorough when filling out the forms. But it's not like there's an expectation for everything on the card to be filled out (for example, if you're just walking down the street they're not going to arrest you because they're afraid to leave the "booking number" field blank[2]).

FWIW I've had multiple interactions with LAPD and they've never asked for my social media, email, gang affiliation, booking number, or anything on this form other than "Name".

[1]: https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/d765cbdb15097d091421dc9e0e5cf...

[2]: However LAPD did get caught fabricating gang affiliations that didn't exist, which IMO is a much more outcry-worthy problem than a cop trying to see if you posted evidence of lawbreaking on your public Instagram


A few months ago I was pulled over by police for speeding (in a very rural area). The cop was very polite and handled it well, especially since I was yelling at him quite a bit (family was going into hospital for serious problems, which was the reason for speeding).

He took my info and when he came back to my car after running license, told me "Look, I know you don't like cops. It says that when I pull up your file."

I don't have any idea where they could have gotten that information at all except from my Facebook years ago when I openly voiced that I didn't like cops at the time. Those posts have since been non-public (for years) and now have been deleted this year. I have donated to police in the last couple/few years, so... there's that... which may come to an end.

I sent a FOIA request, requesting as much info as I could get about this clear implementation of a 'social credit' system. They returned the request to me just today saying they didn't have any video on file (convenient!), and included useless standard info like the statute they used to pull me over for speeding and the basic log of the stop. Nothing at all about "I know you don't like cops."

This is clearly a violation of the spirit of 'all men are created equal' and 'innocent until proven guilty' and I find it shocking and dangerous that the police keep opinions of the population on file. I'd like to pursue this further but don't know where to go from here.


Thanks for sharing this anecdote, I remember it from when you've posted about it in the past and it's stuck with me.

> I have donated to police in the last couple/few years, so... there's that... which may come to an end.

In my opinion, there's a good reason for it to come to an end that has nothing to do with this.

In the states I'm familiar with, PBAs and police unions were the top (and sometimes only) spenders when it came to lobbying against marijuana legalization. They use those donations to lobby and ensure that they can continue to arrest, fine and imprison scores of people for victimless crimes, while also ensuring their job security in doing so.


The whole idea that there can be some monetary flow in to the police based on what types of things they do seems baffling to me. Donating to a governmental apparatus? That's just asking for influence and abuse.

Don't like what the cops do? Threaten to pull some multi-million 'donation' and suddenly everything becomes possible. At that point it's not law enforcement but money enforcement. Same as being a cop: need more money? Bust some people for whatever happens to be convenient and 'make money' on off of that.

The only money should be coming from the government, and everything they collect should be going back into the government. If you turn it into a corporate system where money is a motivator you're doomed from the start.


There's political organizations that advocate for police.

It would be an infringement of speech rights to prevent people from donating to them, at least as they are currently defined in the US.


And it should be one that we tolerate. There are lots of infringements on speech, especially professional speech.

The idea that somehow a group empowered by the state to commit violence in defense of the states policies have a more sacrosanct right to speech than doctors or teachers is absurd. These aren’t individuals speaking as individuals…this is effectively government speech and we ought not wrong our hands about restricting it. The government has no right to speech.


There are equivalent groups for doctors and teachers, I don't follow your meaning.

Like what is it that FOP¹ does that you think they should be prevented from doing? Should they not be allowed to exist?

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fraternal_Order_of_Police

Please note that I don't give money to these organizations, I'm pointing out what a big chunk of donating money to the police consists of.


I’m aware of the other groups existing.

When such a group represents police it is fundamentally different and should be treated with much greater suspicion.


So what is your solution to prevent law enforcement becoming influenced to do things other than realistic law enforcement for the betterment of society in a designated violence monopoly?


You are apparently mistaking my description of the world as it is for an endorsement of the world as it is.

I guess I don't think that police should be (somehow) specially prevented from any police related political activity, but that doesn't mean I don't acknowledge the age old question: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?


Ugh now I feel dirty...


In one state where legalization was approved by public mandate, the legislation that passed made it so anyone under the age of 21 could only receive a warning for possession, and no charges or arrests.

This is important because any drug arrests, charges or convictions make individuals ineligible for federal student loans or assistance for college, meaning the kids who do get arrested might have their plans to better their lives ruined by a cop who doesn't like the smell of marijuana.

Police unions spent months and millions of dollars lobbying the state government so that they could still arrest and charge kids for pot possession.


> Police unions spent months and millions of dollars lobbying the state government so that they could still arrest and charge kids for pot possession.

But why though? Hatred? Inertia? Culture? Do they get paid per scalp? Do they love their drug dogs that much?

The lack of arguments against pot-smoking notwithstanding, what is it that backs this? Because so much of this seems completely arbitrary.


In that state, a significant amount of arrests, convictions and revenue from fines came from marijuana charges. Each conviction came with hundreds to thousands in fines.

Not only that, each conviction created busywork for probation officers, as low level offenders were given the option to have their record cleaned of their conviction if they went on probation programs where they are drug tested regularly. The probation program came with more fines/fees, as well. It also opened opportunities to keep people in the system, because violation of probation has its own penalties. Kids' parents have the incentive to push kids through this program and to pay for it, too.

There are those reasons, and then there's the simple fact that cops know they will have less to do if they can't arrest people for pot, which might be bad for job security. Losing "I smell marijuana" as a method for establishing probable cause was a big deal, as well.


Arresting you improves their metrics and helps justify the labor hours that ultimately pay their bills. Also it's used as a pretext to steal billions of dollars via civil asset forfeiture much of it in less than $1000 increments.

See literal highway robbers stealing $500 from citizens via lawsuits like state vs 535 dollars and 75 cents where criminal intent is inferred but no proof is given.


It seems akin to a petty gatekeeper in a large organization—encroachment on a domain under their control is viewed as an existential threat.


He took my info and when he came back to my car after running license, told me "Look, I know you don't like cops. It says that when I pull up your file."

Another simple explanation is that ... he made the file part up. Not that the scanning your FB page thing is impossible but one has to consider multiple factors here.


It reminds me of the "permanent record" threat from teachers.


> I was yelling at him quite a bit ... > "Look, I know you don't like cops. It says that when I pull up your file." ... > I don't have any idea where they could have gotten that information at all except from my Facebook

I wasn't there, but this gives me the feeling that stalking your Facebook might not be the only way for them to infer this, especially if you've ever been stopped before this.

That aside, I hope your family member was okay.


Very interesting. They may be using a third-party service that pulls data in, thus they can say "we don't have that info." So the next step in your FOIA is to get records on how their systems work and contracts with third parties to provide data for driver records.


> I don't have any idea where they could have gotten that information at all except from my Facebook years ago

Well, you were yelling at that cop. Maybe he had just added it to your file. Maybe you yelled at other cops. Maybe you had no notice in your file and he was lying to you. Maybe you had a Black Lives Matter or Democrat bumper sticker. Who knows.

If someone is yelling at a cop, it's not a giant stretch to think they don't like cops.

Meanwhile, unless you were speeding because you were transporting someone to the hospital, were racing to donate an emergency organ or needed to be there to supply a legal signature, I'm not sure you have an excuse. A cop should probably cut you some slack, but there's no "I was in a hurry for a decent reason" exemption. It's a "hurry for a good reason" exemption.


>"Look, I know you don't like cops. It says that when I pull up your file."

How do you know he wasn't just lying to see if you would unintentionally confirm his lie?


Or it was just his idea of a joke. He doesn't need to pull up a file to know that this guy didn't like him. People are especially dense to punchlines when they're stressed out and don't expect someone to be pulling their leg.


> How do you know he wasn't just lying to see if you would unintentionally confirm his lie?

Or how much of it was bait? "I never said such a thing." > "Now are you calling me a liar?"


> except from my Facebook years ago when I openly voiced that I didn't like cops at the time

Hmm, I wonder if this is why Reddit keeps asking for my email address. I'd rather remain anonymous for exactly this reason. I don't hate all cops, some friends and family are cops, but there's no profession where every employee is good and fair all of the time.


Heads up, and not because of any stance I hold on this issue:

I don't know if OP posted this story multiple times, or if this is a template that people are using, but I've definitely seen this story with incredibly similar wording and pacing on HN before.


I posted it a couple months ago/ish, once. I had not filed FOIA at that time.

It was literally me.

If you see it more than there and here, it was not me.

*edit: than, not that


HN has a very good search feature, and "you don't like police" turns up an earlier mention from the artificialLimbs:

https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=false&qu...

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28028743


There's probably a note from the last time you berated a cop. You are reaching...


Plausible if I had ever berated a cop before. In fact, I didn't berate this one on this stop.


Is it possible that the officer was bluffing?


No, he immediately followed up with "... but I'm going to cut you a break on this one." And did. No ticket.

He told me as he left "We're not all bad."

It was surreal.


I don't see how that makes a bluff implausible, especially since you were yelling initially.


If they weren't bluffing and you're in the same county, it could just be the dispatcher remembered you from last time.

I had something analogous to this where the local PD left a voicemail saying my brother had gone missing and left a name with the same last name and a name similar to mine.

When I called back, I told the dispatcher and they refused to leave it there and wanted to transfer me to the cop in question which I thought was really weird. He took it down but it seemed like there was something else there. And I realized he was probably fishing to serve an arrest warrant or something.

To see if I would go, "No, my brother isn't missing. That's my cousin and he's at <address>." Cops do that type of shit all the time.


really just sounds like a cop telling a small lie based on your reaction in an attempt to spread good PR on behalf of the police all the while establishing a position of authority, unintentionally making you think there's darker forces at play then there really were, when in reality he was just defusing the situation with a lie. obviously one can't know for certain but that seems like the most plausible explanation. I can see this being an informal personal technique a cop might use in situations like this, all the while being completely oblivious to the terrifying implications of what he's saying.


I doubt there's any way to ever prove what happened here, but this is what I was thinking too. It was a lie to cool things down. Someone who's angry to the point that they're yelling is dangerous, not just to the cops but to other drivers on the road.


Your experience is horrifying. Not long till you can arrested for thought crimes if this trend keeps continuing.


Was that your first encounter with an officer in your lifetime?


No.


The last time I read your account of this incident, you left this part out: "I was yelling at him quite a bit"

I can certainly sympathize with that reaction, most traffic stops are chickenshit and to be interrupted with that nonsense when in the middle of a medical emergency must be infuriating. But I think your FOIA requests looking for this file will never turn up anything, because the cop was almost certainly fucking with you. He figured you didn't like cops because you were yelling at him, not because of anything some computer file said.


This is exactly what happened. Only dang will get to read this message and share the laughter, and that makes us almost friends.


"It says in your file that..." ... Uhh, hey, look at that, I think you are right, ...sure had me going there, LOL.

I really do hope they aren't "keeping a file on" me but I think I would definitely believe it was true, if they said it was so. I guess I'm easily conned. Generally trust authority.

That's a mistake!


Well, if it didn’t say that on his file before the stop, it does now…


Note that the cop may well have been bluffing. They do that.

You've mentioned this previously: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28028743


[flagged]


I didn’t berate him at all. I was yelling because he stopped a long way behind me, and I wanted to finish the conversation ASAP because of my bleeding family member. So I started as soon as he got out of the car.


"We can take this in front of a judge, and I doubt your probable cause will stand up... causing a lot of issues for both of us."

^ This line will get many officers to back down. It's calm, reserved and true. They will then argue with you and you just repeatedly point back to, 'I see what you're asking and you're trying to do your job, but I don't see our judge / warrant / district attorney / etc. I will now go about my day, thank you.'


lmao please try this and film it so we can all watch you get punched in the mouth


some people spend too much time on the internet, i guess


A superb reason why FB, Twitter and Google should leave the realm of the laissez-faire private sphere that spawned them and enter a new dawn of being regulated as utilities, and having a mix of both protections and 1st Amendment obligations.

Between the Silicon Valley-government staffing revolving door, and border agencies (and now police) so closely aligned with these giant corporate interests that have our data of the past forevermore, this is no longer OK.


That would make replacing them that much harder.


I don’t have any Facebook social media accounts, and my Twitter gets auto deleted after 2 weeks. I have no other social media of any kind.

Neither my Reddit or HN accounts are related to accounts that can easily be tied to my other identities. I’m not saying they can’t, but my Reddit is used for read-only.

Given things these days, this seems reasonable.


> my Twitter gets auto deleted after 2 weeks

Is this something native to twitter or did you set something up yourself? I'm not a heavy twitter user but I'd like to do this as well.



semiphemeral.com


> reads anti-cop stuff

> dangerous individual


With Apple encouraging its users to simply hand over their iPhone as Photo ID [0], how long before the police simply dock your voluntarily surrendered phone into some automated search gadget and don't bother asking.

It's already the case that if you let the police search your vehicle, they will, and what's found will be used against you. It seems obvious the same will be applied to smartphones. Protect your rights people.

[0] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-58422469


From your article, it seems Apple are encouraging nothing of the sort, and in fact recommending the opposite.

> Apple now says users do not need to unlock or hand over their phones for the system to work for airport security.


Great now I can get arrested for obstruction of justice for not having a Facebook account.


At a minimum you'll be added to a watchlist as not being on FB makes you an outlier.


Roughly 3 in 10 Americans don't have a FB account. Minority sure. Outlier? No.

https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2021/06/01/facts-about...


I have an extremely difficult time believing this. I actually don't know another person IRL over the age of 18 who doesn't have a FB account. I know a couple of people who've claimed to have "deleted" or "deactivated" theirs, but not another person whose never had one.


To be fair it was from a self reported survey and they were asked if they ever used FB. If it were me I would probably answer no, even though that is not strictly true. I did use it once in 2010, but I didn't inhale. :)


Hey do you have some links you can share which support this?

I’d be interested in seeing the details.


Do you have more info on that? I haven't heard of any repercussions


Sora like how not having a television was a crime in Max Headroom.


"Civilian" is a funny way of spelling citizen.


Police encounter many non-citizens, who still have many fundamental rights. Any given person might be a citizen, a green card holder, a temporary visa holder, an undocumented person, or a tourist who is not subject to visa requirements. I don't recall the percentage offhand but something like 10% of US residents are not citizens.


The point was the militarization of the police, that they are adopting militarized language when dealing with the general public. I used citizen with a lowercase 'c' here, as in "private citizen" and not as in legal citizenship status to a sovereign nation.


Thing is the 'civilian' distinction goes back decades and some definitions extend the nen-civilian status to firefighters as well as police. It's neither new nor uniquely American, though I'm sure exactly when it expanded beyond the purely military use fo the term.


It’s almost as if they’re saying the policy doesn’t apply to interviews with fellow law enforcement officers...

The way we (Americans) have allowed the line between “police” and “military” to blur is certainly concerning and it seems like this is just another example.


I'd love to see the line blur a bit more. Specifically, by making police officers be investigated by military police, and to be judged by military tribunals.


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