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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 6% of the US population (20 million people) are at or below half the Federal poverty rate.
No matter how you slice it, that's a lot of people. More than the populaton of California.
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".
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. 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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
You can feel sorry for them if you like, but I don't.
And where you'd dragged it to: "There were plenty of them at Boeing when I worked there".
> And where you'd dragged it to
The point being such people are neither rare nor necessarily poor at all.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you require a safety-net to speak up for your rights, be prepared to lose them.
Also consider that now the system has perfect memory. Moving to another county or state, waiting a few years, it doesn't matter.
> 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
This is complete bullshit.
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?
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.
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 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.
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?
>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.
 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
With a smile and a calm voice. Do you really believe every single cop is going to punch you if you don't comply?
Burglars are routinely prosecuted and convicted for burglary. That is the difference.
Simply and agreeably assert your rights. More people do it than you think.
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.
Given how rarely police blow the whistle on other police, I’d say there’s evidence that the majority are actively unlawful.
Are they operating under the assumption that everyone is on social media, and if you deny it then you’re lying?
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.
You would need to actually be suspected of a crime. If the cops don't find drugs, what crime are you guilty of?
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.
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.
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.
A drug dog’s indications provide probable cause for searching your car, but are not enough to arrest you.
Probable cause (of slightly different things; the threshold is the same but the subject is different) is the bar for both search and arrest.
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.
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.
All American culture increasingly feels disgust and disdain for the notion of rights. The police culture is the result of that broader problem.
> 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.
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?
It links to this interesting article: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20200722/17410744953/appea...
Legally I agree with you, but the police don’t appear to operate legally as a general rule.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Unfortunately, prosecutors are chicken shit when it comes to criminal cops.
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.
They can essentially detain you for hours, unless you know the keywords and are able to ask for and actually summon legal support.
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.
Also, quit with the civilian crap. Cops are civilians too. If they want to play special forces join the military.
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.
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.
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.
Top Note: tptacek, uncooperative with police.
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.
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.
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.
But I agree with the gist: just kindly decline.
Lying and saying that you don’t have a social media account isn’t so clear.
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.
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).
And one under your gangster name that shows you posing with your glock and waving bundles of cash.
‘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.
/Of course, you shouldn't talk to them without a lawyer, this is mostly a joke comment
she said it was suspicious.
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.
> 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.
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).
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".
: 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
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.
> 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.
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.
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.
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.
Like what is it that FOP¹ does that you think they should be prevented from doing? Should they not be allowed to exist?
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.
When such a group represents police it is fundamentally different and should be treated with much greater suspicion.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?"
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.
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.
It was literally me.
If you see it more than there and here, it was not me.
*edit: than, not that
He told me as he left "We're not all bad."
It was surreal.
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.
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.
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!
You've mentioned this previously: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28028743
^ 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.'
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.
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.
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.
See also for reddit: https://github.com/x89/Shreddit
> dangerous individual
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.
> Apple now says users do not need to unlock or hand over their phones for the system to work for airport security.
I’d be interested in seeing the details.
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.