KopBusters

Postby RaharuAharu » Sun Dec 07, 2008 2:45 pm

http://www.reason.com/blog/show/130429.html?success=1

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Radley Balko | December 6, 2008, 1:28pm

Like Mark Draughn, I've been somewhat skeptical of Barry Cooper, the former drug cop turned pitchman for how-to-beat-the-cops videos. He comes off as more of a huckster than a principled whistle-blower, which I think does the good ideas he stands for (police reform) more harm than good.

But damn. I have to hand it to him. This might be one of the ballsiest moves I've ever seen.

KopBusters rented a house in Odessa, Texas and began growing two small Christmas trees under a grow light similar to those used for growing marijuana. When faced with a suspected marijuana grow, the police usually use illegal FLIR cameras and/or lie on the search warrant affidavit claiming they have probable cause to raid the house. Instead of conducting a proper investigation which usually leads to no probable cause, the Kops lie on the affidavit claiming a confidential informant saw the plants and/or the police could smell marijuana coming from the suspected house.

The trap was set and less than 24 hours later, the Odessa narcotics unit raided the house only to find KopBuster’s attorney waiting under a system of complex gadgetry and spy cameras that streamed online to the KopBuster’s secret mobile office nearby.

To clarify just a bit, according to Cooper, there was nothing illegal going on the bait house, just two evergreen trees and some grow lamps. There was no probable cause. So a couple of questions come up. First, how did the cops get turned on to the house in the first place? Cooper suspects they were using thermal imaging equipment to detect the grow lamps, a practice the Supreme Court has said is illegal. The second question is, what probable cause did the police put on the affidavit to get a judge to sign off on a search warrant? If there was nothing illegal going on in the house, it's difficult to conceive of a scenario where either the police or one of their informants didn't lie to get a warrant.

Cooper chose the Odessa police department for baiting because he believes police there instructed an informant to plant marijuana on a woman named Yolanda Madden. She's currently serving an eight-year sentence for possession with intent to distribute. According to Cooper, the informant actually admitted in federal court that he planted the marijuana. Madden was convicted anyway.

The story's worth watching, not only to see if the cops themselves are held accountable for this, but whether the local district attorney tries to come up with a crime with which to charge Cooper and his assistants. I can't imagine such a charge would get very far, but I wouldn't be surprised to see someone try.

Here's some local media coverage:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3Fu4YVH ... ?success=1
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Re: KopBusters

Postby Jennifer Diane Reitz » Sun Dec 07, 2008 11:17 pm

Oh, I am in favor of this. I hope it catches on in a big way, with lots, and lots, and lots of more and more professional copy-cats entrapping crooked police.

I fear, however, for anyone exposing police brutality. That could be a one-time-only show. At least for the victim.

Police in America have far too commonly become little more than brutish, tribal thugs. I'd rather deal with a Mafia enforcer than the police; at least the enforcer is likely to be polite, mannered, professional, follow rules, and be square with you. Forced retirement or discipline for unprofessionalism, for them, is fairly severe.

But if a cop out and kills -or cripples- your best friend, or spouse - or you - by accident or by deliberate savagery, generally the worst they get is a paid 'disciplinary' vacation. And sympathy when they return from their buddies. Then the whole thing is hushed up.

Hell, even if they get sent to trial, they often get let off, even when there is blatant evidence of their misconduct! How juries can do that... maybe they get bought off... or maybe they get threatened off. I don't understand such things. A pointless, bloody beating, or the fatal tasering of an innocent old man in a hospital bed, or of a mother and her newborn baby are not to be tolerated... yet they are.

I object.

Go kopbusters.
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Re: KopBusters

Postby draque » Mon Dec 08, 2008 10:41 am

The sad thing is that this type of thing has become the rule as opposed to the exception. Here's a related article that I read just this morning concerning eliminating the war on drugs laws:

http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB122843683581681375-lMyQjAxMDI4MjA4NTQwMzU2Wj.html

Today is the 75th anniversary of that blessed day in 1933 when Utah became the 36th and deciding state to ratify the 21st amendment, thereby repealing the 18th amendment. This ended the nation's disastrous experiment with alcohol prohibition.

It's already shaping up as a day of celebration, with parties planned, bars prepping for recession-defying rounds of drinks, and newspapers set to publish cocktail recipes concocted especially for the day.

But let's hope it also serves as a day of reflection. We should consider why our forebears rejoiced at the relegalization of a powerful drug long associated with bountiful pleasure and pain, and consider too the lessons for our time.

The Americans who voted in 1933 to repeal prohibition differed greatly in their reasons for overturning the system. But almost all agreed that the evils of failed suppression far outweighed the evils of alcohol consumption.

The change from just 15 years earlier, when most Americans saw alcohol as the root of the problem and voted to ban it, was dramatic. Prohibition's failure to create an Alcohol Free Society sank in quickly. Booze flowed as readily as before, but now it was illicit, filling criminal coffers at taxpayer expense.

Some opponents of prohibition pointed to Al Capone and increasing crime, violence and corruption. Others were troubled by the labeling of tens of millions of Americans as criminals, overflowing prisons, and the consequent broadening of disrespect for the law. Americans were disquieted by dangerous expansions of federal police powers, encroachments on individual liberties, increasing government expenditure devoted to enforcing the prohibition laws, and the billions in forgone tax revenues. And still others were disturbed by the specter of so many citizens blinded, paralyzed and killed by poisonous moonshine and industrial alcohol.

Supporters of prohibition blamed the consumers, and some went so far as to argue that those who violated the laws deserved whatever ills befell them. But by 1933, most Americans blamed prohibition itself.

When repeal came, it was not just with the support of those with a taste for alcohol, but also those who disliked and even hated it but could no longer ignore the dreadful consequences of a failed prohibition. They saw what most Americans still fail to see today: That a failed drug prohibition can cause greater harm than the drug it was intended to banish.

Consider the consequences of drug prohibition today: 500,000 people incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails for nonviolent drug-law violations; 1.8 million drug arrests last year; tens of billions of taxpayer dollars expended annually to fund a drug war that 76% of Americans say has failed; millions now marked for life as former drug felons; many thousands dying each year from drug overdoses that have more to do with prohibitionist policies than the drugs themselves, and tens of thousands more needlessly infected with AIDS and Hepatitis C because those same policies undermine and block responsible public-health policies.

And look abroad. At Afghanistan, where a third or more of the national economy is both beneficiary and victim of the failed global drug prohibition regime. At Mexico, which makes Chicago under Al Capone look like a day in the park. And elsewhere in Latin America, where prohibition-related crime, violence and corruption undermine civil authority and public safety, and mindless drug eradication campaigns wreak environmental havoc.

All this, and much more, are the consequences not of drugs per se but of prohibitionist policies that have failed for too long and that can never succeed in an open society, given the lessons of history. Perhaps a totalitarian American could do better, but at what cost to our most fundamental values?

Why did our forebears wise up so quickly while Americans today still struggle with sorting out the consequences of drug misuse from those of drug prohibition?

It's not because alcohol is any less dangerous than the drugs that are banned today. Marijuana, by comparison, is relatively harmless: little association with violent behavior, no chance of dying from an overdose, and not nearly as dangerous as alcohol if one misuses it or becomes addicted. Most of heroin's dangers are more a consequence of its prohibition than the drug's distinctive properties. That's why 70% of Swiss voters approved a referendum this past weekend endorsing the government's provision of pharmaceutical heroin to addicts who could not quit their addictions by other means. It is also why a growing number of other countries, including Canada, are doing likewise.

Yes, the speedy drugs -- cocaine, methamphetamine and other illicit stimulants -- present more of a problem. But not to the extent that their prohibition is justifiable while alcohol's is not. The real difference is that alcohol is the devil we know, while these others are the devils we don't. Most Americans in 1933 could recall a time before prohibition, which tempered their fears. But few Americans now can recall the decades when the illicit drugs of today were sold and consumed legally. If they could, a post-prohibition future might prove less alarming.
In today's Opinion Journal

But there's nothing like a depression, or maybe even a full-blown recession, to make taxpayers question the price of their prejudices. That's what ultimately hastened prohibition's repeal, and it's why we're sure to see a more vigorous debate than ever before about ending marijuana prohibition, rolling back other drug war excesses, and even contemplating far-reaching alternatives to drug prohibition.

Perhaps the greatest reassurance for those who quake at the prospect of repealing contemporary drug prohibitions can be found in the era of prohibition outside of America. Other nations, including Britain, Australia and the Netherlands, were equally concerned with the problems of drink and eager for solutions. However, most opted against prohibition and for strict controls that kept alcohol legal but restricted its availability, taxed it heavily, and otherwise discouraged its use. The results included ample revenues for government coffers, criminals frustrated by the lack of easy profits, and declines in the consumption and misuse of alcohol that compared favorably with trends in the United States.

Is President-elect Barack Obama going to commemorate Repeal Day today? I'm not holding my breath. Nor do I expect him to do much to reform the nation's drug laws apart from making good on a few of the commitments he made during the campaign: repealing the harshest drug sentences, removing federal bans on funding needle-exchange programs to reduce AIDS, giving medical marijuana a fair chance to prove itself, and supporting treatment alternatives for low-level drug offenders.

But there's one more thing he can do: Promote vigorous and informed debate in this domain as in all others. The worst prohibition, after all, is a prohibition on thinking.

Mr. Nadelmann is the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance.
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Re: KopBusters

Postby Pharmakeus Ubik » Mon Dec 08, 2008 11:26 am

I quite agree. The Police are merely the most powerful, and publicly funded of the local gangs. Too much impunity, not nearly enough civilian oversight. The War on Drugs™ is a serial folly industrial complex.
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Re: KopBusters

Postby draque » Mon Dec 08, 2008 2:36 pm

Shackler wrote:This "KopBusters" organization is ridiculous and pathetic. One of the best things about America is our great police force. Though I disagree with the war on drugs, attacking the policemen who enforce it is offensive and unreasonable. If these people really want to institute change here, they should stop going after the little guy and go straight to the top; insulting and defaming local police departments won't help change the laws.


And yet it's the local police departments who are most directly infringing on the rights of the citizenry they are responsible for protecting. I'm certainly not going to disagree that there are many laws that need to be changed, but a focus on the policemen who carry the most immediately effective power when dealing with individual citizens is enormously important if there is suspicion of power abuse.
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Re: KopBusters

Postby strange_person » Mon Dec 08, 2008 6:22 pm

Targeting the specific, provable infringements is a great way to reveal the underlying pressures. I mean, when a stunt like this results in legal proceedings, the street-level cop on the stand tries to defend his illegal use of IR imaging by saying that it's the only way to meet quota. Then his boss gets called in, and tries to defend the informal-but-inviolable arrest quotas by saying it's the only way to satisfy the commissioner. Then the commissioner gets called in, and explains that...
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Re: KopBusters

Postby strange_person » Mon Dec 08, 2008 6:53 pm

What approach would you prefer?
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Re: KopBusters

Postby strange_person » Mon Dec 08, 2008 8:50 pm

Shackler wrote:we should instead evaluate the way that police forces as a whole have framed the "war on drugs" and on the specific methods they use to carry out drug policy.
This particular stunt is, in fact, set to provide clear, actionable evidence of how drug policy is carried out.
There was no probable cause. So a couple of questions come up. First, how did the cops get turned on to the house in the first place? Cooper suspects they were using thermal imaging equipment to detect the grow lamps, a practice the Supreme Court has said is illegal. The second question is, what probable cause did the police put on the affidavit to get a judge to sign off on a search warrant? If there was nothing illegal going on in the house, it's difficult to conceive of a scenario where either the police or one of their informants didn't lie to get a warrant.
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Re: KopBusters

Postby Wizard CaT » Tue Dec 09, 2008 12:01 am

A) The article isn't 100% accurate as you can OD on pot. If you eat enough of it; when you smoke it, generally you will pass out before you can OD, but if you eat it, it will take awhile before it kicks in.

B) The police used Infra-red heat surveillance to raid the house. The Supreme Court has deemed this Unconstitutional and I can even quote the fucking Case Number.
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Re: KopBusters

Postby strange_person » Tue Dec 09, 2008 12:13 am

Shackler wrote:
strange_person wrote:
Shackler wrote:we should instead evaluate the way that police forces as a whole have framed the "war on drugs" and on the specific methods they use to carry out drug policy.
This particular stunt is, in fact, set to provide clear, actionable evidence of how drug policy is carried out.


Forces as a whole and institutional methods.

Do you have examples of institutional methods which cannot be studied by sampling individual methods?
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Re: KopBusters

Postby Alikat » Tue Dec 09, 2008 7:10 am

Shackler wrote:This "KopBusters" organization is ridiculous and pathetic. One of the best things about America is our great police force. Though I disagree with the war on drugs, attacking the policemen who enforce it is offensive and unreasonable. If these people really want to institute change here, they should stop going after the little guy and go straight to the top; insulting and defaming local police departments won't help change the laws.

Bullshit, the rank and file cops are just as much to blame as the top brass, because they are lying to the courts to get warrants and afterwards in trial. Attacking the policemen who break the law is neither offensive nor unreasonable, it's righteous and upholds justice and the rule of law. Go after criminals no matter what level they are at or what public-sector jobs they hold.
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Re: KopBusters

Postby strange_person » Tue Dec 09, 2008 9:49 am

Also, I'm pretty sure it only counts as defamation if the hurtful assertions are false.
Shackler wrote:
strange_person wrote:Do you have examples of institutional methods which cannot be studied by sampling individual methods?


Institutional methods are better studied in their own context than by observing individual methods and extrapolating.
That does not answer my question. I was looking for specific examples, not bland, unsupported generalities.
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Re: KopBusters

Postby Skatche » Tue Dec 09, 2008 10:17 am

Shackler wrote:Infringements on the parts of such local departments are far more likely to be the result of institutional and situational pressure than simply perpetrated by a few rogues within the system; hasn't Abu Ghraib shown us that the "few bad apples" argument can't be trusted?


What Abu Ghraib demonstrated (in the footsteps of the Stanford prison experiment) was that anyone in an enforcement position will tend toward brutal abuses of power. Maybe we shouldn't blame them for that, if everyone is susceptible. But we still have a responsibility to expose and oppose those abuses. Ignoring them until they go away will not work on dudes with assault rifles.
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Re: KopBusters

Postby Skatche » Tue Dec 09, 2008 10:25 am

Wizard CaT wrote:A) The article isn't 100% accurate as you can OD on pot. If you eat enough of it; when you smoke it, generally you will pass out before you can OD, but if you eat it, it will take awhile before it kicks in.


If by "OD" you mean "experience considerable discomfort at being a lot higher than you intended to get", you are correct. As far as actually life-threatening situations, you'd have to eat on the order of 40,000 times the active dose. No one has ever died from a pot overdose.
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Re: KopBusters

Postby draque » Tue Dec 09, 2008 11:31 am

Shackler wrote:
strange_person wrote:Do you have examples of institutional methods which cannot be studied by sampling individual methods?


Institutional methods are better studied in their own context than by observing individual methods and extrapolating.


Honestly, I can see your point there. The idea that a problem is best solved at its root isn't something that should be ignored. I would agree with you there if it weren't for the fact that individuals are suffering in a very immediate sense. Policy should be changed long term, but in the short term, the citizens should have some sort of relief. Also worth noting is that if infra red heat surveillance was being used, then policy was not being followed. Furthermore, it is the responsibility of an officer to know the law and to disobey commands from superiors that contradict it.
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Re: KopBusters

Postby Wic » Tue Dec 09, 2008 1:46 pm

Indeed, I don't what thermal imaging equipment is or how much it costs, but it sure sounds expensive. I don't think one or two cops just decide to buy for greater good... The police force must've funded it.

Hmm, infrared camera is about 3000-5000 bucks... Yeah.
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Re: KopBusters

Postby strange_person » Tue Dec 09, 2008 4:36 pm

Wic wrote:Indeed, I don't what thermal imaging equipment is or how much it costs, but it sure sounds expensive. I don't think one or two cops just decide to buy for greater good... The police force must've funded it.

Hmm, infrared camera is about 3000-5000 bucks... Yeah.
Well, the IR isn't legal for this specific application, but there are other times (hostage situations, for example) where it is legitimate. So, the department buys a thermal imaging camera in case they need one, but most of the time it sits on the shelf. It's a reasonably expensive piece of equipment, and hostage situations don't come up too often, so when an officer tries to requisition it for some questionably-legal search, Detective Stan back in Budgeting is only too happy to help. After all, when it leads to an arrest and prosecution, the expense has been justified and it'll be easier to justify next year's funding requests.

Econ major, accountancy minor. I think about this kind of thing.
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Re: KopBusters

Postby Pharmakeus Ubik » Tue Dec 09, 2008 6:29 pm

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Re: KopBusters

Postby strange_person » Wed Sep 23, 2009 12:28 pm

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Re: KopBusters

Postby Shackler » Fri Sep 25, 2009 8:59 am

Awesome.
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