Australian Police Threatened Businessman With Arrest And Take His BlackBerry After He Filmed Police

December 27, 2008

AUSTRALIA – A MAN detained and threatened with arrest under the Terrorism Act for filming police on his mobile phone says police abused their powers.

Nick Holmes a Court, CEO of web-based media companies BuzzNumbers and ShiftedPixels, was walking to his home near Kings Cross in Sydney about 10pm on December 19.

He said police forcibly took his BlackBerry phone and threatened him with arrest both under the Australian Anti-Terrorism Act and for allegedly disobeying a police directive.

Mr Holmes a Court said he had started filming what looked like a search after he noticed a group of police walking down his street.

“I went to one guy and asked what was going on but he told me to move along, and if I didn’t they’d be able to arrest me,” he said.

“So I moved down the street a few hundred metres to where my apartment was, pulled out my phone and started filming.”

Mr Holmes a Court said he had stopped filming before two of the police officers approached, demanding he surrender his BlackBerry mobile phone and telling him he had committed a crime if he had recorded them.

“It was in my hand, and they were saying, ‘Give me your phone, give me your phone,’ but I just kept repeating, ‘I do not consent to a search of my phone’,” Mr Holmes a Court said.

“It was pulled out of my hand – it wasn’t me handing it over to her – and now I’ve got this girl looking through my phone and all my content – my contacts, photos, text messages and emails.”

Mr Holmes a Court said he repeatedly complained to the police while they tampered with his phone, but was told to “shut up”.

“They forcefully did it in front of me, wouldn’t give me my phone back until they deleted it, and just kept telling me to shut up.”

Queensland Council for Civil Liberties president Michael Cope said police did not have the authority to confiscate cameras or stop people from taking pictures of them performing their duties.

“It’s not appropriate for the police to be stopping people taking pictures of them,” Mr Cope said.

“They’ve got no power to do that, none whatsoever, and they’ve got no power to confiscate cameras.

“Why should they be fighting being scrutinised?”

Appeared Here

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New York Parole Board Chairman George Alexander Quits After Stealing Laptop Computer From Erie County

December 27, 2008

ALBANY, NEW YORK – New York officials say the head of the state Parole Division is resigning after investigators found he stole a government laptop that his teenage son used to look up adult Web sites.

Inspector General Joseph Fisch says Parole Board Chairman George Alexander took the computer home in 2007 when he worked as the director and commissioner of Erie County’s probation department.

Officials say he never returned the computer and denied having it. An antitheft monitor installed on the laptop traced it to his house.

Alexander told officials he forgot he had it. Fisch says Alexander’s son had used the computer to access Web sites including MySpace.com, Facebook.com, and various adult sites.

Alexander is expected to face charges.

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Australian Police Threatened Businessman With Arrest And Take His BlackBerry After He Filmed Police

December 27, 2008

AUSTRALIA – A MAN detained and threatened with arrest under the Terrorism Act for filming police on his mobile phone says police abused their powers.

Nick Holmes a Court, CEO of web-based media companies BuzzNumbers and ShiftedPixels, was walking to his home near Kings Cross in Sydney about 10pm on December 19.

He said police forcibly took his BlackBerry phone and threatened him with arrest both under the Australian Anti-Terrorism Act and for allegedly disobeying a police directive.

Mr Holmes a Court said he had started filming what looked like a search after he noticed a group of police walking down his street.

“I went to one guy and asked what was going on but he told me to move along, and if I didn’t they’d be able to arrest me,” he said.

“So I moved down the street a few hundred metres to where my apartment was, pulled out my phone and started filming.”

Mr Holmes a Court said he had stopped filming before two of the police officers approached, demanding he surrender his BlackBerry mobile phone and telling him he had committed a crime if he had recorded them.

“It was in my hand, and they were saying, ‘Give me your phone, give me your phone,’ but I just kept repeating, ‘I do not consent to a search of my phone’,” Mr Holmes a Court said.

“It was pulled out of my hand – it wasn’t me handing it over to her – and now I’ve got this girl looking through my phone and all my content – my contacts, photos, text messages and emails.”

Mr Holmes a Court said he repeatedly complained to the police while they tampered with his phone, but was told to “shut up”.

“They forcefully did it in front of me, wouldn’t give me my phone back until they deleted it, and just kept telling me to shut up.”

Queensland Council for Civil Liberties president Michael Cope said police did not have the authority to confiscate cameras or stop people from taking pictures of them performing their duties.

“It’s not appropriate for the police to be stopping people taking pictures of them,” Mr Cope said.

“They’ve got no power to do that, none whatsoever, and they’ve got no power to confiscate cameras.

“Why should they be fighting being scrutinised?”

Appeared Here


New York Parole Board Chairman George Alexander Quits After Stealing Laptop Computer From Erie County

December 27, 2008

ALBANY, NEW YORK – New York officials say the head of the state Parole Division is resigning after investigators found he stole a government laptop that his teenage son used to look up adult Web sites.

Inspector General Joseph Fisch says Parole Board Chairman George Alexander took the computer home in 2007 when he worked as the director and commissioner of Erie County’s probation department.

Officials say he never returned the computer and denied having it. An antitheft monitor installed on the laptop traced it to his house.

Alexander told officials he forgot he had it. Fisch says Alexander’s son had used the computer to access Web sites including MySpace.com, Facebook.com, and various adult sites.

Alexander is expected to face charges.

Appeared Here


Massachusetts Marijuana Decriminalization Law Undermines Drug Testing Of Police And Other Public Servants

December 25, 2008

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – A voter-approved law reducing possession of small amounts of marijuana to a civil offense threatens to unravel drug testing of police and other public employees, the Herald has learned.

The law, which goes into effect Jan. 2, prohibits government agencies and authorities from enforcing any punishment for pot possession with a fine greater than $100, according to the Massachusetts Police Chiefs Association, and defines possession so broadly as to include traces of pot in blood to urine to hair and fingernails.

“This very much threatens to undermine our ability to do the drug testing we do,” said Jack Collins, an attorney for the Massachusetts Police Chiefs Association.

Collins is calling for police departments to stop drug testing certain employees until the Legislature can explicitly allow public employees who fail drug tests to be punished. Without swift action, police departments and other agencies face lawsuits from unions protecting their members, Collins said.

“At this point, it looks like a violation of their rights, and then there’d be a lawsuit and it would cost thousands of dollars,” he warned.

Berkshire District Attorney David Capeless predicted the new law has far-reaching consequences for even school bus drivers and MBTA train operators, who could point to the law and say they can only be fined, not fired, for marijuana offenses.

“People given the critical job of looking after children or the general public, there’s a greater risk now they could be high,” Capeless warned.

Concerns about the viability of punishing people for flunking drug tests follow news reports of drug use by public workers. The Herald found that 77 MBTA employees have failed substance-abuse tests over the past three years.

A task force set up by Public Safety Secretary Kevin Burke is examining the implications of the new law and how it will be enforced. Burke’s office is expected to provide answers to questions of drug testing by year’s end.

Meanwhile, the Boston Police Department plans to continue drug testing regardless of any uncertainty, said Elaine Driscoll. “Enforcing our drug policies is non-negotiable,” Driscoll said.

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Dumbass Salem New Hampshire Police Officer Leaves His Car Unlocked, Loses Handgun, Taser, And Pepper Spray To Unknown Thief

December 25, 2008

SALEM, NEW HAMPSHIRE – A Salem police officer faces disciplinary action after his firearm, Taser and pepper spray were stolen from his unlocked personal vehicle in Windham.

Authorities did not release the officer’s name, but said he breached department policy by leaving his duty belt unattended in his vehicle.

Windham Police Chief Gerald Lewis said recovering the weapon may be difficult depending on who took it and what they plan to do with it. Lewis has advised his officers to be cautious while responding to calls in the area.

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Former Utah State Police Officer Brian Smith Dies After Oxycontin Robbery, Randomly Killing Innocent Dallas Texas Motorists, And Shooting Himself During Standoff With Police

December 25, 2008

DALLAS, TEXAS – A Keller man who is suspected of killing two men during a crime spree Monday has died.

Brian Smith, a former Utah state trooper and the father of five children, died at 6 p.m. at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, a spokesman said.

Smith shot himself early Tuesday after a standoff with police in Garland.

Two days after the bizarre chain of events that led to the fatal shootings in Garland and Dallas, family and friends struggled to understand the actions of Smith.

“When he was here, he was just the best of neighbors. One of the greatest guys I know,” said Cindi Schut, who lived across the street from the Smith family in Herriman, a suburb of Salt Lake City, for three years. “I can’t image him being anything else.”

Two years ago, when Schut’s son, Dallin, was 9, he was assigned to write an essay about a hero. He chose Smith.

Dallin still cherishes the small mahogany box with the governor’s seal that Smith gave him after reading the essay, Schut said. The box was a gift from Gov. Mike Leavitt to Smith, who served as Leavitt’s body guard for several years.

The Smiths have four boys and one girl, Schut said. The oldest is 9, the youngest an infant.

Smith volunteered with Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts in Utah, Schut said. The family was also active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she said.

At some point, Smith hurt his back and couldn’t shovel snow, Schut said, so he borrowed their snow blower “and he loved it so much, he would do everybody else’s, too.”

“I want people to know this is not who he is,” Schut said. “Something has happened to change him because he’s not that kind of a person at all.”

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Smith began abusing alcohol and prescription drugs after an on-duty traffic accident, according to a Utah Police Officer Standards and Training investigation report.

Utah Department of Public Safety officials could not provide details Wednesday about when the accident happened or the severity of Smith’s injuries. But in January, he threatened to kill himself after drinking heavily, according to the report.

The incident prompted an investigation that led to Smith surrendering his law enforcement certification in May.

In late March, Smith and his wife bought a $275,000, 3,200-square-foot home on Branchview Court in Keller, according to public records. Friends and colleagues said Smith was excited about a job opportunity in North Texas, but details were scarce.

The family was well-received in the Highland Creek Estates subdivision. Tracie Gates said her children and Smith’s children played together.

Sometimes they would all go over to sit on the stone lion statues that Gates has on either side of her front walkway. Sometimes they would catch frogs and release them into a nearby pond, she said.

Attempts to contact Smith’s relatives were unsuccessful.

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Earlier this month, Southlake police obtained arrest warrants for Smith accusing him of two crimes, said Sgt. Mike Bedrich, a police spokesman.

The first, an aggravated robbery, occurred Dec. 17 in the 600 block of East Farm Road 1709 — also known as Southlake Boulevard — Bedrich said. About midday, a woman sitting in her car in a strip mall parking lot was approached by a male and sprayed with pepper spray or something similar, Bedrich said Wednesday.

The man then reached over the woman and grabbed her purse. Police later obtained surveillance video of the suspect using the victim’s credit cards.

On Monday, a purse was taken from an unoccupied vehicle in the 1500 block of Farm Road 1709, Bedrich said. He declined to specify what evidence linked the crime to Smith.

The arrest warrants remain unserved, Bedrich said Wednesday.

It was later Monday, at 5:25 p.m., when a man who identified himself as Brian Smith robbed a Kroger pharmacy in Garland, police spokesman Joe Harn said.

The man said he was there to refill a prescription for OxyContin, Harn said. He then produced a handgun, jumped over the counter and grabbed the drug before fleeing.

Minutes later, Jorge Lopez, 20 of Rowlett, was fatally shot at an intersection north of Interstate 635 in Garland. Next, shots were fired at an 18-wheeler on I-635 near Jupiter Road, but the driver was not hit. Minutes later, more shots were fired at another 18-wheeler, and driver, William Scott Miller, 42 of Kentucky was killed. Shots were then fired at a third 18-wheeler and the driver was hit by flying glass.

As Dallas County police searched for the rush-hour gunman Monday, Southlake police relayed information that Smith might be in the area, armed and suicidal, driving his Honda CRV.

It remained unclear Wednesday how Southlake authorities got that information, Bedrich said.

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Until the tip from Southlake police, Dallas County authorities had been working with a witness description indicating that the Garland shooter was driving a tan Ford F150 pickup.

About 9 p.m. Monday, Garland police found Smith in the Honda. He did not respond to officers’ orders, and a SWAT team was called in.

Early Tuesday, he shot himself and was taken to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, police said.

Police are awaiting ballistics tests to compare the bullets from Smith’s vehicle with the other shootings. Dallas police have said early results indicate Smith was the shooter.

On Wednesday, Harn declined to comment on the tests until they are complete but said the results and further investigation could explain whether two different vehicles were involved.

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