Category Archives: Law.Enforcement

Private police carry guns and make arrests, and their ranks are swelling

Source: Justin Jouvenal, Washington Post, March 1, 2015

…Like more and more Virginians, Youlen gained his police powers using a little-known provision of state law that allows private citizens to petition the courts for the authority to carry a gun, display a badge and make arrests. ….. The growth is mirrored nationally in the ranks of private police, who increasingly patrol corporate campuses, neighborhoods and museums as the demand for private security has increased and police services have been cut in some places. The trend has raised concerns in Virginia and elsewhere, because these armed officers often receive a small fraction of the training and oversight of their municipal counterparts.

Puerto Rico Dumps Traffic Cameras, Orders Refunds/ After just a few months, Puerto Rico cancels automated ticketing machine contract, refunding all citations.

Source: theNewspaper.com, January 16, 2015

The public in Puerto Rico complained so loudly about the photo enforcement program that the territory’s government listened. Red light cameras went up at three intersections in October dealing out $250 tickets for making rolling right turns, speeding or having a recently expired vehicle registration. On Thursday, Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla (D) had his transportation department refund every ticket issued. … Haste was important, since the program had not become fully operational. A contract clause allowed the transportation department to cancel the deal without paying the $6 million termination fee at any time before the installation was complete. Transportation officials also insist that the photo ticketing firm failed to deliver on its end of the bargain. A no-bid contract was awarded to International Traffic Systems, which also operated in Puerto Rico under the name “National Public Safety Consortium.” In the United States, this entity goes by the name InsureNet, a company run by Jonathan Miller of Georgia. InsureNet sells automated license plate readers and has unsuccessfully lobbied to have automated cameras issue tickets to drivers whose insurance or registration has lapsed in states like Oklahoma and Illinois….

NYPD looks to cut computer consulting contracts

Source: Gregory N. Heires, Public Employee Press, Vol. 60 no. 8, October 2014

During a meeting with the union on Sept. 4, top officials of the New York Police Dept. discussed their plans to phase out computer consultants and boost in-house information technology and clerical-administrative staff. The labor-management meeting dealt with workplace clerical staffing issues.
“We are encouraged by the tone of the new management team at the NYPD,” said Robert Ajaye, president of Data Processing Personnel Local 2627, “but we are still waiting to find out about any new hiring.”
The meeting occurred a month after Comptroller Scott M. Stringer released a stinging report about the NYPD’s poor oversight of contractors responsible for upgrading its troubled emergency communications system. The cost of the project ballooned from $1.3 billion to $2.3 billion and the new system was delayed for years and marred by malfunctions when it finally went online in May 2013. During the meeting, Jessica S. Tisch, NYPD’s new deputy commissioner of information technology, discussed restructuring the department’s IT operations. Deputy Commissioner of Labor Relations John Bierne also attended the meeting. Part of the plan, Tisch said, would be to drop consultants and assign more of the work in-house, which would require increasing the civil service staff. The department wants to “take control of the contractors” and “tell them what to do” rather than acceding control over operations to them, she said….

“This Is the Part of Detroit That Most People Are Not Aware Of” – How private security guards divide Detroit into two separate and unequal cities.

Source: Laura Gottesdiener, Mother Jones, November 17, 2014

….On the brink of a new, post-bankruptcy beginning, Detroit is really two cities. One is comprised of wealthy enclaves like Palmer Woods linked to a compact, rapidly redeveloping downtown. The other is made up of the rest of the 139-square-mile urban expanse, populated by longtime residents who have fought for decades to survive in an environment that has become increasingly uninhabitable.

In the first Detroit, private security is common and the living is relatively safe. In the second, running water has systematically been cut off from at least 27,000 households this year alone, the latest in a series of government-enacted policies that have made daily life an increasingly desperate battle. Rather than growing closer in the coming post-bankruptcy era, many residents fear that these two Detroits—already so separate and unequal—will have increasingly divergent futures…..

…To Cheryl LaBash, however, this new private security set-up isn’t just a byproduct of downtown gentrification; it’s yet another threat to Detroit’s crippled democratic process and the ability of its residents to express political dissent. Last February, private security guards stopped LaBash and a handful of other demonstrators from pamphleting and gathering petition signatures inside Campus Martius, which she believes is an encroachment of her First Amendment rights. The legality of the move may soon be contested, since Campus Martius is one of a number of Detroit parks that, while privately administered, is still officially publicly owned. As for why it seemed like the security guards were expecting the group of pamphleteers, one officer explained to LaBash, “a little birdie told us,” an apparent reference to the monitoring of activist Twitter accounts….

Stop and seize / Aggressive police take hundreds of millions of dollars from motorists not charged with crimes

Source: Michael Sallah, Robert O’Harrow Jr., Steven Rich, Washington Post, September 6, 2014

… Behind the rise in seizures is a little-known cottage industry of private police-training firms that teach the techniques of “highway interdiction” to departments across the country. One of those firms created a private intelligence network known as Black Asphalt Electronic Networking & Notification System that enabled police nationwide to share detailed reports about American motorists — criminals and the innocent alike — including their Social Security numbers, addresses and identifying tattoos, as well as hunches about which drivers to stop. … “All of our home towns are sitting on a tax-liberating gold mine,” Deputy Ron Hain of Kane County, Ill., wrote in a self-published book under a pseudonym. Hain is a marketing specialist for Desert Snow, a leading interdiction training firm based in Guthrie, Okla., whose founders also created Black Asphalt. Hain’s book calls for “turning our police forces into present-day Robin Hoods.” … After Sept. 11, 2001, civil forfeiture and the war on drugs became entwined with efforts to improve homeland security. Smugglers of all kinds turned away from airports because of the tightened security and took to the nation’s interstate highway system. With federal encouragement, police from small towns, rural counties and big cities sought specialized training. Among those that met the demand was Desert Snow, a family-owned company founded in 1989 by Joe David, a California highway patrolman. Other firms also stepped up, including the 4:20 Group, Caltraps, Hits, Diamondback Training, and Global Counter-Smuggling Training Consultants. Soon more than a dozen companies were competing for millions in state and federal grants and contracts, along with fees from local departments across the country. The training had an immediate effect in some areas. After the Kansas Highway Patrol arranged sessions through Desert Snow for state and local police in 2005 and 2006, the amount of cash flowing into police budgets from seizures nearly doubled, from an average of $2.6 million a year between 2000 and 2006 to $4.9 million a year after 2007…..

Red light camera industry fights citizen vote

Source: Noah Pransky, WTSP, September 4, 2014

…Florida’s leading red light camera-provider American Traffic Solutions confirms to 10 Investigates Wednesday that it has joined the fight to prevent a citizen-backed referendum on red light cameras from ever reaching a ballot. The city is also fighting the referendum on grounds that it infringes upon city council’s power. However, the enemy of the city’s enemy is not its friend in this case; the city is objecting to the intervention from the industry-backed group. As previously reported by 10 Investigates, Tampa law firm Carlton Fields Jorden Burt incorporated a group last week called “Keep Florida Roads Safe,” and immediately filed lawsuits to prevent voters from having a say on red light cameras (RLC). The firm has represented ATS before, but would not reveal if it formed the new group on behalf of ATS. ATS, which has the majority of Florida’ 70+ RLC contracts but not Brooksville’s, appears concerned about a possible precedent-setting legal decision and citizen vote….
Related:
Florida Red Light Camera Programs
Source: Florida Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability, February 7, 2014

Florida Red Light Camera Programs: A Presentation to the Senate Transportation Committee
Source: Larry Novey, Florida Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability, February 13, 2014

Florida Legislative Report Pans Red Light Camera Safety / Florida government report found angle and rear end collision increases at intersections with red light cameras.
Source: thenewspaper.com, February 11, 2014

Editorial: To hold line on taxes, cuts must be made

Source: Daily Gazette, August 28, 2014

You can’t have it both ways. You can’t demand that government control your taxes and at the same time fight every sensible attempt to reduce government spending. Such is the case in Glenville, where the town has the opportunity to save taxpayers nearly $450,000 by hiring a private firm to clean town buildings and by not having a person in the police station lobby greeting people around the clock. The town has proposed replacing two retiring town employees with a private cleaning company, potentially saving town taxpayers nearly $100,000 a year in salaries and benefits. No one is getting fired or laid off. The positions are becoming vacant, and the town has found a cheaper way to replace them with a professional service. Yet the regional CSEA president and unionized town workers are objecting, even suggesting that the private company cleaners will steal employees’ stuff at night.

Connecticut: Redflex Busted For Impersonating The State Court

Source: theNewspaper.com, July 31, 2014

Australian photo ticketing company busted for impersonating the Connecticut judicial system.
School busThe state of Connecticut’s judicial system in January issued a cease-and-desist order to Redflex Traffic Systems after the Australian photo ticketing vendor was caught giving the impression that its tickets and payment website came from the court. Connecticut does not allow red light cameras or speed cameras, but Redflex uses school buses as photo ticketing platforms in accordance with a law passed in 2011. One of the vehicle owners who received a $450 school bus ticket from Redflex under this law became suspicious and sent a copy of the notice he received to Connecticut’s chief court administrator, who was appalled at what he saw….

Opinion: A focus on outcomes brings program success to government and industry

Source: Thomas Romeo – President of MAXIMUS Federal Services, a subsidiary of MAXIMUS Inc., American City & County, Viewpoints, August 6, 2014

…Common contract models such as cost-plus, time and materials and firm fixed price have been used for decades to facilitate the delivery of goods and services to government. Now, a new approach to meeting mission goals has begun to gain traction with U.S. procurement officers and agency leaders.

Outcomes-based contracting is an approach to procurement that encourages accountability on the part of the government and the provider by linking payments to a contractor’s ability to achieve a set of defined outcomes. In other words, in an outcomes-based model, contractors are paid only for the results they deliver.

By focusing on outcomes — rather than processes and outputs — contractors are incentivized to perform quality work because their compensation is dependent on delivering measurable, sustainable results. The approach benefits the government further in lower cost for recompetes and contract options, and also improves the partnership between the government and contractor by ensuring the statement of work is aligned to its desired result. Unlike other program models, the government doesn’t assume all of the risk, because the contractor is held accountable for its ability to achieve the stated outcomes. If the contractor does not deliver the full intention of the contract, the government does not pay the full amount of the service fee. As a result, there is little or no “gray area” between the contractor’s delivery, the agency’s mission and the end-customer’s expectations….

…One program using its approach is the District of Columbia Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (D.C. TANF) jobs program, which supports participants and their families in overcoming barriers to employment….

….Outcomes-based contracting has important future application as well. Right now, leaders across the political spectrum are engaged in the bold and necessary legislative thinking that may result in federal immigration reform. …. Federal, state and local governments would likely turn to contractors for help in enacting the law because the private sector can supply both flexible and scalable solutions to meet the wide-ranging needs of such an effort. ….

Private security regimes: Conceptualizing the forces that shape the private delivery of security

Source: Benoit Dupont, Theoretical Criminology, Vol. 18 no. 3, August 2014
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
There is as much diversity within the private security industry as there are differences between public and private security providers. Whereas comparisons of the two modes of delivery have kept criminologists and economists fairly busy over the years, internal variations have not attracted the same level of interest. In the current environment, binary classifications such as the public/private security dichotomy might be too generic to capture the broad spectrum of unique security arrangements being adopted by various organizations. The aim of this article is therefore to offer an alternative conceptual framework that can account for the broad range of mechanisms responsible for the diversity of private security arrangements observed in late modern societies. The term ‘security regime’ defines the convergence of internal forces and environmental constraints that determine the conditions under which security is produced and exchanged by an organization. The four key dimensions (focus, risks, utility and constraints) that characterize a specific security regime were identified from interviews conducted with more than 50 security managers. The security regime approach should expand our knowledge of the various causes that facilitate, empower or hinder public–private relationships.