Tag: enforcement

Michigan law enforcement on alert in response to ‘plan to target and kill police’

Michigan law enforcement is on high alert after the FBI revealed an alleged plot by extremist groups to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also involved a “plan to target and kill police.”

Vehicle protests at Michigan Capitol over Gov. Whitmer stay home order

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“We’re cautious. We’re absolutely more careful,” said First Lt. Mike Shaw of the Michigan State Police. “This is one of the tactics these anti-government, domestic terrorism groups use. Law enforcement is the face of the government. If you’re mad at the government, you’re mad at the police.”

The alleged plot was unveiled last Thursday when the U.S. Department of Justice charged six men with conspiracy to kidnap Whitmer, which authorities said they wanted to carry out before Election Day. On the same day, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel brought charges against seven other men that included supporting terrorism, gang membership, and possession of a firearm in commission of a felony. 



a group of people walking down the street: Michigan State Police look on during the a protest rally against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's order to stay home during COVID-19 pandemic in Lansing, Mich. on Thursday, May 14, 2020.


© Kimberly P Mitchell, Detroit Free Press
Michigan State Police look on during the a protest rally against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s order to stay home during COVID-19 pandemic in Lansing, Mich. on Thursday, May 14, 2020.

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Officials said the suspects were attempting to trigger “civil war” with a detailed plan to abduct the governor and attack other elected officials at the Statehouse. Part of the plot included plans to target police.

FBI Special Agent Richard J. Trask II cited the risk to law enforcement officers in a criminal complaint filed last Tuesday in U.S. District Court:

“The militia group had already been brought to the attention of the FBI by a local police department in March 2020 when members of the militia group were attempting to obtain the addresses of local law enforcement officers,” the filing says. “At the time, the FBI interviewed a member of the militia group who was concerned about the group’s plan to target and kill police officers and that person agreed to become a CHS (confidential human source).”



a group of people looking at a cell phone: Michigan State Police First Lt. Mike Shaw, seen here outside of the 22nd District Court on July 3, 2014, says that state troopers remain on high alert with news of an alleged plot to kidnap and possibly kill Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.


© Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Press
Michigan State Police First Lt. Mike Shaw, seen here outside of the 22nd District Court on July 3, 2014, says that state troopers remain on high alert with news of an alleged plot to kidnap and possibly kill Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Shaw and others said the police are on high alert as risk continues to evolve beyond traffic stops and sitting in police cars to getting fake calls for service and targeting police when they’re out of uniform. 

State Police are constantly evaluating the credibility of threats against troopers and facilities and taking measures to reduce potential for harm, Shaw said.

Michigan State Police are assigned to protect the governor. Whitmer thanked troopers for their commitment to public service after officials made the arrests in the federal case.

The Free Press interviewed current and former law enforcement officers who said the threat to Michigan police by extremist groups

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ICE responds to reports officer wore NYPD jacket, says the word police is a law enforcement symbol

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is looking into reports that one of its officers wore an NYPD jacket that caused alarm for New York City residents, according to a report.

The agency said “police” is a “universally recognized symbol of law enforcement in most cultures.”

ICE PLANNING IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT OPERATIONS IN SANCTUARY CITIES

“ICE officers are sworn federal law enforcement officers who enforce U.S. immigration laws created by Congress to keep this country safe. The word ‘POLICE’ is a universally recognized symbol of law enforcement in most cultures, an important distinction given that many of the individuals with whom ICE interacts are not native English speakers. Given the inherently dangerous nature of ICE officers’ work, their ability to quickly establish their identity as sworn law enforcement personnel could potentially mean the difference between life and death.”

Brooklyn residents in Fort Greene protested in front of the 88th police precinct Sunday after they claimed an immigration officer was caught wearing NYPD gear while knocking on doors in a building and climbing a fire escape.

“They were yelling ‘ICE, police, open up or we’ll knock your door down,’” an unidentified resident told PIX11 News in Spanish.

A similar incident happened in Upper Manhattan.

“They were saying, ‘Hey, can you open the door. We are just NYPD, we come from precinct 34. We’re not ICE,’” said a young woman whose father who has lived in New York for 30 years was detained.

ICE OPERATIONS NAB MORE THAN 2,000 ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS, MANY WITH CRIMINAL CHARGES, CONVICTIONS 

NYPD told PIX11 they have no record of the incidents.

“We’re seeing it happen in Fort Greene. We’re seeing it happen in northern Manhattan. We want answers,” said Jorge Muniz Reyes, an organizer with Sunset Park ICE Watch.

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‘We Have Law Enforcement Watching’

At a White House rally on Saturday, President Donald Trump doubled-down on his claims of “crooked” and “fraudulent” ballots found and submitted for the upcoming presidential election, repeating that there are “tremendous problems” with mail-in voting.



a crowd of people standing in front of a building: U.S. President Donald Trump addresses a rally in support of law and order on the South Lawn of the White House on October 10, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump invited over two thousand guests to hear him speak just a week after he was hospitalized for COVID-19.


© Samuel Corum/Getty Images/Getty
U.S. President Donald Trump addresses a rally in support of law and order on the South Lawn of the White House on October 10, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump invited over two thousand guests to hear him speak just a week after he was hospitalized for COVID-19.

“Did you see how many crooked ballots are being found and turned back in and fraudulent? Just what I said,” the president said during his 20-minute speech. “Then they’ll say, ‘He doesn’t believe in freedom.’ I totally believe in freedom…what we’re doing is freedom.”

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He cited the nearly 50,000 voters who received incorrect absentee ballots this week in Franklin County—home to Ohio’s capital and largest city—accounting for almost 21% of the ballots sent out in the county. Franklin County residents reported misprinted information on the ballot, including for a congressional race.

The county’s Board of Elections released a statement on Friday stating that all replacement ballots will be sent out and received within 72 hours and that every voter will be allotted only one ballot while sorting systems will not accept replacement ballots submitted by any individual who voted in-person.

“We want to make it clear that every voter who received an inaccurate ballot will receive a corrected ballot,” the statement reads. “Stringent tracking measures are in place to guarantee that a voter can only cast one vote.”

The Franklin County error was one of several isolated incidents tweeted out by Trump this week to back his claims that mail-in voting is filled with fraud. He also pointed to a New Jersey postal employee accused of dumping 99 ballots—which were placed back in the mail stream for delivery—and a Texas mayoral candidate arrested by the state’s attorney general, Ken Paxton, for forging at least 84 voter registration applications.

How To Vote By Mail And Make Sure Your Ballot Counts In The November Election

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Trump proceeded to falsely state that “every day” there’s a story about fraudulent ballots.

Although cases of voting fraud remain extremely rare, the president has utilized his social media and campaigning platform to hone in on isolated errors in the voting system and amplify false and unfounded claims that mail-in voting will lead to widespread fraud.

“Some thrown out, they happen to have the name Trump,” he said during the rally, referring to a small number of military ballots that were allegedly “discarded” in Pennsylvania last month.

In a statement on September 24, the U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, David Freed, announced that his office and the FBI were investigating this incident, which occurred in Luzerne County. Freed said that the nine recovered military ballots were found in an outside dumpster, “improperly opened” by the election staff and “discarded.”

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Michigan’s history of self-styled militia groups has long vexed law enforcement

According to court papers, Null was part of a group that called itself the Wolverine Watchmen, and they engaged in regular firearms training and discussed a variety of potential attacks on law enforcement, the state capital complex, and the governor.

Leaf — who knew Null to be the founder of a different group called the Michigan Liberty Militia — said he was generally supportive of self-styled militias, which he said often grow in numbers when people feel their rights are threatened. He sought to distinguish what such groups do from the allegations against Null and the others.

“There’s your militia duties, and if they did what they’re accused of doing, those are not militia duties,” said the sheriff, adding he was shocked by the charges. “I did not see this coming. Had I caught wind they were even talking about this, I would have stopped it immediately.”

Leaf said he occasionally ran into Null at Second Amendment rallies in the state, and was introduced to his brother, Michael, who was also charged Thursday. The sheriff said William Null “seemed to be a very concerned, straight-shooting guy.” During the Flint water crisis, Leaf said Null told him he drove to Flint to pass out water bottles alongside those involved in the Black Lives Matter movement. He said Null’s group also met with Black Lives Matter supporters at a Grand Rapids protest and “were chasing out the agitators so they could have a peaceful protest.”

Since the arrests, Leaf has faced criticism not just for his past public support of Null and his compatriots but also for his suggestion, first made in an interview with a local Fox reporter, that the defendants might have been trying to make a citizen’s arrest of the governor.

“The point is that, were they going to arrest her, which they legally can, they can legally make a felony arrest . . . It was just trying to make a point of why we cannot jump to conclusions,” he said, adding later, “If there was ever a regret, that would be the statement, because it does not communicate well.”

Michigan’s history of groups like the Wolverine Watchmen has long vexed law enforcement officials.

In the more than two decades that Andrew Arena worked as an FBI agent in Michigan before retiring from the Bureau in 2012, “the 64 million dollar question,” he said, “was always: Why Michigan?

“We had representatives of every known right-wing, white supremacist, anti-government group out there. And why Michigan, we just could never tell,” said Arena, who now teaches at Western Michigan University’s Thomas M. Cooley Law School. “But obviously you got to deal with it.”

Michigan was one of the early strongholds of what was called “the militia movement,” which arose in the 1990s, and has typically manifested as paramilitary groups — often with no more than 10 or 12 members — that oppose the U.S. government, and believe it is actively involved in a conspiracy to seize Americans’ guns and enslave

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Fly lands on Pence’s head during answer on law enforcement



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A fly landed on Vice President Mike Pence’s head while he was answering a question on law enforcement and race during the vice-presidential debate on Oct. 7.

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Law enforcement preps for potential election-related unrest

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal and state law enforcement officials have begun expanded preparations for the possibility of widespread unrest at the polls on Election Day, a response to extraordinarily high tensions among voters and anxieties about safety stoked in part by President Donald Trump.

FBI and local officials in several states have been conducting drills, running through worse-case scenarios, setting up command centers to improve coordination on reports of violence and voter intimidation, and issuing public warnings that any crime that threatens the sanctity of a Nov. 3 vote will not be tolerated.

The efforts are broader and more public-facing than in past years as fears grow over the potential for violent clashes in cities across the United States. Law enforcement officials say they are not responding to any specific threats or information but are preparing for a host of different scenarios that could play out.

Tensions are especially high given the increased political polarization and months of mass demonstrations against racial injustice that have seen violence by the left and right. Gun sales are way up. Six men were arrested after federal officials said they plotted to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, D-Mich., at her vacation home. Experts are concerned that right-wing extremists will be emboldened by Trump’s recent refusal to clearly denounce the Proud Boys, a neo-fascist group, and instead tell them to “stand back and stand by.”

Trump has spent months suggesting without evidence that the election could be rigged. His call to supporters to “go into the polls and watch very carefully” has election officials worried about that unofficial or self-appointed “monitors” could chaos and conflict at voting places.

An FBI official said the agency was considering the current climate of the country in its preparations to ensure safety at the polls, as well as working with other agencies to protect the voting system. The official would not discuss the plans publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.


Adding to the alarm is the fact this election will be the first in nearly 40 years in which the Republican National Committee isn’t barred from coordinated poll-monitoring activities. Democrats fear that could open the door to voter intimidation, the reason the courts have largely prohibited Republicans from poll monitoring since the early 1980s.

So far, experts who study extremism say they haven’t seen any open discussion online of plans to instigate violence or interfere with voting.

Elon University professor Megan Squire, a computer scientist who studies online extremism, said the far-right extremists she tracks on social media appear to be preparing for trouble — a “prepper mindset” — without citing specifics.

“They’re waiting for something to pop off,” she said. “It’s like a simmering kind of feeling.”

She said the mindset is particularly keen among boogaloo supporters, a loose, anti-government, pro-gun extremist online network. Boogaloo adherents have shown up at protests against COVID-19 lockdown orders and protests over racial injustice, carrying rifles and wearing tactical gear.

In one of the internet forums Squire follows,

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Fatal crash involving law enforcement investigated

One person died Wednesday night in a crash in Concord that involved at least one law enforcement officer, authorities said.

The Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office confirmed on Twitter around 11 p.m. that it was investigating “an officer-involved fatal incident” in the area of state Highway 242 and Highway 4. Two Concord police officers and a sheriff’s deputy at the scene confirmed to this news organization that “all deputies are all right.”

A person died in a crash at the junction of state highways 242 and 4 that involved at least one law enforcement officers, the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office said. 

Sheriff’s office spokesman Jimmy Lee declined early Thursday morning to specify what led to the crash or how deputies or other law-enforcement officers may have been involved. Several officers and a California Department of Transportation worker at the scene indicated that it involved a deputy driving onto the westbound Highway 4 on-ramp from eastbound Highway 242.

The westbound Highway 4 on-ramp from Highway 242 was closed for several hours.

Video from after the crash showed a white Toyota Prius being towed away from the on-ramp. Crime-scene tape in the embankment underneath Highway 4 also extended to a fence adjacent to an apparent homeless encampment on Arnold Industrial Way.

Check back for updates.

 

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Google is sharing user data tied to search keywords with law enforcement

Google is still drawing criticism for the data it hands over to police. Detroit News reporter Robert Snell has reviewed court documents (via CNET) showing that Google handed over IP addresses for users who searched for a specific address shortly before someone set fire to the car of a witness in the racketeering case against accused sex offender R. Kelly. The search keyword warrant led to the arrest of Michael Williams, an associate of R. Kelly’s, on charges of both arson and witness tampering.

Agents linked IP addresses to Williams’ phone number and followed up with a warrant for details of Williams’ Google account, finding that he also looked up phrases such as “witness intimidation” and “countries that don’t have extradition with the United States.” The investigators also obtained a search warrant to obtain location info from Verizon (Engadget’s parent company) showing that Williams’ phone had traveled from his town of Valdosta, Georgia to Kissimmee, Florida, where the witness lives.

The filing had been submitted in July, but wasn’t made public until October 6th.

Williams’ lawyer, Todd Spodek, intends to challenge the warrant for allegedly violating his client’s rights. Search warrants are normally targeted at a narrow group of likely suspects — this was aimed at anyone looking for certain terms. It could be “misconstrued or used improperly,” Spodek said.

Experts are concerned that “reverse” warrants, including geofence warrants that target everyone in a given area, violate Fourth Amendment rights protecting against overly broad searches. A federal judge in Illinois has already ruled that the approach violates the Fourth Amendment, while New York politicians have proposed a bill banning the practice.

We’ve asked Google for comment, although it declined to tell CNET how many keyword-related warrants it received since 2017, when Minnesota police asked for user data linked to searches in a fraud case. However many it has received, this puts further scrutiny on both police data gathering methods and the willingness of tech companies to comply. If there was a constitutional violation, Google might not have needed to honor the request in the first place.

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Law Enforcement officers honor comarades.

Law enforcement officials salute as caskets bearing the bodies of slain Lakewood police officers are brought inside the Tacoma Dome, for a memorial service Tacoma Dome on December 8, 2009 in Tacoma, WA. Tina Griswold along with sergeant Mark Renninger, officer Ronald Owens and officer Greg Richards were shot and killed at a coffee shop in the Tacoma suburb of Parkland, November 29 by Maurice Clemmons, who was later shot and killed by police. (UPI /Jim Bryant)

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Postal Service cuts are cutting into its law enforcement mission

In April, Daniel J. Trammell attacked a postal service letter carrier while the letter carrier was simply delivering mail. The Postal Service employee suffered an injury to their neck. Earlier that same day, Trammell entered a post office, shouted at employees and threatened to shoot his letter carrier. 

This of course was not the first threat that the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has dealt with. After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, the nation was on edge bracing for additional waves of attacks, which ultimately did come with the anthrax scare. This dangerous attack emanated through the mail, just seven days after 9/11. The USPS was the unwitting victim, with its law enforcement officers, postal police and postal inspectors having to handle a very dangerous incident. 

Today our pandemic is seeing similar dynamics at play, exacerbated by funding debates in Congress, as postal police and Postal Service inspectors are again caught in its crossfire.

The U.S. postal system is not only massive but it has been considered critical to our national security since its founding. Perhaps that is why the Founding Fathers included the postal system in the Constitution and originally listed the postmaster general as a Cabinet figure. It is also the reason the USPS has law enforcement agencies and an entire federal code dedicated to it — 18 U.S. Code Chapter 83.   

Despite being equipped with security, mail theft is on the rise as USPS employees face an increased threat of assaults and continued attacks. 

Still, even through escalated violence, postal service employees continue to aid in the delivery of 212 billion pieces of mail to over 144 million homes from 40,000 post offices, and they must continue to do so safely. Unfortunately, as it continues its operations, one of the Postal Service’s answers has been to cut its law enforcement operations.

For example, on Aug. 25, Deputy Chief Inspector David Bowers revoked postal police officers’ law enforcement authority, except when they are on property owned or leased by the USPS. This seems like the wrong strategy given its employees are sustaining increased attacks on the streets of America. If the postal police aren’t there to protect those employees and respond to these incidents, who will handle these crimes? 

This change of operations has left a target on most postal employees and mail as well as using U.S.  postal inspectors, who traditionally handle investigations of terrorism, international criminals, child predators and mail fraud, to fill the gap in some cases. So instead of focusing on fighting crime and protecting postal facilities, postal inspectors have been used for other law enforcement operations while postal police officers’ duties are further eroded. 

Instead of the Postal Service letting their law enforcement officers protect, investigate and catch thieves who are “mailbox fishing,” they are trying to replace the old blue collection boxes with new and improved “fishing proof” collection boxes, which don’t stop mail theft but merely displace it. Now, instead of going after mail boxes, thieves are targeting mail carriers

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