Social Media Use Common among Neighborhood Crews & Street Gangs

Cyberspace Emerges as Law Enforcement’s New Battleground

Investigative Database - Cyber Crimes

Times Herald CLICK HERE

By Robert Rogers/MediaNews Group | Article Courtesy of: Times Herald

When gunshots ring out in Richmond, familiar scenes unfold. Calls to 911 and alerts from the city’s ShotSpotter gunshot-detection system trickle in. Police cruisers scream to the scene. Detectives show up soon after.

But other detectives go somewhere else: to their computers to troll Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media for clues, often provided by people involved in the crime who can’t resist boasting.

“We have seen situations where someone will commit a shooting or a homicide, and they’ll immediately write something on social media, ” said Matt Anderson, a Richmond gang detective. “‘Man down,’ ‘scoreboard,’ those are the kinds of phrases they’ll use, and it gives us a lot of clues about what just happened. ”

As social media increasingly have become an extension of who we are and how we communicate, it has emerged as a new battleground in the age-old struggle between Bay Area criminals and the detectives who seek them. Social media use is common among neighborhood crews and street gangs, who have inadvertently supplied police and prosecutors with troves of photos and other information often used to nab and then prosecute them.

However, law enforcement agencies with low-staffing issues like the Vallejo Police Department said they have not been using social media due to it being “labor intensive.”

“We do recognize the importance of social media,” Vallejo Capt. Jim O’Connell said. “But it’s something that’s part of our long-term plan. It’s just a personnel issue with us right now.”

Like braggadocio on a street corner or graffiti on a wall in yesteryear, gang members have come to use Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram to tout their criminal prowess, taunt rivals, boast about crimes and even gather information about potential targets of violence.

“What we see on social media brings an insight that you normally might not otherwise see, ” said Jeff Palmieri, a veteran gang investigator for the San Pablo Police Department. “You can get a view of who a person is, what they’re about, and that not only helps us but can help a jury in a courtroom. Our intelligence information has grown by leaps and bounds in the last 10 years. ” Online postings can help prosecutors establish a level of intent, premeditation, motive and gang affiliation, said Derek Butts, a Contra Costa deputy district attorney.

During the 2012 murder trial of Joe Blacknell, 23, Butts used the reputed Richmond gang member’s MySpace account to prove to the jury that he committed numerous shootings in retaliation for the killing of his friend.

Among the evidence presented to the jury were photos of Blacknell holding an AK-47 while dressed in a shirt memorializing his fallen friend, and private messages sent to rivals and friends boasting about the demise of Marcus Russell, an emerging Bay Area rap artist that Blacknell was convicted of murdering.

“The MySpace photos and messages were very revealing to jurors, ” Butts said. “It’s one thing to have a gang expert testify about what the gang members say, but when you have the defendant’s own communications, it paints a very compelling picture. ”

The same is true in San Jose, where Santa Clara County deputy district attorney Lance Daugherty, who supervises the gang unit, said more than a quarter of gang felony cases involve evidence gleaned from social media.

“It’s such a widespread part of how we communicate today. Often, we get information about defendants who aren’t even on social media themselves, but their fellow gang members may talk about that defendant or post pictures of them to their own accounts, ” Daugherty said. “They know this information is being used in prosecutions, but they still do it; it’s part of their identities.”

Assistant Contra Costa County district attorney Tom Kensok estimates that evidence from social media factors into more than half of the county’s gang trials, although that number may be on the decline.

“In the beginning, a few years ago, it was often the equivalent of making a key find in a search warrant,” he said. “Back then, they never had a sense that these postings would end up in a courtroom, that they were far from the law. Now, that advantage is gone. ”

The advantage was key a few years ago to trials involving members of Varrio Frontero Locos, a subset of the Sureno gang, who committed a string of homicides in San Pablo.

“The gang members were driving around, hunting rivals, ” Palmieri said.

When a half-dozen members were arrested and sent to trial, Palmieri was a key witness, testifying to juries that the killings were done to advance the gang’s interests. He used photos from defendants’ Facebook pages to prove it.

“Their own pictures showed them flashing gang signs, alongside other gang members, and holding guns, Palmieri said. “The average sentence was 55 years to life. ”

The cat-and-mouse game online is endlessly complex and in constant flux. Amid the infinite realm of the Web, images and words, often in coded language, circulate throughout cyberspace. MySpace was a platform of choice among Bay Area gang members a few years ago but was overtaken by Facebook and YouTube.

Instagram is now en vogue, thanks to looser restrictions on identities and a platform that is more image-driven and esoteric in its messaging.
“Instagram’s popularity is a challenge, Anderson said. “It’s harder to identify people; the messaging is more coded. “

During an investigation last year that netted 11 arrests, including for charges of attempted murder, Anderson and his colleagues conducted extensive social media surveillance, and they discovered that the targets of their investigation were using social media to track rivals and plot attacks.

“Our investigation revealed that gang members will plan assaults based on disrespect of each other taking place on the social media, ” Anderson said. “They are pretty much doing the same thing we are doing, peeking around the social media accounts to gather information. “

Click HERE for the Complete Article… “Cyberbanging, as the communication is sometimes called… 

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Google Glass Gains Acceptance from Law Enforcement

The New York Police Department is Testing Google Glass

USA Today

Article Courtesy of:  USA Today

New York City Police Department Commissioner Bill Bratton confirmed the department is already using the smart glasses during a press conference last week.

“We’re in the process of field-testing that technology in a variety of circumstances, seeing where — if useful — where it might be most useful, most beneficial,” he said.

In December 2013, the NYPD obtained two pairs of the glasses, Deputy Commissioner Stephen Davis said.

In an email, Davis said the department regularly takes a look at emerging technology as a potential tool for policing. Glass has not been deployed in actual patrol operations, he said.

Currently, Google Glass is only available through the Glass Explorer Program in which those who feast their eyes on Glass apply online to become a part of the project. If approved by Google, Explorers can purchase the device for $1,500.

Google said in a statement the company did not actively approach and is not working with any law enforcement agency to offer tryouts of Google Glass.

“The Glass Explorer program includes people from all walks of life, including doctors, firefighters and parents,” read Google’s statement. “Anyone can sign up to become a Glass Explorer. The only requirements we have is that he or she is a U.S. resident and over the age of 18.”

The Los Angeles Police Department also applied to be Google Explorers, said police Sgt. Dan Gomez, who oversees the Tactical Technology Section for LAPD.

“We are looking to see how it could work and that doesn’t mean it will be used for patrol,” he said. “It could be used for other purposes but it’s hard to say what we would do without having it,” Gomez said.

Eric Farris, a police sergeant with the Byron, Ga., police department has tested Glass and said he thinks it could serve as a tool to solve investigations.

Google Glass Police Investigations

CopTrax, a surveillance vendor, collaborated with the Byron police department to provide officers with Glass during routine traffic enforcement patrol, stops issuing citations, arrests and during firearms practice.

“They had the CopTrax software loaded into the Google Glass and everything recorded with Glass was then recorded back to our camera system and police cruisers,” Farris said.

The San Francisco Police Department is in the process of outfitting its plainclothes officers with body cameras and won’t rule out Glass just yet.

“We have been looking at video cameras,” said Gordon Shyy, a public information officer at SFPD. “I don’t believe Google Glass is one of those, but we always look at any possibility with the current technology.”

Shyy said that the SFPD does talk to other agencies to see whether they like the equipment they are using, but the department has yet to speak with NYPD about Glass.

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USA Today

Article Courtesy of:  USA Today

Cyber Security – “The Virtual Battlefield”

War Drums Beat Louder For ‘World War C’

Cyber Security

Article Courtesy of: Kenneth Rapoza | Forbes

Forbes

A report by cyber security firm FireEye says cyber warfare expanding. The U.S. leads the charge in this virtual battlefield.

If the lingo of cyber security experts, zombie warfare might that be that far fetched after all.

Call it “World War C”, and it playing right now at a nation near you. It is quiet, mostly invisible and oddly as safe as it is dangerous.

The ‘C’ in this war zone stands for cyberspace, and industry experts have been warning about it for the last five years.  The war drums are beating louder. Once limited to cybercrime stealing credit card numbers, cyber attacks are becoming a key weapon for governments seeking to defend national sovereignty, project national power or spy on both friend and foe alike, as was brought to light by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed.  The United States uses its soft cyber powers to tap into the computer systems of friendly nations in the E.U. and Brazil.

From strategic cyber espionage campaigns, such as Moonlight Maze and Titan Rain, to the destructive, such as military cyber strikes on Georgia and Iran, human and international conflicts are entering a new phase in their long histories. In this shadowy battlefield, victories are fought with bits instead of bullets, malware instead of militias, and botnets instead of bombs.

“Cyber warfare isn’t necessarily part of a wider war. Sometimes it is just to collect data that is not easily accomplished by a military drone,” said Eugene Kaspersky, head of Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab.

Kaspersky said the war drums are beating louder.

“A cyber attacks are being used more and more for military purposes,” he said.  Kaspersky became famous for being part of the team that discovered the Stuxnet worm in 2010.  The worm targeted Siemens industrial control systems used at Iran nuclear power plants and is believed to have been the brainchild of the U.S. and Israeli defense departments.

A cyber attack is best understood not as an end in itself, but as a potentially powerful means to a wide variety of political, military, and economic goals.

“Serious cyber attacks are unlikely to be motiveless,” Martin Libicki, Senior Scientist at RAND Corp. said in a report released this month by cyber security firm FireEye. “Countries carry them out to achieve certain ends, which tend to reflect their broader strategic goals. The relationship between the means chosen and their goals will look rational and reasonable to them if not necessarily to us.”

Just as each country has a unique political system, state-sponsored attacks also have distinctive characteristics, which include everything from motivation to target to type of attack.

World War C is a FireEye creation.  They noted in their 22 page report that their out-of-this-world war scenario is hard to fully describe. There are very little physical casualties involved. For the general public, collateral damage is unheard of so far.

Cyber war has been compared to special operations forces, submarine warfare, targeted missile strikes, and assassins.

But some say it could be as bad as a nuclear weapons, Pearl Harbor, 9/11 or a natural disaster.

FireEye’s zombie analogy is not new. Often, any compromised computer, if it is actively under the surreptitious control of a cybercriminal, is called a zombie, and botnets are sometimes called zombie armies. Also, compared to stockpiling tanks and artillery, writing cyber attack code, and compromising thousands if not millions of computers, is easy. Moreover, malware often spreads with the exponential growth of an infectious disease.

The analytical waters surrounding cyber warfare are inherently murky, write FireEye analysts in their report. At the strategic level, governments desire to have a degree of plausible deniability. At the tactical level, military and intelligence organizations envelop such operations in layers of classification and secrecy. To be effective, information operations rely on deception—and the Internet offers an ideal venue for a spy’s smoke and mirrors.

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Predictive Policing Software

Police play the odds in tracking crime:  Real Time Prediction Software Aids Investigations

Article Courtesy of:  Sun Sentinel

By Larry Barszewski | Article Courtesy of:  Sun Sentinel

Predictive Policing Investigative Database - LP Police

Predictive Policing – Link Analysis – Investigative Database – LP Police

FORT LAUDERDALE — It may not be a crystal ball, but police are testing a new system that more accurately predicts the likelihood of crime in your neighborhood.

The effort, called predictive policing, relies on computer software that analyzes information police have used for years, along with other data they may have never used before.

It can all be done in real time, quickly putting the information at the fingertips of police, possibly finding correlations they didn’t know existed.

A better name might be “probability policing,” said Jim Lingerfelt, of IBM, which developed the software, because the program tries to determine the odds of crime happening in a given area.

“You’re identifying those areas with the highest probability of a certain type of crime occurring,” said Lingerfelt, public safety manager for the company’s Global Smarter Cities initiative.

Palm Beach County police agencies have been exploring a similar idea through the county’s law enforcement exchange program.

Boca Raton Police Chief Dan Alexander said the exchange hasn’t developed any predictive tools, but plans to do so after implementing some more conventional data analysis methods.

The IBM program will take whatever information officials download — from building permits and crime reports to bus routes and the daily weather forecast — to see what it can tell police about potential criminal activity.

Among the data that could be compiled: the release date of a burglar who frequently targeted your neighborhood. Or building permits, which might show your neighbors are putting on additions, a magnet for thieves stealing construction materials. Or it could be that police reports are documenting a pattern of car break-ins that indicates your street may be next.

“It’s very similar to the information they had before,” Lingerfelt said. “But before it was very cumbersome, very labor intensive and nowhere near as complete as what they’re getting now in a matter of seconds.”

Patrol officers can start off the day on their laptop checking out the trends in their assigned areas, which can help them figure out how best to spend their time.

Command staff can use daily reports to direct resources to potential hot spots.

“I think every day that we wake up, that we’re part of this law enforcement environment, that we need to be creative and innovative and come up with the next best method on how do we reduce crime,” Police Chief Frank Adderley said.

Commissioner Bruce Roberts hopes the program will help police identify and keep track of repeat offenders, which he said could go a long way toward lowering the city’s crime rate.

“Most of your crimes are committed by a core few criminals,” said Roberts, a former police chief in the city. “When they’re released, they’ve been arrested again.”

The city last week approved using $200,000 in federal law enforcement dollars to pay overtime to a task force of detectives, patrol officers and others who can be assigned as needed, based on the computer analysis.

lbarszewski@tribune.com or 954-356-4556

Article Courtesy of:  Sun Sentinel

Biometrics, Iris Recognition, Video Analysis & Predictive Software – “Most Wanted Police Tech 2014″

Embracing the Police Force of the Future

Article Courtesy of:  CNN

BGer Daly – Article Courtesy of: CNN

Predictive Policing Data Analysis Software

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Police forces around the world are fighting crime with new data-mining tools
  • San Diego’s streetcars have video analytics that can spot suspicious behavior
  • Major crime in Memphis fell 30% with software to predict where crimes might take place
  • Next on the horizon for law enforcement: biometrics, including facial recognition

(CNN) — Contrary to the Hollywood image in movies like “Minority Report,” technology hasn’t served law enforcement particularly well over the years.

Fragmented and complex operating systems have challenged police officers to manually enter information into multiple programs. And yet officers still struggle to retrieve the information they need — especially in the field, where it can be a matter of life or death.

A large number of law enforcement agencies are still hindered by antiquated technologies. But agencies that have upgraded their operating and investigative systems have been tremendously effective in ensuring the safety of their citizens. Police forces like the Guardia Civil in Spain and An Garda Siochana in Ireland were early technology adopters and now benefit from some of the most efficient police operations and investigative systems in the world.

These are the police forces of the future — the ones that others will be modeling themselves after in the years to come.

Accenture recently studied police forces from around the world and found that in every region, police are hungry for new technology. They see tech such as analytics, biometrics (identification of humans by their characteristics or traits) and facial recognition as keys to effectively fighting crime and maximizing the time officers spend in the field.

Despite the reality of reduced budgets, law enforcement agencies that adopt new technologies can prevent crimes more effectively and solve crimes faster.

ACLU raises privacy concerns about police technology tracking drivers

Video Analytics

Predictive Policing Video Analysis

What many people don’t know is that there’s a solid infrastructure of closed-circuit TV in most cities. Historically, these CCTV cameras — both publicly and privately owned — have been used retrospectively to examine crime scenes for evidence.

Images from street cameras along the Boston Marathon route helped identify the two bombing suspects there last April.

In California, the San Diego Trolley Corporation now safeguards light-rail passengers with a video-analytics system that can alert security guards when it spots suspicious behaviors, such as an unmarked vehicle in a pedestrian zone.

Cities such as London and Singapore also are testing pilot programs to apply predictive analytics to video feeds. Singapore’s government and economic leaders recently launched a one-year “Safe City” pilot program to bring automated analytics to existing CCTV infrastructure across the city. The program will apply predictive analytics to video feeds to detect which of a multitude of street incidents, such as crowd and traffic movements, pose real concerns for public safety.

These video feeds also will identify environmental threats to public safety, such as fire or flooding, as they arise. When a serious incident is identified, an alert will be sent to the authorities.

This program enables real-time information sharing and will give law enforcement deeper insight into public safety across Singapore’s densely populated urban landscape. It also will increase police ability to anticipate and respond to incidents as they occur.

Police embracing tech that predicts crimes

Data Mining & Predictive Analytics

Data Mining & Video Analysis

Other cities are using statistical analysis and predictive modeling to identify crime trends and highlight “hidden” connections between disparate events.

This helps police gain a more complete picture of crime, predict patterns of future criminal behavior and identify the key causal factors of crime in their area.

Police in Richmond, Virginia, adopted an advanced data-mining and predictive-analytics program in 2006 in an ambitious campaign to reduce crime. In the first year of use, the city’s homicide rate dropped 32%, rapes declined 19%, robberies fell 3% and aggravated assaults dropped by 17%.

Police in Memphis, Tennessee, also applied predictive analytics — which relies on data-analysis software to predict where crimes will likely take place — and saw immediate results. Serious crime in that city fell 30% between 2006 and 2010. Such technology also has been hailed for helping to lower crime rates in Los Angeles since its introduction by the LAPD in 2011.

And Lafourche Parish, Louisiana, uses an analytics model that brings together location-based crime and traffic-crash data to develop effective methods for deploying law enforcement and other resources. Using geo-mapping to identify “hot spots” — areas with high rates of crimes and car accidents — the parish saw the number of fatal drunk-driving crashes fall from 27 in 2008 to 11 in 2009, with a corresponding increase in drunk-driving arrests.

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Article Courtesy of:  CNN

By Ger Daly – Article Courtesy of: CNN