Archive for the ‘Federal LE’ Category

ATF releases crime gun report

February 27, 2023

ATF has recently issued its most comprehensive reports on firearms commerce and crime guns in 20 years, as reported here. Among other things, the reports document “a spike in the use of conversion devices that make a semiautomatic gun fire like a machine gun, along with the growing seizure of so-called ghost guns, privately made firearms that are hard to trace.” The firearms in commerce report, available here, shows that from 2000 to 2009 more rifles were manufactured in the U.S. than any other type of firearm, but since then pistols have surged well ahead. Smith & Wesson, Sturm/Ruger, and Sig Sauer accounted for 60% of U.S. manufactured pistols in the period 2016-2020. The crime guns report, available here, provides information on tracing, guns recovered, firearm thefts, and the use of NIBIN to enhance the value of ballistic evidence. In regard to the latter, over 150,000 investigative leads were produced through NIBIN in 2021, nearly triple the number in 2017.

CBP joins 30×30

October 24, 2022

Customs and Border Patrol, the largest law enforcement agency in the U.S,, has joined the 30×30 initiative, as reported here. The national initiative, which is aimed at increasing the number of women police, currently has over 200 participating agencies. CBP is the second federal agency to sign on, joining the U.S. Marshals Service. According to the CBP Commissioner, “We have made some progress in recruiting women to join CBP as law enforcement officers and agents, but there is an incredible amount of work still to be done. Our pledge to join 30×30 is part of a larger framework for our agency to improve the recruitment, retention, representation and experiences of women officers and agents.” Across the country, only 12% of sworn law enforcement personnel are women, a figure that has increased very little over the last two decades. 

DOJ law enforcement to wear BWC

September 3, 2021

In a significant departure from past practice, U.S. Department of Justice law enforcement personnel will begin wearing body-worn cameras, as announced here. DEA, FBI, ATF, and Marshals all work primarily in plain clothes performing investigative activities, unlike most local and state police. Even so, they will wear BWC in two circumstances: “(1) a pre-planned attempt to serve an arrest warrant or other pre-planned arrest, including the apprehension of fugitives sought on state and local warrants; or (2) the execution of a search or seizure warrant or order.” In addition, agency policies include “a presumption that BWC recordings depicting conduct resulting in serious bodily injury or death of another will be released as soon as practical.”

New Capitol Police Chief

August 13, 2021

The U.S. Capitol Police have a new chief, Thomas Manger, formerly chief in Montgomery County, MD and Fairfax County, VA. As reported here, he was happily retired as of January 5, and then the next day could not believe what he watched on television. “I got very emotional. It was horrible. I watched cops getting hurt just trying to do their job so the members of Congress could do their job. It just shook me,” he says. Settling into his new position, Manger emphasizes that he’s not going to play politics. “It is the only way to stay true to the job. I’m politically agnostic. I’ve met the members of the committees that have oversight. I’ve met Democratic and Republican leaders. They’ve been very helpful. What they’ve said is encouraging. They just want me to communicate with them.”

Accountability for federal agencies

June 30, 2021

Reform efforts to increase police accountability have mostly ignored or overlooked federal law enforcement agencies. Some local departments have withdrawn from federal task forces because body-worn cameras were prohibited. Pressure now seems to be mounting, as reported here in an article about a recent task force shooting in Minneapolis. According to a former DOJ official, “Task forces are a huge problem across the country and … are much less accountable than any local police department.” Besides the absence of BWC, unlike with local forces, “citizens can’t make complaints to be reviewed by a civilian board, for example. There’s more restrictive access to public information, and the federal government is harder to sue.”

Massive encrypted phone investigation

March 15, 2021

U.S. indictments have been issued against two Sky Global executives and EU police have arrested 78 suspects and searched 275 homes in Netherlands and Belgium in conjunction with an investigation into encrypted phones used by criminal gangs, as reported here and here. The EU investigation also resulted in “seizure of thousands of kilograms of cocaine and methamphetamine, hundreds of firearms, and millions of Euros.” The indictment alleges that the Sky ECC encrypted communication platform “was designed to aid in the trafficking of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine by transnational organizations moving the drugs into Australia, Asia, Europe and North America.” Europol announced that authorities “had been secretly collecting messages on some 70,000 Sky Global phones through a massive wiretap operation,” resulting in interception of over a billion messages.

Extremism within police

February 22, 2021

This report from the Brennan Center discusses the threats posed by racism, white supremacy, and far-right militancy within the ranks of law enforcement. Harkening back to the likes of slave patrols and the KKK, it notes that these threats aren’t new. The report criticizes the FBI for not taking the threats more seriously, and catalogs a variety of recent events and developments from around the country, though apparently there isn’t any credible measure of the current extent of the problem. Whether it is 1% or 5% or 10% or some larger proportion of today’s police officers doesn’t seem to be known. Several recommendations for law enforcement agencies and for the federal government are provided.

Challenging time for Secret Service

January 22, 2021

January 6 at the U.S. Capitol illustrated the evolving threat environment facing the Secret Service and its duty to protect the President and other top leaders. This article reviews security enhancements that have been made since 9/11 and speculates about additional changes that may be on the horizon. Reduced travel by the president is one likely option — “You can’t launch the National Guard every time the president goes somewhere, and this will result in greater demands on local partners.” A related concern is insider threats, both within the Secret Service itself and with state and local police — previously, “You didn’t have the emotional content in the environment that you do now.” A specific suggestion is to make the Multi-Agency Command Center in DC a 24/7 operation to overcome information siloes within the dozens of federal law enforcement agencies operating in the District. That would likely improve coordination and allow for quicker identification and response to serious threats.

Protecting Congress and its members

January 7, 2021

Failure to take right-wing domestic terrorism seriously is to blame for the January 6 takeover of Congress, according to this article. The author notes that enhanced security measures were adopted at the Capitol since 9/11 but argues there was a failure of imagination — “the threat posed by a mob of white vigilantes was too far out of mental reach.” He thinks the next threat could come after members of Congress go home — “many of them will be targets. And it will be up to state and local officials to pick up the slack.”

New law prohibits using anonymous federal officers at civil disturbances

January 6, 2021

The recently passed National Defense Authorization Act included a requirement that, “when responding to a ‘civil disturbance,’ federal officers ‘shall visibly display’ their name and the name of the federal entity that employs them,” as reported here. The provision, which had bipartisan support, was in response to situations last summer in which federal law enforcement officers were deployed in Washington, DC, Portland, and elsewhere without badges, name tags, or agency insignia. Critics saw that as an impediment to governmental transparency and accountability, and also noted that it invited confusion with similarly-dressed militia members and other private citizens.