Archive for the ‘Federal LE’ Category

Lack of federal accountability

February 26, 2020

This article details several cases of use of force by federal enforcement agencies, particularly HSI (Homeland Security Investigations). Consistently, federal agencies are less transparent and less accountable than state and local agencies. One expert notes “A lot of (local police) departments are transparent. The federal government chooses not to be.”

Atlanta PD withdraws from federal task forces over BWC prohibition

May 31, 2019

Atlanta police will no longer participate in FBI, DEA, or Marshals task forces because those agencies will not allow APD officers to wear body cameras, as reported here. The decision follows a fatal shooting in January by an Atlanta officer working with the FBI, and one in 2016 with the Marshals, neither of which were recorded on officer video. The local district attorney praised the move, saying “In Atlanta, a city steeped in civil rights tradition and a place which strives to follow the example set for us by the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., your decision to remove Atlanta police officers from federal task force operations for the sake of transparency and accountability should not be understated.”

Elder fraud

March 8, 2019

U.S. authorities announced a year-long “largest-ever” elder fraud crackdown resulting in criminal and civil charges against 260 defendants for defrauding more than 2 million victims out of $750 million, as reported here. The total annual loss to elder Americans is estimated at $3 billion. The investigation was aided by Europol and police in several individual countries, with “alleged fraudsters charged criminally and extradited from Canada, the Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Jamaica and Poland.” An additional 600 U.S.-based “money mules” who helped transfer funds were identified, most receiving warning letters rather than charges because they didn’t realize they were facilitating scams.

Investigating atrocities & war crimes

February 23, 2019

The FBI has an International Human Rights Investigation Unit that continues work begun after World War II to bring “perpetrators of atrocity crimes to justice in the United States by investigating suspected perpetrators of genocide, war crimes, torture, recruitment of child soldiers, and female genital mutilation, among other offenses.” This column describes the work of the IHRU and argues against a current proposal to eliminate the unit by merging its work with domestic civil rights investigations. The concern is that “at a time when serious humanitarian catastrophes continue to unfold around the world,” the U.S. will not be a strong defender of human rights.

FBI shooting data

February 12, 2019

FBI agents have been involved in 228 shooting incidents since 2011, including 113 accidental discharges, 34 animals, and 81 “intentional shootings involving people or objects” according to this NBC news segment and article. Agents were found at fault in 5 of the shootings, none of which resulted in fatalities. The bureau has not traditionally released information about its agent-involved shootings, and has not employed independent or external investigation. Looking ahead, the FBI will be administering the new national database of police shootings, announced last year — reportedly, “the bureau itself would also submit information to the database.”

Rapid DNA in action

January 22, 2019

This article reports early adoption of Rapid DNA technology in Bensalem, Pennsylvania and a few other sites around the country. The equipment requires little training and returns results in 90 minutes. Scientists are generally satisfied with the accuracy of matches from cheek swabs but consider crime scene DNA much more complicated to process and interpret. A current limitation is that most machines only link to local databases, not the FBI’s national CODIS system. Critics worry that the technology will tempt police to collect DNA from anyone they deem suspicious, leading to an ever-larger DNA database susceptible to misuse.

Audit of Veterans Administration police

December 21, 2018

The Veterans Administration has over 4,000 federal police at its 139 medical facilities. A recent inspector general review found that the VA lacks effective governance over the semi-decentralized system. VA headquarters and its Office of Security & Law Enforcement have not systematically followed their own guidelines for inspecting staffing and performance at facilities, resulting in inconsistency and failure to address identified problems, according to the report, which includes recommendations.

$297 million to help CBP recruit

December 16, 2018

U.S. Customs and Border Protection awarded a $297 million contract in 2017 to an Accenture subsidiary to help it recruit 7,500 officers and agents. During the first year the company was paid $13.6 million and achieved “two accepted job offers” according to the Inspector General, as reported here. Also, “the company relied heavily on CBP’s existing infrastructure, resources and experts in all of its recruiting,” according to the article. Both Accenture and CBP say that adjustments are being made.

FBI announces national use-of-force data collection system

November 21, 2018

The FBI will launch a National Use-of-Force Data Collection system January 1, as reported here. Like the longstanding Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) system, participation will be voluntary. Data on each event submitted will include descriptions of the incident, the officer involved, and the subject(s) involved — “information that is readily known and can be reported within the first few days after a use-of-force occurrence.” The FBI emphasizes that the goal “is not to offer insight into single use-of-force incidents but to provide an aggregate view of the incidents.” Details about the data and system are available here.

No answers from U.S. Park Police

November 18, 2018

This article reviews a year-old police shooting case just outside Washington, DC. The family of the deceased has gotten no information from the U.S. Park Police, who shot their son, or from the FBI, which took over the investigation. The Fairfax County police, who were on-scene, released their dashcam video two months after the shooting, frustrated by the lack of transparency in the federal investigation. The case illustrates the dramatic difference between local and federal law enforcement agencies in accountability to the public.