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posted by martyb on Monday July 31 2017, @06:22PM   Printer-friendly
from the What-does-this-button-do? dept.

Ars Technica brings us an update to an earlier story in which a court case was thrown out when a police officer's body cam showed him planting drugs before 'finding' them immediately after. Now prosecutors in Maryland are reviewing other body-cam footage and have already thrown out 34 criminal cases with many more under review:

The Baltimore Police Department's body cams, like many across the nation, capture footage 30 seconds before an officer presses the record button. The footage was turned over to defense attorneys as part of a drug prosecution - and that's when the misdeed was uncovered.

[...] "We are dismissing those cases which relied exclusively on the credibility of these officers," Mosby told a news conference Friday. She said the dismissed cases, some of which have already been prosecuted, involved weapons and drugs.

Lesson learned cops - plant drugs, wait 30 seconds, then turn on the camera!


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  • (Score: 3, Informative) by kaszz on Monday July 31 2017, @07:06PM (9 children)

    by kaszz (4211) on Monday July 31 2017, @07:06PM (#547303) Journal

    learned cops

    I suspect those words is a oxymoron. There is a documentary by Michael Moore that proved that if you were smart. It would disqualify you from becoming a cop.

    So expect a lot more cases being thrown out.
    Instead expect some policy makers to become uneasy and act accordingly!

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by JoeMerchant on Monday July 31 2017, @09:03PM (3 children)

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Monday July 31 2017, @09:03PM (#547364)

      I was thinking along similar lines, but more to the effect of: when an officer's body cam footage shows him planting drugs or other evidence, that should automatically disqualify ALL evidence "found" by this officer in ALL previous searches and arrests he has conducted.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by ikanreed on Monday July 31 2017, @09:10PM (2 children)

        by ikanreed (3164) on Monday July 31 2017, @09:10PM (#547368)

        Better to let a thousand innocent men be punished unfairly, than allow a single guilty man who was caught purely by coincidence free.

        But you're right, that should absolutely be grounds for a retrial for literally every single person this officer had any connection to the investigation of.

        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by JoeMerchant on Monday July 31 2017, @09:37PM

          by JoeMerchant (3937) on Monday July 31 2017, @09:37PM (#547379)

          Better, and more profitable for the private prison system and lawyers.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 01 2017, @12:00AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 01 2017, @12:00AM (#547429)

          They're all guilty of something! Why else would they have gotten the cops attention?! Life is fair! The world is just! Kill them all!

          We need to handle this problem the way the Philippines does! Kill them all!

          Trump! Trump! Trump!

    • (Score: 2) by ikanreed on Monday July 31 2017, @09:07PM (4 children)

      by ikanreed (3164) on Monday July 31 2017, @09:07PM (#547366)

      I'm not sure what documentary you're referring to, but I'm not a Moore Officianado.

      If I had to guess, he probably cites the court case [aele.org] where they're allowed to reject high-IQ cop candidates. The conclusion in that particular case was that A. It didn't violate the 14th amendment because it wasn't targeted at any group in particular, and B. They had any reason at all for it, which is that they thought high-IQ cops would get bored and leave.

      • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Tuesday August 01 2017, @01:01AM

        by kaszz (4211) on Tuesday August 01 2017, @01:01AM (#547464) Journal

        Michael Moore's "The awful truth". Here's an article [thefreethoughtproject.com] about it.

        I think this video clip [youtube.com] is from that section (not viewed it).

      • (Score: 1) by anubi on Tuesday August 01 2017, @09:21AM

        by anubi (2828) on Tuesday August 01 2017, @09:21AM (#547568) Journal

        They had any reason at all for it, which is that they thought high-IQ cops would get bored and leave.

        I am thinking more down the line that a thinking person will be far more susceptible to insubordination should he feel his boss is in error.

        Stanley Milgram brought this up in his Yale study titled "Obedience to Authority".

        Remember the engineer that refused to obey the orders to electrocute the guy in the chair? He knew what the voltages claimed would do, and refused to obey. Business types don't want someone like that on their team. They need people who value the paycheck more than anything else. Order-takers that obey unconditionally.

        They don't want them thinking or considering the ramifications of what they are doing. "Yes Sir!" is the expected response.

        The stress I personally get when my moral compass is at odds with my orders has led to a lot of crap in my life.

        I am at the point I feel a thinking moral person has no business being employed. Once they reach the awareness of morality, I believe its almost imperative they become self-employed, as morality will foment insubordination if the order-giver is not of like mindset.

        --
        "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
      • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday August 01 2017, @11:59AM (1 child)

        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday August 01 2017, @11:59AM (#547599)

        High IQ is not a group? Or just not a protected group under anti-discrimination law?

        • (Score: 2) by ikanreed on Tuesday August 01 2017, @01:40PM

          by ikanreed (3164) on Tuesday August 01 2017, @01:40PM (#547638)

          The laws laying out what groups are protected from discrimination are fairly explicit:
          Gender, race, national origin, religion, disability, and creed, with some local and state versions of the equal employment law adding a couple more like sexual orientation and genetic testing results.

          The case I linked above was seeking remedy under the "equal protection under law" clause of the 14th amendment, but given that the police department had a reason for making that decision, it was ruled to be a valid distinction to draw. Also worth noting is that they cited previous precedent establishing it was okay to reject officers for having too low an IQ too.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 31 2017, @07:24PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 31 2017, @07:24PM (#547314)

    Come on you apologists, start treating this police problem seriously and maybe we can begin rebuilding the public trust. This is the worst kind of offense and it is obviously quite widespread. Prison for profit, ticket quotas, and red light cameras are all symptoms of this sickness. Public safety should only be about that, not profit.

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 31 2017, @08:00PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 31 2017, @08:00PM (#547332)

      First, you have to address the fact that these skanks shouldn't be enforcing the so-called "drug war" in the first place. All of this "lets illegally persecute and steal from people while using proper procedure" is not the issue. The People will only support the cops if they are retrained to learn about *The Constitution* and how to identify and catch *actual criminals*. Hint: exercising the right of free association(gangs/cults) or the right to pursue happiness/free religion(shoot up heroin) is not criminal. If stupidity is a crime then arrest yourself, motherfucker. The criminal is the piece of shit that is destroying the country by making unconstitutional laws. Go arrest that stupid old fuck, you seditious whores. Make the slave traders in government/private prisons, etc get jobs like the rest of us. Or you could just do your *constitutional duty* as a citizen and ignore and fight against unconstitutional laws. tell your bosses to fuck off. I've done it. why can't you tough guys? I would instantly stand behind any cops who had the balls to be real americans. why aren't police unions giving the lawmakers a list of "shit we're not enforcing and why"? Instead, you see the police unions all around the country just towing the BS line. Seditious whores...

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 01 2017, @12:04AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 01 2017, @12:04AM (#547431)

      Kill the traitor AC and everybody who modded them up! You expect me to believe that your liberal faggot shit like fair trials or persons being secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects is in the constitution?! Kill them all! Kill all these drugged out traitors!

      Trump! Trump! Trump!

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 31 2017, @07:44PM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 31 2017, @07:44PM (#547322)

    It's great (and sadly a little surprising) that they're throwing out not only the cases where they have proof of an officer planting evidence, but also some other cases involving those officers' credibility. But justice won't really be served unless and until the crooked bastards are themselves tried and convicted.

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 31 2017, @08:17PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 31 2017, @08:17PM (#547341)

      Indeed, planting evidence must be prosecuted.

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 31 2017, @08:27PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 31 2017, @08:27PM (#547348)

      Oddly enough, shouldn't the cop be charged with drug possession on top of falsifying evidence?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 31 2017, @08:30PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 31 2017, @08:30PM (#547350)

      I think it is the inevitable backlash of corruption going too far. People will bend their morals for edge cases, but at some point it becomes too gross and consciences are reborn.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by BananaPhone on Monday July 31 2017, @08:59PM (1 child)

    by BananaPhone (2488) on Monday July 31 2017, @08:59PM (#547360)

    Just like the crosswalk button to cross the street.

    There are WAY more crooked cops out there.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 01 2017, @02:30AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 01 2017, @02:30AM (#547490)

      Yep, good solution, keep the camera filling a circular buffer all the time.

      When this came up recently (was it last week?), I suggested that the post trigger be reset to a minute, now that the cops might have learned to wait for 30 seconds.

  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 31 2017, @09:12PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 31 2017, @09:12PM (#547369)

    The DA would be happy to grind your sorry ass to a pulp just for smirking but all those dirty cops face no consequences.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 01 2017, @09:37AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 01 2017, @09:37AM (#547574)

      The law in its majestic equality forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets, and steal loaves of bread. -- Anatole France

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Thexalon on Monday July 31 2017, @09:20PM (14 children)

    by Thexalon (636) on Monday July 31 2017, @09:20PM (#547372) Homepage

    capture footage 30 seconds before an officer presses the record button.

    Either:
    1. Have no record button, and just have the camera always recording.
    2. Have the recording start at randomly up to 10 minutes before the officer presses the button.

    Because that last line in the story explains exactly how crooked cops will respond to this. It's sort of like how as soon as recorded audio of police actions started to become evidence in a brutality case, they would start yelling "Stop resisting!" regardless of whether the person in question was resisting arrest.

    --
    A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of bad gravy.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 31 2017, @09:54PM (8 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 31 2017, @09:54PM (#547386)

      Most of those cameras likely record up to 30 seconds of RAM video footage, and when the record button is pressed, sync it to flash (otherwise they would wear out in a matter of months.) So lengthening the pre-record period has technical constraints that would effect it.

      The ONLY real solution is always recording, with the ability to hit the button for a timed pause. Hit it again if it needs to start recording before the timeout is finished. This allows cops to hit it for bathroom breaks or other momentary things that shouldn't be recorded, while also ensuring they can't easily leave it off, or have it not recording until they turn it on themselves. So long as they are not wifi accessable there is no potential confidentiality breach until it is sbumitted to whatever department handles the recordings, and as a bonus it gives people a reason to give cops a wide berth unless they need their services (because unless you're a facebook whore you probably have SOME consternation about being ubiquitously recorded in public, don't you? If not, maybe we can throw you through a time portal to STASI East Germany :)

      • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Monday July 31 2017, @11:47PM (4 children)

        by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Monday July 31 2017, @11:47PM (#547421) Journal

        Timed pauses would be abused. Just don't give the cop ANY control over the camera. Bathroom break? A camera worn on you chest isn't going to be pointed downward at your anatomy, unless you purposely move it to point down. Let it always record.

        --
        Keep all chemicals out of the reach of meth heads.
        • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Tuesday August 01 2017, @01:00AM (3 children)

          by c0lo (156) on Tuesday August 01 2017, @01:00AM (#547463)

          Bathroom break? A camera worn on you chest isn't going to be pointed downward at your anatomy

          What's wrong with the camera capturing someone's junk while peeing?
          Will this cause massive mind-blow to someone?

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 01 2017, @09:40AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 01 2017, @09:40AM (#547575)

            Yeah, republicans and other talibans. Because you know, the allmighty creator of the whole fricking universe is as interested in nothing else than your willy.

          • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Tuesday August 01 2017, @01:30PM (1 child)

            by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday August 01 2017, @01:30PM (#547627) Journal

            Breasts cause massive mindblow to many people. The idea of breastfeeding causes mindblow. Pubic hairs cause it. A vagina, or a penis? Such an image, especially if made public, could cause the cosmos to crumble around us.

            Then again, maybe not.

            --
            Keep all chemicals out of the reach of meth heads.
            • (Score: 4, Funny) by c0lo on Tuesday August 01 2017, @04:23PM

              by c0lo (156) on Tuesday August 01 2017, @04:23PM (#547691)

              Breasts cause massive mindblow to many people. The idea of breastfeeding causes mindblow. Pubic hairs cause it. A vagina, or a penis? Such an image, especially if made public, could cause the cosmos to crumble around us.

              Can you imagine a Rio Carnival in Harrison, Arkansas today? Me neither.
              This is why I reckon US need more Latino immigration.

              (grin)

      • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Tuesday August 01 2017, @01:06AM (1 child)

        by Immerman (3985) on Tuesday August 01 2017, @01:06AM (#547468)

        I can store a multiple-hour movie at considerably better quality than most body cams in a few hundred megabytes, and can get a couple gigabytes of RAM for a few dollars.

        Granted, constantly encoding adequate quality video at such high levels of compression in real time would likely draw considerably more power than for a simple low-compression dump, but we've got lots of slack and are well within the capabilities of a $50 prepaid smartphone with a jumbo battery, in a product that typically sells for prices more in line with something top of the line.

        • (Score: 2) by tonyPick on Tuesday August 01 2017, @02:28PM

          by tonyPick (1237) on Tuesday August 01 2017, @02:28PM (#547656) Homepage Journal

          Granted, constantly encoding adequate quality video at such high levels of compression in real time would likely draw considerably more power than for a simple low-compression dump.

          The components you select for this device would probably include dedicated encoding HW support, e.g an iMx6 on a reference board will live encode/stream 720p at 1Mbps in a 6W envelope [ridgerun.com]. I suspect that's actually more efficient than trying to get the CPU to do something in pure software.

          So, a back of the envelope calculation says that 720p30@1mbps will take about a Meg every 8 seconds, or 7.5 Meg a minute, call it a half gig every hour.

          And so a 60Wh Li pack would give you a nominal 5 hour runtime, with 2.5Gig of memory for storage. (and up to 10hrs/5G in an emergency where you don't worry about deep discharge).

          You could almost certainly do a lot better with a proper HW design (e.g. low power variant of the iMx, better custom board, etc etc) and you'd lose some lifetime for a "good" camera, but this is certainly not a technical problem.

           

      • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday August 01 2017, @12:02PM

        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday August 01 2017, @12:02PM (#547601)

        Yeah, 4GB of RAM runs $30 these days, can't be spending an extra $30 in order to increase the pre-record threshold up to 8 hours.

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by c0lo on Tuesday August 01 2017, @12:57AM (3 children)

      by c0lo (156) on Tuesday August 01 2017, @12:57AM (#547460)

      2. Have the recording start at randomly up to 10 minutes before the officer presses the button.

      Yes, easy, a small amount of thiotimoline is all that's needed.

      • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Tuesday August 01 2017, @01:17AM (2 children)

        by Immerman (3985) on Tuesday August 01 2017, @01:17AM (#547472)

        Or you just record everything, constantly, into a 30 minute buffer and then dump it into a permanent file whenever the "Record" button is pushed.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 01 2017, @01:25AM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 01 2017, @01:25AM (#547476)

          But then, this wouldn't be random, would it?
          And randomness seems to be a mandatory feature (grin)

          • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Tuesday August 01 2017, @02:23AM

            by Thexalon (636) on Tuesday August 01 2017, @02:23AM (#547488) Homepage

            The point of the randomness is that you don't want the officer to know how long they need to stall between starting the encounter and turning on the camera.

            --
            A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of bad gravy.
    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday August 01 2017, @08:15PM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday August 01 2017, @08:15PM (#547740)

      Cops' #1 answer: donut glazing on the lens.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 01 2017, @08:39AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 01 2017, @08:39AM (#547562)

    How does the device know the button is about to be pressed?

    • (Score: 2, Informative) by anubi on Tuesday August 01 2017, @09:48AM

      by anubi (2828) on Tuesday August 01 2017, @09:48AM (#547578) Journal

      How does the device know the button is about to be pressed?

      It doesn't.

      The video part of the camera is always on, endlessly streaming video to a circular RAM buffer ( say, five minute's worth of video ).

      Here's the reason... RAM is fast, low power, and can be overwritten over and over without wearing out, but it is volatile. One powerdown and everything's gone. Flash is slower, has to be blocked for writing, and has limited write endurance. But its massive storage capability, and non-volatile. Once written, it stays until deliberately erased and overwritten.

      So, upon pressing of the button, there are five minutes worth of video in the RAM buffer previous to the button being pressed. Format that into the blocks required by the Flash ( EEPROM ) memory then continue with the live video stream going into the head of the RAM buffer as the EEPROM is loaded from the tail of the buffer. There has to be RAM available, as the RAM can load a byte at a time from the serial video stream, but EEPROM wants to see the data coming in as chunks.

      When played back, the five minutes before the button was pressed will be at the beginning of the video stored in the EEPROM.

      Its the same thing that lets you see traces on a digital oscilloscope that happened before the trigger.

      So, the magic trick is revealed. No time travel necessary.

      --
      "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
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