Saturday, March 31, 2012

GPS... search and seizure?

What constitutes a search? How far are the police allowed to go to obtain evidence? Technology is evolving at an extremely rapid rate; it is in a constant state of flux. This gives the police new tools by which to conduct their investigations. It gives them greater power and with greater power comes greater responsibility. So it must be decided then at what point are they going too far and need to reigned in a little bit. One of these issues was recently decided in the United States Supreme Court in the case U.S. v. Jones.

Mr. Jones was the co-owner of a nightclub in the Washington D.C. area who was suspected of also dealing large quantities of cocaine. A joint effort by D.C. police and the FBI wanted to attach a GPS tracking device to his vehicle. They received a warrant to place the GPS device on his vehicle for 10 days and only in Washington D.C. The police actually installed the tracking device on his car 11 days after the warrant was issued and did so in Maryland. The police then proceeded to follow Mr. Jones around for the next 28 days. Mr. Jones was eventually busted in a residence with 100 kilograms of cocaine and $850,000 cash. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

The appeals process began soon thereafter with the major question being did the police violate his 4th Amendment rights against an illegal search and seizure. The Supreme Court all agreed that the police did in fact violate Mr. Jones’s rights. All nine justices on the Court agreed that there was a violation in the case; they however did not all agree on why there was a violation. The Court was split 5-4 in their reasoning behind it. The majority stated that a person’s private property is legally protected and the advancements in technology do not override this fundamental protection of the Constitution. They based their finding on the fact that the placement of the GPS tracker was indeed a search and therefore required a warrant.

The other four justices thought there was a greater issue to be addressed here. They believe that the bigger issue is the privacy protections that are afforded to citizens have not kept up with technology, at least on paper. They thought that the Court should have taken this opportunity to clearly define some boundaries concerning GPS and other advancements in technology that law enforcement has at its disposal. They were also concerned with the length of the observation of Mr. Jones. They followed him gathering information for 28 days. One would have to believe if they had any kind of evidence they could have obtained a proper warrant in this amount of time.

I do not believe this case will be the last we hear about something like this happening. I know that with all the advancements in technology that are coming about daily you have to believe this may just be the tip of the iceberg. I do sincerely hope that they get the details worked out soon of what is and is not permitted with these advancements. I hate to see guilty people going free due to a gray area in the law. We however must be careful to not trample due process for the sake of crime control.

What do you think? Was this a case of an illegal search and seizure? Was the bigger issue the length of time of the investigation? Should the Supreme Court taken advantage of this opportunity to more clearly define the parameters of electronic surveillance?      

Retiring District Commander

On Monday, March 26, I took a trip to the Illinois State Police District 6 Headquarters in Pontiac, IL including McLean, DeWitt and Livingston counties to meet Captain Suzanne Jansky.  Now many of you may not know that name but she is a pretty astonishing women.  Jansky began her career with the Illinois State Police in 1985 as a State Trooper.  At this time there were very few women working for the State Police so she was definitely a minority, but instead of letting this impede her she used it as motivation to move ahead. 
During her twenty-seven year career with the Illinois State Police she had many accomplishments not just for herself, but also for women in general.   Jansky was the first female trooper to be promoted to Captain, and went on to be the longest serving Captain with the ISP!  She also was the first female district commander, the longest serving district commander and the longest-serving tenured district commander in the State!   These are just a few of her many accomplishments during her career.
This past week was her last with the Illinois State Police, after a proficient 27 year career she is retiring.  I felt privilege to be able to meet such an accomplished woman in the criminal justice field.  A field that is primarily dominated by men!  Listening to her stories and the way she talks about her career with the ISP was truly inspiring.  I have never heard anyone talk about their love for their career the way that she did.  It was clear that she really took advantage of every opportunity and was truly grateful of every experience.  Through her stories and experiences it was easy to tell she would be missing the lifestyle she has grown so accustomed too.
As quoted in the Pantagraph, through a statement issued by the agency, Jansky was quoted stating, “I am both grateful and fortunate to retire healthy, positive and exceedingly proud of District 6 and the ISP. There is no doubt these are challenging times, but on a daily basis there continues to be amazing accomplishments made for the greater good.”  After a recent health test here in the Illinois State University Kinesiology and Recreation department she received positive health feedback for her retirement.  During our time together she stated she would be spending her retirement learning to be a civilian again without all the hustle and bustle of her busy career.  She stated enjoys running and wants to train to do another marathon.  Jansky also mentioned her three Labrador dogs that she will enjoy spending more time with just as much as they will enjoy spending more time with her.  In her officer you could see the love she had for her dogs by the number of pictures covering her office. Like I previously stated it was truly inspirational meeting Captain Jansky before she retired.  It was nice to see a woman in a position of power who worked her way up when not many women were given a chance in the police field. 

Shaima Alawadi Murder, Was it a Hate Crime??

Shaima Alawadi, 32 year old Iraqi women was found severely beaten in her own home in California earlier this month. After being rushed to the hospital for injuries that the doctors did not believe she would survive, three days later she was taken off of life support.

Shaima was a wife and mother of five. Her family had moved from Iraq in 1990 and resided in Michigan before moving to California. She was found beaten nearly to death by her seventeen year old daughter, who stated, “I found her on the floor… in her own blood with a letter next to hear head saying go back to your country you terrorist.” The family had received a similar note earlier that week, containing similar contents. “A week ago they left a letter saying this is our country not yours you terrorist, and so my mom ignored that thinking it was just kids playing a prank,” she told the TV station.”

In a recent memorial service for his wife, Kassim Alhimidi spoke out about his wife’s murder and provided intimate details about the homicide and asked for any neighbors who had information to come forward. He stated that the murdered came thorough the garden, and into the back door and then murdered his wife. He then stated that the killer caused her death by apply numerous blows to her head, “The first hit her on her forehead then on her right ear. The third strike was on the back of her head. This was followed by five fast and consecutive strikes on her head and shoulders.”

Shaimas body was flown back to Iraq where she was taken to the Valley of Peace cemetery in the holy Shiite city of Najaf south of Baghdad and buried.  No suspect has yet been arrest for Shiama’s murder, but it is being classified a homicide. While many think that this murder was clearly a hate crime, others are not so quick to jump to conclusions. The president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, Salam Al-Marayati, stated that jumping to conclusions would be irresponsible, but assured that after having spoken with authorizes, that they would do their best to solve the crime.

Though all the facts are leading to this being a hate crime act, others believe that because of the family background/faith and the fact that the husband knew so many details that it was actually an “honor killing.” There have been no facts to prove this accusation, but they are expressing their opinion and beliefs about this publicly, while others are doing the same against hate crimes. There are public Facebook and talks about doing a march against this issue.


Hoft, Jim. "Husband of Shaima Alawadi Speaks Out -Appeals to Community to Help Find Mysterious Killer." 28 Mar. 2012. Web. 31 Mar. 2012. <>.

"Muslim Woman Killed in California by Racists." Uddari Weblog. Punjabi MaaNboli Literature, 25 Mar. 2012. Web. 30 Mar. 2012. <>.

"Shaima Alawadi, Murdered Iraqi-American Mother, Buried in Iraq." GlobalPost. Web. 31 Mar. 2012. <>.

Drug Cartels Taking To The Seas...Again

The war on drugs is an ever-changing game of cat and mouse.  As soon as law enforcement officials adapt to the new tactics of the drug cartels and dealers, they come out with innovative ways to elude the authorities.  One of the newest forms of drug shipment is coming from the seas.

In South America, the cartels have begun to use submarines as a way to ship cocaine to United States’ shores.  In 2011, the Honduran navy seized a vessel with around four tons of cocaine and five crewmembers on board (Kaufer, 2011).

Check out this link to read the full story.

Some of the first submarines found were very basic in nature.  They had a steering wheel, throttle, fuel gauge, speedometer, and compass for navigation.  The earlier models were also not fully submersible but rather had vents for air circulation and two small portals for aiding in navigation.  The crewmembers would sleep directly on the floor during the estimated nine-day journey from cocaine production countries like Columbia and Peru to the shores of Mexico or the United States (Inside Edition, 2011). 

As more and more submarines are seized, it’s clear that the cartels aren’t just experimenting with this tactic anymore, they’re using it full swing.  Another brand-new submarine was captured in the middle of a Columbian river last year.  The vessel was 30 meters long and had room for four crewmembers and eight tons of cocaine.  Earlier models were semi-submersible, meaning they weren’t truly submarines, but given the success of earlier models, they have begun to build true submarines with high tech navigation systems, and of course, more room for cocaine (Kaufer, 2011).

It’s estimated that the newer versions of these drug smuggling machines cost around $2 million to manufacture and can carry an estimated 500 million Euros (or about $625 million) in cocaine (Inside Edition, 2011).  The vessels design requires a high level of engineering skills and expertise in fiberglass technology, ballast calculation, and naval navigation systems (Kaufer, 2011).

The submarines leave from Columbia where there are plenty of out-of-work sailors there who are willing to make the dangerous and risky trip for good money.  Once the submarines and their crew deliver the drugs to the destination, they double up on profit by smuggling U.S. made weapons back to Columbia or other production countries (Kaufer, 2011).

The drug cartels have always been able to adapt to law enforcement techniques and always seem to be a step ahead.  It use to be the cartels used planes and hidden runways to smuggle cocaine, then they switched to speedboats until the Coast Guard caught on, and now they’re using submarines.  Law enforcement and military officials are going to have to adapt to the new tactics being used by the cartels before more cocaine floods our streets and the cartels are left with plenty of money to invest into new technologies.


Inside Edition. "Drug Cartels Use Homemade Subs to Smuggle Drugs." News. 04 Aug.
2011. Web. 28 Mar. 2012. <>.

Kaufer, Tobias. "Colombia Drug Cartel's New Vehicle For Shipping Cocaine:
Submarines." Worldcrunch. 19 July 2011. Web. 28 Mar. 2012. <>.

Friday, March 30, 2012

So Who Is America’s Toughest Sheriff?

            Joe Arpaio is the Sheriff of Maricopa County in Arizona. He is known to be “America’s Toughest Sheriff” coined by the media. He has been the Sheriff since 1992 and has some critics who think his beliefs are either inhumane and others approve of his methods. His methods include chain gangs that clean the streets, bury the indigent in the cemetery, paint over graffiti and work with an animal shelter. At the animal shelter, the inmates train the dogs, give them shots and learn about caring for animals. They also train the public in caring for animals and the total cost for shots and adoption is very cheap.
            Instead of hiring citizens to clean up the community, they are having the inmates do the work. Some think this is to make the prisoners not want to come back because of the work that needs to be done. Along with the work that has to be done, they also live outside in military tents. It gets up to 120 degrees in the tents, so the work that is done is almost a blessing. The idea of the tents being as the living arrangements was that if the men and women who are in the services can do it, criminals can too.
            It is not only men who are apart of these chain gangs. They are also the first to have a women and juvenile chain gang. The belief for the juvenile chain gang is a sense of deterrence at a young age.
            Joe cut costs and freedoms in many ways. He completely banned coffee, salt and pepper, pornographic magazines, smoking and TV. However, there is a law that all prisons must have cable, so Joe’s idea was to only allow two channels. The channels are the Weather Channel and the Disney Channel. The Weather Channel is to see how hot it will be when they are working outside and the Disney Channel is so they aren’t entertained. I don’t agree with the idea of having the Disney Channel on because there are sex offenders in this prison and it might be feeding into their minds.
            The inmates have to pay for their meals, so they use the little money they earn from doing work. The meals cost around 15-40 cents and are only fed twice a day. By the prison not buying salt and pepper, they save $20,000 a year. These prisons offer the cheapest meals in the U.S. and are saving the taxpayers a lot of money.
            Arpaio noticed there was a shortage of underwear through out the prison. So to make the inmates not want to steal would be to dye them pink. I think it is used for humiliation and it was also said for inventory control. Along with the pink underwear, the handcuffs were becoming more and more scarce. So they ordered pink handcuffs, so they wouldn’t want to keep them.
            Just like in some other prisons, there are rehabilitative programs. One in the prison is called ALPHA which is an anti-substance-abuse program that has proven to decrease the recidivism rate. A lot of prisoners don’t have a high education, so there is now a program called “Hard Knocks High”. This is the only accredited high school that is under a Sheriff in any American jail. So hopefully, after being in prison they will have received an education, the want to not commit crimes, live a sober life and appreciation for freedom.

Trayvon Martin Case Completely Out of Control

Cant find a picture of him at the age he was when he died.
The times we live in today are filled with fast access to news and the ability for the average Joe to have his voice heard via social media and Youtube.    I would bet my millions that I hope to win on the astounding Mega Millions jackpot that there is not a single person in this nation who has not heard of the Trayvon Martin case, or lack thereof.  This has to be the most famous non-case the world has ever seen.  I have heard countless arguments for Martin's case as well as some from Zimmerman's standpoint all of which the media has blown out of proportion.

The point of my blog entry is not to re-hash the "facts" of this case, nor is it to express my opinions about it (even though I truly think Zimmerman needs to fry).  The point of this article is to express my undying hatred for mainstream media and the way they are handling this controversial case. 

The first thing that really irritates me is the media frenzy surrounding the case.  Every morning when I log onto the Yahoo! news section, I have to sift through never ending stories about the Kardashian's, Snooki's pregnancy, and other pointless drivel.  However, I inevitably stumble onto new "breaking" developments with the Martin case.  Every single day there is something new that throws a twist into the situation.  It is not only Yahoo! that always has something new, its every single media outlet in the whole country.  I know that in America the media has the right to cover stories and get the facts of a case but COME ON, get the facts right!

The mainstream news outlets are licking their chops with this case because it means significant money for their company.  It really sickens me how the so called "facts" of this situation are being changed, manipulated, and grossly misrepresented in order to create a frenzy and public uproar.  With that said, I feel that their should be some sort of public outcry for this tragedy, I just believe it should be in a controlled, legitimate manner. 

The next thing that is very frustrating is how the media is digging for dirt on both Zimmerman and Martin.  For instance, what does it matter that Tayvon Martin may or may not have indulged in the use of Marijuana? Does that make him a bad person?  No.  Does that justify his death? H--- No.  The media is just grasping at anything to further their stories and get ratings.  Also, why are all of the pictures of Martin from when he was young?  Is this an attempt to put more sympathy his way?  The poor kid already has the sympathy of a nation. Show who the real Trayvon was when he died.

The only relevant dirt digging I have seen is from Zimmerman's past.  It was revealed that Zimmerman has anger issues and should have received a felony outside of a nightclub in Orlando for an assault on an officer.  Still though, this event took place some time ago and anyone can make horrible and life altering decisions when they are intoxicated.

The last thing I want to discuss is the judicial system and law enforcement in Florida.  What the heck is going on down there?  First, years ago, they couldn't figure out how to tally and count votes for a presidential election which ultimately led to the election of one of the worst presidents in history.  Then, only last year, they let a clearly guilty woman get away with murdering her own daughter.  Now, are they honestly going to let a clear cut, plain as day murder go unprosecuted?  This is absolutely outrageous.  From what I understand, not knowing whether to really trust the news or not, the 911 dispatcher told Zimmerman not to pursue the suspicious kid and he did.  Then, in a later released twist, there is a voice recording from the altercation that shows Martin was nervous about someone following him.  Finally, if Trayvon threatened Zimmerman's life in any way and had beat Zimmerman in any way, lets see the medical records and the bruises that could prove self defense.

Anyways, I just needed to do a little ranting on the subject because it is truly sad.  A person lost his life over absolutely nothing and Florida's superb law enforcement and judicial system is doing nothing about it.  It is kind of unsettling that the Federal government had to step in in order to kick start an investigation.

 I honestly hope Zimmerman gets prosecuted for at least voluntary manslaughter.  To let this case go would be so unjust and so unfair that our whole judicial system would need reconsidering.  I just wish that the media would gather all the correct information and release it in a legitimate fashion.


Maybe it's because I'm from Chicago, but I still have a lot of bad feelings towards that man. As everybody probably knows by now, Blagojevich got shipped off to prison a couple weeks ago and still, up to the time he got into the helicopter that took him to Colorado, plead his innocence to any half-witted numskull that decided to listen to him. Is this guy honestly this stupid or does he seriously still think he's innocent? Does he honestly think that after the governor before him went to jail, people would support his innocence and try to keep him out of prison? For those who don't quite know the story I'll give you a quick recap of why he's now in prison: he was arrested on political corruption charges; one allegation in which he tried to sell Obama's former Senate seat for political favors and donations. Even after he was convicted, he continued to whine and complain that he was innocent and that the "truth will come out," (blah blah blah). If you were innocent Rod, why did several of your aides and advisors rat you out shortly after they were arrested? If you were dumb enough to think you could get away with this, you’re dumb enough to get caught.  Here’s the video of him before he went to prison:

Political corruption happens all the time in one way or another; and this guy is a shining example or who we have to deal with in our government. How these people get elected I will never know. 4 Chicago governors have been convicted on political corruption since the 1960's and I don't have a doubt in my mind that another one is right around the corner because of the idiots who will elect him. This is why I don't get involved with politics (outside of voting). Nobody listens to what the people actually want; they're only out for themselves and what benefits them in the long run, not what benefits the people, city, state, or country. Well Blagojevich, you got what you deserved (even if I don't think it's enough punishment) and don't worry, you'll still have morons groveling at your feet when you get out in 14 years. I hope you rot in that prison and do all of us in Chicago a favor, don't ever come back. 

Employers ask for Facebook Passwords

In this day and age social networking is an activity that many people across the world use daily and even multiple times a day. We spend time posting on others walls, writing messages, posting pictures and reconnecting to long lost friends and relatives. Many people as well as myself have their pages blocked in order to protect their privacy because we view our pages as our own personal and private space. You can even go as far as to not be searchable and not allowing anyone to send you follow or friend requests.
    Facebook and Twitter have cause a lot of problems from students being denied into colleges, to not being able to find a job, and even getting fired from a job. Recently even more problems have emerged involving these social network sites. Some employers are going as far as to asking for your Facebook password upon hire. New York senators are planning to ask the Department of Justice to investigate whether employers accessing Facebook accounts are violating federal law. More specifically the senators want to know if the practice of these employers violates the Stored Communications Act of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The former prohibits intentional access to electronic information without authorization and the latter bars intentional access to computers with out authorizations to obtain information. In a statement Senator Schumer said that “Employers have no right to ask job applicants for their house keys or to read their diaries, why should they be able to ask for their Facebook passwords and gain unwarranted access to a trove of private information about what we like, what messages we send to people, or who we are friends with?” In an age where more and more of our personal information and our private social lives are online, it is vital that all individuals be allowed to determine for themselves what personal information they want to make public and protect personal information from their would-be employers. This is especially important during the job-seeking process, when all the power is on one side of the fence. For employers to be able to gain access to such private information is a complete violation of privacy. I wonder why would they even need it in the first place? I really don’t think that it is any business of any employers to see what a person has to say or what they do on the Internet. Obviously if they were involved in criminal or suspicious activity there are special circumstances but a normal human being just trying to get a job should not be subjected to such an invasion. There is a certain line that I don’t think should be crossed when it comes to privacy and this is definitely crossing the line. Facebook is even taking strides to create new laws that make it illegal for anyone other than the user to access their account.  So what would you do if you were asked to supply your employer with your Facebook password? Are you allowed to say no? A lot of people would say that they have nothing to hide and would just hand it over, but it’s more than that in my eyes. The employer has all the power here and can look at what ever they want at any given time and that in my eyes is unacceptable. 

Stop-and-Frisk & Racial Minorities

On October 31, 1963, Officer Martin McFadden was patrolling an area of downtown Cleveland at approximately 2:30 p.m. McFadden noticed two subjects and observed them for several minutes. During his observations, he noticed that the two subjects would talk to each other, one would walk down the street, stop and look in a store window, and go back and resume talking to each other. The second man did the same thing. These walk-pasts the store repeated several times until a third subject approached and started talking to the two subjects. The third subject walked away and the two original subjects eventually followed in the same path where they al met up again. McFadden was very suspicious at this point that the subjects were planning a day-time robbery. He followed the subjects and approached them. He asked them for their names and subsequently patted down the outside of their clothing, suspecting that they had weapons on them. Hi suspicions were confirmed. He removed the weapons and the two subjects were charged with carrying concealed weapons. Terry, one of them men charged, brought his case all the way to the Supreme Court claiming that the officer unreasonably searched him for weapons. The Court ruled that, what we now call a Terry stop is permitted if the officer has reasonable, articulable suspicion that a crime may be afoot. It is also permitted for the safety of the officer, to make sure that the subjects they are inquiring about have no weapons that would put the officer in danger. 

New York City, apparently, is taking the stop-and-frisk to the next level of stopping minority men at a higher rate than anyone else. This is not just the experience of the citizens of New York City, but the lawmakers themselves. As a high-school student, Senator Kevin Parker was stopped by the police several times and patted down. He was even required to tell the officers his whereabouts. Assemblyman Karim Camara was also stopped by the police and asked whether he had any guns or drugs on him. When Sentaor Adriano Espaillat was 14, he said police stopped him, threw him up against a wall, and patted him down for no reason. (1)