police reform

A look back: Takeaways from ACLU of Michigan Law Enforcement Hearing

A look back: Takeaways from ACLU of Michigan Law Enforcement Hearing

2016-12-09 00:00:00

A little more than a year ago, the ACLU of Michigan’s Racial Justice Project convened an important hearing on law enforcement best practices. At the time, the public’s alarm about police violence was at fever pitch, and to the extent the need for clarity about how to address this problem was not already apparent, the popular demand for answers drove the point home.

Fancher: Five Steps the Police Can Take to Reduce Racial Bias Toward Blacks

Fancher: Five Steps the Police Can Take to Reduce Racial Bias Toward Blacks

2016-08-12 00:00:00

Recent tragic police-related shootings have demonstrated yet again that sudden, violent deaths at the hands of police can capture headlines and public attention. But out of sight and forgotten are thousands of victims of illegal racially discriminatory encounters with police who survived, but who nevertheless ended up in prison cells.

ACLU of Michigan Mobile Justice App Aims to Stop Police Brutality

ACLU of Michigan Mobile Justice App Aims to Stop Police Brutality

2015-11-13 00:00:00

A community activist in Flint reached out to me with alarming news about a 7-year-old boy who was handcuffed by a police officer following a minor dustup during an afterschool program at Brownell Elementary. The second grader is about 55 lbs. and has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It didn’t sound good—and when I saw the video it looked worse.

But, thankfully, there was video.

State Police Using Cellphone Spy Gear to Catch Criminals

State Police Using Cellphone Spy Gear to Catch Criminals

2015-10-23 00:00:00

State police in Michigan have been secretly using hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of cell site simulator equipment to locate and track cell phones since at least 2006, according to records obtained by the ACLU and ACLU of Michigan. And although the agency justified its initial purchase of the surveillance gear as "vital to the war on terrorism," the records show that the department used its cell site simulators in 128 run-of-the-mill investigations last year—not a single one of which was for terrorism. The records also highlight the continuing problem of excessive secrecy about use of this invasive tracking equipment.

Cell site simulators, commonly known as Stingrays, can precisely locate and track phones by mimicking cell phone towers and forcing phones in the area to transmit their unique identifying information. Because these devices raise serious privacy concerns, the ACLU has been tracking their purchase and use by law enforcement agencies across the country.

The records show that the State Police spent more than $200,000 in 2006 to purchase a Stingray, Kingfish, and related cellular tracking equipment. That purchase was paid for by a federal Department of Homeland Security grant. In a document justifying the purchase, MSP asserted, "This equipment will allow the State to track the physical location of a suspected terrorist who is using wireless communications as part of their operation." Yet, according to a January 2015 breakdown of one year's worth of Stingray deployments, that's not how the technology is being deployed. Out of 128 investigations where MSP used Stingrays in 2014, 42 were related to homicides, 30 for burglaries and robberies, 12 for assaults, 11 for missing persons, and the rest for a mix of offenses including drug crimes, obstructing police, and fraud. Not a single terrorism investigation among them.

READ MORE: ACLU National

No related cases
No related legislation
No related campaigns
State police in Michigan have been secretly using hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of cell site simulator equipment to locate and track cell phones...
Subscribe to RSS - police reform