Wednesday, July 4, 2012

NJ - ACLU Launches Smartphone App That Lets Users Secretly Record Police Stops

Original Article


NEWARK - New Jersey’s branch of the American Civil Liberties Union has taken its mission of policing the police to smartphones.

The ACLU has released an app called “Police Tape” that lets users secretly record police stops.

The ACLU’s Alexander Shalom said the app is easy to use.

There’s really only three buttons that the user needs to deal with,” Shalom said. “There’s a know your rights button that educates the citizen about their rights when encountering police on the street, in a car, in their home or when they’re going to be placed under arrest, and there’s a button to record audio and a button to record video.”

Shalom hopes the app will deter police officers from misusing their power.

You can think back to when Rodney King was beaten at the hands of the LAPD,” Shalom said. “For years, we’ve watched the police on video and that’s led to reforms and police accountability, but now that cellphones and smartphones are becoming more ubiquitous, people have this ability to videotape. It really is a cutting-edge tool to ensure accountability in the 21st century.”

The app lets users record audio and video discretely with a stealth mode that hides the fact that the recording is happening.

Shalom said officers would also have a harder time deleting the recorded incidents.

Unlike a recording that’s just done in the standard camera or video mode on someone’s telephone, it’s a little more complicated to find these files and delete them. So it can theoretically be done but it would take a far more tech-savvy police officer to do it,” Shalom said.

Users can store the recording on their phones or send a copy to the ACLU-NJ for backup storage and analysis of possible civil liberties violations.

The app is currently available for Android users and a version for iPhones is in the works.

The New York branch of the ACLU released a similar app, called “Stop-and-Frisk Watch,” last month.

ACLU leaders said the only other branch with an app like this one is New York.

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MO - Jeffrey Holmes, Police Officer, Pleads Not Guilty To Having Sex With Women In Exchange For Not Arresting Them

Jeffrey Holmes
Original Article



KANSAS CITY - A Kansas City police officer has been charged with corruption after prosecutors accused him of having sex with two women in exchange for not arresting them.

One woman told police she was working as a prostitute, and the other said she had outstanding warrants and marijuana in her motel room when she met Jeffrey Holmes. Prosecutors say Holmes, 47, accepted sex from the women in return for not arresting them during alleged incidents in March and April.

A judge entered a not guilty plea on Holmes' behalf during his arraignment Tuesday and released him on $75,000 bond. Holmes' lawyer, Kevin Regan, didn't immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

Also Tuesday, prosecutors in neighboring Platte County charged another Kansas City police officer with misappropriating about $75,000 from his elderly mother. A lawyer listed as representing Sgt. Mark Stinson did not return a phone message seeking comment about that case.

Lisa Pelofsky, president of the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners, said the two cases, while not related, show "the system is working." The police department has suspended both officers without pay. Holmes has worked for the department for 13 years. Stinson has been on the force for 17.

"Police obviously are not in any way intimidated or afraid to follow up on these kinds of charges and pursue them," Pelofsky said Tuesday.

A probable cause statement filed by police in Holmes' case said a woman told police she was working as a prostitute at a Kansas City motel when a man called March 24 and said he wanted to meet her. The man, who she later identified as Holmes, showed up wearing a police uniform and a gun, the statement said.

Holmes told the woman she was "busted for prostitution" and ordered her to put her hands behind her back, the statement said. The woman refused, saying she "knew something wasn't right" because Holmes didn't have a police radio with him. She called the front desk and asked the desk clerk to come to her room. When the clerk left, Holmes told the woman he wanted her to be a "snitch" and started to "'rub and hug" her, the statement said.

The woman said she then had sex with Holmes "because she wanted him to leave." Police said she reported the incident as rape about three weeks later and identified Holmes as her attacker after she ran into him in a police parking lot April 26.

The probable cause statement said Holmes' phone records showed he called the woman before and after the alleged incident.

The second victim told police she was at a different motel in April when a man she later identified as Holmes approached her in uniform and asked if she was a prostitute, the probable cause statement said. She said she wasn't, but the man made her take him to her room, where he said they were going to have sex. When she asked him why, he responded, "You don't want to go to jail, do you?"

The woman told police she had marijuana in the room and outstanding warrants and was afraid the man would arrest her if she didn't have sex with him, the probable cause statement said. She later photographed his used condom and sent it to her roommate with a caption, "Cop DNA."

She said the officer later returned to the room, flushed the condom and made her delete the text message but not the photo from her phone. The woman allowed police to download the photo from her phone for their investigation.

Holmes' next court date, a preliminary hearing, is scheduled for July 19.