Friday, December 22, 2006

Insider Trading

The situation (and you know this was going to happen sooner or later): a former officer of the law, a drug enforcement agent - and a good one, is apparently making a video that will detail the ways to effectively hide contraband, most notably that contraband that falls under the 'controlled substances' label.

His reasoning? The criminalization of marijuana has led to thousands of non-violent offenders' incarceration.

Law enforcement officials reaction? Not happy. Shocker there.

What do I think of this? Well, this is to be expected. I know many, many, many fine officers of the law, who do their jobs the right way and who are the very best examples of public service and protection. But I also know many, many, many ne'erdowells who have ended up afoul of the law for one reason or another.

One thing that is resoundingly apparent, or so I gather from tales of either side running into the other, is that, if people know their rights, or fight for them, they are much less likely to run afoul of the law than those who do not know their rights. Besides Miranda (you have the right to remain silent, etc, etc) officers of the law are not really obligated to explain to a great deal about your rights to you (and even Miranda explanations, I think, are only an obligation once an individual is under arrest - Sprout, is that right?).

In fact, many officers of the law are highly trained and highly encouraged to highly encourage a suspect to talk themselves into far more trouble, or invite the officer of the law to find evidence against them. That American society is so politely masochistic that so many of us invite officers of the law to find evidence against us is both a testament to our greatness as a culture and a terribly effective law enforcement tool.

But, some officers of the law have been known to take 'highly encourage' a step close to 'intimidate,' and this of course leaves a bad taste in the mouth of someone on the recieving end. I'm also sure that there is a tinge of bitterness after one spents a night in jail and has paid the applicable and considerable fines to the State for a DUI or minor possession offense when one later discovers that the traffic stop or search that caught them was conducted improperly or was the product of one's own ignorance of the law.

This means that a lack of information in the brain of the suspect exponentially
increases the "effectiveness" of law enforcement. One could surmise as well that more information in the brain of the suspect decreases the "effectiveness" of law enforcement.

What, did you think Johnny Cochran got paid about $500 an hour because he was a good cook?

Enter the information superhighway. Now, with the mere click of a computer key, wayward ne'erdowells can find out a treasure trove of information from sites like FlexYourRights.org (HT: Corwyn), and now, soon apparently, the video mentioned in the headline article that will show folks how to evade narcotics detection.

Is this a good thing, or an illegal thing?

Well, I think they'd both be legal, because there are many ways for police work to catch people, and no system is failsafe. Also, many narcotics make you forget important stuff, and act in ways hardly considered intelligent, so the overall effect on actual police work, I think, will be negligible. I think, in reality, that the most likely effect this video will have is a bunch of folks sitting in jail cells saying "shoulda paid closer attention to that video."

I personally have no problem whatsoever with the public knowing their rights in regards to officers of the law, especially such traditionally effective tools as the "stupid crook traffic stop." I also know that the information superhighway cuts both ways, and that many officers of the law (and citizens) have ready access to information they may not have gone over as well, such as that available on my Dad's website.

Tech savvy ne'erdowells may not talk themselves into too much trouble after the internet, but tech savvy cops can find new ways to gather evidence and make their case for conviction.

A really tech savvy cop, responding to tech savvy ne'erdowells, may even go so far as to make a video promising an end to 'ever getting busted' for drug possession again, and make all the tech savvy ne'erdowells start hiding their stashes in the same place in every tech savvy car they drive. If this tech savvy cop was really smart, he'd have law enforcement officials contact the national news and denounce him as going over to the 'dark side,' so all the tech savvy ne'erdowells would read about it, believe it authentic and post his video on youtube to all their myspace pages and 'stick it to the man.'

A super duper tech savvy cop would make the video downloadable on his website for a fee, and use the money to buy his local police department nicer cruisers and what not.

But that would have to be a really tech savvy cop, definitely the best in the state, probably the best in the country.

2 comments:

patsbrother said...

Patrick "personally ha[s] no problem whatsoever with the public knowing their rights in regards to officers of the law," and neither do I. However, there is a difference between knowing one's rights and knowing how best to go about breaking the law. Nothing in the article Patrick cites suggests this video explains people's rights to them; rather, everything in the article states that the video explains how one can better conceal his own malfeasance. That's a no-no in my book.

The purpose of the constitutional protection against unreasonable searches and seizures is to check the government's ability to interfere with Americans' day-to-day liberty; it is most certainly not to help you conceal your stash of illegal drugs.

--
For no reason other than to clarify Patrick's conception of the law, I address the following passage from Pat's post:

"Well, I think [websites explaining one's rights and the video in question would] both be legal, because there are many ways for police work to catch people, and no system is failsafe. Also,...the overall effect on actual police work, I think, will be negligible."

None of the reasons found here have anything to do with whether it would be legal to provide either of the services mentioned. Assuming we can all see that on second viewing, I will move on.

--
Regarding Miranda as I understand it:
The Miranda warning is a prophylactic rule put in place to protect criminal defendants from compelled self-incrimination, among other things. The Miranda rule has less applicability than many think (as it pertains to the right to silence), as it merely prevents the State from using against person X those unwarned, post-arrest statements made by X in response to police interrogation.

O arrests X, doesn't ask X any questions, X confesses to O: the State likely can use that statement against X in court.

O closely questions X, X confesses, O arrests X: the State likely can use that statement against X in court.

O arrests X, O interrogates X without first reading X the Miranda warning, X confesses at that point: the State likely will not be able to use that statement against X in court.

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas to everyone in Hurricane Radio land.