Tag Archives: ma

Update: Florida Cop Who Tried to Murder 79 Year Old Woman Worked as Male Prostitute While On Duty

Last week, I posted on the CopBlock Network about Frankie Bybee, a Sarasota County Sheriff’s deputy who extorted cash from an elderly woman then tried to murder her in a staged suicide attempt once she filed a complaint against him. In the process, he also sold her dog on Craigslist, after charging her $1,000 to care for it while she was in the hospital.

Yesterday, an Internal Affairs report in the case was released. Not only did it contain new details concerning the original charges, including surveillance video of Bybee using the victim’s ATM card to withdraw money, but it also included some new revelations about “business deals” he was involved in.

Along with ten additional charges related to his use of the debit card and fraudulent online purchases Bybee made, Deputy Bybee is also facing new accusations that he acted as a male prostitute while on duty. The latter claim involves him having been paid to have sex with a woman, as well as to record videos of himself masturbating in his patrol car. The woman came forward after seeing media coverage of his charges for the murder attempt.

Via ABC Action News in Tampa:

According to the report, a woman, Elinor Jarvis, came forward and told detectives that they were “involved in an ongoing ‘business deal” for several years that included Dep. Bybee being financially compensated for engaging in sexual acts with her.”

The report said he met her years ago in a hotel room near Boston, Massachusetts and was paid $5,000 for their “initial sexual encounter.”

The report also said that Bybee would record himself in a sex act in his patrol vehicle while on duty and send the video to her via an app called “Tango” and then she would transfer $500 into his PayPal account.

The total payout, according to law enforcement, for these acts was more than $100,000.

The sheriff said Bybee’s actions were first brought to their attention on Jan. 9. That is when Marcia Sohl filed a complaint against then deputy Bybee.

Bybee, according to Knight, responded to a call for service at Sohl’s home on Oct. 21. He befriended Sohl and began to take advantage of her. Investigators released video they say shows Bybee withdrawing money from ATM’s across Sarasota using Sohl’s stolen debit card. In one transaction, Bybe is in uniform.

On Tuesday, Bybee was charged with ten new counts of Criminal Use of Information that involves several unauthorized uses of the victim’s credit card.

Also, according to the report, just prior to the murder attempt Bybee had used the original victim, email account to send a message to her doctor pretending to be her and expressing “suicidal implications.” As a result, the victim was involuntarily committed for a mental health evaluation (commonly referred to as a “Baker Act” hold). It was later determined that Deputy Bybee’s IP address was used to send the email as part of his plot to make it appear she had committed suicide.

In spite of all that, Bybee’s bail amount was dropped from $1,030,000 to $365,620

Original Videos

Dover New Hampshire Police Keep Felony DUI by Influential Business Executive Out of News

The following post was shared with the CopBlock Network anonymously, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page. Within the post, the submitter maintains that the executive of a power plant located in Ossippee, NH severally injured a member of his family while driving drunk. Furthermore, the person submitting this post states that, due to influence from his position and the accompanying wealth, as well as family connections within the Dover Police Department, the accident and subsequent trial has not been covered at all by the media.

June 2016

This is a news tip about a white New Hampshire power plant manager charged with felony DUI that never made it on the news because it was covered up. Robert Lussier has undergone over seven months of a felony DUI trial and not so much as his arrest has been reported by the news. This is a cover up at its finest. Roberts sentencing will be in February, you should give him the air time he deserves.

On the evening of June 24th, Lussier, of Dover, NH, was working at the Pine Tree Power Plant in Ossippee NH. The plant is owned by:

ENGIE North America
1990 Post Oak Boulevard, Suite 1900
Houston, Texas 77056-3831
Tel: 713.636.0000
[email protected]

Robert left the power plant and went straight to a local Ossippee bar with one of his employees and began drinking heavily. Robert, after drinking himself into a stupor, climbed in his vehicle and began driving home to Dover.

As Robert got on route 16, he hit the side of a pickup truck head on and bounced off He then drove straight head on into an old man driving his vehicle. Robert severed this mans legs and has forever altered this mans life. Yet it was never reported on the news. Robert’s vehicle was also totaled.

This is where is gets interesting. All you have to do is follow the trail of the cover up. The first police officer on scene was the son of one of Robert’s employees. This felony DUI crash, in which Robert was 100% at fault and removed a family member’s legs, was never reported by any news outlet. Robert’s blood alcohol content was three times the legal limit.

We’ve since found out that Robert’s father is also a retired state policeman who leveraged his time in uniform to make sure this accident stayed off the news. It worked. Robert successfully avoided his license suspension hearing because the associated officer was pressured not to show in court. After removing my family member’s legs and having a BAC three times the legal limit, Robert is still driving the roads of NH.

Sigh, must be nice to be a rich, white executive with a state police father.

Roberts sentencing is coming up in February. It’s not too late for you in the news industry to cover this story with the attention it deserves. I’d suggest digging into why this arrest is not on any police log, the Ossippee police love publishing photos and detailing the criminal actions of those who are not rich, white executives with state trooper fathers.

Some other interesting things to investigate:

Discovery had shined a light upon the fact that Robert is an avid gun enthusiast and we’ve found out he has an extensive arsenal of weapons. Robert cannot be trusted to drive his vehicle home at the end of a work day without a blood alcohol content of three times the legal limit, let alone to own an arsenal of guns. However, he’s still in possession of this firearm arsenal.

Robert has a NH license to carry permit. If he were not the son of a state policeman, this would have been revoked immediately. So not only is this irresponsible human being still behind the wheel of a vehicle after removing a my family members legs, he carries conceal firearms too.

The discovery process has produced yet another interesting paper trail you could investigate regarding his resident New Hampshire concealed carry permit. Investigate when he received his NH resident concealed carry permit and when he moved to Dover, NH.

Prior to moving to Dover, Robert lived his entire life in Massachusetts. By following the paper trail, you’ll notice that the Ossippee police chief gave Robert a NH resident concealed carry permit six months to a year before he actually moved to New Hampshire. Robert was given a NH resident concealed carry permit by the Ossippee police while he was still a Massachusetts resident, the paper trail will show this. That is completely illegal.

In the discovery process, we also found out that Robert has had some interesting run-ins with the law in Massachusetts, but his state police daddy covered things up yet again. Two years ago, Robert had a dog and that dog apparently bit someone. So Robert did what any responsible pet owner would do, he took the dog outside and shot it in the head; then buried it in a shallow grave. The Boston, Massachusetts police were not amused about Robert’s execution of the dog and he was under investigation after lying about the whereabouts of the dog. Once again, Robert’s state police daddy stepped in and the cover up began.

As you can see, Robert is troubled. However, he always manages to stay off of the news because of his father’s state police connection. I hope you can change this and give this story the attention it deserves. My family member is missing leg’s while Robert’s life has been unaffected.

Please help me and my family.

“Exemplary Officer” Suspended by Dartmouth Police Department for Repeatedly Abusing Girlfriend

Officer Josh Luis was celebrated as an “exemplary officer” in September on the Facebook page of the Dartmouth (Massachusetts) Police Department for not abusing and/or murdering a minority woman during a traffic stop (see below). Just a few months later though, he has been suspended after his girlfriend reported that he had been abusing her repeatedly over the course of the past year. the reported abuse included threatening her with a gun and sexually assaulting her while threatening to rape her.

Via TurnTo10.com:

According to court documents, the victim claims she was physically and verbally abused on at least 10 separate occasions during the past year.

The victim claims that during one incident, Luis “threatened to rape her while tearing her clothes off,” but stopped.

On another occasion, she said Luis pointed his gun at her before threatening to kill himself if she left him.

The woman also claims Luis took a phone from her several times.

Domestic violence advocates note that his actions are consistent with what they see in many other cases.

“The pattern is overall about power and control and that involves, in fact, controlling how people communicate,” said Pamela MacLeod Lima, who is the executive director of Women’s Center in New Bedford.

Meanwhile, Chief Robert Szala has vowed to investigate even though Luis “is a very competent, very good officer and it’s just an unfortunate situation we’re all in.” Once that investigation concludes, Officer Luis could be taken off paid vacation and instead fired, which would force him to to apply for a job at some other department after his wrist heals from the minor plea deal they offer him.

The Dartmouth Police Department Public Relations Department hasn’t posted anything on their Facebook page (yet) about this “unfortunate situation” or whether his girlfriend is a minority. (Even though they couldn’t post the other one fast enough).

Dartmouth Police Officer Josh Luis pictured with a woman he didn’t beat.


I took a screenshot before they removed it, though. (Not my first day on the internets.)

Officer Luis is apparently really good at eating chicken wings, too.

Video of Massachusetts Detective Threatening to Kill; Plant Drugs on Teens Released (Update)

Last month, I blogged about the case of a Springfield, MA detective who threatened to beat and murder two teens. In addition, Detective Gregg Bigda stated that he would plant drugs on their bodies, in order to justify his actions. As point out in that first article, Det. Bigda has a history of misconduct and violent behavior, as well.

From that original post:

The threat to crush their skulls and then place cocaine in their pocket took place during an interrogation and was recorded by a video surveillance camera. The video has not been released publicly, supposedly to protect the identity of the teens he threatened to violently kill.

In spite of being caught red handed issuing these threats, Det. Bigda is not being charged with a crime, nor will he even be fired from the police department and forced to go work for a different department in another area of the state. Instead, he just received a suspension and will be back on the streets protecting and serving the shit out of the citizens of Springfield in 60 short days.

The two teens and another teen were accused of stealing an unmarked police car that another detective had left idling (and probably illegally parked) outside a pizza shop. As they were being arrested for that offense, an unnamed Springfield police officer kicked one of the teens in the face after he was already handcuffed and lying on the ground. There’s no indication that this officer received  any punishment at all for his assault on a defenseless teenager.

Now that video has been released by The Republican a Springfield area newspaper. And according to a post at Photography Is Not a Crime, they are as bad, if not worse than advertised:

During the videos, Detective Gregg Bigda makes a number of threats against the teens — neither of whom had an attorney or legal guardian present, or were read their rights.

The interrogations were conducted at the Palmer Police Station. Bigda tells both teens that he is eventually taking them back to the Springfield Police Station, which he stresses does not have cameras.

In the first video, he tells a 16-year-old boy in a red shirt: “See that camera up there? It don’t fucking exist [at the Springfield Police Station]. So anything happens to you at my place never happened. If I don’t write it in my report, it never happened.”

He later tells the teen: “You know I’m gonna beat the fuck out of you when you get back to Springfield right now, ’cause you just lied to my face … When we get back, I’m gonna tune you the fuck up, because you just lied to me. And I’m telling you in advance, and I’m being nice to you.”

In the second video, a teen wearing a gray-shirt says that his face hurts. Bigda responds: “You think it hurts now? You know where we’re going after this? We’re going back to fucking Springfield.”

He then explains how the Springfield Police Station doesn’t have cameras. He makes another threat to injure the teen’s face later in the video, even telling him it will require a trip to the hospital.

The threats continue: “I could fucking crush your skull and fucking get away with it.” Bigda then threatens to “fucking bring the dog back, let him fucking go after ya.”

And: “Don’t even fucking speak if you’re gonna lie to me, ’cause I’ll fucking kill you in the parking lot.”

And: “I’ll charge you with killing Kennedy and fucking make it stick … I’m not hampered by the fucking truth, ’cause I don’t give a fuck … I’ll stick a fucking kilo of coke in your pocket and put you away for fucking 15 years.”

In the third video, Bigda threatens the red-shirted teen again: [W]hen we get back to Springfield — I’m not even waiting for Springfield. When we get that fucking lying, I’m gonna bloody your body.”

In all three videos, Detective Luke Cournoyer is with Bigda and does not seem bothered by his threats and coercive interrogation techniques.

BTW, Det Bigda even had the nerve to complain about the measly 60 day suspension he received as “punishment” for his actions on those videos.

Massachusetts Cop’s Wife Caught Faking Burglary; Painted Black Lives Matter Graffiti on House

The wife of a Millbury, Massachusetts police officer has been caught faking a burglary at their home and attempting to pin the blame on members of the Black Lives Matter movement by painting “BLM” on the side of the house. At this point, the exact reason behind the hoax hasn’t been released and details are still pretty vague. However, the video embedded below contains a statement about unspecified “money problems,” which tends to imply that it was intended to justify a bogus insurance claim.

Via BostonCBSlocal.com:

Police say on October 17 Maria Daly reported a burglary at the family home, saying jewelry and money had been stolen. She also reportedly said her house was tagged with graffiti that appeared to reference the Black Lives Matter movement.

According to Millbury Police Chief Donald Desorcy, investigators have determined the entire account was false.

“Something wasn’t quite right,” said Desorcy. “I think that was pretty obvious and as a result of that investigation, the officers did their due diligence and followed through with the investigation that we had.”

“Basically we came to the conclusion that it was all fabricated,” said Desorcy. “There was no intruder, there was no burglary.”

Just after she filed the police report, Daly took to social media saying, “We woke up to not only our house being robbed while we were sleeping, but to see this hatred for no reason.”

The chief says Daly’s husband, Officer Daniel Daly, was not invovled in the deception and has been exonerated.

It’s a story generating a lot of reaction in town.

“She must have tagged the place herself,” one neighbor said. “I don’t know why you’d do that, if you’re gonna stage a robbery, I mean really come on, you’re a cop’s wife. You should know better.”

Maria Daly faces charges of filing a false police report and misleading a police investigation.

This, of course, isn’t the first time a cop’s wife was caught with her hand in the proverbial cookie jar. Last December, I posted the video of a Florida police officer’s wife who was caught by a surveillance camera stealing Christmas presents off the porch of another cop’s family. It does seem like they should be better at stealing stuff, though. It’s almost like there’s an IQ cap for police wives, too.

Local News Coverage:

Massachusetts Detective Caught on Video Threatening to Kill Teens & Plant Drugs on Them (Just) Suspended 60 Days

Detective Gregg Bigda, of the Springfield (MA) Police Department’s narcotics unit, threatened to murder two teens and then plant drugs on them to justify it. The threat to crush their skulls and then place cocaine in their pocket took place during an interrogation and was recorded by a video surveillance camera. The video has not been released publicly, supposedly to protect the identity of the teens he threatened to violently kill.

In spite of being caught red handed issuing these threats, Det. Bigda is not being charged with a crime, nor will he even be fired from the police department and forced to go work for a different department in another area of the state. Instead, he just received a suspension and will be back on the streets protecting and serving the shit out of the citizens of Springfield in 60 short days.

The two teens and another teen were accused of stealing an unmarked police car that another detective had left idling (and probably illegally parked) outside a pizza shop. As they were being arrested for that offense, an unnamed Springfield police officer kicked one of the teens in the face after he was already handcuffed and lying on the ground. There’s no indication that this officer received  any punishment at all for his assault on a defenseless teenager.

Via WAMC.org, a Massachusetts public radio affiliate:

A video of the interrogation, during which Bigda reportedly threatened to crush the skull of one of the teens and  plant a kilo of cocaine in his pocket, was provided to defense attorneys who are now using it to impeach Bigda’s credibility in pending drug cases.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said he supports the commissioner’s decision to suspend Bigda because of the likelihood firing him would not survive a civil service appeal and the city would be ordered to rehire the cop with back pay.

” I am not happy about it. This is what was recommended,” Sarno said. ” It is a most severe suspension of 60 working days without pay and retraining.”

Barbieri told The Republican newspaper that Bigda will be reassigned to uniform duty on a day shift when his suspension ends.

Springfield City Councilor Justin Hurst, joined by four of his colleagues at a news conference, complained the punishment given Bigda is too lenient.

” I think we have to ask when it comes to this case, at what point, at what standard is there when the commissioner feels a cop should be terminated,” asked Hurst?

Of course, Hurst brings up a good question. Especially since, like many other Bad Apples, Bigda has a history of misconduct, including violent acts, that all of the Good Cops in his department have a history of minimizing or simply ignoring. He even had two restraining orders issued against him for breaking into an ex-girlfriend’s house, threatening her, and engaging in a “physical altercation” against her. Det. Bigda was also involved in an illegal search of a UPS truck in 2005.

According to Mayor Sarno:

“We have to protect the integrity, professionalism, and brave efforts of our police department and in turn make sure our residents have complete confidence in our police department.”

Obviously, these sort of examples of “accountability” for cops caught (numerous times) committing misconduct and making threats or even engaging in assaults against citizens does the opposite of both those things, though.

Crying Over Spilled Milk: Authoritarianism in Schools and the Criminalization of Children

This post was written by and originally published at the Center For a Stateless Society (C4SS) under the title “Authoritarianism Means Never Having to Apologize over Spilled Milk.” Previously, the incident involving Ryan Turk was blogged about on the CopBlock Network in a post by , which can be found here. Posts and other content you think are worth sharing with the CopBlock Network can be sent in to us via the CopBlock.org Submission Page.

(Note: This has been posted in its original form and no edits to the original text were made. Some links may have been added within the text and images have been added. In addition, the conclusions expressed within this initial introductory summary represent my own interpretation of what is being stated within Nick’s own writings.)

In the post below, Nick discusses issues relating to the public school system and the associated authoritarianism employed within it. Also discussed is the effect that has on the children that system and the criminalization of what should be considered normal behavior for school aged children. He also references several alternatives to mandated public schools.

Links to previous posts by Nick Ford that have been shared on the CopBlock Network can be found at the bottom of this post. If you appreciate the things Nick has written, you can support him directly here.

Authoritarianism Means Never Having to Apologize over Spilled Milk

In Virginia a middle school student named Ryan Turk was arrested and then suspended from school for allegedly stealing a $0.65 carton of milk. Officials claim that the student tried to conceal the carton of milk and are also charging him with larceny. This charge could impinge Turk’s record which could also lead to further difficulties down the line.

According to the arresting officer, Turk was acting “erratic” while he arrested the middle school student and Turk claims he “yanked away from him” and told him that the officer wasn’t his father. Turk was later searched for drugs in the principal’s office because of his behavior which involved laughing and fidgeting.

Both of these things contributed to Turk not only being suspended for theft but also for being “disrespectful”.

But there’s a problem: Ryan Turk is on the free lunches program.

So even if we could excuse the way that Turk was treated for “stealing” a milk carton, the reality is that there was no justification for the Graham Park Middle School to keep these charges against him. Instead, the school has decided to reinforce the rough handling of the student by appealing to “cellphone use” and “disrespect”.

Public Schools Programming ChildrenThe latter of these two things was a perfectly normal response to a ridiculous and controlling situation. Students should not have to feel unsafe and micromanaged in places where they are supposed to be learning. The way the officer handled someone who was presumably much younger and weaker than them speaks to the mindset that you are instilled with as a police officer.

Turk’s mother, Shamise Turk, summed up the charge of larceny well, “They are charging him with larceny, which I don’t have no understanding as to why he is being charged with larceny when he was entitled to that milk from the beginning,”

But even if Turk hadn’t been entitled to the milk, would charging a student with a crime that could go on their record the best way to handle this? Is the first option that this police officer had to forcefully pull at someone much younger than them? Couldn’t the officer have simply asked Turk if he was entitled to the program or not?

The lack of administrative oversight and unfair treatment of Turk and his family brings to attention the lack of control students and their parents have over state-run school systems. Students are compelled by law to attend these institutions and then are subject to many rules and policies that they never had any say in.

These policies and rules are then enforced by overbearing police officers and administrators who allegedly just want what’s “best” for the students. But the students are the ones who are more likely to know what is best for themselves, not the administrators, police officers or indeed, adults in general.

These facts explain the long-running success of self-directed learning within the Sudbury Valley School (SVS) in Framingham, Massachusetts which has existed for over 40 years. SVS has over these decades dedicated itself to allowing for an environment that encourages students to express themselves as freely as possible without harming others.

There are no grades, homework or bureaucratic and authoritarian administrative regimes to force the students into compliance. Students are encouraged to ask questions and use the time they have at the school in whatever way they want. Sometimes students use this time to just play outside or play video games and other times they use this time to read.

Whatever they decide to do, students often make the most out of these opportunities because they are responsible for them. There are staff members who are there to be helpful facilitators but their role starts and stops there. Students often learn how to read, write and do basic math either through play, direct experience or through the usual learning process, but on their terms.

If we want to build a world where administrators can’t treat students as if they’re their property over a carton of free milk, then we should consider alternatives such as democratic schooling. In addition, unschooling and homeschooling are other alternatives that give much more power and control to youth as opposed to adults, who’ll continue to think that they know what’s best.

Other Posts on CopBlock.org by Nick Ford

  1. If You Want True Reform, Abolish The Police!
  2. Prisons Can’t be Exonerated of Their Role in The Police State
  3. Shifting Prisoners to New “State of the Art Facilities” Won’t Eliminate Prison Abuse
  4. Building More Prisons is Not the Solution to Prison Riots
  5. Jails and the “Justice” System Punish the Poor For Being Poor
  6. Proposed British Prison Reforms Don’t Go Far Enough to Address the Real Issues

Police Issue Important Warning About Men Challenging Passers-By to Rap Battles

Earlier this week, the police in Charlton Massachusetts issued a stern warning to residents that they should be on the lookout for groups of men roaming the city and challenging random strangers to rap battles.

In a breathless all points bulletin that was later released to the media and then the general public, a dispatcher warned officers that the men were likely armed with dope rhymes and possibly concealing phat beats that they could brandish at any moment. (That’s how I’m assuming it happened.)

Via WRGB 6 News:

Charlton police told WCVB-TV that a black SUV containing a group of men in their late teens or early 20s pulled up next to three teenage boys Saturday afternoon.

One of the men got out of the vehicle and started rapping. The other men then asked the teens if they wanted to “spit some bars” with them. When the boys declined, the men drove off.

Further details were provided by the Boston Globe:

“With something of this nature we don’t know the specific intent,” said Sergeant Gary Mason. “It could be that they just wanted to just do some freestyle rapping, but one of the concerns is that one of the occupants had exited the vehicle and asked if they wanted to come in to spit some bars.”

The people who tried to incite the “rap battle” have not yet been found, Mason said.

Police said the behavior was “suspicious” and “frightening” to the boys, but it did not appear to be an attempted abduction. Regardless, the department said it will take the complaint seriously “until proven otherwise.”

The incident prompted police to inform the public, see if any agencies had similar incidents, and encourage residents to come forward with helpful information, Mason said.

Some people might question why the police would be bothering to carry out what appears to be a low level manhunt for some guys that probably just watched “8 Mile” a few too many times (instead of using whatever resources were involved to test all those backlogged rape kits or something crazy like that). I would tell those people to be quiet and not ruin this for me.

As much as some people don’t often take the threat of drive-by rap battles seriously, there is obviously historical examples of the danger this type of urban unrest can represent. In the most well known and infamous instance, the East Coast vs. West Coast Hip Hop Wars ultimately resulted in the murders of Tupac Shakur of Death Row Records and Biggie Smalls of Bad Boy Records.

In a related incident in 2004, a group of unsuspecting young boys from Colorado got “served” by some children from a different town. When the father of one of the boys subsequently attempted to intercede on their behalf, things escalated profoundly. When all was said and done, he ended up in the hospital with what doctors described as “the worst case of having been served they had ever witnessed.”

Nor is this type of danger restricted to the United States. In a tragic incident during the “Dance, Dance Revolucion” of 2006 (not to be confused with the Dance, Dance Revolution of 2015), a young Cuban teen, who appeared to have a very bright future ahead of him, was defeated by Fidel Castro himself in a very competitive electronic dance-off. In a display of ruthlessness that often accompanies such competitions in Communist countries, the dictator then publicly executed the young man without mercy.

These type of music-based domestic terror threats are obviously nothing to be taken lightly. The police in Charlton are wisely advising everyone to be on the safe side and reminding the public that if you see something, you should spit something. Not since the Scary Anarchist Halloween Plot of 2015 has this level of fear swept through the country.

East vs. West Rap Battle

Questionable FBI Surveillance Aircraft Fleet Outed by Coalition of Journalists, Activists, And Techies

The following post was submitted to the CopBlock Network by Isiah Holmes, who has been featured several times previously on Cop Block, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page. In this post, Isiah discusses the use of aircraft FBI to conduct surveillance and the role that private citizens (along with the media) played in uncovering and exposing the program’s existence and just how widespread its use is.

(Note: The FBI’s use of surveillance aircraft to spy on activists and protesters was also discussed by Asa J in an earlier post published in August of last year.)

Mice Chasing The Hawk

There exists a variety of stories notorious — amongst those whom it concerns — for their uncanny quality of illuminating hidden plights and unsung heroes. Such tales, unfortunately, rarely experience veneration in modern western society. For the sake of this piece, think not of the many examples of centuries old legends and fables. Instead, accept the challenge of recognizing just one of this variety’s countless modern manifestations. For instance, when a loose coalition of professional and citizen journalists, activists, and techies blew the lid off the FBI’s questionable, nationwide aerial surveillance program. Blew the lid–only to have the story locked into a press loop where it ultimately succumbed to starvation. This piece might be considered a functional revival of the tale.

It began in Baltimore in 2015, after Freddie Gray’s death in police custody and during the subsequent protests and riots. Cameras were everywhere, whether belonging to Baltimore PD, press, bystanders or active civic dissidents. No one, however, anticipated cameras and cell phone collection tech, for that matter, having circled above them for days. International Business Times reports, Benjamin Shayne, leader of the police radio site www.scanbaltimore.com, was among the first to notice unusual air traffic. Shayne took to Twitter: “Anyone know who has been flying the light plane in circles above the city for the past few nights?” The planes, according to IBT, which flew from April 30th-May 2nd 2015, appeared shortly after Baltimore initiated a city-wide curfew.

anti-police state banner

Following Benjamin’s tip, a coalition of Twitter and Reddit users, including one former ACLU employee, united to monitor the planes. According to IBT, a trove of data on the aircraft was compiled through their combined talents. Exact flight paths, docking airports, and owners were tracked. The planes were now being watched back.

According to a Washington Post piece, although one plane appeared to lack a tail number, a second was tracked back to “NG Research.” The company’s website boasts of expertise in air quality, aerosol chemistry, and health effects, but speaks not on why its plane was over Baltimore that day.

Once questions started flooding web feeds, the FBI, surprisingly, released a statement glistening with trepidation. “The aircraft,” officials said; according to the Washington Post, “were specifically used to provide high altitude observation of potential criminal activity to enable rapid response by police officials on the ground.” An Improv Online investigation into suspicious planes had–undoubtedly–forced “The Man” to come forward publicly on this “program.” Perhaps it’s safe to say that information, or rather free information, is power.

Due to the government’s reluctance, as well as technology concerns, the ACLU filed several FOIA requests. In tandem with the ACLU’s push, the Associated Press launched their own in depth investigation on the aircraft’s purpose and origin. As it turns out, an entire FBI controlled surveillance-purposed fleet waited for them at the end of the rabbit hole.

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The manned planes, carrying both powerful cameras, including infrared cameras, and cell phone data collection technology reputedly operate above cities quite often. All the craft, the Huffpost reports, are superficially attached not to a government program, but to fictitious companies used as fronts. Many sources reported on the infrared camera’s capabilities of literally seeing people inside of homes. The very nature of the technology is rather wide reaching and indiscriminate, meaning non-targets frequently are recorded. A 2001 Supreme Court decision, Kyllo v. United States, Washington Post reports, held using thermal imagers to “see details” inside enclosed buildings without a warrant amounts to an unlawful search.

AP journalists also discovered that despite the program’s capabilities, deployments are rarely approved by a judge. In light of this fact, according to the Huffington Post, FBI asserts the planes are deployed only for specific, ongoing investigations. Exactly what sort of investigations is entirely unclear.

In fact, nearly a year later, even basic information on the program is vigorously withheld. In terms of explicit references, the HuffPost reports, little more than already heavily censored Justice Department Inspector General reports is public. “The FBI’s aviation program is not secret”, says spokesman Christopher Allen. “Specific aircraft”, he continues, “and their capabilities are protected for operational purposes.” Allen, according to the HuffPost, asserts the planes are not “equipped, designed, or used for bulk collection activities or mass surveillance.” The FBI also, apparently, allocates the fleet as air support for local departments, on-request.

fbi-spy-plane-2-bSuch statements downplaying the possibility of bulk data collection do nothing, however, to explain the plane’s flight patterns. The AP, the HuffPost reports, uncovered flights orbiting large, enclosed buildings for extended periods of time. These areas, such as Virginia’s Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Minnesota’s Mall Of America, made photo surveillance unlikely. Rather, electronic signals collection, the AP found, proves far more effective under such circumstances. The FBI planes, according to the AP’s flight data analysis, by 2015 had flown over at least 40,000 residents.

Conversely, officials did attribute gear capable of identifying people by their cellphones, even when not making calls, to the craft. Officials, the HuffPost echoed, say such devices, which mimic cellphone towers into providing basic subscriber information, are rarely deployed. The FBI’s cryptic program, sources claim, conjures memories of reports of suspicious planes circling US neighborhoods in 2003.

Through its investigation, the Associated Press was able to track 50 planes down to at least 13 fake companies. No, this is not hyperbole. They’re literally fraudulent, not real, lies, or whatever synonym you care to choose. FVX Research, KQM Aviation, NBR aviation, and PXW Services, according to the Huffington Post, were included among the AP’s findings. It’s interesting to note that, at least with these four companies, all have three letter acronym names. Not, of course, unlike the Federal Bureau of Investigations. A 2010 federal budget document, according to the HuffPost, verified the FBI’s fleet size at around 115 craft.

So really, to what extent is the federal law enforcement organization being brazenly, shamelessly deceptive? The FBI, according to the HuffPost, did ask the AP to not include any company names in its reporting. The bureau reputedly used the taxpayer dollars which would go towards replacing the disclosed companies as a kind of blackmail. Classy. The AP, of course, declined the FBI’s request as only publicly accessible information was used.

Most of the aircraft, despite belonging to different “companies”, were registered under a specific name–Robert Lindley. Registration documents signed by Lindley’s hand, HuffPost reports, display at least three distinct signatures. Hoping to verify the man’s existence, the AP has tried and failed to reach Robert through multiple Washington-area phone numbers under that name. FBI officials, to this day, refuse to comment on whether or not Lindley is a government employee.

By analyzing the plane’s flight data, journalists discovered the FBI fleet flew over more than 30 cities over a 30 day period. Since April 2015, two months before the Huffington Post piece, at least 100 flights circled both major cities and rural areas. Associated Press photographers even captured an image of a plane circling like a ghostly hawk in northern Virginia’s skies. The aircraft, the HuffPost reports, sported both a variety of suspicious antenna under its fuselage and a mounted camera.

Cities on the FBI’s flight list include: Houston, Phoenix, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, Minneapolis, and southern California. Some of these cities, a quick google search reveals, were subject to recent protests and/or civil unrest, such as California, Chicago and, of course, Baltimore. Despite any such public data professional and citizen journalists, analysts, or researchers may gleam, fundamental questions abound. What precisely is the purpose or function of this specific program? How long has it been operational, and under what laws is it bound or regulated? Where does excess data and footage go? How far is too far?

FBI Surveillance BaltimoreDespite the FBI’s recent downplaying of its surveillance program, its statement before congress in 2009 really says it all. “Aircraft surveillance has become an indispensable intelligence collection and investigative technique which serves as a force multiplier to the ground teams.” According to the Huffington Post, this was part of the FBI’s bid to Congress for $5.1 million in funding for the so-called “spy plane” program.

Ask yourself, what does this statement and the amount of money the FBI requested, taken either alone or together, say about the program? Does it seem like its aircraft and the technology they’re equipped with would be so rarely utilized as officials claim? “A lot of questions are unclear”, says ACLU staff attorney Nathan Wessler, the Washington Post reports.

Is it safe to suppose at least part of the programs mandate involves surveillance of generously populated protests, rowdy or otherwise? Almost sensing the question lurking about its flank the Justice Department, the HuffPost reports, maintained its “drones” don’t deploy “solely” to monitor First Amendment protected activity. In Baltimore’s case, according to FBI and Federal Aviation Administration documents, both night vision and inferred tech scanned crowds below. The documents, Washington Post reports, were obtained by the ACLU through Freedom Of Information Act requests.

An FBI official, under anonymity due to the programs sensitive nature, claimed the planes were ensuring public safety. The official, according to Washington Post, used a “potential for large scale violence and riots” as justification. “Potential”, suggesting the planes were in the air before the ground atmosphere went agro. In case you’re wondering, documents also showed no evidence of a warrant being obtained prior or after the Baltimore operation.

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If there’s at all a silver lining in any of this, it’s how much independent people really contributed to the story. Most of the information used to track, verify, and ultimately link the planes to FBI’s program hid within a slush of online data. Even the Associated Press wouldn’t have conducted an investigation had Benjamin Shayne not first tweeted about the suspicious planes. A decentralized online contingent of bloggers and Reddit users, not the organized press, was the first to conduct any serious inquiry. It’s an utter travesty that the same headline, “FBI behind mysterious surveillance aircraft over cities”, along with nearly the same AP articles, were published across the board. If that’s not a press loop then a challenge goes out to anyone who can give a more textbook example.

For anyone interested conducting a more concurrent investigation, technologist John Wiseman, Fusion.net reports, has some tips to offer. Wiseman himself used public records to get flight routes, some of which can be found online. One would be surprised what kind of legitimate information floats about the slush untouched simply because no one, except those who care, bothers to look. John also reputedly used a modified radio receiver to pick up aircraft transmissions, and tracked tail numbers, provided by the Washington Post, to a fake company. Wiseman, Fusion.net reports, recommends sites like flightradar20 and flightaware for tracking aircraft registration numbers.

Here’s where this blog gets functional! Anyone willing, able, and/or both are by all means invited to rehash the investigation. Larger news organizations might feel subliminal pressure from the feds to keep quiet, edit stories, or what have you, but the people will not. How hard would it be to, say, check up on new data on the already “found out” planes? Where are they now? Have they traded hands or do the front-companies still stand? Speaking of the “companies”, they’re fair game too! NG Research, for example, has a website which can be easily found by googling the company name. No, there isn’t any product listings on the page. No, the page hasn’t changed for over a year despite it apparently being an actual company. A functional revival of the FBI’s surveillance program, even if not published, may prove uniquely valuable in the days to come.

– Isiah Holmes

Gloucester Police Department’s “Angel Program” Sends Drug Addicts To Rehab, Not Prison

The following post was submitted to the CopBlock Network by Isiah Holmes, who has been featured several times previously on Cop Block, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page. In this post, Isiah discusses a program recently started by Gloucester Massachusetts Police Chief Leonard Campanello in which, rather than treating drug abuse as a criminal issue, it’s treated as a disease requiring treatment.

(Note: The Gloucester Police Department’s new drug program was also discussed by Deo in an earlier post published in August of last year, as well as by Dylan Donnelly in a post published in May of last year. While both the previous posts address the same topic, they were written at different time frames relative to the start of the “Angel Program” and contain different perspectives from each author.)

In The World Anew

“You cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it. You must learn to see the world anew.”

No one can deny the profound reservoirs of foresight Albert Einstein surely utilized to conjure those words. In order to evolve our understanding, we must first break the rigid behavioral or ideological loop which has brought us here. No modern SNAFU is more relevant to this phenomenon than the drug war, and its human cost. It’s a war with “soldiers”, aka our police force, who no longer agree with their own method–find them all, arrest them all. In 2015, however, one Massachusetts department found breaking operational standards was worth pulling it’s heroin ravaged community back from the brink.

Massachusetts police drug addictsGloucester Massachusetts, like a growing percentage of the US, has an overwhelming opioid issue. In fact, according to VICE, the first four months of 2015 saw four local overdose deaths by either heroin or prescription drugs. The deaths, coupled with several other overdose victims who survived, compelled the Gloucester Police Department to mix things up a little. Police Chief Leonard Campanello took to Facebook: “Any addict who walks into the police station with the remainder of their drug equipment or drugs and asks for help will not be charged. Instead,” Campanello continues, “we will walk them through the system toward detox and recovery.” Amazingly, the post’s number of shares–32,000 shares–outnumbers Gloucester’s population of 30,000 people.

The Gloucester PD’s trailblazing initiative, launched June 1st 2015, is formally known as the “Angel Program”. Under the program, VICE reports, Campanello’s officers, upon making contact with a consenting addict, will transport the person to nearby Gilbert Hospital. From there, the patient is assigned an “angel”, according to the Gloucester Times, who then walks them through the rehabilitation process. Also, the Gloucester PD maintains a contingent of volunteers who stay with the patient until an angel arrives. The first patient arrived in Campanello’s station a day after the program was launched. Willfully and peacefully, the 31 year old man arrived at Campanello’s doorstep requesting help.

It didn’t take long for word of the program to start mushrooming across the nation. Out of state rehab centers offered anything they could including, VICE reports, scholarships to help pay for transport and treatment. In spite of all this, true success relies on a non-existent level of trust between the addict and the officers. “Someone has to take the first step”, says Campanello, “that’s all we can do.”

Leonard Campanello Gloucester Police Chief2The chief, aware of relations between cops and non-cops, pointed out that they must “show that we are good to our word.” This can’t happen if even dying addicts frown at the idea of surrendering, with or without drugs, inside the walls of a station. Holding true to Albert Einstein’s old quote, Police Chief Campanello insists his officers have “come to consensus as a department that we’re not going to arrest our way out of the addiction problem.” Campanello later went on record, the Gloucester Times reports, pointing out “the important piece to all of this. For law enforcement to extend a helping hand”, says the chief, “and we’ve started to do that.”

Gloucester PD also made an overdose “antidote” available at local pharmacies without a prescription. According to VICE, the nasal spray–Narcon– is capable of instantly stopping even severe overdoses. Gary Langis, Gloucester resident and harm reduction activist since the 80’s, delivers Narcon door-to-door. “I think it’s a good thing that they’re having this conversation”, says Langis, “and looking at drug users as not a criminal thing, but as people that need a little help.” Langis, like many, expresses doubts that a population which police have historically “marginalized and demonized” is going to be willing to trust them. Landis’s fears may prove valid, as Gloucester officers remain obligated to charge users they get off the street, according to VICE.

It would appear, however, that this particular police department, or at least its leader, is willing to move past this status quo. “Your life”, he says, referring to Gloucester’s addicts, CNN reports, “is more meaningful than your death. Don’t be ashamed of your illness. We are not ashamed of you, it’s time…come and get the help.” Following the Gloucester PD’s empathy fueled leap of faith, towns in 17 other states promptly adopted the Angel Program.

A large component to ending the drug war is, indeed, legalizing marijuana. Another, perhaps, vastly more profound component is caring about the people the war hurts, ruins, or kills. We have to care about one another, and America’s current narcotics policy stands as the antithesis to this end. Now, let’s use the momentum from this small victory as a point of encouragement for municipalities elsewhere to get on board with the revolution.

– Isiah Holmes