Tag Archives: newark

Update: Two Years Later the TSA is STILL Keeping You Safe Five Percent of the Time

Transportation Security Administration TSA Failed 95 Percent

Once again, TSA inspectors have failed to find 95% of the mock weapons sent through checkpoints by Homeland Security agents working undercover.

Just over two years ago, in June of 2015, I posted about tests Homeland Security had run at airports across the country. In those tests, undercover agents were sent through pre-boarding checkpoints run by the Transportation Security Administration. (Video from that original post is embedded below.)

Those agents carried realistic looking weapons and explosive devices past TSA screeners in order to determine how often the “weapons” would be detected. This included replicas of pistols, knives, nunchucks, tasers, ammunition, and even defused hand grenades.

Out of 70 items that should have been stopped, TSA screeners found a grand total of three of them. As I noted, at the time that translates to a failure rate of 95%. Not exactly a number that will make you feel happy as you stand in the giant line at the security checkpoint next time you fly somewhere.

Surely they’ve addressed those issues in those 2+ years and improved dramatically, though. After all, you could seemingly stumble into a higher level of success just by randomly guessing which passengers have some sort of contraband in their luggage. Right?

Not so much, according to the Washington Times:

Undercover federal agents successfully snuck drugs and explosives past security screeners at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport last week, according to the local Fox affiliate.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) conducted the test last Thursday by sending agents disguised as ordinary passengers into the airport in order to see if screeners were up to snuff, KMSP reported.

The TSA “red team” attempted to smuggle 18 different items past airport security that should easily be detected but prevailed almost every time, the Fox affiliate reported.

“In most cases, they succeeded in getting the banned items through. 17 out of 18 tries by the undercover federal agents saw explosive materials, fake weapons or drugs pass through TSA screening undetected,” KMSP reported, citing unnamed sources familiar with the operation.
In fact, it could have even been worse this time:

The security test was ultimately abandoned once the TSA’s failure rate reached 95 percent, the station reported.

So, before the Mercy Rule was invoked, the TSA screeners in Minneapolis had successfully found a weapon being smuggled onto a plane once. Which, like 2015, equates to just five percent of the time.

Basically, when you eliminate groping people; especially underage passengers, taking lewd photos of unsuspecting women, and stealing shit out of your luggage, they just aren’t very proficient at what they do. (To be fair, they do seem to be pretty good at finding spare change passengers being subjected to their ineffectual security theater leave behind.)

Truth be told, they actually couldn’t be much less useful (and would be quite a bit less annoying and exploitative) if they just slept through their shift, like the guy in the picture at the top of this post.

Minneapolis – St. Paul TSA Screeners Fail Yet Again

Successful Five Percent of the Time in 2015

Groping People to Keep You Safe Almost Never

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New Jersey State Road Pirates Prey on Helpless Drivers to Generate Revenue and Fill Ticket Quotas

The following post was shared with the CopBlock Network anonymously, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page. The person submitting this describes an experience they had while traveling in New Jersey to attend a work related meeting. Instead of being allowed to complete a productive day of work, they were stopped and extorted by a Road Pirate intent on generating revenue for the state.

They also discuss the negative impact and helpless feelings that an average citizen may often feel after being victimized by these Roadside Buccaneers. In addition, they speculate that it was a concerted effort by these New Jersey State Highwaymen to rob and plunder travelers who are from out of state or who otherwise are perceived as an easy target for Revenue Generation.

Date of Incident: May 31, 2016
Department Involved: New Jersey State Police
Email: Contact Us
Phone Number: (609) 882-2000
Address: Office of the Superintendent, New Jersey State Police, PO Box 7068, West Trenton, NJ 08628

I was pulled over at 6:40am on my way to an out-of-state work meeting for “driving faster” than the officer was. Prior to being pulled over, I was in the express lane on the New Jersey Turnpike and the officer was in the local lane, which is separated with a divider. Initially, I was driving in the middle lane and switched to the left lane to pass a car, before moving back to the center lane.

I am an out-of-state licensed driver and was in a brand new car with New York plates (a rental car provided by work for this one meeting) and may have been perceived as a good potential revenue target. It appears a new tactic for New Jersey Troopers is to follow from different lanes, but I saw him a mile back and was driving at the posted speed limit.

Road PiratesAs background, there are a lot of cars on the highway at this hour. Along the whole Turnpike, from Newark all the way thru Philadelphia, you could see the entire New Jersey State Police was out in full force ticketing people – I personally saw at least 25 pull-overs from troopers before and after my own ticket. My ticket is not for a speeding ticket – it is for careless driving – because there is no real record of how fast I was going.

I am writing this post because I feel powerless. The system is stacked against you and from what information I can find online and anecdotally, it seems there is no real way to fight this, it is a pure revenue generator for the state. My options are to pay the fine, but in doing so I am admitting guilt for “careless driving,” which in principle I find to be a hard pill to swallow, or to go to court to plead to a lower misdemeanor of “unsafe driving.” This carries zero points, but has a higher fine associated with it, which is also untrue, unless I pay for an attorney who may have connections or insight to get this ticket thrown out.

Incidentally, within two days of the ticket, I received ten spam letters from New Jersey traffic attorneys in my home state. This seems appalling to me, as well. There is no potential positive outcome for me, nor any potential avenue for vindication or justice. I know this is not a major offense or grievance compared to what others may have seen.  However, as a law-abiding citizen who has a great respect for our country and the law, this experience has been jarring given the sense of helplessness it has created.

Those troopers are supposed to protect our roads, but instead are incentivized to make taxpaying drivers into additional revenue generators for the state and THERE IS NOTHING ANYONE CAN DO to fix the system.

– Thank you to the CopBlock Network for providing a means to share this experience.

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Off-Duty New Jersey Cop Shoots Man During Bar Fight

On Friday, it was reported that an off-duty Newark police officer had shot a man after being involved in a late night bar brawl. As of yet, the officer has not been identified publicly, except as being an 11 year “veteran of the force,” and few details about the actual fight, which took place at a bar named “Paddy’s Place” in Union City, were released.

Via ABC7ny.com:

An off-duty Newark police officer fatally shot a 37-year-old man inside a bar in Union, New Jersey, early Friday.

The victim, Michael Gaffney, of Piscataway, was discovered inside Paddy’s Place on Rosemont Avenue North just after 1 a.m. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

“He was a great man,” said Marc Pasuca, who attended high school with Gaffney. “Just his heart, and he loved his family so much. You could see in his posts, he was so ecstatic over his daughter getting honor role…he had a heart of gold.”The preliminary investigation determined that an altercation between Gaffney and the off-duty officer led to the officer using his service weapon, but multiple agencies were working to determine exactly what led to the shooting.

Michael Gaffney Off Duty Cop Shooting

Michael Gaffney

“No one should bring a gun into a bar, and now this poor teenage daughter is without a father,” Pasuca said. “I can’t imagine my daughter waking up without a dad.”The officer was taken to a local hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.

“Now we grieve, and we try to move on,” Pasuca said. “I don’t know, you try to change laws or something. I don’t know. What are you going to do? Put a metal detector at every bar so a guy doesn’t come in with gun? I don’t even know.”

The investigation into this matter, which remains ongoing, is being conducted in strict accordance with the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General guidelines governing all investigations into incidents involving use of deadly force by law enforcement.

It is unclear if any charges will be filed.

There’s also some conflicting information regarding whether the shooting took place inside the bar or outside. A different report from NJ1015.com states that the fight and subsequent shooting took place outside the bar.

Spoiler: I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for charges to be filed. The cop involved would have to have been caught on video and clearly in the wrong for that to happen. Even then it’s still a bit of a crap shoot whether they would be charged and later receive the traditional slap on the wrist that accompanies such charges.

Also, in spite of the somewhat common reaction by people to call for more laws, it’s already illegal to shoot someone unless it is in self defense. Since the details of the original incident and fight haven’t been released we don’t know if that was the case (and I certainly support the right to self defense). However, if the officer involved wasn’t acting in self defense, we obviously don’t need another law stating that it’s illegal to murder someone.

The fact that he had a gun in a bar while drinking in the first place, is something that raises plenty of questions. Once again though, this is something else that’s already covered by current laws. In fact, in many states it is a felony to use a gun while drinking.

The problem isn’t the lack of applicable laws. It’s the fact that those laws are rarely applied to certain people with shiny little badges.

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Federal “Investigations” Only Enable Local Police Departments’ Abuses

The following post was originally posted at NationalInterest.org by  under the title “Washington Can’t Fix Broken Policing.” It addresses the idea that having a the Department of Justice (DoJ) or some other federal agency such as the FBI investigate abuses by local police or court official will lead to a fair or meaningful resolution.

Despite the prevalence of calls for the Federal Government to intervene in high profile cases, the truth is that what really happens when the Feds step in is it delays and distracts from the original issues and almost always leads to (intentionally) ineffective and superficial reform proposals, most of which are often not even adopted.

Many times after the “investigation” by federal officials has afforded time for tempers to cool and the spotlight has been removed from those on the local level, they end vindicating the abusers anyway or proposing a slew of hollow changes. When the “cavalry” arrives, they’re usually shooting blanks.

(Share relevant content or your own personal stories and/or videos  with the CopBlock Network, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page.)

Washington Can’t Fix Broken Policing

Federal intervention allows local officials to evade responsibility.

It has been one year since Freddie Gray died while in the custody of the Baltimore Police Department. Gray’s death sparked peaceful protests and then calamitous riots that brought international attention and prompted the deployment of National Guard units. While local prosecutors indicted the officers involved in Gray’s arrest, the federal government promised to investigate the entire police department for a “pattern or practice” of constitutional violations. The impending outcome of that inquiry seems foreordained. The real question is whether federal monitoring can truly fix a broken police department. The conventional wisdom is that it can, but experience tells us that it can be counterproductive.

Since the Ferguson riot in 2014, police departments across the country have been under unprecedented scrutiny. When a pattern of wrongdoing or dysfunction is exposed, we hear a familiar refrain: this department is so bad that it is incapable of correcting itself, so federal intervention is necessary. After some initial resistance, the city of Ferguson has now agreed to a federal monitor. Last week, Newark also agreed to a federal monitor, to oversee its troubled police force. The Justice Department has also investigated and instituted reforms in many of the United States’ big-city police departments—Los Angeles, New Orleans, Detroit, Cleveland and Pittsburgh, to name a few.

Police StateClearly, police misconduct is more widespread than many want to admit. In Chicago, the shooting death of Laquan McDonald, caught on camera, has roiled minority neighborhoods because they see it as only the most recent episode of police wrongdoing there. It is safe to say that other cities may be one incident away from similar unrest.

Mayors and city councils don’t want police misconduct to occur, but in too many cities they let the problem fester. To the extent that they’re even paying attention, the typical political calculation seems to be this: it’s better to have the support of the police department and police union come election time, so don’t take steps that they will oppose.

There is, however, a cost to that political calculation: minority resentment toward city government—especially the police. After all, the victims of illegal detention, illegal searches and excessive force have friends, neighbors and relatives. And when bad cops are not dealt with, it is not unfair to conclude that the department itself is indifferent to injustice. This explains the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.

When a shocking incident of police misconduct comes along, the fecklessness of local governance is exposed in the glare of the media spotlight. Suddenly, reporters are asking pointed questions. Exactly how many people have been shot by the police department? Why was video evidence withheld from the public? What accountability systems are in place to track and remove problem officers?

The optimal moment for police reform comes in the immediate aftermath of a police scandal. The public is aroused, and if the problems run deep into the department itself, voters want those problems corrected. Local politicians find themselves on the spot. They can’t afford to appear uninterested, but they’d rather not fight the police department either. Instead of rolling up their sleeves to make some politically difficult decisions, they posture as reformers by joining the chorus calling for a federal civil rights investigation.

When the feds do intervene, everyone seems to be pleased. The heat is off the local officials to address police misconduct. They say they’ll have to await the outcome of the federal investigation before taking any action. Federal officials are pleased because they are seen as the cavalry coming to the rescue. Civil rights activists are satisfied because they think a federal lawsuit will bring about needed reforms. The police department and police union benefit as well. The intense media scrutiny will now fade as the months roll past.

Unfortunately, federal intervention has a counterproductive “enabling” effect: it allows local officials to evade their responsibility to fix broken police organizations. When the local politicos make a plea for federal intervention, it deflects attention away from their oversight failure and actually squanders the prospect for sweeping changes at a pivotal moment.

There is a borderline reverence for federal intervention among academics and journalists, which has blinded them to political dynamics that should strike us as odd. On the surface, it appears as if the feds are imposing wide-ranging reforms on local officialdom. In truth, however, the local officials chose that outcome once the feds were invited in. Here’s the quandary: the local politicos had the capability to enact reforms all along, so why didn’t they embrace such measures to head off a federal lawsuit? Experience has shown, time and again, that local officials would rather cope with federal monitors than fight powerful police unions.

Federal monitors have not succeeded where local officials are intransigent about reform. Arizona’s Joe Arpaio, sheriff of Maricopa County, is an example. Arpaio may lose a case in court, but he remains defiant and wins reelection. There have been improvements in the cities with reform-minded mayors and police chiefs—but in those cases, federal monitors were never really necessary. The monitors merely provided the local officials with additional political leverage against the police lobby. Local political fights, however, should not be considered an appropriate basis for federal lawsuits and federal takeovers of local police operations.

Police misconduct is a serious problem. If the solution was simple, it would have already been adopted. The hard truth is that a good police department requires the sustained commitment of locally elected officials to that goal. If that commitment is absent, federal intervention will only obscure that reality, and make it more difficult for voters to hold the local politicos accountable for their neglect.

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Racist Newark Police Lieutenant Compares Black Mayor to Monkey

Newark Police Lieutenant Racist Mayor

In Newark, New Jersey, an unnamed lieutenant has joined the ever- expanding list of cops who have been exposed publicly as racists. The allegations involve a Facebook post in which Ras Baraka, the city’s black mayor, is compared to a gorilla. This particular case involves not just the lieutenant currently under investigation by the Newark Police Department, but also a retired NPD lieutenant.

According to NJ.com:

Police officials said they obtained a screen shot of the Facebook conversation, which is being investigated as a violation of the department’s social media policy. The screen shot was sent to Police Director Eugene Venable Wednesday, department spokesman Sgt. Ron Glover said…

“What’s particularly disturbing about this incident is that this police official has been on the job for many years and has some amount of influence over the rank and file in the department,” Venable said.

The thread between the two writers opens with a picture of an ape captioned “Lmfao….How’s your mayor?”

“Exactly!!!!” replies the writer believed to be the current police lieutenant.

In a subsequent reply, the same writer says “Bring back Sharpaaaa!!!!!”, an apparent reference to former Mayor Sharpe James. He also says he is trying to “stay low” and that he had been transferred several times.

It’s disturbing enough that two people who were in positions of authority which allowed them to commit violence against others as police officers would publicly express racist attitudes. It obviously makes you wonder just how much worse their private behavior is. The fact that they were in positions of leadership and influence within the police force takes that to a new level.

In spite of that, this shouldn’t be surprising. The fact is that the reason this lieutenant is being investigated in the first place is because of policies that had to be implemented after a series of racist and criminal scandals embarrassed the Newark police several years ago.

According to Think Progress:

According to Police Director Eugene Venable, the Newark Police Department’s social media policy prohibits officers from posting anything “which could possibly be misconstrued and reflects negatively on the department.” Information about criminal investigations is also banned from social media.

“The general order was created as the result of several embarrassing instances of online activity by members of the department that were quite racy and somewhat, quite frankly, borderline discriminatory…Violations of the order could result in disciplinary actions, including dismissal,” he told NJ Advance Media.

Detective Bobby Kinch Racist Cop LVMPDIn July of 2014, a U.S. Department of Justice report was released that characterized the Newark Police Department as racist thieves who routinely disregarded the Constitution, racially profiled citizens for “stop and frisk” detentions–even though there was no statistical difference between minorities and whites found to be violating the law during those stops–and also often used excessive force against Newark residents. Those accused of racist acts even included the head of the NPD Internal Affairs Unit. (Those guys who “investigate” cops when they are charged with misconduct.)

On a national level, this is just one of a string of recent revelations of open and public racism by police throughout the country:

  • In Las Vegas, Detective Bobby Kinch, of the LVMPD, posted racist comments and photos stating a desire for a race war to begin on Facebook. Not only did Sheriff Gillespie himself step in to prevent him from being raided after a Secret Service investigation of those posts, he was actually assigned to investigate black suspects exclusively afterward.
  • In Ferguson, the DOJ investigation launched after the murder of Mike Brown uncovered racist emails being sent between officers containing jokes depicting racial stereotypes, including Barack Obama as a chimpanzee and Michelle Obama as a bare chested African woman.
  • In San Francisco, police officer sent text messages in which they routinely referred to black people as niggers, referenced cross burnings, and called a black person a monkey and an animal.
  • In Louisiana, a series of racist emails amongst police was uncovered in 2014. As is the typical formula, the emails “depicted black men as animals, likened President Barrack Obama to a monkey, and referred to African Americans as the ‘entitlement crowd.'”

Once again, it begs the question of just how racist police departments are in private, when cops feel safe enough to post this sort of racism on internal emails and publicly on social media. While those posts should never be a criminal matter, regardless of the occupation of their authors, it certainly raises questions about someone who is in a position to act on those sort of prejudices on a daily basis to the point of deadly force. The overwhelming statistical bias toward minorities in relation to stop and frisk instances, use of force incidents, and arrest frequency are just the things that can be tracked. If cops are willing to be this racist out in the open, there can be little doubt that it influences policing on a base level, even if it doesn’t rise to that point.

banner-app(If you enjoyed this post, check this previous post by Kelly W. Patterson: “Las Vegas Police Agree That You Should Film Them“)

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