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Fisking a "Copblock" Video

I decided to fisk this "copblock" video.  The reason is that it is labeled "JSO SHERIFF ILLEGALLY DETAINS ME. I SET THEM STRAIGHT."

While this guy is probably quite proud of himself, he would have likely gone to jail if I was a the cop who had stopped him.

First here is the video:

Second, before you wish to argue - he is indeed the person that was stalking (he just allegedly has a license to do so - unbeknownst to the officer since the guy chose to act like a dickhead.)

 I guess neither the guy in the video nor the cops understand "reasonable suspicion."  Reasonable suspicion is a very low bar to clear.  This stop is exactly the classic example of what reasonable suspicion is.  The cops handled it poorly.

Let's look at reasonable suspicion.  Reasonable suspicion is commonly said to be based on "specific and articulable facts", "taken together with rational inferences from those facts", and the suspicion must be associated with the specific individual.

Let's look at the reasonable suspicion in this incident:

There was a dispatched report of a vehicle that matches the description of the stopped one possibly stalking someone in the area.  These are specific and articulable facts.  Apparently the stop was made because the officer made the rational inference from the facts that this could indeed be the same vehicle as reported.  The driver is the specific individual connected to all of these facts.

When the cop stopped him, all he had to say is "The reason I stopped you, is that your vehicle matches the description of a vehicle that is reportedly involved in a crime in this area."  If the driver did anything remotely like the guy in the video, he then should have had the driver exit the vehicle (because if I am the cop, at this point the driver is affirming to me he is likely the potential criminal involved and therefore could possibly be a threat if he is indeed the criminal).  The officer should have checked him for weapons and then began his investigation.  He should have begun with questions the officer has a right to know. Questions like:

Is this your vehicle?
Do you have any weapons in the vehicle?
Have you been driving around this neighborhood for a while?

OK, before I continue, let me point out that the police officer does not have to say what crime he is investigating.  It is not the driver's right to know at his point, as a part of the investigation, the officer is determining if the potential criminal is probably the criminal (if he is probably the criminal - then he may arrest the guy).  How he reacts to the investigation itself can help determine if he is probably the guy committing the crime.

If the driver decides to be uncooperative, and not answer any questions, the officer could determine at this point, that based upon all the facts, this guy probably is the guy that has committed the crime.  He can proceed in a way that is appropriate.  Also note, that while the dickhead in the video has the right to not answer questions, the officer is not obligated in any way to justify his actions to the dickhead.

Well, stay safe - and don't make the mistake this guy did - he got away with it - but he could have gotten arrested and lost his license - trying to "prove a point" and he was wrong.

Understanding How to Assess Intelligence

OK,  I know when people see "intelligence" they think about spy agencies and whatnot. Well, most of what PIs deal with is intelligence.  Sometimes a PI will forget about assessing the intelligence "because the information is so good."  What I mean by that is, we learn something from a source that really could blow the case wide open.  We need to tread lightly, if we do not assess the intelligence.

OK, I have already over used "assess" so I will explain what I mean.  When we gather information, we need to weigh the quality of information we receive.  We really need to explain this if and when we pass this information on in our reports.  One line you should never see in a PIs report is "I learned that..." or "I discovered that..." at least not with an explanation of how it was learned/discovered.

You see, sometimes how you get the information is nearly as important as the information itself.  I am not saying you need to reveal your sources directly.  Example:  Let's say you run a report from one of the data companies.  The report shows that your person of interest resides at 123 Austin Street, Houston, TX.  Look at the report closely.  Does it show a driver's license using that address?  Can you find a second source through public records or even a Google search?  You should never just say "Well, Acme information service says he lives there."

Here is an example of what I mean.  I had to farm out a paper to be served out of state.  I gave them the information that I had.  I also explained where I received the information.  This included using "a friend of a friend on Facebook."  It also included jail booking records and what agency it was from.

If I just said "I have information he is at that address." without passing on how I got the information, the people receiving it have no idea how to assess the information.

This happens all the time.  What happens?  Someone telling me information without giving me an idea where it came from.  How do I know it happens?  I get something from someone almost every day this way.  What happens when I cannot confirm the information or deny it right away?  I have to pick up the phone or email and ask how did they get the information.

Save a step - pass on how you got the information.  You may have to say, "I have an informant I have used in the past that has been very reliable."  That is OK.  Or, "I learned it from the Ex."  Exes often keep closer tabs on the whereabouts of the ex than they did when they were together - go figure.

Weigh your intelligence, it will help you know how much time and effort to put in on what you are doing,   Sometimes you only have a sliver of information, and that is fine.  Just know how to use your resources wisely.

Stay safe!