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Tacoma police using surveillance device to sweep up cellphone data

The Tacoma Police Department apparently has bought — and quietly used for six years — controversial surveillance equipment that can sweep up records of every cellphone call, text message and data transfer up to a half a mile away, according to The News Tribune.

You don’t have to be a criminal to be caught in this law enforcement snare. You just have to be near one and use a cellphone.

Officials initially told the Tacoma City Council that the device would be used to find and prevent improvised explosive devices, but an assistant police chief later said it has never been ...

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Data breach mystery leads from Arizona counterterrorism site to China

Lizhong Fang, a Chinese national and computer programmer, had access to a variety of sensitive information during his short time at the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center in Phoenix. His work on facial recognition software allowed him to view the Arizona driver’s license database as well as law enforcement records.

Fang disappeared in 2007, and those responsible for hiring him say the privacy of up to 5 million people has been compromised. Officials never disclosed the possible privacy breach.

Read the story by The Center for Investigative Reporting and ProPublica.

Politicians' food tab takes $14.5M bite from donations

House members and candidates have spent at least $14.5 million of their donors' campaign contributions on food since Jan. 1, 2011, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

The expenses range from thousands of dollars to underwrite big fundraising lunches in their home districts to meal tabs at country clubs, glitzy New York hotels and Washington steakhouses. Politicians and their aides also spent donors' money at far less glamorous destinations, such as Dunkin' Donuts and Five Guys Burgers and Fries.

Extra Extra: Ferguson deep dives, nursing home inspections, penalties for speeders

St. Louis County police forces often don't reflect communities | St. Louis Post-Dispatch

No known agency tracks the racial makeup of police departments, so the Post-Dispatch contacted 36 St. Louis County police departments in cities where at least 10 percent of the population is African-American. In 30 of the 31 communities that responded, the percentage of black residents is higher than the proportion of black officers.

 

Darren Wilson’s first job was on a troubled police force disbanded by authorities | The Washington Post

The small city of Jennings, Mo., had a police department so troubled, and with so much tension ...

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Till death do us part: A look at deadly domestic violence in South Carolina

More than 300 women were shot, stabbed, strangled, beaten, bludgeoned or burned to death over the past decade by men in South Carolina, dying at a rate of one every 12 days while the state does little to stem the carnage from domestic abuse.

It's a staggering toll that for more than 15 years has placed South Carolina among the top 10 states nationally in the rate of women killed by men. The state topped the list on three occasions, including this past year, when it posted a murder rate for women that was more than double the national ...

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How local, national media are investigating police militarization, shootings

Officer-involved shooting analysis tracks Coachella Valley trends | The Desert Sun

Over the past month, The Desert Sun studied more than 100 Riverside County police shootings, using public records to identify officers who have pulled the trigger in more than one incident. The Desert Sun conducted this first-ever analysis of regional police records in order to understand the frequency and circumstances of police shootings.

The analysis found that three Coachella Valley officers have fired a gun in the line of duty more than once since 2009.

 

Widespread militarization of Illinois police forces uncovered by ...

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Local police involved in 400 killings per year

Nearly two times a week in the United States, a white police officer killed a black person during a seven-year period ending in 2012, according to the most recent accounts of justifiable homicide reported to the FBI.

On average, there were 96 such incidents among at least 400 police killings each year that were reported to the FBI by local police. The numbers appear to show that the shooting of a black teenager in Ferguson, Mo., last Saturday was not an isolated event in American policing.

Read the USA TODAY story here.

MLB game-fixing investigation uncovers lies, luck and hard feelings

Reports that a pitcher and handicapper were fixing Pittsburg Pirates games in 2012 prompted an unusual investigation – one involving Major League Baseball investigators as well as organized crime detectives from the New York Police Department.

According to The Center for Investigative Reporting:

Before it was over, their investigation would lead to a tense standoff by the side of an Arizona desert road, where more than a dozen armed officers confronted two frightened young women with a baby in an effort to track down James Hunter.

The outcome would hinge on separating fact from fantasy in the interpersonal dynamics of two ...

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Extra Extra Monday: LAPD turns violent crimes into minor offenses, Florida police bend rules on sex stings

Want to analyze crime stats in your community?

Learn how to get started on our podcast episode, "Cracking the Crime Stats." Steve Thompson of the Dallas Morning News and Ben Poston of the Los Angeles Times explain how to spot red flags in the data.

LAPD misclassified nearly 1,200 violent crimes as minor offenses | Los Angeles Times

The LAPD misclassified nearly 1,200 violent crimes during a one-year span ending in September 2013, including hundreds of stabbings, beatings and robberies, a Times investigation found.

The incidents were recorded as minor offenses and as a result did not appear in ...

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Rising rates of hospice discharge in U.S. raise questions about quality of care

At hundreds of U.S. hospices, more than one in three patients are dropping the service before dying, new research shows, a sign of trouble in an industry supposed to care for patients until death.

When that many patients are leaving a hospice alive, experts said, the agencies are likely to be either driving them away with inadequate care or enrolling patients who aren’t really dying in order to pad their profits.

Read the Washington Post story here.