Monthly Archives: January 2015

ALCO TESTERS FITTED TO CARS TO BE MANDATORY FOR HIGH RANGE DRINK DRIVERS IN NSW AUSTRALIA

Thousands of NSW drivers will be subject to alcohol interlocks under changes coming into effect on February 1.

Thousands of NSW drivers will be subject to alcohol interlocks under changes coming into effect on February 1.

Mandatory alcohol interlocks fitted to thousands of cars under a new system in NSW are likely to force drivers to cut much more than booze out of their system.

Motorists convicted of high-range drink driving or repeated low-range offences in NSW must have alcohol detection devices fitted to their cars for a minimum of 12 months under changes that come into effect from February 1.

Interlock devices test a driver’s breath for alcohol and electronically prevent cars from starting if more than trace amounts of booze are detected

Interlocks prevent drivers from starting their cars if they have alcohol on their breath.

Interlocks prevent drivers from starting their cars if they have alcohol on their breath.

The devices randomly retest drivers once moving to make sure they have not attempted to fool the system, though popular food, drink and grooming products can produce a false positive.

The NSW Government says all drivers caught with blood alcohol concentrations of more than 0.150 – triple the legal limit – will pay around $2200 per year to rent machines from Guardian Interlock Systems, Draeger Safety Pacific or Smart Start Interlocks. Interlocks can send reports back to authorities that show how often people drive, and whether they have tried to start the car after drinking.

The devices have been available to NSW magistrates as an optional punishment for drink-driving offences since 2003 but have not been mandatory until now.

Roads and Freight minister Duncan Gay expects up to 6000 people will be subject to the program each year.

“This program is about protecting innocent people who unfairly have their lives shattered by a drunken idiot,” Gay says.

“I will not stand for drink drivers who gamble with other people’s lives due to their stupid and irresponsible actions.

“While we’ve seen a huge drop in alcohol-related road trauma over the last 30 years, it is a disgrace to still see over 20,000 drivers in NSW convicted of drink driving offences every year.

“Most offenders face up to their actions and don’t re-offend, but unfortunately one-in-six offenders will get another drink driving offence within five years – it is this group we are targeting.”

Interlocks are used across Australia, though they re not mandatory in all states.

Stiff penalties discourage drivers from having other people to breathe into devices on behalf of a restricted driver, and those who do provide samples for restricted drivers in NSW face fines of up to $2200.

Victoria will counter that problem from January 30 with a requirement that cameras record who provides breath samples for all newly interlocks.

But the machines are not foolproof. Consumer feedback for the devices features plenty of criticism that the machines are too sensitive to alcohol and prevent people who have not consumed alcohol from starting their cars.

Disgruntled US customers have turned online to complain about limitations surrounding Smart Start interlocks that suggest “It gauges any misstep as an intent to drink and drive”, the “device can fail based on non-alcohol related issues” and that their car battery “drained dead three times”.

Fact sheets and handbooks for common interlocks suggest people avoid a range of products that can interfere with alcohol detection systems.
Six things that can fool alcohol interlock devices:

1 – Spicy food

Fiery food can interact with stomach acid to produce methane gas, which some interlock devices may incorrectly interpret as alcohol. Burping on the breathalyser may be a bad idea.

2 – Donuts and cinnamon rolls

It’s not just hot stuff that can fool a breathalyser, with sweet pastries proving problematic from time to time. Smart Start’s US website says “the sugar and the active yeast can combine to create a low level alcohol fail some of the time”, but that waiting to produce a second test should give an accurate result.

3 – Cigarettes

In some circumstances, cigarettes – particularly menthol-flavoured – can produce a false positive. Deep breathing before a test can help reduce the effect.

4 – Chocolates

Some chocolates contain a small amount of alcohol that could trigger a reaction from breathalysers. But it’s not just chocolate – a Victorian man reportedly demonstrated the effect of a Bubble O’Bill ice cream on a breathalyser during an application to have an alcohol interlock removed in 2009 by eating the treat in court and recording a blood alcohol concentration of 0.018.

5 – Mouthwash

Worried your feast of curry, donuts, chocolate and ice cream could trigger the interlock? Steer clear of rinsing with mouthwash, as some brands use alcohol to kill germs and keep breath fresh. Alcohol-free variants are available, but interlock manufacturers recommend rinsing with water rather than medicated or flavoured products.

6 – Perfume and aftershave:

Many forms of perfume and aftershave contain alcohol that can trigger interlocks. One brand says its system will not react to “heavy concentrations”, though a discreet breeze of Eau de parfum could be a better bet than bathing in Brut.

OOO

Henry Sapiecha

 

 

FRANTIC CALL FOR HELP FROM POLICE CAME AS A PIZZA DELIVERY ORDER

Abused woman disguises pizza order to call police

A woman called 911 and pretended to order a pizza to alert the police that her abusive boyfriend was assaulting her.

Reporting domestic violence is often easier said than done but one woman in the United States found a way to fool her abusive partner by disguising her call for help as a pizza order.

Keith Weisinger, who worked as a police dispatcher between 2004-2006, said that when he took the call he thought the woman on the other end of the line may have been playing a prank but fortunately he didn’t hang up.

“This call occurred almost 10 years ago,” he told BuzzFeed News. “I worked the graveyard shift, 6pm–6am, and I remember this call being pretty late – close to midnight.”

After noticing the woman’s hurried responses Weisinger realised the pizza order was a coded call for help.

Cartoon illustrates domestic violence

According to the 911 operator here is how the conversation went down, as first posted on Reddit thread ‘911 Operators, what is the 1 call that you could never forget?’:

“911, where is your emergency?”

“123 Main St [actual address not given].”

“Ok, what’s going on there?”

“I’d like to order a pizza for delivery.” (oh great, another prank call).

“Ma’am, you’ve reached 911”

“Yeah, I know. Can I have a large with half pepperoni, half mushroom and peppers?”

“Ummm…. I’m sorry, you know you’ve called 911 right?

“Yeah, do you know how long it will be?”

“Ok, Ma’am, is everything ok over there? Do you have an emergency?”

“Yes, I do.”

“…And you can’t talk about it because there’s someone in the room with you?” (moment of realization

“Yes, that’s correct. Do you know how long it will be?”

“I have an officer about a mile from your location. Are there any weapons in your house?”

“Nope.”

“Can you stay on the phone with me?”

“Nope. See you soon, thanks”

Weisinger said he checked the history of the address and noticed it had domestic violence-related episodes in the past.

“The officer arrives and finds a couple, female was kind of banged up, and boyfriend was drunk,” his Reddit post reveals.

“Officer arrests him after she explains that the boyfriend had been beating her for a while. I thought she was pretty clever to use that trick.

“Definitely one of the most memorable calls,” he added.

While occasionally callers make an effort to meet the dispatchers who helped them through a distressing experience Weisinger, who now works as an environmental attorney, said he never found out what happened to the woman believed to be in her 30s.

“This is a part of the job most 911 dispatchers find frustrating. Beyond the immediate resolution – arrest, hospitalisation, etc – we rarely hear what happens to the people who call,” he told BuzzFeed.

And while he is being hailed a hero, Weisinger says it was the woman caller’s fast thinking that saved her.

“Whether she had thought of this trick before, or it just came to her she indicated the urgency of her situation without giving away the true purpose of her call.”

“Yeah, do you know how long it will be?”

“Ok, Ma’am, is everything ok over there? Do you have an emergency?

“Yes, I do.”

“…And you can’t talk about it because there’s someone in the room with you?” (moment of realization)

“Yes, that’s correct. Do you know how long it will be?”

“I have an officer about a mile from your location. Are there any weapons in your house?”

“Nope.”

“Can you stay on the phone with me?”

“Nope. See you soon, thanks”

Weisinger said he checked the history of the address and noticed it had domestic violence-related episodes in the past.

“The officer arrives and finds a couple, female was kind of banged up, and boyfriend was drunk,” his Reddit post reveals.

“Officer arrests him after she explains that the boyfriend had been beating her for a while. I thought she was pretty clever to use that trick.

“Definitely one of the most memorable calls,” he added.

While occasionally callers make an effort to meet the dispatchers who helped them through a distressing experience Weisinger, who now works as an environmental attorney, said he never found out what happened to the woman believed to be in her 30s.

“This is a part of the job most 911 dispatchers find frustrating. Beyond the immediate resolution – arrest, hospitalisation, etc – we rarely hear what happens to the people who call,” he told BuzzFeed.

And while he is being hailed a hero, Weisinger says it was the woman caller’s fast thinking that saved her.

“Whether she had thought of this trick before, or it just came to her she indicated the urgency of her situation without giving away the true purpose of her call

OOO

Henry Sapiecha

Some police want popular police-tracking waze app feature disabled

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Sheriffs are campaigning to pressure Google Inc. to turn off a feature on its Waze traffic software that warns drivers when police are nearby. They say one of the technology industry’s most popular mobile apps could put officers’ lives in danger from would-be police killers who can find where their targets are parked.

Waze, which Google purchased for $966 million in 2013, is a combination of GPS navigation and social networking. Fifty million users in 200 countries turn to the free service for real-time traffic guidance and warnings about nearby congestion, car accidents, speed traps or traffic cameras, construction zones, potholes, stalled vehicles or unsafe weather conditions.

To Sergio Kopelev, a reserve deputy sheriff in Southern California, Waze is also a stalking app for law enforcement.

There are no known connections between any attack on police and Waze, but law enforcers such as Kopelev are concerned it’s only a matter of time. They are seeking support among other law enforcement trade groups to pressure Google to disable the police-reporting function. The emerging policy debate places Google again at the center of an ongoing global debate about public safety, consumer rights and privacy.

Waze users mark police presence on maps without much distinction other than “visible” or “hidden.” Users see a police icon, but it’s not immediately clear whether police are there for a speed trap, a sobriety check or a lunch break. The police generally are operating in public spaces.

A Waze spokeswoman, Julie Mossler, said the company thinks deeply about safety and security. She said Waze works with the New York Police Department and others around the world by sharing information. Google declined to comment.

This image taken from the the Waze app on an iPhone, in Washington, shows police at the scene on a map on the app. Sheriffs are campaigning to pressure Google Inc. to turn off a feature on its Waze traffic software that warns drivers when police are nearby. Authorities say one of the technology industry's most popular mobile apps could put officers' lives in danger from would-be cop-killers who can find where their targets are parked. (AP Photo/Ted Bridis)

“These relationships keep citizens safe, promote faster emergency response and help alleviate traffic congestion,” Mossler said.

Google has a complicated relationship with government and law enforcement. The company worked closely with the Obama administration to defend itself against hacking by China’s government, and it is regularly compelled to turn over to police worldwide copies of emails or other information about its customers. Last year, after disclosures that the National Security Agency had illicitly broken into Google’s overseas Internet communication lines, Google and other technology companies rolled out encryption for users, which the U.S. government said could hamper law enforcement investigations. Also last year, Google and other companies sued the U.S. to allow them to more fully disclose to customers details about how much information they were required to hand over each year.

Sheriff Mike Brown of Bedford County, Virginia, said the police-reporting feature, which he called the “police stalker,” presents a danger to law enforcement.

“The police community needs to coordinate an effort to have the owner, Google, act like the responsible corporate citizen they have always been and remove this feature from the application even before any litigation or statutory action,” said Brown, who also serves as the chairman of the National Sheriffs Association technology committee.

Nuala O’Connor, head of the Center for Democracy and Technology, a Washington civil liberties group, said it would not be appropriate for Google to disable the police-reporting feature.

“I do not think it is legitimate to ask a person-to-person communication to cease simply because it reports on publicly visible law enforcement,” she said. She said a bigger concern among privacy advocates is how much information about customers Waze shares with law enforcement, since the service necessarily monitors their location continually as long as it’s turned on.

Brown and Kopelev raised concerns during the meeting of the National Sheriffs Association winter conference in Washington. They pointed to the Instagram account of the man accused of shooting two NYPD officers last month. Ismaaiyl Brinsley posted a screenshot from Waze on his Instagram account along with messages threatening police. Investigators do not believe he used Waze to ambush the officers, in part because police say Brinsley tossed his cellphone more than two miles from where he shot the officers.

Kopelev said he hadn’t heard about the Waze app until mid-December when he saw his wife using it. Afterward, Kopelev said he couldn’t stop thinking about the app and was motivated to act by the NYPD shooting. While attending the funeral of one of the officers in New York, he spoke with Brown, his former boss. Brown asked Kopelev to discuss Waze at the upcoming sheriffs’ association conference. Kopelev refers to his efforts as his “personal jihad.”

The executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, Jim Pasco, said his organization has concerns, too.

“I can think of 100 ways that it could present an officer-safety issue,” Pasco said. “There’s no control over who uses it. So, if you’re a criminal and you want to rob a bank, hypothetically, you use your Waze.”

This is not the first time law enforcement has raised concerns with these types of apps. In 2011, four U.S. senators asked Apple to remove all applications that alert users to drunken driving checkpoints. Nokia removed the sobriety check tracking function of one of the most popular apps, Trapster, according to Trapster founder Pete Tenereillo. Trapster was eventually discontinued at the end of last year due to Waze’s popularity.

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Henry Sapiecha

 

POLICE NOW HAVE ACCESS TO PORTABLE HAND HELD XRAY UNITS THAT CAN SEE THROUGH YOUR HOUSE WALLS

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Who doesn’t fancy himself a Consitutional expert after a three-day weekend binge-watching The Wire? If nothing else, you know that police need a warrant to justify extreme methods of surveillance, and that a warrant can only be obtained after all other measures have been thoroughly exhausted. (Or, if a judge is buddies with a drunken detective and has the hots for the Assistant State’s Attorney.) So, surely today’s news may come as an outrage:

An investigation by USA Today has found that at least 50 U.S. law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and Tommy Lee Jones’s U.S. Marshals, are equipped with radar devices that allow officers to “see” through the walls of a person’s home. The various agencies have been using this new technology for upwards of two years, often without search warrants.

RELATED: Ferguson Peacekeeper Ron Johnson: What I’ve Learned
The radars work like finely tuned motion detectors, using radio waves to zero in on movements as slight as human breathing from a distance of more than 50 feet. They can detect whether anyone is inside of a house, where they are and whether they are moving.
Agents’ use of the radars was largely unknown until December, when a federal appeals court in Denver said officers had used one before they entered a house to arrest a man wanted for violating his parole. The judges expressed alarm that agents had used the new technology without a search warrant, warning that “the government’s warrantless use of such a powerful tool to search inside homes poses grave Fourth Amendment questions.”
The principal tool in question is L-3 Communications’s Range-R, a handheld device that was first developed for the U.S. Army for use in the Middle East. Like the military-grade gear that turned heads in Ferguson and on college campuses last year, Range-R’s have reportedly been used far away from traditional battlefields. Specifically: Outside of American homes, raising new Constiutional issues

The Fourth Amendment protects American citizens against illegal search and seizure, and it sets specific terms for when officials may break it. Here is the Amendment, in full:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

According to today’s report, various agencies are turning to Range-R’s without explicit permission from the courts, which would (presumably) nullify any evidence or intelligence presented during a trial. Read the full report here.

OOO

Henry Sapiecha

FACEBOOK WITH MEMBERSHIP OF 8,000 TO PUBLISH PICS & LOCATIONS OF POLICE RBT SITES & OTHERS

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  • Police have slammed a Facebook page that is tipping off drivers about the location of traffic police, saying it is putting lives at risk.
  • The page is littered with posts and photos outlining where police are targeting drink driving and speeding in Townsville.
  • The page has about 8000 members and has dozens of comments condemning speed cameras as “revenue raisers” and calling police “pigs”, The Townsville Bulletin reports.
  • Regional and Country Queensland Road Policing Command Inspector Ray Rohweder said the page was endangering motorists.
  • “They need to think further than just a few seconds of social media fame,” he said.
  • “By helping a drink driver avoid detection, they could be possibly causing the death of someone they know.
  • “People that engage in that sort of behaviour on social media need to realise it could be them or a relative or a friend of theirs that becomes the victim of a speeding driver or a drink driver.”
  • Members are encouraged to post photos of speed cameras and RBT sites as well as details of any traffic crashes in Townsville

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Henry Sapiecha