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Criminals turning high tech, police say
    #1486083 - 04/23/03 02:40 PM (15 years, 1 month ago)


Criminals turning high tech, police say

By Jason Foster The Herald
(Published April 20? 2003)

Technology can be a double-edge sword in law enforcement.
Tools police use to catch criminals may be helping lawbreakers stay a step ahead, as cell phones, walkie-talkies, police scanners and other devices have become part of a growing team effort in arrest prevention.

"It's a common practice," said Jason Dalton, a drug unit commander with the Rock Hill Police Department. "You're going to have surveillance, and you're going to have countersurveillance."

Many times, Dalton said, the countersurveillance involves children and teenagers with two-way radios acting as lookouts for drug deals or other criminal acts.

"Dealers use them in a low-level position to be spread out through the block," Dalton said. "When they see us, it gives them enough time to flush their drugs or hide them, or just flee the area. ... It doesn't take them long to know our vehicles."

Residents who live in areas of Rock Hill where crime has been on the rise see the activity as a stumbling block to safer neighborhoods.

"It diminishes the prospect of cleaning the crime up when this is another gimmick that they use to help continue their efforts to do illegal things," said a Marion Street resident.

The man, who did not want his name used for fear of retaliation, said he's seen 12- or 13-year-old children riding bicycles through neighborhoods surrounding Saluda Street listening to police chatter on walkie-talkies. He also said he's noticed an increase in cars equipped with citizens band radios. The techniques amount to "counter spying," he said.

"The biggest fear is it's another opportunity for the criminal to be one leg up on the law-enforcement agencies," the man said. "Using children to do it, you're seeding your own criminal element."

Patrol Capt. Mark Bollinger acknowledges the practice, but also said it's a hard thing to stop.

"There's no doubt that it's happening," he said. "We just haven't caught anybody at it."

The more sophisticated the criminal, the more daunting the task for law enforcement, said Rock Hill Police Chief Dave Fortson.

"What that means for us is we have to plan a lot better in terms of the operations we conduct," Fortson said. "It's more challenging for cops on the beat to deal with these kinds of folks who use these tactics."

Rock Hill police use secure radio channels on calls for things such as burglaries or drug deals, which makes eavesdropping almost impossible.

Still, lobbying state legislators to regulate scanner use may be necessary, Fortson said.

"It's a critical public-safety issue, and we need to address it," he said.

Though South Carolina has no laws to regulate the use of police scanners, other states take a more restrictive ap-proach.

California, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia and the District of Columbia have laws barring the use of scanners in committing a crime, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

In New York, possession of a scanner is illegal without a permit. South Dakota allows the use of scanners in business establishments only with written permission from the police. Florida, Indiana, Ken-tucky and Michigan also have some level of scanner restrictions.

If legislation were enacted here, it likely would be a small victory, Fortson said. Crimi-nals adjust to new circumstances, and police must work harder to stay ahead of them.

"It's a never-ending shell game," Fortson said. "We win some, we lose some."


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Re: Criminals turning high tech, police say [Re: motaman]
    #1486245 - 04/23/03 03:26 PM (15 years, 1 month ago)

"In New York, possession of a scanner is illegal without a permit."

That's ridiculous.

Edited by OOOO (04/23/03 03:26 PM)

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Re: Criminals turning high tech, police say [Re: OOOO]
    #1486382 - 04/23/03 04:02 PM (15 years, 1 month ago)

"California, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia and the District of Columbia have laws barring the use of scanners in committing a crime, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures."

That seems effective. Make it illegial to use a scanner while commiting a crime. I'm sure that will deter those who are breaking the law.

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." - C.S. Lewis

"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniencies attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." - Thomas Jefferson

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Re: Criminals turning high tech, police say [Re: z@z.com]
    #1489197 - 04/24/03 01:45 PM (15 years, 1 month ago)

News Flash: Drug Dealers Have Police Scanners.

Since when is this a hot item? Most dealers I know have had them for as long as I can remember...Hell, my good friend even has a CC-TV Cam pointed down the road...

After one comes, through contact with it's administrators, no longer to cherish greatly the law as a remedy in abuses, then the bottle becomes a sovereign means of direct action.  If you cannot throw it at least you can always drink out of it.  - Ernest Hemingway

If it is life that you feel you are missing I can tell you where to find it.  In the law courts, in business, in government.  There is nothing occurring in the streets. Nothing but a dumbshow composed of the helpless and the impotent.    -Cormac MacCarthy

He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.  - Aeschylus

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