The new police rat app

ratjfAbout a week ago, our Lovettsville Mayor passed along to the community a bulletin from the Loudoun County Sheriff, Michael Chapman.

It was billed as the “launch” of “the first-ever law enforcement app for Loudoun County.”

It shouldn’t have ever been launched.

By way of background, this app is “available on the iTunes App Store (IOS) and Google Play (Android)” and “will allow “users” who download this app, according to the Sheriff’s release, “to be able to submit crime tips anonymously, including the ability to send photos and videos from their smartphone.”

You may wonder what the Sheriff means by a “tip.”

Well, the Sheriff confirmed it’s not a “crime in progress.”

Without any standards whatsoever, citizens are being invited to say what they think is “suspicious,” based doubtlessly on incomplete information, little or no investigative experience, personal bias, rumors, overheard conversations, maybe even an unconsented taped conversation, and, finally, by forwarding this “packet” of “tip” text, with accompanying stills, audio and video documents – all done anonymously.

This “first ever” initiative is like the “Sound of Music” come to Loudoun – inviting us to mimic the misbehavior of that Nazi twit who turns in his girlfriend’s Von Trapp family.

We have tried before having something like a Stasi volunteer network.

After 9-11, the federal government invited us one and all to rat out “suspicious” neighbors or “strangers.”

But 95% of those “tips” turned out to be nothing at all.

Worse, it is daunting to imagine our Sheriff’s Department having the wherewithal to consider whether these anonymous tipsters have an axe to grind, a motive to hurt or slander another, or whether they are just plain reckless.

Other communities have recoiled at such law enforcement techniques. In Boston, the community started wearing t-shirts that read, “Stop Snitchin’.’”

Another unsavory aspect of this rat app is its Kafkaesque aspect – your accuser is unknown and you don’t get to confront him to show how unreliable or biased he may be.

Your constitutional right to associate freely is chilled when you hesitate to talk because you can’t trust the person you’re talking to is a snitch or not.

This app, in short, compromises you’re right of privacy, to be left alone.

The community trust of law enforcement is already soft.

The best law enforcement experts are rebuilding that trust by dialing back their use of the intrusive weapons that they’ve been testing and using against citizens.

The fear of police misconduct has spurred the ACLU to offer its own app that seeks to memorialize reliable evidence, by discreetly recording the video or audio of a stop by an officer.

When the app is activated, it disappears from the screen – so the officer can’t detect the surveillance of his conduct.

Talk about turning the tables.

The app also uploads the recording to the ACLU so that the video can be monitored for civil liberties violations involving, by way of example, excessive force, intimidation, and racial profiling.

One ACLU video says that, “Once it has been uploaded, it’s saved on an external server, so police cannot permanently delete the file.”

If you’ve already downloaded the Sheriff’s app, get smart, and delete it.

You don’t know where it’s been.

2 thoughts on “The new police rat app

  1. Pariahdog

    That’s better, Brian. Please refrain from assigning motivations and name-calling in future comments. The “rat” sentence violated our commenting policy and detracted from your message.

  2. Brian P. Allman for Sheriff of Loudoun County,

    As the Democratic nominee for Sheriff of Loudoun County I support Republican Seriff Chapman’ initiative. In today’s society, there are a lot of citizens who do not want to get involved
    personally for a variety of reasons. I completely understand and accept that. However, you don’t need to personally get involved to make a difference. Just provide the information anonymously!

    There is a heroin dealer at 123 Jones Street. Billy Doe sold my kid some crack cocaine in the bathroom of High School X. The neighbor, up the street, is selling stolen guns and the list goes on and on. All of the above is simply “intelligence” information and has been reported by citizens and used by police to fight crime for a very long time. Today, due solely to technology advancements, rather than writing a letter anonymously or calling “crime solvers”, citizens will be able to use their cell phones to bring to the attention of the police various information on what may be nothing or what may be the next mass shooter!

    This type of information is reviewed by the best of the best in law enforcement. It is analyzed in great deal and compared to other intelligence information already received. A lot of the time the police have already received the information and an investigation has already been launched.

    I encourage Loudoun citizens to use the app. If elected Sheriff of Loudoun County next month, I will continue to use Sheriff Chapman’s program. I assure Loudoun citizens that all the police are really and truly interested in is the information. I could care less where it comes from or how to get to me either. I just want it and the only person who will think you are a “rat” is Mr. Flannery and do you really care what he thinks of you? I certainly don’t and neither should you!

    Be a good citizen! If you see something strange, stand up and report it anonymously for the information you supply may stop the next mass shooting which sadly seems to be every other day in America.

    Brian P. Allman for Sheriff of Loudoun County

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