Law Enforcement, DOJ Already Plotting How To Get Around Supreme Court's Warrant Requirement To Search Phones

from the because-of-course-they-will dept

Following this week’s landmark ruling from the Supreme Court that says law enforcement must get a warrant to search mobile phones, law enforcement folks are clearly freaking out. A bunch of folks are quoted on how “awful” this ruling is, as they pretend that getting a warrant is such an incredible burden. Jim Pasco, the executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, points out that due process should be ignored when gangs are around:

Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, the country’s largest police union, imagined the police busting a drug deal with two suspects, one who gets cuffed and another who gets away.

The arresting officers “want to get into that phone and see if they can get the other guy,” he said in an interview. “Or gang situations. They communicate almost exclusively by phone. There’s more at stake here than due process. It’s public safety.”

Meanwhile, another police spokesperson overreacts by suggesting warrants are somehow difficult to get:

Besides the delay, one problem is such a warrant might not be approved, said Bill Johnson, executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations, which counts about 240,000 rank-and-file police officers as members.

“You have to make that jump: I bet he’s got a bunch of stuff on his phone. And that’s not good enough,” he said. “The officers are really going to have to point to something specific that ties that phone or that suspect’s use of phones to the commission of a crime.”

He makes that sound horrible, but that’s what the Constitution says. Just because there may be bad stuff in someone’s house the police don’t get to just search it. They have to point to something specific. That’s the 4th Amendment. Has Johnson never read it?

Meanwhile, at the DOJ, they’re already plotting on ways to get around this ruling by seeing how far they can push the “exigent circumstances” exception:

Ellen Canale, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said the agency would work with law enforcement to ensure “full compliance” with the decision.

“We will make use of whatever technology is available to preserve evidence on cell phones while seeking a warrant, and we will assist our agents in determining when exigent circumstances or another applicable exception to the warrant requirement will permit them to search the phone immediately without a warrant,” Canale said.

Notice how the focus is on figuring out more ways to search phones, not more ways to make sure they obey the law. This doesn’t make me feel any safer. Quite the opposite.

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Comments on “Law Enforcement, DOJ Already Plotting How To Get Around Supreme Court's Warrant Requirement To Search Phones”

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42 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

conspiracy to deprive a person of their rights, only used by FBI when a federal criminal informant failed to gain a conviction in a murder case in s southern state. of course it was the federal informant that had actually committed most of the big murders on civil activists with the ok of Edgar Hoover.

John Cressman (profile) says:

Bad apples

The bad apples in law enforcement only really care about the laws that empower them.

Drunk on power, they want to exploit every loophole to “make it safe”… these are also the people who want military vehicles and assault weapons (REAL assault weapons, not the glorified hunting rifles that LOOK like assault rifles)… Because nothing says “I have a little d**k” like showing up to a domestic disturbance in a TANK.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Bad apples

“Because nothing says “I have a little d**k” like showing up to a domestic disturbance in a TANK.”

That’s true. The biggest cowards, the most vociferous whiners, the least intelligent, the most psychotic, and the least competent members of any police force can be found on its SWAT team.

“What? You want to me actually WALK the streets of my own community carrying nothing but a baton and without wearing body armor? What do you think this is, the UK?”

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Exactly so.

They claim it’s about ‘public safety’, well how exactly is the public being protected when someone who would have been in jail is instead let free because they just couldn’t be bothered to get a warrant, and all the incriminating evidence is thrown out due to their impatience?

That sounds to me like the exact opposite of ‘protecting the public’, and all because they can’t go through the simple process of getting a warrant, and/or don’t want to create a paper trail of their actions.

Zonker says:

Re: Re: Re:

Unfortunately, they will just use the parallel construction method to obtain a conviction:

Sure, we can’t use the phone evidence to convict you, but we found the drugs during the traffic stop we conducted as a result of the information we found on the phone.

Now let me just finish downloading all those intimate pics of your girlfriend off that phone…

Michael (profile) says:

one problem is such a warrant might not be approved

Holy cow. This has to be one of the dumbest statements ever made by a law enforcement officer. Law enforcement should not have to get a warrant because it might not get approved? Let me explain something to you:

THAT IS THE ENTIRE POINT – YOU CANNOT BE TRUSTED SO THERE NEEDS TO BE OVERSIGHT

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Law enforcement should not have to get a warrant because it might not get approved?

Absurd? No! I can DOJ that bullet:

Any agency denied a warrant to search a phone would be breaking the law when searching it. Forcing anyone to break the law would itself be an illegal act. Warrants serve only to enforce lawless behavior, and are therefore irrational and unconstitutional.

DogBreath says:

Really, Bill Johnson? Really?

Besides the delay, one problem is such a warrant might not be approved, said Bill Johnson, executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations, which counts about 240,000 rank-and-file police officers as members.

?You have to make that jump: I bet he’s got a bunch of stuff on his phone. And that’s not good enough,? he said. ?The officers are really going to have to point to something specific that ties that phone or that suspect’s use of phones to the commission of a crime.?

Why not just use the old tried and true method and sprinkle some crack on the phone? Then they’ll have all the probable cause they need to get warrant:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nli6RDAWREA&t=0m41s

Anonymous Coward says:

“There’s more at stake here than due process. It’s public safety.”

Police state confirmed. That statement ignores public safety!

“Besides the delay, one problem is such a warrant might not be approved…”

If you don’t have the required material to get a warrant you shouldn’t be searching the phone anyway. That’s a privacy issue!

“The officers are really going to have to point to something specific that ties that phone or that suspect’s use of phones to the commission of a crime.”

FINALLY, the real root cause of the unhappiness comes out. Police officers have to do more work.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Notice how the focus is on figuring out more ways to search phones, not more ways to make sure they obey the law. This doesn’t make me feel any safer. Quite the opposite.”

I like how Aereo gets in trouble for breaking the spirit of the law, but that’s standard practice for government/intelligence agencies/law enforcement

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You know what could make statements like those found in this comment section, if not go away, at least decrease in volume? If the ‘good’ cops were just as vocal in calling out such statements as the complete and utter crap they are, and making it totally clear that they disagreed, vehemently, with such whining about how ‘Obeying the law is too much work’.

However, the odds of that happening? Zero to zilch, with maybe one or two isolated exceptions(though I’d love to be proven wrong).

When the only ‘cops’ commenting on the case(or at least the most vocal ones) are the ones whining about how following the law just takes too much work? Yeah, they are going to be seen as representative of cops as a whole, and the blame for that rests on them, and the ones too cowardly to speak up to counter them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

If the ‘good’ cops were just as vocal in calling out such statements as the complete and utter crap they are…

I’d be really interested if someone could come up with a system that would allow for Q/A, discussion, and debate between LEOs & “the rest of us” with the constraints that the participants claiming to be police (or other authorities) could be verified as such while still being guaranteed anonymity.

Even a near-perfect system would probably grow very slowly, since the duties of law enforcement would seem to require understanding that virtually any security system can (and most likely will) be circumvented eventually. Hell, if I were a cop, I’d probably just assume any such system was a honey pot designed to weed out “disloyal” troublemakers.

I’ve noticed that most of the people with actual law enforcement experience who criticize the system have one very important thing in common: they’re not cops, they’re ex-cops. “Snitches wind up in ditches” is a phrase with very broad appeal and utility.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

It’s not generalized hate. It’s a spectrum of dislike (from hate to annoyance) focused on the words and actions of specific individuals.

What is much more generalized is a distrust of law enforcement. Why so much distrust based on the actions of a minority of cops? Same reason the police carry weapons and don’t inherently take random citizens at their word: all it takes is one instance of misplaced trust, and very bad things can happen.

Androgynous Cowherd says:

Gotta love this:

We will make use of whatever technology is available to preserve evidence on cell phones while seeking a warrant …

The way the make it sound like “find the off switch”, “pull the battery”, and “put the Apple ones in airplane mode” so they won’t receive and act on any remote-wipe command is somehow a difficult and arcanely advanced feat of technological wizardry. Hell, sticking the phone in an unplugged microwave oven will do the trick, as the Faraday cage designed to keep microwaves *in* will also keep microwaves *out*, including cell tower signals. Technology so frightfully advanced that we’ve had it in random consumers’ kitchens for the past fifty years! Wow!

Anonymous Coward says:

So this due-process-nonsense is hindering their ability to “enforce public safety”?

If you follow this trail of logic, how long till they start executing criminals Judge Dredd style so they can “catch” more criminals?
This whole rights, incarceration, courthouse stuff takes to much time better spent gunning down more ‘criminals’.

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