Oklahoma Sheriff Accused Of Keeping Extensive Database On Citizens

from the i-know-what-you-did-last-summer dept

You may not have known this in all the fallout from the ongoing revelations about our intelligence services spying on our daily activities, but it turns out that keeping tabs on ordinary citizens isn’t just for the alphabet agencies. Good, old fashioned, local police departments can do it, too. And apparently some do, based on this ACLU legal filing against one local sheriff in Oklahoma, who took part in building and using an extensive database on citizens’ activities that was likely illegal and was never shared with prosecutors or defense attorneys.

The ACLU in Oklahoma sued Logan County Sheriff Jim Bauman in Logan County Court on Sept. 11, seeking records from the “Black Asphalt” database. Logan County is just north of Oklahoma City. Its seat is Guthrie. The system was created by Joe David, the founder of Guthrie-based Desert Snow LLC, the ACLU says.
In a statement announcing the lawsuit, the ACLU claims it discovered Black Asphalt during an investigation of Desert Snow employees impersonating police officers in Caddo County in 2013, “as part of a scheme with the local district attorney to make traffic stops, seize cash and property from citizens, and funnel it into local coffers in exchange for a percentage of the profits.”

Now, schemes for bilking citizens of their property by local police to fill the public coffers are nothing new, but the use of an extensive database system built by a private company to track civilians certainly is. The key part in all this is that the officers that used the system to compare civilian activities and notes on investigations never disclosed any of this to prosecutors, defense attorneys, or the courts. In case you’re wondering, yes that’s an insane work-around of due process. The more terrifying part is that this whole thing isn’t limited to one Oklahoma county.

“On information and belief, the Black Asphalt system, since its inception, has had up to 25,000 members throughout the United States and Canada.” The information posted on Black Asphalt “routinely lead to the detention, arrest or prosecution” of its members, the ACLU says in the lawsuit. It says it “received no response of any kind” to its February request for disclosure and inspection of records.

In fact, the ACLU made an in-person request for disclosure of the database at Sherrif Bauman’s office, which was also denied. Oklahoma, mind you, has a relatively aggressive legal platform by which these requests are supposed to be honored, called the Open Records Act. It is under that law that the ACLU is seeking disclosure.

If you’re a private citizen wondering if your local LEOs are keeping an undue eye on you, you should be rooting for the ACLU to win. If you aren’t wondering about that, you probably should be.

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Companies: aclu, desert snow

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Comments on “Oklahoma Sheriff Accused Of Keeping Extensive Database On Citizens”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I don’t disagree that that’s where we’re headed, but i how do you get prepared for something like that?

Sure, if i won the lottery i’d booby trap my house and build the entire structure out of steel beams and concrete five layers thick with vault doors for entrances, spiked outer fences, and surveillance that can see for miles. Here in the real world tho, i’m limited to my wooden front door for protection.

The best i could do is to do my part to ensure it never comes to needing that, but honestly it’s too late because as techdirt keeps informing us we’re already semi-there.

So yeah… I can’t stop it, can’t change it, and can’t protect myself from it. So…what else is there to do but tune out and enjoy life while it’s still worth enjoying?

Yeah i know, that’s how we got into this mess in the first place, and it’s better to do something no matter how small than to do nothing. Yada yada yada.

The struggles never end, so what’s the point?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

As an activist, protester, and citizen lobbyist, I try diligently to change the status quo. But with the constant fighting, my friend I cannot tell you how often I feel your sentiment. It’s so overwhelming, so burdensome that I often just want to walk away and live life until an MRAP busts through my door for literally no reason. The shittiest part is that’s exactly how those in power want it — just burden everyone with the onslaught of “you can never afford to change this” until we all give up. And sadly, I wanna give up.

GEMont (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“Sure, if i won the lottery i’d booby trap my house and build the entire structure out of steel beams and concrete five layers thick with vault doors for entrances, spiked outer fences, and surveillance that can see for miles.”

Unless you’re a multi-millionaire in good standing with the rulers of your current local kingdom, I think you will find that attempting such “security” measures will be both, against the law, and sufficient grounds for an intense and intrusive investigation into your entire family-line’s background to determine what subversive activities you or your ancestors have participated in, that are necessitating such a defensive stance on your part.

Remember, you are already guilty – the charges are pending.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“Next week we’ll probably be hearing about how some federal agent had his neighbors assassinated and used his position to try and cover it up.”

The agent wouldn’t have to have it done: He/she could just do it him/herself and then claim he/she “felt” threatened. Not only would the agent get off, they would probably get an extra paid vacation as a reward to boot.

Austin (profile) says:

Fight from within

Not that it’ll solve every problem like this, but here’s a temporary solution until we get all this surveilance stopped for good.

Join your local police’s IAB department (if they are large enough to have one.)

Nobody haw power over the cops, except of course the cops. So join THOSE cops, and be a total hardass. You’ll only have to put a couple dozen of these power abusers out of business before several hundred more will stop abusing their power on their own.

Of course, we still need to get crap like this stopped, but I’m just saying, there exists an effective short-term solution to many of these problems.

GEMont (profile) says:

Official Fuckery is on the rise.

I wonder how often such data-bases are used by small town officials to get re-elected, or at least to insure that opponents do not get elected. Nothing like knowing the private life of your opponents in detail to aid in those mud-slinging TV ads and other SOP Election Trickery.

When Monopolies, Black Mail and Extortion have become accepted as a normal business models, it should be quite obvious that the bad guys are winning the war.

Should be, but sadly it is obviously NOT obvious to most.

Aaron (profile) says:

Mr. Monk and the Police Database

If you’re a private citizen wondering if your local LEOs are keeping an undue eye on you, you should be rooting for the ACLU to win. If you aren’t wondering about that, you probably should be.

♬ People think I’m crazy, ’cause I worry all the time ♬
♬ If you paid attention, you’d be worried to. ♬

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