Law Enforcement Says Goodbye To Using DNA Website to Crack Cold Cases

DNA-Geneology-Crimeshop

DNA Website Rules are Changing

Cristal M Clark 

It’s all the rage, these genealogy websites helping millions of people learn just where their people actually came from, you might have grown up thinking you were for instance Irish only to learn that you are French. 

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One well known website also allowed for law enforcement to use the DNA users submitted to help crack cold cases. Back in 2018 California authorities revealed that police had submitted DNA from a crime scene into a consumer DNA database, where information about distant relatives helped them identify the Golden State Killer a man who had eluded law enforcement for decades.  

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At the time everyone collectively wondered, if that was even legal.

That put GEDmatch, a free website where people share their DNA profiles in hopes of finding relatives at the center of an argument as to whether or not using this DNA tactic for solving cold cases was legal. 

The good news is that using this tactic it helped law enforcement solve over 50 cold cases involving murder and/or rapes. 

Now as the smoke has cleared and everyone has their footing on solid ground, the rules of engagement are about to change. 

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The online database changed its privacy policy and now it is set to restrict law enforcement searches, and since then, these cold cases have become much harder to crack. The change is allowing some criminals who could be identified and caught to remain undetected and unpunished, authorities say.

GEDmatch, had faced criticism for allowing police to search profiles without users’ permission, and decided that it would rather make sure members understood explicitly how investigators were using the site. So, it altered its terms of service to automatically exclude all members from law enforcement searches and left it to them to opt in.

Overnight, the number of profiles available to law enforcement dropped from more than 1 million to zero. If people click a police-shield icon on GEDmatch it will then allow authorities to see their profile, either way, this leaves cases more difficult to solve.

After entering a suspect’s DNA profile into the site, the results are reviewed, experts assess the likelihood of law enforcement being able to determine the suspect’s identity using what is called genetic genealogy. 

Now law enforcement and researchers are trying to  convince the public to take action. These groups hope to persuade more Americans to obtain their DNA profiles from direct-to-consumer genetic testing companies and share them publicly, including with law enforcement, on databases like GEDmatch. One direct-to-consumer company, FamilyTreeDNA, allows law enforcement to search its database, but charges for it and limits results.

Some people are worried that their DNA profiles will be hacked or used against their wishes, whether in the pursuit of a criminal or in the sale of data to health care companies. There are also concerns that DNA sharing will lead to the end of anonymity.

Which is understandable, but also perplexing if the same individuals who are claiming to be worried now have already submitted DNA to these sites. Additionally, these sites should never share any DNA with health care companies, at least not until things change in the US and health care is not a profitable business anymore and changes to be just health care. 

What truly surprises me is that these DNA databases can be hacked at any moment and people are cool with sharing their DNA on them anyway,  until law enforcement has access to them, then we question the legality of law enforcement. 

As for law enforcement, this change will only slow them a little, they will still be working to solve every cold case that they have. 

Cristal M Clark

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Googles Newest Update Pisses Cops Off 

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Google Maps – New and Improved 

Cristal M Clark 

Good news for all those blatant speeders, Google is finally rolling out the ability to report speed traps, crashes and slowdowns in real time to its Maps iOS app, making the new feature available to roughly 1 billion existing users worldwide. 

For those that didn’t know this, that feature was already available on Android phones, as well as on Waze, which by the way is another Google Map app.

Some media outlets are reporting this could potentially upset law enforcement but I am unclear as to why exactly, they accomplish virtually what we assume they wanted in the first place, to slow drivers down in certain areas? 

The New York Police Department wrote in a letter a while back that “Revealing the location of checkpoints puts those drivers, their passengers, and the general public at risk,” which was in response to users reporting DUI checkpoints. 

Pretty much all of the tech giants tend to align themselves with what users want not what law enforcement wants, they offer things to users that hamper the efforts of law enforcement in some cases and that sometimes do in fact put the lives of others in danger. 

Google argues that that safety is “a top priority” and that reporting features can be beneficial to public safety. “We believe that informing drivers about upcoming speed traps allows them to be more careful and make safer decisions when they’re on the road.”

People do tend to slow down if they know about an upcoming speed trap, no one wants a speeding ticket, but then again people also tend to avoid DUI checkpoints when they are gleefully drinking and driving and if Google Maps shows them where the checkpoints are, that is not really a good thing. That does put the lives of others in danger not to mention the life of the driver who chooses to drink and drive. 

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The question with technology is when does it cross the line from helping society by making life easier,  if the tech giants truly care about safety, to blatant aiding and abetting in a crime?  

Cristal M Clark

IOS users can find The Crime Shop on Apple News

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Dear Criminals, Please Stop Hiding Behind Encrypted Devices or Else

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Sincerely ~ Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Christopher Wray

Cristal M Clark

FBI Director Christopher Wray who is not a man of many words, at least publicly thus far had quite a bit to say today at the RSA Conference in San Francisco.

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Law Enforcement as a whole has had quite a time of dealing with criminals and encrypted devices/data because they cannot just force someone to unlock the device and allow for them to have access to the data stored on it or in a cloud server. What’s more is that in some cases, the devices come equipped with what is known as a “kill switch,” too many unauthorized attempts to access a device using the wrong password and the data is destroyed, likewise a failed login at a specific time can be built into the device and accomplish the same thing.  

For law enforcement, that isn’t ideal.

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Christopher Wray had this to say today; “It can’t be a sustainable end state for there to be an entirely unfettered space that’s utterly beyond law enforcement for criminals to hide, we have to figure out a way to deal with this problem.”

Christopher is not entirely out of line here and I know that not everyone likes the idea of law enforcement being able to access anyone’s device or data without a warrant, yet in some criminal cases law enforcement’s ability to effectively solve then prosecute a case they would need that access and they would need it relatively quickly.

We have all seen the stories, software is sold both legally and illegally that can bypass most encrypted devices, hackers offer their services as well, the problem in the United States is that the masses, well they aren’t too keen on any of that, at all as it turns out. It’s a rather bit of a timeless tail, we do not want to enable law enforcement to do its job by allowing for them to have the tools to do that job, unless of course something happened that personally affected us in some way, horrifically, then we are all for law enforcement using whatever means necessary to solve the crime, right?

The problem with that argument is simple, you cannot enjoy both of, two desirable but mutually exclusive alternatives.

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Understandably so, Christopher did not offer up any ideas or solutions either, what could he suggest after all? It’s either allow for law enforcement to legally access encrypted devices/data legally, allow for them to utilize illegal means to gain access or give them ability to monitor and intercept before a crime is ever committed.   

As it stands currently, tech giants are more often than not unwilling to just unlock a device for law enforcement and in some cases the desired information has already been wiped from the device or was simply never stored on it.

So it is questionable in some cases as to whether or not having access to an encrypted device/data is actually of a benefit.

Cristal M Clark

IOS users can find The Crime Shop on Apple News

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Law Enforcement Officer Purchases FlexiSpy –  Intercepts WhatsApp & Emails?

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Malware that intercepts social media messages, emails & so much more

Well, if it’s not the bad guys it’s law enforcement these days using malware to intercept your private data, messages and the like.

Or at least that is what some suspect.

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Motherboard obtained data that seemed to indicate that a Florida law enforcement officer purchased FlexiSpy, a malware that is used to intercept private data such as messages sent through email, WhatsApp, social media communications…

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Jim Born, just so happens to be the former DEA Agent and Special Agent at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) who purchased the malware and, the now retired agent claims that he simply made the purchase to better understand it and not to actually use it on someone without a court order.

Of course.

According to Motherboard it is truly unclear as to why the former agent really made the purchase.

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FlexiSpy was originally marketed to those who wanted to or felt the need to spy on a spouse or lover whom they suspected of cheating, it’s changed a bit over the last year and now the marketing targets employees and children.

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The spyware is available to purchase on the open market by the way, it is said that to deploy it, you would need physical access to one’s device.

Just remember, law enforcement could have a device stored as ‘evidence’ where they could if they could get into the device load the malware.

Not to mention, YouTube has a video or two on how to install the malware without having to actually have the victims device in hand.

Lovely.

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What is truly frightening about this lovely little gem of malware is that, FlexiSpy has added features that make it a truly powerful way of spying on the ones you love, including the ability to siphon WhatsApp messages, remotely turn on the phone’s camera and microphone, rip files stored on the device, and of course the ability to hide itself from its victim.

As for FDLE, well they have absolutely no record of Agent Born ever making the purchase so he made the purchase as a private citizen which either makes his story a complete lie or makes him a jealous spouse, lover or nosy parent.

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I don’t know, when it comes to ones interpersonal relationships even those with our children, I personally feel that it’s never okay to install malware onto a loved ones device for the sole purpose of spying on that individual.

If you feel that your loved one is lying to you, cheating on you, or whatever, perhaps rather than invade the individual’s privacy by installing malware onto that individuals device, which is a tit for a tat sort of move, you should just ask them.

If you don’t find that you are getting the answer you want or suspect, then maybe you should assess the relationship you have with said individual and make a decision, one that would make you happy, because confirming suspicions, never makes someone happy, it simply and only vindicates what you already know deep down.

Cristal M Clark

IOS users can find The Crime Shop on Apple News

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Law Enforcement using facial recognition – with no oversight

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According to the ACLU and about 51 other advocacy groups.

So now everyone is crying wolf.

It has always fascinated me that people take so much issue with law enforcement using things like facial recognition tools, as well as tools that assist them search out keywords on social media and the like.

Tools that marketers have been using for years.

So yet on the other hand, we don’t seem to notice or care that virtually every online move one makes is being tracked and seen by someone, including our pictures.

Every time you swipe a credit card or bank card, you are being tracked, everything you purchase is being tracked, sites you visit, ad’s you may click on, types of clothing you look at, shoes, the list is virtually endless.

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Someone or rather several someones are seeing what you are paying for, searching for and needing all of the time.

Whether you are online or not too.  

That someone or those many someone’s seeing all of our stuff, well they are not law enforcement, some of those someone’s are able to get enough information about us that they can in turn sell it online to the highest bidder.

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Marketers and social media, stores, etc have no major calls for oversight, seem to be hacked more than law enforcement and yet they track our every move, see all of our online spending, what porn sites you visit, every picture that you have, even the one’s with your naughty bits showing that you sent via email or text or have saved in your cloud storage and yes all of the cat pictures and videos are seen too.

What your grocery list looks like is seen, what music you listen to is noted, in fact, Spotify pays attention to my website and suggests music based off of what pieces I have written in the past and what music I have added to my website, the majority of the music I share on my website is through Youtube, and not Spotify.

If you visit a bank’s ATM often enough and it’s not your bank, you will actually start getting junk mail from the bank whose ATM you keep drawing money out of, asking you to switch banks.

Anyone go to Target or other box stores? Stores that you do not have a store credit card for and suddenly a month later you start getting all of this junk mail addressed specifically to you with ad’s that are geared towards what you have purchased in the past month at those box stores?

Do you remember giving them your mailing address? No, I bet you don’t but that bank card that you used, the one you swiped to pay for your goods with, well that gave them your address.

We are more willing to let strangers who have no restriction or oversight see everything we do and are into but when it comes to Law Enforcement, well they are SOL…

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So here’s the deal, recently it was discovered that maybe roughly half of American adult images appear in the unregulated police databases (if one has a drivers license, passport or state issued ID, your image is already in a database).

So now everyone wants this DOJ investigation and blah, blah, blah…

“Face recognition technology has enormous civil liberties implications and its use must be closely examined to ensure that it is not violating Americans’ civil rights,” according to ACLU’s letter, that went on to say,  “The safeguards to ensure this technology is being used fairly and responsibly appear to be virtually nonexistent.”

But I suppose that because it is the law enforcement that has it, they are totally abusing it and singling out individuals of color and only those individuals….they couldn’t possibly be using it to find and locate known criminals, known associates of known criminals or individuals who are missing and endangered, or a terrorist or suspected terrorist entering the country, running around the country or anything…they are cops after all right?

It’s truly sad when marketers, social media sites, banks, gas stations, big box stores, email providers, and criminals have more tools at their disposal about all of us than law enforcement.

And everyone but law enforcement is abusing it.

By the way, the American Civil Liberties Union and those 51 other advocacy groups who ran to the DOJ concerned over facial recognition and cried wolf, have absolutely no proof of any wrongdoing on the part of law enforcement.

While I agree with policing the police, we can’t keep cutting them off at the knee.

Its facial recognition…as seen in the movies and on TV folks, nothing more or less than that, it does not require a ton of oversight.

Besides, marketers are looking at facial recognition tools…it won’t be long before they are using it.

Cristal M Clark

IOS users can find The Crime Shop on Apple News

@thecrimeshop

 

Police nationwide are ill-equipped to handle the mentally ill

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Or are our expectations of officers becoming unrealistic?

The El Cajon shooting just sparked a debate that has been brought up several times in recent history, is law enforcement nationwide ill-equipped to handle the mentally ill?

The El Cajon police were dispatched on a 5150 call, which is a request for an involuntary psychiatric hold because Alfred Olango’s sister had called them.

She told dispatch that he was not himself and that he was sick and needed help.  

Officers found Alfred Olango behind a downtown restaurant in a parking lot and within moments police killed him.

Alfred Olango was a 38-year old African American male. He pointed a vape smoking device at officers in such a way that it appeared to them he had a weapon. It is unclear if his sister told dispatch if he was armed or not, didn’t know or if dispatch passed that information onto the responding officers.

This shooting has set off yet another wave of debate, sparking protests in the San Diego suburb. It has become a new hot button in the ongoing saga with regards to deadly encounters between police and people with mental illnesses.

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This shooting like the last two are leaving many wondering if law enforcement is too quick to respond with a bullet, are they ill trained, or do they just not care?

One question I usually ask people who are quick to condemn the police for a shooting is “have you ever been in a live shooter situation?” It’s a simple yes or no answer right? Wrong, I always get the “Well if it were me…” answer.

The problem is, the answer is not so simple. Police literally have a split second to size the situation up and to react. Police are not usually called to any situation where they can offer a more “proactive” approach.

They get called when a situation has become one that warrants a reactive response.

A month or so ago I saw a story I want to say out of a small town in Florida. A man was sitting outside of a local Walgreen’s with a gun or rifle. The police were able to successfully talk him down. What was later revealed was that the weapon was not loaded and the man was in fact, mentally ill.

So at first glance we all read the story and think “wow, those cops are amazing, they did not shoot first” but…I later learned that they somehow found out the weapon was not loaded so they negotiated with the man instead of shooting him when he failed to put the weapon down.

The headline made it seem that the situation was something that it was not and it was delivered that way to make the local cops look like heroes, which they are for getting the man help but had they not known the gun was not loaded, the situation may have played out way differently.

Are we expecting too much from law enforcement?

I always try to answer this with two answers, yes and no.

Police can’t read minds or know what the person in front of them is truly thinking. They have a split second to think about it. They are trained to react.

Many people say and to an extent I agree with them, we have gone too far in terms of training cops to react to situations, they need to learn better to react to individuals rather than to a situation because that might change the outcome of some situations.

Yet we as a society, well we do expect police to just know when to shoot and when not to shoot, regardless of whether or not the suspect has a weapon, acts like or pretends to have a weapon.

A bigger issue is, are they getting enough details from dispatch? Do they always know when they are responding to a situation where someone might be experiencing a mental illness? Do they know if the individual is armed or not?

We also have to look at our own expectations and the world that we currently live in.

We need to take into account that it is impossible to expect police to not react to situations that they deem dangerous. We live in a world with too many variables and quite frankly police don’t always know what they are walking into.

Anyone suffering from any type of mental illness may or may not be on medication or worse self medicating. He or she may be on medication but mixing it with alcohol or illegal drugs. He or she may mixing medication with other prescribed medications, they have have taken too much or too little medication.

He or she may be a lone wolf extremist who is hell bent on killing. They may end up facing someone who is unwilling to go to jail so they’d rather get into a shootout with police, it could also be a young teen who has a problem with authority in general.

It’s not feasible to expect police to know all of this when rolling into a situation and not react. It’s not like on TV or in the movies, they really do only get a split second.

None of that means that police don’t need better training, they need to learn to react less quickly, learn to use non-lethal force when needed, police nationwide are getting training to better equip them to deal with the mentally ill but are they using that training enough?

Yet even that training will not cover all of the different scenarios they encounter.

Each side has a story, but society isn’t really hearing the story.

When protesters resort to looting, shooting, rioting, killing, violence and screaming in the face of police, we see and hear you but we don’t hear or see your cause, story or what you hope to accomplish.

The media, parents and loved ones who have lost someone to an officer involved shooting have sometimes not been entirely truthful about who the deceased really was, too reluctant to face reality, they are too quick to condemn the police long before they have even part of the facts let alone half of them. Even after that they still call the shooting unjustified.

For law enforcement, far too often they are too quick to defend the actions of officers and are not being transparent enough. Too many times problem officers are allowed to continually slide and keep jobs when they shouldn’t.

Law enforcement does not have a standard in terms of making sure the police they have are still good cops after years on the job. Nor do they have a standard to ensure they are not bias against anyone and/or desensitized to crimes or victims.

The point is, in general many in society no longer trust police to have their backs. Many see them as militant, abusive, ruthless, unkind, they let the job go to their heads, they put themselves on a pedestal, they feel that they can do no wrong, cover for each other, departments cover for bad cops and they are too eager to shoot black individuals, suspects or not. 

So while no one is being heard, we still face the same issues and we are getting nowhere.

No more hiding behind the badge…

and

No more hiding behind excusing criminal behavior because of race or past mistreatment.

It is time for law enforcement and the communities they serve to come together and just hear each other, compromise and solve the issues that they each face.

Until then, let’s hope for more peaceful meaningful protests throughout the U.S.

Cristal M Clark

IOS users can find The Crime Shop on Apple News

@thecrimeshop