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October 25, 2009 6:12 PM   Subscribe

iWatch PSA. The LAPD recently launched a new program named iWatch which encourages and establishes guidelines for citizen reporting of suspicious activity. There's also a 7 minute action movie playing out a fictional case study of the program.

NPR interview with Los Angeles police Chief William Bratton regarding the program.
Comments from ACLU policy counsel Mike German in this AP story.

Related:
PSA for Australia's National Security Hotline (via via)
NYT report on the extent and wide ranging uses of government surveillance within Britain.
posted by sloe (32 comments total)

 
Reason #137 why I'm glad I moved out of L.A. (Let's face it, much of what I do is considered 'suspicious' on MetaFilter. Can you imagine the constant surveillance I'd have in North Hollywood?)
posted by wendell at 6:20 PM on October 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


iWatch suspicious activity -- in my pants
posted by Hammond Rye at 6:20 PM on October 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


*Apple files lawsuit against LAPD for infringement on their yet-to-be-announced "iWatch."*
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:20 PM on October 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Comments are disabled. How can I report the gang member, the three welfare cheats, and the middle eastern extremists I just saw in that video?
posted by clarknova at 6:22 PM on October 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Word Mark IWATCH IREPORT I KEEP US SAFE
Goods and Services IC 041. US 100 101 107. G & S: Educational services, namely, providing public safety information and training utilizing the Internet, public service announcements, print, electronic, computer and video media to educate the public on terrorism and to provide for reporting of suspicious, criminal or terrorist behavior or activities that may have a nexus to terrorism; providing law enforcement and community services information and online reporting of criminal activity. Precious metals and their alloys and goods in precious metals or coated therewith, not included in other classes; jewelry, precious stones, horological and chronometric instruments

??? Doing research I see that the underlined part is Class 14 on the schedule of Goods that can be trademarked, but that's just bee-zarre.
posted by mokuba at 6:34 PM on October 25, 2009


OOOOOOOO...O...O...O...O...O
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 6:36 PM on October 25, 2009 [7 favorites]


I would like to see this redone as a citizen's guide for observing and reporting possible criminal activity perpetrated by the police.

Not redone as a coy internet parody. I want the police to tell us that we should be involved in keeping an eye on them.
posted by logicpunk at 6:41 PM on October 25, 2009 [10 favorites]


As a recent transplant to LA, I feel that it is appropriate to use a phrase that has become all too common as I experience the breadth of human existence through the vibrant lens that is Los Angeles.

"Fucking California..."
posted by Lord_Pall at 6:46 PM on October 25, 2009


"Terrorism is a crime"

The more you know...
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:47 PM on October 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know what? People should report crimes that they witness. When they don't, enforcement falters and crime rates rise. Rapists, theives and murders should be put in jail.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:48 PM on October 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


I would like to see this redone as a citizen's guide for observing and reporting possible criminal activity perpetrated by the police.

Most major police forces are overseen by citizen's boards which investigate misconduct. They very much could use the help of citizens motiviated to keep the quality of law enforcement high in the cities they live in.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:49 PM on October 25, 2009


Last time I was in Los Angeles I saw several suspicious guys in black and white Ford Crown Victorias and they all had guns. I should report it.
posted by birdherder at 7:02 PM on October 25, 2009 [7 favorites]


Can we invent a generator that runs on Orwell spinning in his grave yet?
posted by K'an at 7:08 PM on October 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ironmouth i can't speak for LA, but the Australian campaign that is very similar is problematic precisely because it's not focussed on crime. It's focussed on people taking pictures in public places, or buying fertiliser, or talking on their mobile phones.

Needless to say, despite having received in excess of 50 000, there as not been one arrest attributed to information received from the hotline. Surprise, surprise, the general public isn't very good at spotting terrorists. What they are really good at though, is spotting people who look different - especially muslims - and to get all hysterical about it and go around accusing people of being terrorists. They're bonza at that.

Australia is to terrorists what a mosquito is to a car crash victim. Annoying, certainly, but not really priority number one. Aside from the proven ineffectuality of this as a measure of counter-terrorism, Australia has a host of other issues that could use that funding to, you know, actually improve public health and safety.
posted by smoke at 7:28 PM on October 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


50 000 calls calls, that is. *headsmack*.

I would also like to take this opportunity to vent my frustration at the removal of rubbish bins from all train stations in Sydney because of terrorist threat. Aside from the dubious likelihood of Strathfield Station as a target, the risk of getting blown up is one I would happily take to avoid the mounds of garbage, cigarette butts, and rotting food I sit next to every day as I wait for the train.
posted by smoke at 7:31 PM on October 25, 2009


"Death By Exploding Garbage Receptacle" or "Death By Cholera"? Hmm!
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:09 PM on October 25, 2009


The Major Cities Chiefs Association, headed by Bratton and composed of the chiefs of the 63 largest police departments in the U.S. and Canada, endorsed iWatch at the group's conference Saturday.

The iWatch program is North America-wide, so the focus on L.A. is just here as a set-up for tired jokes I suppose?
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:40 PM on October 25, 2009


>"The iWatch program is North America-wide, so the focus on L.A. is just here as a set-up for tired jokes I suppose?"

No - I was exposed to the iWatch program through the PSA released by the LAPD - following the link from that spot to the LAPD hosted webpage http://lapdonline.org/iwatchla and also to the 7 minute video hosted under the LAPD youtube account: http://www.youtube.com/user/LAPDONLINE1. Subsequent searching on the topic resulted in the NPR interview with Los Angeles police Chief William Bratton discussing the program.

The included AP story discusses how the program has been endorsed by the The Major Cities Chiefs Association (composed of the chiefs of the 63 largest police departments in the U.S. and Canada) but also states that the program was developed by Los Angeles police Chief William Bratton and Los Angeles police Cmdr. Joan McNamara.

So while other group may have endorsed it, the program was developed by and is being promoted both to other law enforcement groups as well as the general public by the LAPD.

So the focus on L.A. is just here because that's the story -
it is not manufactured that way for easy lulz.
posted by sloe at 8:59 PM on October 25, 2009


William Bratton appears on KCRW on a regular basis. I like him.
posted by Brocktoon at 9:11 PM on October 25, 2009


Ironmouth i can't speak for LA, but the Australian campaign that is very similar is problematic precisely because it's not focussed on crime. It's focussed on people taking pictures in public places, or buying fertiliser, or talking on their mobile phones.

Needless to say, despite having received in excess of 50 000, there as not been one arrest attributed to information received from the hotline. Surprise, surprise, the general public isn't very good at spotting terrorists. What they are really good at though, is spotting people who look different - especially muslims - and to get all hysterical about it and go around accusing people of being terrorists. They're bonza at that.


Sounds like the police need to redo the program, like by suggesting that people not just report persons of middle eastern origin.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:13 PM on October 25, 2009


"The sex impulse was dangerous to the Party, and the Party had turned it to account. They had played a similar trick with the instinct of parenthood. The family could not actually be abolished, and, indeed, people were encouraged to be fond of their children, in almost the old-fashioned way. The children, on the other hand, were systematically turned against their parents and taught to spy on them and report their deviations. The family had become in effect an extension of the Thought Police. It was a device by means of which everyone could be surrounded night and day by informers who knew him intimately." - 1984, George Orwell
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:14 PM on October 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


Ironmouth did you read the links? There is little ifference between these programs.

The police agencies in both cases are asking people not to report people breaking the law, but to report people in engaging in what Joe Public believes is suspicious activities - activities that are undertaken by thousands if not millions of people every day and are in fact 100% legal.

When you ask people report on which legal activities "seem" suspicious to them, you're inviting base to make judgments which they are neither equipped nor inherently capable of making, thus the 50 000 calls in Australia that had more to do with funny lookin' forrr'ners than suspicious people.

You may be posit a magical anti-terror program that tells people how to reference their suspicions with multi-layered and sensitive criterion - assuming of course would-be terrorists would be dumb enough to engage in these attention-drawing activities in an attention-drawing, traceable ways (I'm not saying they wouldn't be) that wouldn't be picked up by decent domestic detective programs (which is where all the Australian arrests in this area have come from).

But the fact is, neither our program or yours has much in common with the magical one. I'm not big into false dichotomies, but when the public is demonstrably at risk from a wide range of other crimes and variables (drink driving in Australia has killed a lot more people in the last five years than terrorism), it's hard not to see the enormous funds spent on combating what is actually a very minor risk in a way that has been proven ineffective as a somewhat racist boondoggle - pitched to quell cultural anxieties and perceived threats more than actual.
posted by smoke at 10:36 PM on October 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


pitched to quell cultural anxieties and perceived threats more than actual [crime]

Hasn't that been the primary motivation of law enforcement for the past 2000+ years?
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:16 PM on October 25, 2009


singapore has some awesome terrorist PSA's on their trains. This is a portion of a pretty long HOWTO where at one point an MRT train blows up because people on the train weren't vigilant enough.
posted by mexican at 1:35 AM on October 26, 2009


>> _If you see someone wearing clothes that are too big and too heavy for the season.

Oh, you mean homeless people?
posted by honest knave at 1:42 AM on October 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Aww, I was hoping iWatch would be something like this gem, but for the whole country instead of just the Mexican border.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 5:03 AM on October 26, 2009


iSnitch.
posted by localroger at 5:13 AM on October 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


That NYT link is FPP-worthy in and of itself. It'll be interesting to see whether Britons will rein in the investigative powers of those government agencies that aren't responsible for public safety and domestic security. I sort of doubt it, unfortunately. David Brin's Transparent Society is looking more attractive all the time. Watching the Watchers seems like it's the only way to make them a bit self-conscious of just what they heck it is they're doing.
posted by longdaysjourney at 8:01 AM on October 26, 2009


Holy shit. That was the creepiest PSA I've ever seen.

You know that weird, sorta light-headed feeling you get when you realize a science-fiction story you read while young is now coming true? I really, really wish I was getting that feeling right now because I'd just seen an FPP about the perfection of warp drive.
posted by EatTheWeak at 8:09 AM on October 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


This. Bullshit. Is. Un-American. It belongs in the hall of shame right next to McCarthyism, the 1918 Sedition Act, and the Patriot Act. Sorry, but if the police cannot or will not do their jobs, private citizens are not and should not be asked to spy on each other like motherfucking stazi to make the operation of our bloated, disgusting prison-industrial complex easier for them.

The total lack of shame here would be stunning, if it weren't business as usual for American law enforcement.
posted by vorfeed at 12:23 PM on October 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Re: Australia -- that could be solved with, say, 15-20 grand. Book a significant number of rooms in a hotel with balconies facing the Sydney opera house. Every time someone stops to take a picture, phone it in. You may want some throw-away cell phones in case they start screening numbers. Idiocy underlined.
posted by Decimask at 8:17 PM on October 26, 2009


(in case it wasn't clear, you'd need volunteers to sit in the hotel rooms people-watching and phoning tiplines)
posted by Decimask at 8:18 PM on October 26, 2009


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