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When Should You Call the Police Over Hate Mail?

People can be downright nasty, especially in this age of social media. Though people have a First Amendment right to speak their minds, that right is limited. As the old saying goes, "Your right to swing your arms stops at my nose." If you are the recipient of hate mail, either physical or electronic, and wondering whether your skin is too thin, or if the words are actionable, here are a few things to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to call the police.

How Are Cops Collecting, Sharing Travel Patterns?

Big brother is watching you more than you think. And not only watching, but sharing that information with others. Automated License Plate Readers (ALPRs) are the main mechanism behind the collection of travel data. These readers are mounted on cop cars as well as stationary devices, like street signs and lamp posts. They read license plates and send the data to storage centers, where they are processed and sorted. This data is then used to find cars involved in Amber Alerts as well as other criminally related activity.

So, ALPR can be used in fantastic ways. But what if the data captured was inaccurate and there are resulting erroneous negative consequences? Or what if the information is over-shared, violating one's constitutional rights to privacy? These issues concern the masses in discussions about ALPR.

What to Do If You Suspect Neighbors of Child Abuse

Suspecting child abuse is one of the most painful things an adult can endure. You fear the stakes are high if you call it in, regardless of whether or not you are correct. However, public policy has changed to encourage reporting, and if you truly suspect your neighbors are abusing their children, here is some information that might help in making that difficult call.

Man Nearly Faced Jail Time for Criticizing Police Chief

Every parent knows that the best way to curb behavior is to be consistent and immediate with consequences. That leaves many wondering why an Exeter, New Hampshire man could be facing jail time long after the conditions were met to have his suspended sentence reinstated, but immediately after he published disparaging remarks about the local police department on a Facebook page. The action has left many wondering exactly which behavior the police were trying to curb.

There are some who claim that police misconduct, if it does happen, is a rare occurrence, and even so, a few bad apples shouldn't spoil the whole bunch. There are others who claim such misconduct is rampant, and dirty cops outnumber the good ones. The problem for both sides of the argument has been one of transparency: most police departments aren't required to release investigations into officer abuse or misconduct or even the number of complaints they receive.

But last September, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a law loosening confidentiality rules regarding records of police misconduct. That law went into effect January 1, and according to local media, those records releases are already revealing major offenses.

When to Call the Police for Suspicious Activity

See Something, Say Something. We've all seen the Department of Homeland Security ads encouraging people to report suspicious terrorist activity. But what about your run-of-the-mill suspicious activity? What sort of activity amounts to "suspicious"? 

That certainly is open to interpretation. In order to get a little more clarity on the concept, here are a few guidelines to keep in mind when deciding whether to call the police.

On September 6, an off-duty Dallas police officer entered Botham Jean's apartment and shot and killed him. That now-former officer, Amber Guyger, was originally charged with manslaughter in the shooting, but a Texas grand jury delivered an indictment last week charging Guyger with murder.

The shift in charges could signal a change in evidence available to prosecutors, and will definitely mean a different level proof in Guyger's criminal trial and more severe penalties, should she be convicted.

Christine Sullivan and Jenna Pellegrini were stabbed multiple times in a home in Farmington, New Hampshire in January 2017 and their bodies laid under a tarp in the backyard. Among the possible evidence police gathered from the home was an Amazon Echo smart speaker device in the kitchen. Prosecutors believe the device may have been activated during one of the murders.

On Friday, an Amazon spokesperson told the AP it won't release customer information "without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us." But that order looks like it will be coming. Judge Steven Houran ordered Amazon to release any recordings from the Echo, along with any associated data, like which phones might have been paired to the smart speaker device.

120 Arrested in Massive Methamphetamine Bust

Johnson County, Indianapolis is doing its part to fight the war on drugs, using over 200 officers from over 10 counties to arrest 120 methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin dealers wanted on felony charges. Making good on its promise the last time they reeled in 63 offenders, Prosecutor Bradley Cooper said, "if you are going to deal drugs in Johnson County, law enforcement here is going to go after you, find you and arrest you."

What's a Proper Strip Search?

Around 40 plaintiffs have sued the Lewis & Clark County detention center for unlawful strip searches under the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution. At the heart of the claim is not only the way the searches were conducted, but on whom. Many of these plaintiffs claim that these searches were not based on reasonable suspicion.

What are the parameters for strip searches? Here are your legal rights.