FLORIDA IS USING & ABUSING ARMORED ELECTRONIC SURVEILLANCE VEHICLES TO SPY ON ITS CITIZENS

Clearwater Criminal Attorneys have attacked the proliferation of surveillance cameras in Tampa Bay only to find that the den of crime known as St. Petersburg Florida recently launched its own fancy Armored Surveillance Van with multiple video cameras aimed against it’s citizens, presumably to quell their hidden criminal impulses and to enjoy a bit of eavesdropping. One wonders how this might be necessary when recent FDLE crime statistics proclaim that violent crime in Florida and in the Tampa Bay area is down.

The Luncheon on the Grass - New Surveillance Van in St. Petersburg Florida will diminish privacy rights in Tampa Bay Florida
Van’s View: St. Petersburg Mayor & Police Chief 

The Chief of Police for the St. Petersburg Police Department and the mayor of St. Petersburg want to place the vehicle in ‘high crime areas’ where it will record everything that happens twenty-four hours a day. Somehow that doesn’t seem fair. Shouldn’t we first protect our esteemed leaders? 

Since our city elders are more concerned with possible crime than protecting the privacy rights of their citizens perhaps the van should first be parked in front of their yards as a beautiful and beneficial upgrade to their neighborhoods using facial recognition software to properly detail that their lives are not criminal. And as they drive to work why not let the surveillance vehicle follow them shrouding them in the warm glow of its protective video cocoon while recording their every activity so that we can all enjoy the Big Brother benefits that comes from taking away the privacy rights of others.

CRACK BANK ROBBER DIALS 911 RECEIVING A QUICK SAVINGS ACCOUNT FROM TAMPA BAY DETECTIVES

With two successful unsolved Bank Robberies under his belt, planning the third proved too much for a robber even as he was casing a Wells Fargo Bank in St. Petersburg, Florida. He was very stressed and tired, so he did what any good citizen would do – he called a Clearwater Criminal Defense Lawyer to confess, no this story does not end so happily – no, he dialed 911 according to press reports

addiction to crack may be an argument for mitigation of a drug sentence but not a robbery
Adrian Brouwer, Fumatore, 1635

The robber told stunned dispatchers that he wanted to go back to rehab as he’d fallen off the wagon, the fall apparently directly striking his head. The police obliged in their gentle way by sending him directly to jail where he could have made use of some of that bank money to make a $100,000 bond. St. Petersburg Police Department Detectives charged him with two counts of Robbery with a Deadly Weapon, noting that he not only confessed to the bank robberies, but is addicted to crack cocaine. 
Will the fact that the confessed robber turned himself in by dialing 911 with an argument that he was addicted to drugs at the time of the robberies help in mitigating his sentence? Not much. Florida sentences are determined mathematically by Florida Guidelines and Scoresheets which apply unless trumped by a Florida minimum mandatory sentence. Aggravating his potential sentence is that the robberies were charged as being armed, which if true would likely trigger Florida’s minimum mandatory sentence for firearm possession during a crime. Also, the press notes that he has prior robberies which would ratchet up the Florida Sentencing Guidelines to a level even beyond the minimum mandatory sentence. Tampa Bay’s finest Clearwater Criminal Attorneys, deluded as we are, could argue that the 911 call and the crack cocaine addiction present the Judge with an opportunity to go to the lower end of the guidelines, but even the lower end of the Florida Sentencing Guidelines if calculated were less than the minimum mandatory sentence, a Pinellas Judge will likely look for a very hefty sentence for a violent offense

ST. PETERSBURG POLICE PURSUITS ARE UNDER REVIEW FOR ENDANGERING LIVES IN TAMPA BAY FLORIDA

This blog recently noted that St. Petersburg police policy on high speed pursuits and chases for nonviolent felonies endangers lives, causes serious automobile crashes and is a threat to the safety of the community. Your favorite Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney agrees with most rational police pursuit policies in other Florida cities that allow high speed pursuits only for violent crime where the risk of endangering lives is less than the risk posed by the perpetrators of crime. This was the policy in St. Petersburg as well before the mayor decided to get tough on crime two years ago by endanger every citizen’s life. 

St. Petersburg Police should stop high speed chases that endanger lives maybe they'd be better off on Charles Towne's Chart Horse
St. Petersburg Police in Pursuit of Crime

News sources note that city council members are now demanding a high speed pursuit policy update because statistics show an increase in pursuits since the policy shift was implemented two years ago. The policy should be to put citizen’s safety first. 
Rather than ‘crack down on crime’ by endangering a  Clearwater Criminal Defense Lawyer every time he ventures forth to Mazzaro’s Italian Market in St. Peterburg for the blissful fistful of hot homemade biscotti as fast as they can bake them. Why not just do good honest police investigations and make the arrests later when other driver’s will not be placed at risk?

HIGH SPEED CHASES ENDANGERING LIVES MUST BE STOPPED IN ST. PETERSBURG & TAMPA BAY FLORIDA

In the last ten days two high speed police vehicle chases have resulted in major traffic crashes with serious injuries in St. Petersburg and Gulfport, Florida. These accidents would have been avoided if the police were using reasonable criteria with a touch of common sense in determining when engaging fleeing vehicles in uncontrolled chases is a good idea. In the St. Petersburg case the suspects were believed to have engaged in a burglary, something their St. Petersburg Defense Lawyers can worry about defending later.

police play cat & mouse and endanger lives in st. petersburg, largo, clearwater & tampa bay florida in high speed car chases
Police Chase: Cat and Mouse

These accidents call into question the St. Petersburg Police Department’s competence as its response to criticism in the press was that if folks in a fleeing and eluding vehicle are believed to have committed a felony, then the police are permitted to further endanger public safety by engaging in a high speed chase. This rule does not protect the public by failing to take into account the most important role of the police which should be to not just protect the public from crime, but to protect the safety of the public, especially from police actions that could injure people, such as these type of high speed chases for crimes where no one’s safety would otherwise be at risk. Often chases are initiated because police can’t resist the cat and mouse aspect of the chase when made privy to a crime. In other words the police are being as stupid as the Defendants.

The question of what type of criminal act or mere suspicion of crime should give rise to high speed police chases shouldn’t require Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorneys, but only the following common sense rule: if the threat of harm from a crime endangers the public more than the chase (such as in a shooting spree), then conduct a chase; otherwise don’t.

CELL PHONE RECORDS & PERSONAL INFORMATION ARE NO LONGER PRIVATE IN AMERICA & TAMPA BAY FLORIDA

Almost 90% of adults in America own a cell phone. Cell phones not only contribute to the loud braying at your favorite restaurant, but they are leading to the end of personal privacy as we’ve known it, since cell phones hold an incredible amount of personal information which is readily accessible by law enforcement without proper warrants. Yet lately Tampa Bay officers have come under attack for giving false information in warrant requests to Judges in drug cases. Worse, much of the information being given to law enforcement is ‘dumped’ from cell towers including all of the thousands of cell phone users whose personal information happens to be logging thru at the moment, making police privy to vast quantities of private information without any court’s intervention, beyond the scope of judicial review and free from any objections for its use from Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorneys.

now we all have cell phones but no privacy
“I want a cell phone!”

Recent reports show that police in the United States obtained over 1.3 million cell phone records, call location, GPS tracking, text messages and call history information in the past year. This obtrusive tracking of citizens is what one might expect in a totalitarian country rather than in America.
How many cell phone information requests were made by local law enforcement? How many of the requests result in arrests, prosecutions and convictions in Tampa Bay? Who supervises the propriety of the cell phone requests to phone companies at each law enforcement agency?
Is it really too much for a Clearwater Criminal Lawyer to ask that the Tampa Police Department, the Hillsborough Police Department, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department, the Largo Police Department, the Clearwater Police Department and the St. Petersburg Police Department give an accurate accounting for the number of requests they have for cell phone information? As Americans we demand transparency to protect our privacy rights from each local Tampa Bay law enforcement agency.