People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
LAW ENFORCEMENT SPYING CENTRAL:
PPB Monitors Hotel Guest Registers and Cars
May 10 article in The Bee reported that while Portland Police were making a routine check of the guest register at Motel 6 on SE Powell Blvd. they found a guest had outstanding parole warrants. Glenn Mortensen did not respond to the 3 AM knock on his door and was taken into custody some three hours later subsequent to the arrival of SERT, the evacuation of other guests, crisis negotiations, an explosive device used to blow open the door, and the use of tear gas. Mortensen had allegedly set fire to the room and was given medical treatment for unspecified injuries prior to being booked into the Detention Center at 9:30 AM. Portland Copwatch (PCW) asked Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson if the Portland Police Bureau has access to the Motel 6 guest register pursuant to a good neighbor agreement, or do they make routine checks of all hotel guest lists. Simpson replied that "Motel 6 and the PPB have a Trespass Agreement in place as do many motels and hotels in Portland. What this means is that the business can share information with police if they choose to. In some cases, officers do a routine check of motels where it's common to find criminal activity or wanted people. Other times officers get specific information that a wanted subject may be staying at a particular hotel or motel and they work with management to get further information."
PCW contacted several hotels and motels, some of which the City designates "upscale" and others, "cheap." One "upscale" hotel stated they have no agreement, but do exclude unwanted people from the property and if the person returns, call the police. Another "upscale" hotel reported they have a written agreement which is only used in trespass situations when they initiate the call. One "cheap" motel manager indicated they have no agreement and was not aware of the police ever being there. Another manager of a "cheap" motel stated they have an agreement: "we have to have it, all the hotels, not just us. [The police] come over and give us the name of the bad guys and we look it up on the computer." A "one star" motel noted they have an agreement, "but [the police] aren't supposed to come here. They are not supposed to check the register and they never have. If there is a problem, [we call] and they come over."
PCW contacted the manager of the Motel 6 on Powell and she stated the police do come check the register and "they drive through and check the plates [of cars] when they are in the area." She indicated that previously this occurred two to three times a day, but recently, only once or twice a week. The police "run Oregon IDs to see if there are any warrants and if there are, they are picked up." She also indicated the PPB has "a substation upstairs. They have a key to get in." They use the room as needed, "for all sorts of reasons... to do reports, to pull someone into the room to talk with them." It appears that if one can afford to use valet parking at an expensive hotel, your name and license plate probably will not be checked.
Former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden leaked classified documents divulging the NSA's monitoring of cell phone calls, e-mail and internet traffic for citizens of the US. Snowden reports, "The NSA is focused on getting intelligence wherever it can by whatever means possible... To do that they target the communication of everyone. It ingests them, it collects them in its system and it filters them and it analyzes them and it measures them and it stores them for periods of time simply because that's the easiest, most efficient, and most valuable way to achieve these ends" (The Guardian, June 6). He admitted releasing the leaks to spark a national dialogue, "These things need to be determined by the public, not simply someone who was hired by the government." President Obama defended the programs: "You can't have 100% security, and also then have 100% privacy and zero inconvenience" (Huffington Post, June 7). The Obama administration revoked Snowden's passport and charged him with espionage. On July 24, by a vote of 205-217, the House rejected an Amendment that would have stopped blanket collection of domestic phone records except for people under investigation.
Activist Internet Service Provider Riseup.net notes why this is important: "Metadata, i.e. all the information about who you communicate with, how frequently, for how long, and from where, can be used to create a social map. Using the metadata to make a social map shows the [powers that be] who the handful of people are that connect the green anarchists with the labor activists and the climate change organizers. Corporations and governments know how many of these 'bridge people' they need to take out in order to disrupt a campaign. What they haven't always known is who the heck these bridge people are. [Now] they can easily and to an exacting degree see who they need to target. Who to follow and intimidate to stop their organizing. Who to have watched and legally prosecuted via any small legal infraction. Who to illegally entrap. And let's not be naive and imagine that hasn't happened before and will not happen again."
Drivers in Portland are subject to questionable monitoring by the Portland Police Bureau. The PPB has 16 patrol cars equipped with cameras that recognize and capture license plates on vehicles. "They are capturing license plates, they're also capturing the movements and locations of innocent citizens as well" the Oregonian reports (July 19). The information is then stored by the PPB for four years with few, if any, protocols to regulate who has access to the data. This small-town version of the NSA's PRISM program makes tracking citizens and activists easier every day.
This program has come to the attention of both the local and national ACLU, which consider the program too broad and in need of serious oversight (Associated Press, July 18).
Oregon House Bill 2710 passed in early July, placing the following regulations around drone use: Police may only use drones for surveillance with a warrant or in emergency circumstances; police may only intercept communications as related to lawful wiretapping; images and information must be destroyed within 30 days unless it is evidence in a criminal prosecution; and public drones may not have weapons. Additionally, public bodies using drones must create policies and notify the public. Section 13 of the bill also makes it a Class C felony and up to a $5000 fine for "A person who intentionally interferes with, or gains unauthorized control over, a drone licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration." PCW would have preferred an outright ban, but as with Tasers, if police are going to get a new technology, at least it should be regulated.
The Seattle Police Department purchased two drones with video and night vision capabilities, but canceled their drone plan after public outcry. "It [is] time to end the unmanned aerial vehicle program, so that SPD can focus its resources on public safety and the community building work that is the department's priority," Mayor McGinn stated (Reuters, February 8).
Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.