Congress Skeptical of FBI's Use of Facial-Recognition Software

A tense exchange between law makers and law enforcement officials took place on Wednesday as a discussion over the FBI's facial-recognition practices took place. 

Members of the House Oversight Committee asked FBI officials about the extent of their use of facial-recognition data, with one congressman even comparing the FBI's practice to that of the Nazis. 

"This is really Nazi Germany here that we’re talking about. They had meticulous files on individuals, most of them of Jewish faith, and that’s how they tracked their people. I see little difference in the way people are being tracked under this," said Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA).

Both sides of the political aisle cast a skeptical eye on the technology with some concerned over it's use against minority populations and others simply worried about the extent of the FBI's database.

Read more about the issue HERE.


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Two FBI Agents Shot While Serving Warrant, Suspect Dead

Two FBI agents were shot this morning while attempting to serve a warrant in Chicago's Park Forest neighborhood. 

Both agents suffered non-life threatening injuries and are expected to survive. The suspect was later found dead in the home.

The Cook County medial examiner's office identified the deceased suspect as Melvin Toran, 50.

Records showed that Toran, reportedly a high-ranking gang member, had a lengthy criminal history that included a conviction for murder in 1986.


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DEA Chief Agrees With FBI Director: "Ferguson Effect" May Be Influencing Spike in Violent Crime

Chuck Rosenberg, the head of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), today backed up the assertions of FBI Director James Comey concerning the potential influence that the "Ferguson Effect" is having on law enforcement officers nationwide.

The "Ferguson Effect" refers to the phenomenon where police officers become reluctant to engage criminals for fear that their interaction will be mischaracterized, turned into a criminal inquiry, or their reputations maligned. 

This pull-back may be at least partly responsible for the spike in violent crime throughout the nation. As officers disengage, so the theory goes, criminals become more emboldened and crime rates increase.

"I rely on the chiefs and the sheriffs who are saying that they have seen or heard behavioral changes among the men and women of their forces," said Rosenberg.  

The DEA Chief's remarks come in the wake of recent comments made by FBI Director James Comey.

Last month, Comey told a group of students at Chicago Law School that, "Something deeply disturbing is happening in places across America. Far more people are being killed in many American cities, many of them people of color, and it's not the cops doing the killing."

He continued, "Part of the explanation is a chill wind that has blown through law enforcement over the last year and that wind is surely changing behavior. In today's YouTube world, are officers reluctant to get out of their cars and do the work that controls violent crime?"

Although two of the nation's leading law enforcement officials have now publicly lamented the potential influence of the "Ferguson Effect" on crime, the Obama White House has been reluctant to follow suit.

The president himself pushed back against the assertion, arguing that statistics don't back up the notion that a violent crime wave is gripping the nation.

"We do have to stick with the facts. What we can't do is cherry-pick data or use anecdotal evidence to drive policy or to feed political agendas," Obama said to a group of law enforcement officials last month.

Some statistics do, however, belie the president's comments. In the city of Baltimore, there have been 288 homicides so far this year, a jump from the 211 that occurred during the entirety of 2014.

In Washington, D.C., 136 homicides have occurred in 2015, a 51 percent increase from the number of homicides at this point last year.


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FBI Warning to Police: Group May Be Planning Halloween Ambush on Cops Nationwide

The FBI warned law enforcement organizations nationwide to be on alert for possible attacks on officers this upcoming Halloween.

The National Liberation Militia, an extremist anarchist group, is reportedly encouraging supporters to draw law enforcement officers into situations on Halloween where they could then be ambushed. 

Halloween, a night where millions of individuals will be dressed in costume, offers a prime opportunity for assailants to blend in and carry weapons without drawing particular scrutiny.

The NYPD is investigating the threat.


F.B.I. Director Links Uptick in Violent Crime With Increased Scrutiny of Police

F.B.I. Director James Comey stated that there appeared to be a link between the increased scrutiny of police officers nationwide and the uptick in violent crime.

The link focused on officers' reluctance to engage in aggressive policing practices, tactics often cited as partly responsible for reducing crime.

"I don’t know whether that explains it entirely, but I do have a strong sense that some part of the explanation is a chill wind that has blown through American law enforcement over the last year," Comey said.

This theory falls in line with what law enforcement leaders throughout the nation have been arguing: that as officers have pulled back for fear of public scrutiny, criminals have become more emboldened. 

Scott G. Erickson, President of Americans in Support of Law Enforcement, wrote earlier this year in the Orange County Register, "Police officers are retreating from the proactive policing tactics that have contributed to a historic drop in crime over the past 20 years. The result: an emboldened criminal element."

Erickson continued, "Unfortunately, in today’s political climate a greater number of officers are deciding that the risks to their reputations and livelihood are simply too great to engage in the type of proactive policing that has been so effective at reducing crime."