Brickbat: Minority Report


Rio Wotjecki, 15, got caught stealing motorized bicycles in 2018, the only crime he's ever been accused of. He was given probation, and a probation officer regularly checks on him. But the Pasco County, Florida, sheriff's office decided it needed to keep a close eye on him, too. Between September 2019 and January 2020, they visited his house 21 times. They also went to his mom's place of work and to a friend's house. Bodycam footage shows deputies admitting they don't suspect him of any more crimes, but they question him about his friends and people he hangs out with. Wotjecki is one of some 1,000 people the sheriff's office tracks because it considers them likely to break the law. The Tampa Bay Times reports the program is based on past arrests but also on "unspecified intelligence and arbitrary decisions by police analysts." It says one former deputy said the program seems aimed to "Make their lives miserable until they move or sue."

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  1. So….

    This is where you pick “or sue”?

    And you would have to take it all the way to the supreme court to get denied because it was the first time anyone had been sued for such a thing and had a ruling that it was a 4th or 5th or 8th amendment violation to harrass someone into leaving town.

    And to get that ruling, you gotta go all the way to the top, because nobody else is even going to rule on that. They’ll just rule that immunity applies and toss the suit.

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  3. After reading the article it’s much worse than this post shows. Sounds like their taking cues from the Chi Coms .

    1. Indeed!

      Today, the Sheriff’s Office has a 30-person intelligence-led policing section with a $2.8 million budget, run by a former senior counterterrorism analyst who was assigned to the National Counterterrorism Center. The No. 2 is a former Army intelligence officer.

      Twenty analysts scour police reports, property records, Facebook pages, bank statements and surveillance photos to help deputies across the agency investigate crimes, according to the agency’s latest intelligence-led policing manual.

      Since September 2015, they have also decided who goes on the list of people deemed likely to break the law.

      The people on the list are what the department calls “prolific offenders.” The manual describes them as individuals who have “taken to a career of crime” and are “not likely to reform.”

      1. Today, the Sheriff’s Office has a 30-person intelligence-led policing section with a $2.8 million budget, run by a former senior counterterrorism analyst who was assigned to the National Counterterrorism Center. The No. 2 is a former Army intelligence officer.
        So that is where Captain Queeg went to relive his past glories.

      2. Today, the Sheriff’s Office has a 30-person intelligence-led policing section with a $2.8 million budget

        Hmm, maybe the “defund the police” weirdos have a point.

      3. No. 2 is a former Army intelligence officer.

        It took 12 years to find Bin Laden, so he’s not going to let this bike thief out of his sight.

  4. When wild junkies die in police custody, I don’t care.

    This, however, infuriates me. This is the kind of thing that should incite protests and calls for reducing the size of police forces.

  5. The Sheriff’s Office acknowledged it had access to a portion of the file that labeled Matthew at risk of suicide. But the department said it would be irresponsible to blame Matthew’s death on its program. It said the program is based on crime data alone, and Matthew qualified.

    There’s a certain level of sociopathy that comes with using cold, junk science to justify bullying people into suicide.

    1. To be clear, there’s also a certain level of sociopathy that comes with wanting to be a cop.

  6. So is there any evidence not created by the cops that this program correctly identifies repeat offenders in a cost-effective manner? If these are serious criminals, I would think they would be locked away already and not need monitoring, if they’re petty crooks I can’t imagine that the program is worth the cost.

  7. How much of the 2.8 million comes from asset forfeiture?

    1. All with the remainder going into the general fund?

    2. It’s tax money, so…all of it.

  8. This is the inevitable result of the war on terror. These units were originally put together to investigate and stop attacks by terrorists, however the terrorists have gone underground and to keep their funding they have to show some results, hence going after “habitual” offenders. They just don’t have anything else to do. They could cut the funding (not gonna happen) or find something else for them to do.

    1. bin Laden won.

  9. unspecified intelligence and arbitrary decisions by police analysts
    They are using the FBI training manual.

  10. The Department of PreCrime , or more often as the PreCrime Division , or known simply as PreCrime , is a government agency under the United States Department of Justice utilizing the Precogs to “visualize” crimes by receiving visions of the future.


    1. Which was kind of a dumb sci-fi idea (but a great movie).
      Why not have the Pre-Cog be an AI? Like on Person of Interest — except not so stupid that the computer is smart enough to name someone who will be involved in a crime, but too stupid to figure out if they might be a victim, the perpetrator, or a witness.

      1. There were sci fi authors who envisioned autonomous robots that could exceed their initial programming (Asimov in 1940, for example), but when The Minority Report was written in 1956, a true AI was still unimaginable to readers. Dick chose a less fantastic mechanism: precognition.

        Keep in mind, it’s 2020 and real AI still doesn’t exist. There’s been systems that can pass a very basic Turing test and play chess and look through medical records. But none that can exceed their programming or equal human translation skill.

        (Don’t believe it? Try Google Translate. Or see some of the stupid ads Facebook thinks you want.)

      2. The point was,other than being a PKD mindfuck, is that computers are programmed and only as good as the security around them.

        Psychics are not crackable like that.

  11. If we are going to prosecute future crime, we might as well do it with robocop.

    1. As with the story about sting operations using female cops to catch would be predators. That way they’ll never get the chance to actually commit a crime because they’re already in prison!

      Kafka eat your heart out.

  12. Wotjecki is one of some 1,000 people the sheriff’s office tracks because it considers them likely to break the law.

    Well, it’s either this or go after actual criminals, many of which are actually dangerous.

  13. “unspecified intelligence and arbitrary decisions by police analysts.”

    Unspecified? I think I can draw a lot of conclusions about their intelligence.

  14. >>likely to break the law

    is putting myself on their list an option?

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  16. If you don’t want to be hassled by the cops, don’t steal motorized bicycles.

    1. This. I wouldn’t be surprised if young Mr. Wotjecki did wind up stealing again. At the same time, I don’t want the cops being given carte blanche to harass people who break the law.

      Unfortunately for everyone, especially Wotjecki, it’s unlikely he’s going to discover a deep respect for property rights anytime soon.

  17. Perhaps some organization with the time and money could harass the department in exactly the same way. Show up at all hours to ask questions and consume the time of as many officers as possible. Preferably under the guise of investigative journalism and keep a daily blog of which officers were spoken to every day and what they did.

    It wouldn’t matter if they just walked up to officers on the street or went into the station. Probably most effective when cops are getting or eating lunch. Sure, the cops would get their nose out of joint but there’s nothing illegal about checking up on the cops.

    Of course it might be best to have an address that’s out of the county.

  18. Kid probably has a hot mother.

  19. It says one former deputy said the program seems aimed to “Make their lives miserable until they move…”

    Didn’t work out so well for Brian Dennehy in the movie…

    1. Interesting. My first guess was that they were leaning on him to snitch.

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  23. Just like ‘reason’ staffers are in favor of letting illegal aliens into the country but not their neighborhoods, I invite Oliver to let Wotjecki keep an eye on Oliver’s bicycle.

    This comment not approved by Silicon Valley brain slugs.

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