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Like Portland, San Francisco Police Place Limits on Officers Who Participate in FBI’s JTTF

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The San Francisco Police Department becomes the second major police force in the nation in recent months to place limits on what its officers can do as members of  the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).

Following Portland, Oregon’s lead, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the San Francisco police chief Greg Suhr has issued an order that says cops assigned to the FBI’s terrorism task force must adhere to local policies protecting civil rights rather than the federal rules, which are looser.

“His announcement came during a rare joint meeting of the San Francisco police and human rights commissions, which was called after the American Civil Liberties Union, along with groups representing Arab Americans and other minorities, raised concerns that local police officers who served on the task force fell under FBI control and therefore operated under federal laws that gave them more leeway in terrorism investigations,” the Chronicle reported.

“No one wants SFPD officers to be under control of the FBI,” John Crew, a lawyer with the ACLU, said , according to the Chronicle.  “We’re all on the same page about that. But we’re not there yet with making it happen.”

In April, the Portland City Council voted unanimously to rejoin the FBI’s JTTF, but with limits. The city had quit the JTTF in 2005, citing concerns that the FBI was violating civil rights. It was also concerned its officers might snoop on citizens and violate local laws. Then-police chief and mayor were also angry that they did not have access to the same classified information task force officers had.

Under Portland’s new arrangement, the department will not permanently assign manpower to the JTTF, but will get involved with the anti-terrorism task force on an “as-needed basis” when it deemed the investigations worthy, The Oregonian reported.

Under the plan, the police chief will have the discretion to assign officers to investigations after consulting with the police commissioner. Some community members were adamantly against the city having a relationship with the JTTF.

Portland revisited the issue of participating in the JTTF after the FBI set up a sting and busted a man last November who was plotting to detonate a bomb at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland.

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