Tag Archives: Atlanta Police Department

YouTube As A Law Enforcement Tool

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In the terrifying, mind-blowing Dark Materials trilogy, the boy Will Parry comes to possess a unique knife that allows him to cut through the universe, through matter and on into parallel worlds all happening, presumably, at the same point in time as Will’s personal reality. Other simultaneous points of existence. Typically, these parallel universes are not all primitive. But they are often brutal and violent.

In Atlanta, of course, we have no literal knife with which to cut our way into the parallel universe of crime and poverty that exists in nearby zip codes. We let the police department or Sam Massell deal with that nastiness, should it bleed over into the other more civilized ATL universe, such as Midtown or Buckhead.

During the June 3, 2010, Thursday night, popular Screen on The Green event, sponsored by Turner, a parallel universe of violence and poverty, chiefly young blacks from, presumably, the universe south and west of the Five Points MARTA station, came to Atlanta’s Midtown area in a melee of violence and wild, maurauding behaviors that some say were targeted at Atlanta’s considerable gay, er, universe. (Careful what you choose to mess with, eh? Some worlds are far, yet more subtly so, stronger than yours. And a hell of a lot richer and well-organized, but that’s not the point of this post.)

Moving towards the point of this post… we DO posses a tool of sorts, primitive as it might be, into the unique parallel world of violence and thuggery simmering so close by us all in metro Atlanta. And we can monitor this universe… should we need to do so. Thus, so can the Atlanta Police Department (APD). The monitoring device is, of course, YouTube.

YouTube is a braggart’s garden of not only virtual, but reality-based delight. If you are surrounded by poverty and disorganization yet happen to have some Internet, a rare and precious thing in some communities no doubt, you can become Master of the Universe with a few uploads of the crappiest video imaginable.

Let’s take the single case of the self-styled “ooowa.” Uploading as ooowa, to something he calls “Bo Tube 1.” His own personal POV of his life, of course. Let’s dissect the factual we can determine solely from YouTube about our boy, ooowa:

1.) For some reason, although there were thousands of people fully equipped no doubt with all the latest video-enabled communication devices at the June 3, 2010 Screen On The Green event at Atlanta’s Piedmont Park, not much video has YET to appear on YouTube. I’m not exactly sure why that is, but perhaps other reality-based video accounts will pop-up there. I expect they will.

2.) However, ooowa was indeed at Piedmont Park that night. He was part of a crowd of people moving, once it was dark, towards a street. We know this because his crappy cell cam video captures those movements. It also captures some grainy vague imagery of people crouching along a sidewalk. As if they are trying to hide from something. There was chatter, and chatter only, surrounding the event  about gunfire during this melee. ooowa may indeed be able to corroborate, or otherwise, that chatter.

3.) ooowa may be able to corroborate a good deal of what went on that night at Piedmont Park… for better or for worse. ooowa is quite the documentarian… if you choose to examine his YouTube channel. Turns out ooowa has uploaded a heft 46 video clips to YouTube. Clips of his life. Where he lives and how he lives his life.  (ooowa loves to BBQ and tape his cronies puking-drunk, for example. ooowa likes to roam around at night where there’s thuggery to be had, taping all the time.) So there’s your own personal subtle knife into a parallel Atlanta universe – in all its, er, glory.

4.) Although unlikely to gain much hard data from ooowa’s two videos of the Screen on the Green fights, APD and subsequent judicial portions and persons, DA’s office, etc., of this post-melee, should there be such and I imagine there will be, will benefit enormously from taking a look at ooowa’s channel. And having a nice long chat with the dude as a follow-up in any judicial proceedings associated with this particular incident. Much to be studied and learned.

5.) Police departments around the country are having a prosecutorial field day within social media environs. Personally, and from a sociological standpoint, I find YouTube to be the juiciest and the most easily-accessed. Vast amounts of social data can be gleaned from even the crappiest, grainiest videos. And like the Gulf oil spill, the content just keeps on coming! Some of it criminal in nature, too.

6.) Of course it requires a great resource of time and effort to cruise through YouTube looking for interesting materials. I haven’t heard that APD has such resources at their disposal. While they may have a cyber division within APD, I’ve not heard much about their efforts one way or the other. Indeed, last time I called APD to report something cyber-related the person I was directed to in the “cyber” division asked me, “What’s a blog?” Then again, that was a couple of years ago.

I hope monitoring of YouTube content at APD has improved since. Because there’s a treasure trove of juicy and dark materials out there with which to do so. Have at it, APD.


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Atlanta Police Department May 8, 2009 Press Conference Raw Footage.

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Atlanta, GA, May 8, 2009 – Raw footage from Atlanta Police Department press conference to announce an arrest in the Jan. 7, 2009 murder of The Standard bartender, John Henderson. APD speakers include Chief Richard Pennington and Lt. Keith Meadows.

Pardon the low audio. I didn’t have cabling long enough to reach their podium that day with me. The typical pitfalls of trying to apply the one-woman treatment to breaking news media. If you use headphones and max out your volume you should be able to hear it fine though. It gets stronger at points further into the media.

From WaySouth Media, Inc.

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more about “Raw Footage Atlanta Police Department…“, posted with vodpod

Hey Atlanta, Show Us Your Crime Case Number,

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Here’s my Atlanta Police Department (APD) case number (080011828) for that particular moment in time when some thug tried to jack me up at gunpoint. It was New Year’s Day, 2008, at the Ansley Mall Bank of America drive-up ATM on Monroe Drive, right in the heart of the quite lovely 30324 Ansley Park neighborhood, surely one of the toniest zip codes in the entire city of Atlanta.

I’m curious to see just how APD classified that particular case. Surely they would have marked a case involving a weapon to the face of a woman alone as “violent” wouldn’t they?

Given Mayor Franklin’s and Chief Pennington’s magical thinking and now-shrill insistence that violent crime is down so much in intown Atlanta, the cop who responded to my panicky 911 call (a relatively concerned cop I should add) likely just checked ye olde “Generic Crimes” box and never thought about it again. Maybe “Assault” at best. Honestly, I don’t know how APD would have classified that particular crime, but, again, I’d sure like to find out.

And yeah, I got away from my attacker… only because he was really really stupid (is there any other kind?) , and I am a quick, reflexive action-taker when under attack. Plus, I was in a car and thus plenty faster than my would-be assailant was once he decided to exit his own vehicle and approach mine.

I instantly and instinctively put my own car in reverse and got the hell outta Dodge, totaling my built-like-a-tank Volvo wagon in the process, but I escaped unharmed. I got lucky… if you can even begin to label the deep and extreme trauma caused by a masked assailant screeching up in a car in front of you to cut you off at a drive-up ATM then jumping out waving a gun in your face as anything remotely approaching “unharmed” and “lucky.”

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Solving Atlanta’s Crime Statistics Mystery

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As I handed my kid her Sunday morning plate of blueberry pancakes and simultaneously wrenched the remote out of her hand so I could tune-in the Georgia Gang (I’m getting really good at this maneuver), away goes Sponge Bob and up pops Phil Kent, who was deep in the momentary thrall of calling Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin “a liar.”

Kent says Mayor Franklin is telling outright lies when she says, as she did again recently, that crime in Atlanta is, statistically, down. Kent says Franklin is lying because crimes in the City of Atlanta are actually up, but there’s no way to prove this because APD is not providing accurate stats for interested parties – the “interested parties” being local journalism outlets such as The Sunday Paper and the AJC; that any efforts by journos-with-money to find reliable and accurate crime stats are being thwarted by APD and/or, I presume, City Hall.

Kent cited The Sunday Paper’s recent story by editor Stephanie Ramage about crime stats in Atlanta’s intown neighborhoods as his journo-source in this matter. In the story, Ramage is hinting of a gross cover-up or manipuation by APD of the actual crime stats in Atlanta – a deeply serious charge with criminal implications for those involved, and an historical issue former APD deputy chief  Louis Arcangeli has never been shy about going on the record about, at the expense of his APD job too. From The Sunday Paper:

“You are talking about a department that has a proven, documented track record of manipulating the numbers, so you have to consider that the police department might be doing it again,” says Louis Arcangeli, a former deputy chief of the APD who now teaches criminal justice at Georgia State University. “The amount of public concern is completely at odds with the numbers, and that’s troubling.”

(And the matter of The Sunday Paper being a credible news org was laughingly and haughtily dismissed by Jeff Dickerson on today’s Georgia Gang episode, but that’s a whole other can ‘o worms for a whole other blog post right now. Still, what else we got to help us out in the urgent and critical need for data-driven, reliable journalism? The Panda Press (AJC)?. Thus my plea here. Keep reading.)

Whatever Kent says, Mayor Franklin’s numerous attempts to cite magical statistics about crime in Atlanta are not getting any leverage in the court of public perception. Citizens simply feel crime is out of control. Everyone feels victimized by crime. (This I know from my own citizen reporting on the matter.) People feel Chief Pennington is out-to-lunch and indifferent to their perception. Pennington sure doesn’t help when he says citizens concerns are based on citizens’ “misperceptions.”

To heck with Chief Pennington though, as Atlantans Together Against Crime (ATAC) continues to enlist thousands to their grass-roots cause, with the next ATAC rally scheduled for Monday, February 23rd at 5pm at the corner of MLK and Joseph Lowery.

The big problem for Mayor Franklin is that the stories from the droves of crime victims in Atlanta are now being heard. It doesn’t really matter if crime is up or down, come to think about it. The thing that matters is, because of social media and the networks created in that medium, stories can now be told in new media ways they never were before. The pain of the people comes through loud and clear online… now that harrowing tales of death and survival on the mean street of the ATL are so easily told and shared. Yes, despite City Hall’s best efforts to tone down the citizenry’s rhetoric, voices will be heard.

But that’s one piece of the new media pie in the matter of Atlanta’s magical crime stats. The other is the hard, cold reality of what the crime stats really are now. Who do you believe? Are they up or are they down? Let’s put the matter to Professor Leonard Witt and Kennessaw State University (KSU). Why this place? Why this person?

Because Witt and KSU just received some nice bucks (1.5 million to be precise) to create The Center for Sustainable Journalism. Given the mission and the message of The Center for Sustainable Journalism (CSJ), seems Atlanta’s mysterious crime stats would be the perfect place to apply the resources KSU now has.

From the press release about The Center for Sustainable Journalism (CSJ):

KENNESAW, Ga. (February 7, 2009) In the midst of an annual conference designed to pinpoint the Southeast’s niche in the digital media revolution, Kennesaw State University announced receipt of a $1.5 million gift from the Harnisch Foundation to establish a center to research and develop innovative ways to produce and distribute news.

Kennesaw State President Daniel S. Papp announced the award and the creation of The Center for Sustainable Journalism Feb. 7 at the SoCon09 “Unconference” attended by more than 300 business, non-profit and media professionals, bloggers and digital media enthusiasts.

The center will be overseen by Leonard Witt, Kennesaw State’s Robert D. Fowler Distinguished Chair in Communication, eminent scholar and associate professor, who organized the SoCon09 conference. Witt is a pioneer in developing community-supported journalism models and exploring the potential of online social networks to disseminate news.

Full press release here.

Crime and the APD’s ability to control it aside, what is sustainable in Atlanta now are the networks and the crowd sourcing and the social media structure that would allow for deep and comprehensive dissemination of the journalistic, data-driven findings of a journalism project that would help the citizens of all metro Atlanta  get to the heart of our mysterious and sometimes magical crime stats situation.

So what’dya say, CSJ? Wanna get crackin’ on tackling a community-based journalism project right in your own backyard? Enquiring minds need to know, and it might help a lot of people sleep better at night. And I’m always good for a quickie video package or two.