Wow, it has been a long time since I lasted posted; August 13th to November 5th. I am a terrible blogger. There really is no question about that. The sad truth is that not much has been going on in my life worth recording for semi-posterity on the Internet. The world news has been filled with terrorists, political drama, and many things that do not need to be spoken of further. The major news sources have done a fine job of cramming this stuff down our throats.
The FCC is about to announce their likely half-baked idea for net-neutrality. Everyone will hate it, and it won’t accomplish a damn thing. That is all pretty much guaranteed. ISIS will continue to rake in millions off black market oil while growing their caliphate built on the suffering of… well just about everyone. Our politicians will continue to showcase just was the lowest common denominator in intelligence can do when given the power. The future isn’t looking too bright, either.
On the personal front, over the last month we have come to a big decision. We are going to leave Michigan. We recently listed the house for sale. It is a beautiful, wonderful, newly refurbished house, and we will miss it. We will miss our great neighbours. We will miss the view of the lake. I will miss the crisp mornings and cool evenings. Michigan is a special place, and leaving it is hard to do. Unfortunately, it snows here. That is just too much in which to deal. Also, Michigan has made it impossible for a person to live here comfortably. We are just about to reach two years of living in this state, and true to my nature I have been keeping records and building spreadsheets. It is conclusive, living in Michigan is almost exactly twice as expensive as living in Florida. Between the state and local income tax, the DOUBLE what we paid in Florida property tax, and the costs of heating a home through the four to five month winter, it simply makes no sense to live here. On a personal note, my career (such as it is) has taken a brutal beating being here. I simply can not afford to stay here any longer. I despise the idea of admitting defeat by moving back to Florida, but the facts remain; it is the best option. Therefore, that is just want we intend to do. Sell this house, and move back to Florida… north Florida this time. I’ll keep everyone updated as things start to happen.
On a completely different note, I was encouraged to post something I recently wrote, God only knows why. As most of you probably know by now, I have a problem with university. I’ve been taking classes for what seems like most of my adult life. I could be considered a rather well educated bum. Well, one of my current courses, covering criminal law, asked us to write our thoughts on where we see criminal investigations and crime over the next ten years. I wrote plainly. I did not write happy thoughts and hopes of a better tomorrow. I wrote what I see. Many of you might agree, many will not. I will be called a pessimist, and understandably so. Either way, here is what I wrote.
After reading about the various crimes throughout this course, how do you see crime prevention and investigation in the next decade? What types of crimes do you believe will take the forefront? This is your chance to think both logically and creatively.
As this question is expressly looking for an opinion, I will answer it as such.
The last few weeks of this course have been an enlightening experience; if only for the opportunity to read about the terrible things people frequently do to each other. From murder to rape and battery to burglary the criminal landscape does not lack for creative ways to cause misery. The ever evolving types and methods of crime have often resulted in various attempts to adjust prevention and prosecution to meet these new demands. The criminal justice ecosystem has seen what must have been considered revolutionary shifts in the therapeutic model, community policing, and now the great emphasis on crime control, harsher punishments, and the growing militarization of the local police force. Simply, as society and crime changes, so do the methods used to combat it; for better or worse.
How do I personally see crime prevention and investigation heading in to the next decade? There is no doubt that the continued advancement of technology will propel it to new uses within criminal justice. “Big Data” both privately compiled and procured through government channels will become an even more powerful tool for law enforcement. Surveillance and information collection technologies will continue to evolve at unprecedented rates. It is likely that we will see the introduction of unmanned aerial craft being used for routine patrol and certainly for special events and protests. The average law enforcement officer may find they would benefit more from a degree in computer science than one in criminal justice.
The political environment may play its part in aiding law enforcement efforts at the expense of the privacy of the citizenry. Legislation limiting what encryption is available legally may be put in place, as currently be suggested by the Director of the FBI in response to Apple and Google’s announcements that they will no longer be able to decrypt their smartphones at the request of law enforcement. We will see better telephone surveillance technology as the “stingray” line of products evolves to the point a device the size of a pack of playing cards could likely monitor all traffic in a reasonable radius. Legislation will be put in place to allow for this type of wholesale data collection, much as legislation has been slow or non-existent in response to the wholesale collection of American citizen’s Internet traffic and call logs. A surveillance state is a likely evolution we may see within a decade unless something is done to curtail the indiscriminate abuses of the government.
Unless something is done, in a decade’s time we may have trouble distinguishing between the military and local law enforcement. It has already become common place for local departments to serve notices and warrants backed by surplus military hardware and officers outfitted in tactical equipment and automatic firearms. The recent case of a 75 year old man in a small Wisconsin town who was confronted with 24 armed officers and an assortment of military vehicles sent to his home to collect a civil judgement for failing to clean his yard is a prime example of the abuse of power we are likely to see more of over the next ten years. As someone who spent time at a local police academy not too many years ago, I can attest to the pseudo-military attitudes being taught at these institutions that are resulting in a clear “us versus them” attitude. This viewpoint is not isolated to the lower ranks and is being perpetuated by the command structure. This attitude, plus the addition of military technology and hardware, can only result in continued conflict with citizens and an exponential increase in the perceived militarization of law enforcement.
Essentially, for me, I believe that as a nation we have begun a short trek down a dark road. The abuses and evolution from a police force designed to serve the best interests of the people to a pseudo-military force designed to suppress and control the people in the names of preventing terrorism and “national security” began before the events of 11 September 2001 and the signing of the PATRIOT Act. However, these events provided the justification that has been used to further the shameful act of trading liberty for a false sense of security. The events of the last twelve years have proved the old adage true, when given an inch, they will take a mile. There is no reason to believe that this will not continue over the next decade.
What types of crimes will we see over the next ten years? Of course, the old crimes will likely never go away. We will continue to see murders, rapes, robberies, and drug offences. What we will also see more of are those crimes that rely on technology. The recent events surrounding what was dubbed, “The Fappening” in the media highlight the risk each person takes by utilising technology in their daily lives. We will see more breaches of privacy, stolen financial information, and the theft of governmental secrets and corporate intellectual property. Frauds facilitated by technology will likely continue to increase in frequency and become more difficult to track. Our financial services sector will likely find itself the frequent target of malicious computer experts. Additionally, as was recently highlighted by the discovery that China “hacked” in to Pentagon systems at least 20 times in recent months, government IT systems will remain a temping target for organised crime and espionage.
We may also begin to see an upsurge in what will undoubtedly be called crimes against the government. As new legislation is passed to increase surveillance on average citizens and limit things such as encryption there will always be those individuals and groups who refuse to surrender their privacy and security. This will result in a new class of “cyber-criminal.” Also, if government corruption and police militarization continue, as the next decade comes to a close we may begin to see the seeds of a citizen’s rebellion begin. Low wages, limited opportunities, a broken education system (especially higher education), what is shaping up to be a “forgotten generation” of young people without purpose, hope, or opportunities, and the feeling that the government has failed them will all begin to coalesce into a movement. This movement will likely engage in what will be deemed criminal behaviour. No longer the will the “terrorists” be outside trying to get in, we may find they are inside trying to get out.
We are already seeing young people disengage from society at alarming rates. College graduates with useless degrees, being held down with tens if not hundreds of thousands in debt, all struggling for the same meagre low paying jobs will result in a collective feeling of futility. A well established and terrifyingly distinct economic class system is inevitable, and those stuck at the bottom will no longer feel compelled to adhere to social norms. The “Occupy Wall Street” protests were little more than a trial run for the discontent likely to bubble to the surface over the next ten years. Increased interest in such activities as homesteading, neighbourhood collectives, and self-reliance skills are benign, but indicative of a feeling of uncertainty spreading today. Within a decade once these idealised hopes are dashed that collective disenfranchisement will turn to rebellion.
Lastly, there will likely be crimes we can not imagine today. As technology, society, and culture evolve criminals will always be at the forefront. It is a game of chase and the criminals have a head start. Imagine the reaction of a man in the second half of his life in 1970 if you were to tell him of the cyber crimes of today or the invasions of privacy we all now accept as normal. He would be dumbfounded and amazed in equal measure. Therefore in ten years time, if I am still blessed to be on this Earth, I imagine I will be reading about crimes on whatever passes for a news service that I could never have dreamt up; and I have a pretty decent imagination.