On Surveillance

By the Major
In any patrol, there are two basic attitudes that you can assume: “Fangs Out” and “Low and Slow”:
1. “Fangs Out” is where you are openly patrolling, using your own presence to deter would-be mischief.
2. “Low and Slow” is where you are observing the small fish to get them to lead you to the bigger fish.
In Type 2 ops, the night is your friend. You should be carrying some kind of recording equipment (see above). Stay as close to the maximum range of your equipment as possible. If you are blown (i.e., seen) – GET OUT! Do NOT dawdle! You are way out manned, and way out-gunned.
Contact your local police department, and get a number to their Internal Affairs division. This is absolutely vital, whether you are friends with your local department or not, because you may see some pretty wild stuff involving officers. The key thing to remember is that you do not know what operations your local PD’s undercover unit is running, and you may be inadvertently taping/recording an undercover op in progress. IA is always your best bet, since they will be able to identify any officers immediately.
The other reason is that, unfortunately, you will occasionally run into the proverbial “bad apple” cop on the take. These clowns are more dangerous to the public than any pack of Columbian drug lords, but the best way to bury them is to hand your details to IA – don’t think that you can take them down yourself, alone or in a group.
On general criminals and gang-bangers, get photo’s/recordings of course, and very definitely do not try to “get in their face”, even if you are in a large group. The reason for this should be obvious: gangs and general criminals are usually well-armed, and not afraid to use their weapons on you, and the local PD will take a dim view of you trying to break heads without them being on the scene.
On that note, be prepared to be detained – and possibly arrested for assault – if you and/or your group get into a throw-down…Life’s hard – deal.
On gangs specifically, contact your local PD’s gang task force, let them know who you are and what you are doing, and ask them if they can “loan” you a guide/directory of local gang tags (assuming that you do not know these yourself). That will help you identify specific gang turf, and help you predict potential gang-wars, since the first step is usually “tagging over” a rival gang’s sign-work.
Once you have started building up a database of video files and patrol reports, you’ll need to collate them into a usable format. I’ll start working on a sample form for dissemination after New Year’s. If you do not have MS Office (for Excel), try http://www.openoffice.org to download a free office-type suite. Open Office also contains a built-in .pdf-print function, so there are no worries in sharing data via email.
On video’s, be VERY careful about posting actual incident vids on something like MySpace or YouTube, as you can potentially blow prosecutions with “interpretable” videos that can be construed as “polluting the jury pool”. Having DA’s ticked-off at your for blowing a 5-year investigation does not help the cause.
Finally, here are a few links that people find useful:
http://www.jdl.org/ and http://www.splcenter.org/ : These two are good third party agencies to report white-supremacist activities to, as these groups are usually trying to coordinate their operations. Unfortunately, these groups also tend towards tunnel-vision when it comes to racist groups — there are plenty of hyper-violent non-white racist groups out there, but these two groups don’t generally go after those groups with the same vigor.
Although I will not post the links here, you may consider “ghosting” on one of the many racist webboards out there, as they are arguably a greater threat to public safety than conventional gangs.
http://www.globalincidentmap.com/map.php – A real-time tracker of safety and crime/terror incidents; has links to forest fires and HAZMAT issues
http://www.mipt.org/ – A tracker of terrorist groups and organizations
http://web.archive.org/web/20060326000736/www.specialoperations.com/Terrorism/SOCGuide/Default.htm – Probably the most comprehensive database on terrorist groups on the web.
Hope this helps.
The Major
P.S. These hardware items apply to remote surveillance.
Try this: http://www.chinavasion.com/index.php/cName/digital-camcorders/
and this: http://www.pronto.com/mpm/Canon-DM-50-Directional-Microphone-11000054900-CG
Recording everything leaves nothing to chance…Although you might try finding a crusading-reporter-type to feed your info to.