In wake of Paris, Fresno P.D. rolls out big data to fight crime

In the wake of Paris attacks, Fresno Police roll out a big data system to fight crime in the city.


Live free or die!


That wasn’t precisely Brandau’s message. But it captures the tone of his questions.

Brandau said he talked about Beware to same man that Baines had spoken to.

“I consider him a friend,” Brandau said. “He’s a very sharp guy. He wants to be aware of everything.”

No one mentioned the pun.

Brandau went in several directions.

He said someone could be surfing the Internet, doing legitimate research, and come across a Website with terrorist-type comments about the police. Or that person might buy books deemed unacceptable by polite company.

Brandau asked if that person could be “branded” by Beware.

“We don’t know what books somebody is purchasing,” Dyer said. “We just know if somebody posts inflammatory threats on a social media site.”

Dyer posed a hypothetical event: Beware is available to Fresno. Authorities reject the service. A police officer is shot or killed in the line of duty because she didn’t have access to Beware.

“Shame on us in law enforcement for not taking advantage of that technology,” Dyer said.

Brandau and Dyer got into details. For example, the Police Department even before Beware arrived had the ability to do a “premise history” on an address. If there had been trouble there in the past, this in-house survey would uncover it for the responding officer.

“What (Beware) does is broaden it a little bit so we can assess the threat level,” Dyer said.

Brandau came to his main point.

“I have to be aware of our Fourth Amendment rights,” he said.

Brandau smiled as he continued. But he was serious.

“To be honest, Chief, my guess I’m a red,” Brandau said. “Coming from the Tea Party ….”

“Would you like us to run your name?” Dyer joked.

“I would like you to, and put it right up there,” Brandau said, pointing to the large video screen behind the dais.

Brandau won the District 2 seat in 2012 on a platform that proudly identified his Tea Party roots. Government is both valuable and necessary, he had said on the campaign trail. But its reach must have limits.

Like the nation’s founders, Brandau had said, he viewed government’s main task as doing no more than necessary to secure the natural rights of people, foremost among them being liberty.

And now Brandau found himself in November 2015 debating whether the government he helped lead was overreaching its constitutional charge with Beware.

“I’m very sensitive to this,” Brandau said. “Tea Partiers know that we’ve been sought by branches of government.”

He clearly didn’t think he needed to add that this “seeking” at times was (is) far from benign.

There was brief chatter about “data aggregators” in the private and public spheres.

“People are very worried about the government collecting information from them,” Brandau said. “Today it all sounds rational.Tomorrow it sounds scary.”

Brandau said it was time to read the Fourth Amendment into the City of Fresno’s official record. He did so:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

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