Uzma Kolsy, formerly of InFocus News, deconstructs the Los Angeles Police Department’s Special Order 1 in Salon today:
SO 1 enables LAPD officers to file Suspicious Activity Reports on observed behaviors or activities. Where things get murky, however, is how SAR guidelines categorize constitutionally protected, non-criminal and commonplace activities such as using binoculars, snapping photographs and taking notes as indicators of terrorism-related activity. The SARs are coupled with the LAPD’s iWatch program, a campaign the police pioneered to encourage regular citizens to report “suspicious” activity, including “a person wearing clothes that are too big or too hot for the weather,” or things that just plain old don’t “look right.”
What does the LAPD’s use of SO1 tell us about the feds’ SARs. Maybe a lot. Kolsy reports SO1 will become the national standard. Problem is,
“…the behavior range of what can be reported is so broad that it just lends itself to discriminatory application,” said Jumana Musa, deputy director of Rights Working Group, an advocacy group based in Washington. “When it comes to these innocuous activities, what people are reporting on is not necessarily the activity, but who is doing the activity.”
The standard for reporting is anything “reasonably indicative of suspicious activity associated with terrorism.” Wait. Come again? In southern, this translates to “might could maybe have sumthin to do with terrorism.”
Hamid Khan, coordinator of Stop LAPD Spying!‘s campaign to rescind SO1, has called a rally for April 10.