Drunken security experts bring down Seattle system

A drunken game of street golf with some of IT’s top insecurity experts seems to have revealed a policy among Seattle coppers to illegally arrest people they don’t like and then lose vital technology evidence when they complain.

Coppers carry microphones and video cameras which protect them in court when they arrest someone. However some of this evidence has a tendency go to west when the copper’s own conduct is questioned.

This was revealed when cops were called to break up a drunken game of street golf. A passerby complained that he was hit on the head by a Styrofoam golf ball.

Coppers could not find out the “bloke wot did it” but decided to arrest Eric Rachner, a Seattle cyber security expert who refused to give his ID to the police.

He offered to show the coppers his ID but they did not want to open his wallet in case they were later accused of nicking cash from it.

The charge was thrown out of court, but Rachner spent a night in the cells. He wanted to make a claim of wrongful imprisonment but mysteriously the video of the arrest was deleted.

Unfortunately that is the wrong thing to say to a hacker. Rachner spent long hours at his laptop in his apartment working out what the police had done with video and audio recordings of his arrest.

Without hacking the police computers, he looked at technical aspects of the video and audio recording system. He examined the Houston-area manufacturer’s contracts, specifications and procedures.

He found that among the procurement contract and system specs a log is kept permanently on every video and audio recording, showing when anyone uploads it, flags it for retention, plays it, copies it or deletes it.

Not only were recordings not destroyed every 90 days, but are kept Rachner filed a public disclosure request for the log of his video and audio recordings. He got the log in early January showing the videos had been flagged for retention after the arrest, viewed and kept. He also received a copy of the first video and audio recording. No explanation was provided for the earlier SPD claim the tapes could not be obtained.

Seattle Police claim that its servers failed and data was lost and it took some time to recover it.

However, Rachner said that there was nothing in the activity log to support that claim. If the video was unavailable, it was dishonest of them to claim the video could no longer be obtained because it was past the 90-day retention period.

“It is completely at odds with what they told me in writing,” he said.  More here

The video and soundtrack show that Rachner was only arrested and handcuffed because he failed to provide ID. Nothing else happened.

Police investigating the arrest afterwards cleared the arresting officers and claimed the “evidence” did not support Rachner’s version of events. Now that the evidence has been seen, it is hard to see how they reached this conclusion.