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Boston Cops Go Undercover Online To Crack Down on Concerts 229

Boston Police, according to an article at Slate, are engaging in a strange use of social media to fight crime. Or at least, to stop raucous music from disturbing the city. As the Slate writer says, "While police departments have been using social media to investigate for years, its use in such seemingly trivial crimes would be rather chilling, if these efforts didn’t seem so laughably inept."
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Boston Cops Go Undercover Online To Crack Down on Concerts

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  • What a waste (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PapayaSF ( 721268 ) on Friday March 29, 2013 @05:51PM (#43314829) Journal

    OK, I can see why cops go undercover to prevent murders and bank robberies and such, but to head off noise complaints? Is there some reason why simply to responding to noise complaints isn't enough? Are there no longer any murders, rapes, and robberies in Boston to investigate or prevent? What a waste.

    • by ShaunC ( 203807 ) on Friday March 29, 2013 @05:52PM (#43314835)

      It's a lot easier to get paid to sit at a desk and troll Facebook all day.

      • Re:What a waste (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Friday March 29, 2013 @06:01PM (#43314895)

        I don't know about that. I used Facebook for a few days, once, and having to scroll through the endless inane shit (even of people you know) is enough to make you want to use your service revolver on yourself.

      • Re:What a waste (Score:5, Insightful)

        by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Friday March 29, 2013 @06:11PM (#43314963) Journal

        Bingo! I've been called in to fix and upgrade computers for the cops in my area and it always amazed me how much time they just waste doing dumb shit on the PC, but hell I've found that is true of pretty much any government org. There is one secretary at the county clerks office I honestly am hoping will break soon since she hasn't been in in a year and I'm curious to see what amount of time she has wasted in Freecell to date, last time I worked on her maybe 3 year old PC she had something like 10,000 hours in Freecell, just nuts.

        But this isn't something new, cops like to say they "work online" as it sounds cooler and they don't have to leave the AC and the donuts. I ran a chat board for PC problems in the 90s when that whole "to catch a predator" shit became popular and I don't know how many times I had to threaten to file harassment charges because of cops talking dirty on the board. I finally asked a few of them "WTF makes you think a board with such stimulating topics like "No sound in Win95" and "Can't find a printer driver WinNT" is gonna be the place to pretend to be jailbait?" and they came right out and said pretty much all the social boards were already being trolled by cops, so they were just picking random places that weren't already being trolled.

        So even back then you had cops doing shit that was completely fucking pointless, but they could tell their boss "hey we are working online" and get paid to sit on their asses. This is what happens when you have zero oversight as I'm sure the people of Boston would rather have safer streets and less muggings and rapes but then they'd have to get up, go to the car, actually drive around...that is like work folks, can't have that.

        • Re:What a waste (Score:4, Insightful)

          by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Friday March 29, 2013 @06:20PM (#43315011) Homepage

          ...what amount of time she has wasted in Freecell to date, last time I worked on her maybe 3 year old PC she had something like 10,000 hours in Freecell, just nuts.

          Considering a typical working years is roughly 1,500-1,600 hours a year, accounting for less than half the hours spent on Freecell, I guess she must have had a lot of overtime and work-weekends.

          • by gl4ss ( 559668 ) on Friday March 29, 2013 @06:34PM (#43315099) Homepage Journal

            just leaving it on 24/7. I guess she just wants to screw around with the Big Brother system they have since they can see how many hours freecell or a browser has been online - so if they start complaining she can say that they should pay for the overtime since according to their calculations she has worked 12 years in the past 3(totalling the time for office, freecell and couple of other windows that have been open 24/7).

          • by memnock ( 466995 )

            40 hr/week X 52 weeks = 2080. Two weeks for vacation leaves 2000 hours of work in a year. I'm not sure where you got your estimate from, but it hardly describes any regular work year I've known.

            • You get 2 weeks? The only time I've ever had that much time off, nominally, has been when I've been teaching, and even then it's not real time off because I have to prepare lessons and keep up on the literature. Tons of jobs out there give you less than a week, assuming you get any at all.

          • Frankly I wouldn't be surprised if she had freecell on from the second she started the system, I've noticed a lot of the secretaries will often have a game of some sort running in the background. Maybe their work is start/stop enough to justify it, hell if I was gonna find out as I have NO desire to hang out in places like county clerks and the DMV, but I noticed most of the systems from there had high times on the card games.

            Hell maybe clerks just really really REALLY like their freecell, hell if i know,

            • I think being a receptionist tends to be one of those hurry up and wait jobs, where they need somebody there in case something happens. In which case, it's far better to just let them screw around on something like that, which isn't likely to result in a lawsuit than staring into thin air. I've worked at places like that which don't permit anything but work, and it drives you nuts, slowly but surely, until you're contemplating if anybody would miss you if you just left the room for a few hours.

        • She would have had to spend 9 hours a day for three years to hit that number. That includes weekends and holidays.
        • by mallyn ( 136041 )

          First thing; they have got to get off the darn donuts! :(

          I just got royally chewed out big time by my doctor to stay off of donuts from now on because of my high LDL.

          I have never been reamed out like this before. He told me that I was killing myself by eating donuts!

          I suggest that if they stop eating donuts, they just might get more energy to do more than just sit around.

        • by Calydor ( 739835 )

          Is it possible she doesn't turn the game off while doing other things, but just leaves it running in the background? It's not like Freecell is that great a resource hog.

      • Re:What a waste (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jklovanc ( 1603149 ) on Friday March 29, 2013 @07:59PM (#43315519)

        Lets take a look at a couple of scenarios;
        1. A cop on the internet spending a couple of hours to find a DIY event, a couple of cops to show up and tell them not to run it and a couple of cops to show up on the appointed time to verify it didn't happen.
        Total manpower usage 4 hours.
        2, Respond to a noise complaint at midnight to find 100 drunken punk rockers at a DIY event. That would require the following to break up;
        * at least 10 cops for 2 to 3 hours
        * Transport to jail for at least 5-10 idiots who start fights
        * booking time,
        * court timetime,
        * public service administration
        Total time a couple hundred hours.
        Which would you think is a better use of resources? Preventing a loud party is much simpler than stopping one in progress.

        • This assumes that every DIY event results in a noise complaint, which is not a given.

        • by mallyn ( 136041 )
          Great post! Well said!!!
        • Lets take a look at a couple of scenarios;
          1. A cop on the internet spending a couple of hours to find a DIY event, then wastes man hours busting a crime that never happened.
          Total manpower wasted on a non crime 4 hours.
          2, Respond to a noise complaint at midnight to find 100 drunken punk rockers at a DIY event.
          Lots of time spent on an actual crime
          Preventing a crime is much simpler than stopping one in progress. But preventing a non crime is unconstitutional.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Seumas ( 6865 )

      My first thought is that, who cares about a concert? They certainly don't seem to give a fuck about the assholes on their bikes with the modified mufflers going past my house that you can hear from two miles away and they don't give the slightest fuck at the retarded kids driving past with their music so loud that the bass rattles every window in the house and wakes everyone up dozens of times per day, 24x7.

      • It's a start.

        We really need to get back to a situation where if you can hear the radio inside someone's car from inside your house, they should be cited.

        If you can hear the music from inside a bar inside your house, the bar should be cited.

        • by karnal ( 22275 )

          In most neighborhoods there are noise laws for this. In mine, if a car can be clearly heard from 50 feet there's a fine involved. Of course, police can't be everywhere.

          I'm one of those guys with a loud system - inside of the car. Outside? No rattles and less noise than the engine idling. I feel no need to advertise my music to everyone, and I learned a long time ago that most everyone doesn't care to hear it anyways.

    • Re:What a waste (Score:5, Insightful)

      by wierd_w ( 1375923 ) on Friday March 29, 2013 @06:01PM (#43314887)

      A few simple questions to ask.

      1) in what neighborhoods are these proactive activities being conducted?

      2) what demographics specifically are benefitted by this malappropriation of resources?

      Consider how the Kennedys managed to halt the cape windfarm project buildout for decades, because they didn't want to see any windmills from their summer homes.

      Now... consider: "Martha's Vineyard + roudy teenagers with loud music", interrupting their wealthy, well to do lifestyles. (Yes, I know MV is not in boston. I am pointing at the stereotype.)

      It isn't hard for me to see this kind of thing happening, if "Mr Kennedy is being disturbed by all those rave parties down the street."

      The issue isn't that cracking down on rave parties has more merit than cracking down on rape, armed robbery, kidnappings, etc. It is that "the wishes of wealthy and influential citizens" are more important than those things.

      Just something to think about.

    • by Shoten ( 260439 ) on Friday March 29, 2013 @06:03PM (#43314909)

      OK, I can see why cops go undercover to prevent murders and bank robberies and such, but to head off noise complaints? Is there some reason why simply to responding to noise complaints isn't enough? Are there no longer any murders, rapes, and robberies in Boston to investigate or prevent? What a waste.

      These are the chuckleheads who found lite-brites with pictures of Mooninites (from Aqua Teen Hunger Force) [wikipedia.org] around the city, and treated them like some kind of nuclear bomb with a ticking clock.

      • by Alsee ( 515537 )

        ya, the police here are like totally knuckleheads them moonites are da bomb and they should have totally left them up instead of harrazing regular kids like us

        oh heay do yaz have teh address for tonights house concert my bff isnt answering her mobile phone and i cant read the address she faxed me kthanxbai i appreciate the 411 loveya oxoxoxox


        • by Shoten ( 260439 )

          ya, the police here are like totally knuckleheads them moonites are da bomb and they should have totally left them up instead of harrazing regular kids like us

          oh heay do yaz have teh address for tonights house concert my bff isnt answering her mobile phone and i cant read the address she faxed me kthanxbai i appreciate the 411 loveya oxoxoxox


          Why, sure, dude...here it is! [wikipedia.org] Just come on over...party starts at 4 PM on Friday.

        • The BPD was the only one to flip out over it, and when it turned out to be nothing, the prosecuted over it.

          There was no explosive charge, nor was there anything about the displays that would have permitted there to be any explosive charge of note there.

          I remember years back when a local installation artist parked a huge truck with "da bomb" painted on it, amongst other things, the local police department did shut things down pretty good, but you're talking about a car, which could easily contain hundreds of

    • I dunno, I read this and thought this was for the [older?] cops that can't be on active street duty for whatever reason. They sit at a desk and work.

    • by alen ( 225700 )

      a legit concert will be held in a place with the right permit,certified by the fire department for that many people and will have enough security. cops even moonlight doing security for legit concerts

      if you hold a concert in an area where it will bother people and the place isn't zoned for a concert it deserves to be shut down. people have a right to relax at home with no noise

      • Yeah, OK, but I'm not objecting to shutting down noisy concerts that are bothering people. I'm objecting to using undercover cops to find out about the concerts ahead of time, before anyone complains. It's like having plainclothes cops follow people leaving McDonald's with takeout, just in case they later litter with their burger wrappers. It's too much enforcement for too minor a crime.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by alen ( 225700 )

          The whole point is the concerts are being held in areas where the zoning laws prohibit concerts

          Noise complaints are for the once in a while noise from neighbors
          The cops are ok on this because these are organized operations to conduct unlawful activity. Not as bad as the mafia and real organized crime, but same concept

    • You've clearly never had people living next door who blast their car boom boxes at 3AM.

    • meanwhile, elsewhere in boston

      google of "murder boston 2013"


      google of "rape boston 2013"

  • Y undercover? (Score:5, Informative)

    by markdavis ( 642305 ) on Friday March 29, 2013 @05:54PM (#43314845)

    >"loud rock shows can, in fact, be a nuisance to neighbors, as many of the people who put the shows on will admit. "

    Of course they are. In fact, to many people (myself included), such noise in a residential area is not a "trivial crime" at all. But why is it necessary to go undercover? Isn't it easier to wait for a noise complaint, then sent units over to wherever it is and start issuing tickets??

    • Wait for the noise complaints and just show up to shut things down? That's no fun for the officers --- they don't get to spend their evening rocking out at the hottest parties while getting paid double-undercover-overtime.

    • Re:Y undercover? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by abigsmurf ( 919188 ) on Friday March 29, 2013 @06:14PM (#43314979)
      Having a couple of officers do undercover work to get the organisers is more efficient and effective then sending loads of officers to a concert, filling up the cells and having a high chance of the organisers getting away. It's also far more likely to discourage people from even attempting a show.

      Plus there's lots of stuff that goes with the concerts other than just noise; poor safety, drink driving, general vandalism to the area, all the stuff that licenced concerts have to plan for or try to prevent.
    • I think the point is to stop the noise before it starts. Also, there's a reason why these things are kept to strict venues. You get a lot of young, dumb people in one place getting drunk/high and maybe doing dumb things. It's hard to set up checkpoints to check for drunk drivers, for example, when there's 20 little venues all playing.

      Basically people in even small groups are known to do dumb stuff that requires a bit of oversight / public safety. It's like Mosh pits. When they first started there was an
      • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

        but why should they have any say in it? and what's different between an ug concert and some guys playing cello at your daughters graduation party? legally there shouldn't be a difference at all.

        and uh.. straight x (no drugs, no nothing) guys have the most violent moshpits there are - it's the frat guys who get hurt when people forget to tell 'em that it's perfectly normal to get a fist to the face.

        • what's different between an ug concert and some guys playing cello at your daughters graduation party?

          The difference is measurable as decibels measured at some distance from the event. Most people are consistently against being woken by loud amplified music, no matter what the genre. The cellos playing at the lawn party down the street could not wake me up, unless they were amped and cranked, in which case I'd be disturbed. This kind of argument has fueled a generational divide for more than half a century, with the old people saying "turn it down," and the youngsters taking that as a sleight to their favor

      • Thanks for the invitation to the Devil's Advocates' Grand Ball, I'll play along, too. Maybe this is also illegal drug related? Most licensed clubs will kick out drug dealers, for fear of losing their license. At an unlicensed party somewhere, anything goes. Add in some minor altercations that escalate into gang brawls (Mr. Brown, Mr. Drake?), and maybe the cops have a good reason to know where these parties are going on.

        Of course, another explanation is that the police are just emulating the methods th

      • This comment should be modded up. Impromptu concerts / house parties are very disruptive in residential areas, and the disruption is caused not just by the music, it's caused by the people and cars and the drugs. It's easy to forget, there are first responders sleeping, and people who have invested time and money to keep their neighborhood tidy and safe, who are very averse to getting woken up, having their lawns dug up by bad drivers, and having deal with the litter and general mayhem that accompanies any
    • by fermion ( 181285 )
      The idea might be to warn of stop a violation before it happens. It might be that it will help the people who are doing this.

      There are many possibilities here. One is that these are young people who are simply testing limits as young people do. You know, racing down the road, as I saw two trucks labeled with stickers from our local redneck college, or drinking excessively, all to show they can act like badasses. The best case scenario is that nothing happens, the medium case is they off themselves and

    • It is much simpler to prevent a known party than to stop one when it is already in progress. What do you think would take less manpower? Contacting a planned location and telling them not to have the party and stopping the setup or showing up to a complaint and attempting to stop a party that has a couple hundred drunk punk rockers? I know which one would be definitely safer.

      By the way, noise is not the only issue with parties like this. There is vandalism, street brawls, theft, public drunkenness, etc. The

    • But why is it necessary to go undercover?

      Because they are doing this BEFORE there is any noise, before there is any crime committed.

  • Or Not. (Score:5, Informative)

    by jelwell ( 2152 ) on Friday March 29, 2013 @06:01PM (#43314889)

    If you read the entire article, there's no proof that cops are going undercover. There's only proof that DIY show producers are paranoid. I'm more inclined to believe the latter.
    Joseph Elwell.

  • Good for them (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Stargoat ( 658863 )

    I'm pleased that the Boston PD have a good, solid mission ahead of them. After all, you can only blow up so many Moonites [wikipedia.org] before it just doesn't feel right any more.


  • Bizarre Story (Score:5, Insightful)

    by macwhizkid ( 864124 ) on Friday March 29, 2013 @06:26PM (#43315053)

    So, let's get this straight: there's no proof that the police are connected to this, just a half-baked assumption based on someone's analysis of a couple two-sentence emails? And the messages aren't even very funny anyway... ("LOL, he used the word concert . What a loser! Must be a cop!")

    Slashdot editors, you need to step up your game.

    • I agree that the electronic "proof" is pretty weak.

      The police showing up numerous times just ahead of the event and giving warnings is fairly suspicious though.

      Regardless I don't know that I care. I mean, I'd like the cops to be out doing something more productive than trying to ferret out noise disturbances before they happen. But what exactly would that more productive activity be, maybe handing out more revenue tickets or eating more donuts?

      If you are deliberately planning to cause enough of a racket tha

    • RTFA?

      "According to one local musician who asked not to be named, the day before a show this past weekend, police showed up at a house in the Allston neighborhood, home of many of these house shows, claiming that they already knew the bands scheduled to play. The cops told the residents of the house that they found out about the show through email, and they bragged about their phony Facebook accounts. "

  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Friday March 29, 2013 @06:37PM (#43315115) Homepage Journal

    is all they need for most of these cars running around with the stereo playing so loud the trunk appears to be passing wind.

    I'm now wondering what sort of live music scene there is in Boston. Sounds healthy if there's a lot of bands setting up on street corners or in parks.

  • by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Friday March 29, 2013 @08:16PM (#43315639) Journal

    There's no reason to go undercover or assign police to track social networking. There's already an early warning system for nuisance loud music -- it's called neighbors. If you get a call that someone is playing obnoxiously loud, that's the only clue you need.

    It's not raucous if nobody is disturbed. If someone is disturbed, they'll say. What undercover work is necessary here?

  • ...not for the cops engaging in pre-crime enforcement, but First Amendment violations related to the ordinance they passed. It's not a noise ordinance as others have been trying to make out, it's a fine for any gathering "which consitutes a violation of law OR [emphasis mine] creates a substantial disturbance of the quiet enjoyment of private or public property in a neighborhood. Behavior constituting a public nuisance includes but is not limited to excessive noise, obstruction of public ways by crowds or

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 30, 2013 @08:38AM (#43317633)

    If you don't live in Boston then you wouldn't understand why we do the things we do. Have you ever gone driving on the Jamaicaway, walk around Berkley around 3:30pm on a Friday, tried talking to people on the street, parked at an inner city gas station that doesn't even have gas, getting a combo meal at Dunkin Donuts, used the Green Line, get a parking ticket in Beacon Hill for sitting in your car for 3 minutes, or done any of these delightful things in Boston? If you have then you know exactly what I'm talking about. Boston is the city of hate. Everyone from good old Tom Menino down to the foul-mouthed Red Sox fan knows that the primary objective is to maximize annoyance and dysfunction. The police wasting our time and money on this garbage so fits the profile of our fair city that nothing surprises me. If you disagree, then you've never been to the court house in Roxbury or the police station in Jamaica Plain. I can't see how any institutions could be managed worse. Remember the JP clerk that tampered with the evidence of thousands of drug cases? Eh, we'll forget about that. Instead let's try to chum up to some lousy Harvard/young person ideal by using Facebook to do everything. Remember, the crippling failures who are administering essential services in our city are utterly hopeless and need something to distract themselves with, otherwise they'd try to do their job and end up doing more damage. If you've never had a taste of this while living in Boston then clearly you're living under a rock or working for some very insular ultra-elitist academic cell. Say, dood, mind if I come ova to your office and tak about the Patriots? See what I mean?

  • Hilarious would be if the officers could somehow apply for the permit for the organizers upon hearing of the event, have a judge sign off on it and show up to the event to scold organizers on not getting the permit, charge the process fees for the permit they processed for them before wishing everyone present a safe and fun night as they leave.

    It would take being that renegade non-conformist type up a notch

Life in the state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. - Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan