Pubdate: Mon, 08 Sep 2014
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2014 The Washington Post Company
Authors: Robert O'Harrow Jr. and Michael Sallah
Page: A1
Bookmark: (Asset Forfeiture)
Note: second of three day series


Reports on Drivers, Training by Firm Fueled Law Enforcement Aggressiveness

During the rush to improve homeland security a decade ago, an 
invitation went out from Congress to a newly retired California 
highway patrolman named Joe David. A lawmaker asked him to brief the 
Senate on how highway police could keep "our communities safe from 
terrorists and drug dealers."

David had developed an uncanny talent for finding cocaine and cash in 
cars and trucks, beginning along the remote highways of the Mojave 
Desert. His reputation had spread among police officers after he 
started a training firm in 1989 to teach his homegrown 
stop-and-seizure techniques. He called it Desert Snow.

The demonstration he gave on Capitol Hill in November 2003 startled 
onlookers with the many ways smugglers and terrorists can hide 
contraband, cash and even weapons of mass destruction in vehicles. It 
also made David's name in Washington and launched his firm into the 
fast expanding marketplace for homeland security, where it would 
thrive in an atmosphere of fear and help shape law enforcement on 
highways in every corner of the country.

Over the next decade, David's tiny family firm would brand itself as 
a counterterrorism specialist and work with the departments of 
Homeland Security and Justice. It would receive millions from federal 
contracts and grants as the leader of a cottage industry of firms 
teaching aggressive methods for highway interdiction. Along the way, 
working in near obscurity, the firm would press the limits of the law 
and raise new questions about police power, domestic intelligence and 
the rights of American citizens. In 2004, David started a private 
intelligence network for police known as the Black Asphalt Electronic 
Networking & Notification System. It enabled officers and federal 
authorities to share reports and chat online. In recent years, the 
network had more than 25,000 individual members, David said.

"Throughout history law enforcement investigations have been stymied 
because of law enforcement's inability to move information and 
because enforcement entities refuse to work together," David wrote in 
a 2012 letter to Black Asphalt members that was obtained by The 
Washington Post. "This website allows all of us to do that."

Operating in collaboration with the U.S. Drug Enforcement 
Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and other 
federal entities, Black Asphalt members exchanged tens of thousands 
of reports about American motorists, many of whom had not been 
charged with any crimes, according to a company official and hundreds 
of internal documents obtained by The Post. For years, it received no 
oversight by government, even though its reports contained law 
enforcement sensitive information about traffic stops and seizures, 
along with hunches and personal data about drivers, including Social 
Security numbers and identifying tattoos.

Black Asphalt also has served as a social hub for a new brand of 
highway interdictors, a group that one Desert Snow official has 
called "a brotherhood." Among other things, the site hosts an annual 
competition to honor police who seize the most contraband and cash on 
the highways. As part of the contest, Desert Snow encouraged state 
and local patrol officers to post seizure data along with photos of 
themselves with stacks of currency and drugs. Some of the photos 
appear in a rousing hard-rock video that the Guthrie, Okla.-based 
Desert Snow uses to promote its training courses.

Annual winners receive Desert Snow's top honorific: Royal Knight. The 
next Royal Knight will be named at a national conference hosted in 
Virginia Beach next year in collaboration with Virginia State Police.

In just one five-year stretch, Desert Snow-trained officers reported 
taking $427 million during highway encounters, according to company 
officials. A Post analysis found the training has helped fuel a rise 
in cash seizures in the Justice Department's main asset forfeiture program.

In January last year, David hired himself and his top trainers out as 
a roving private interdiction unit for the district attorney's office 
in rural Caddo County, Okla. Working with local police, Desert Snow 
contract employees took in more than $1 million over six months from 
drivers on the state's highways, including Interstate 40 west of 
Oklahoma City. Under its contract, the firm was allowed to keep 25 
percent of the cash.

When Caddo County District Court Judge David A. Stephens learned that 
Desert Snow employees were not sworn law enforcement officers in 
Oklahoma, he denounced the arrangement as "shocking," and he 
threatened to put David in jail if it continued.

The state's American Civil Liberties Union chapter called for an 
investigation of the district attorney and criminal charges against 
Desert Snow employees for impersonating law enforcement officers.

"Desert Snow. It sounds like a covert military operation or a street 
name for designer cocaine. Truth be told, it's something much more 
sinister in my modest opinion," Oklahoma defense lawyer Adam Banner 
wrote in a legal blog, adding that it "seems to amount to little more 
than a free-for-all cash grab."

District Attorney Jason Hicks set aside more than a dozen convictions 
relating to the seizures and promised a review. He said he was just 
trying to offset the loss of federal funding for a drug task force.

"I fully believe we are in compliance with state law and, at the time 
the program was formed, my intent was to see that my investigators 
received topnotch training and to ensure that we could continue the 
operation of the drug and violent crime task force," Hicks said.

David A. Harris, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh Law 
School, said highway interdiction now "works just like all the drug 
interdiction efforts" in the 1990s. "But the focus is on money," he 
said. "That makes it all the more insidious."

Desert Snow officials in interviews disclaimed the practice of 
targeting drivers for money, sometimes known as "policing for 
profit." They said that seizing cash is a proven tool for hurting 
drug and crime organizations.

But privately, they promote a book that extols the quest for cash. 
Ron Hain, a marketing official with Desert Snow and a full-time 
deputy sheriff in Kane County, Ill., has urged police to use cash 
seizures to bolster municipal coffers. "In Roads: A Working Solution 
to America's War on Drugs," a book Hain self-published under the pen 
name Charles Haines in 2011, states that departments can "pull in 
expendable cash hand over fist."

The firm defends its training as first-rate, and David once likened 
the firm's students to special forces operators. "Like the SEAL team, 
Army Rangers or any other top notch outfit it requires commitment and 
perseverance to be part of ' the team,' " David wrote in a sales 
pitch posted on Black Asphalt.

Desert Snow officials have taken pains to ensure that Black Asphalt 
complies with all laws and that its site is securely encrypted, David 
wrote in his 2012 letter to the membership. He said the system does 
not store any sensitive information about drivers but only passes it 
along to law enforcement. Only "certified peace officers" can access 
the system. After questions arose several years ago about the 
system's private ownership, David transferred authority to the 
sheriff 's department in Logan County, just north of Oklahoma City.

David said that more than 16,000 "major incidents" had been reported 
through the system, leading to hundreds of follow-up investigations, 
arrests and seized assets.

"Over the years I have also received phone calls and letters of 
gratitude from all levels," David wrote in 2012. "I have even met 
with federal people in both Washington D.C. and elsewhere regarding 
the website and have even received financial contributions for the 
Black Asphalt from District Attorneys, agencies and federal entities."

DHS spokeswoman Marsha Catron played down the department's 
involvement, saying in a statement that it has awarded "Desert Snow 
less than 20 contracts since 2008 for specialized law enforcement 
training and educational services." That includes three contracts 
this year worth more than $268,000 with Customs and Border 
Protection, one of them in August.

Catron defended the use of Black Asphalt. "The network simply allows 
law enforcement officers to alert fellow agencies about seizures that 
have been made," her statement said. "Participation in this network 
by state, local or federal agencies is voluntary. This kind of 
networking allows law enforcement agencies to develop leads, 
corroborate investigative information and aids in the pursuit of 
criminal enterprises."

She said that Black Asphalt reports no longer contain any personally 
identifiable information about drivers.

DEA spokesman Rusty Payne said that computers at the agency's El Paso 
Intelligence Center (EPIC) once housed Black Asphalt. In a subsequent 
e-mail, Payne said that agents only used it as a source of 
information. We would go in there to grab information," he said.

Payne also told The Post that the DEA had recently stopped using 
Black Asphalt reports because of concerns that they "would never hold 
up in court."

Payne said officials at Justice and the DEA are now reviewing their 
use of the system. However, as recently as May, internal Black 
Asphalt records continued to list officials at the agency, along with 
officials at DHS, CBP and ICE, as members.

Joe David, 61, did not respond to multiple requests for an interview. 
This account is based on interviews with two Desert Snow officials 
and more than a dozen current and former members of the Black Asphalt 
network, along with hundreds of internal documents, legal records and 
the account given by Hain in "In Roads."

David married as a teenager, started a family and worked his way up 
from the road patrol. He was smart and gregarious, with a 
close-cropped haircut and a special way with the drivers he encountered.

His career began on the hard-baked desert highways of southeast 
California, where he was assigned soon after joining the California 
Highway Patrol in 1985. From the start, he was intrigued by the 
cat-and-mouse game with smugglers. One day, he was driving through 
Needles, Calif., not far from the Arizona border, when he saw a Ford 
Thunderbird on the side of the road. The driver and passenger struck 
David as suspicious. Though he had no evidence of a crime, he asked 
whether he could search the car.

The driver agreed but David's search was turning up blank - until an 
old school acquaintance drove up and stopped to watch. The classmate 
happened to be an automobile upholsterer. David asked him to look at 
the car and see if anything was amiss in the interior. The classmate 
spotted an irregularity in the sewing on the seats. Hidden underneath 
was 44 pounds of cocaine.

David was hooked on interdiction. Year after year, he made big 
seizures. He once found 2,500 pounds of cocaine in a box truck, worth 
more than $22 million. "Trooper David became a one-man wrecking ball, 
and terrorized members of drug cartels for years to come," Hain wrote.

David earned the nickname "Canine," and he claimed that he could 
smell cocaine concealed among other odors, such as detergent, court 
records show.

He began moonlighting as a personal instructor for police who found 
the prospect of highway interdiction exciting and useful. He started 
in the late 1980s with informal tutorials over backyard barbecues and 
later moved the sessions into the family garage.

Today, Desert Snow is still a family business that employs his wife 
and children.

 From the beginning, David lectured about the damage drugs do to 
communities and portrayed his students as soldiers on the front lines of a war.

"These pioneers realized there is one vital course of action for the 
local police officer to begin conquering our nation's continuing 
battle: knowledge, training in profiles, and the relentless pursuit 
of narcotics smugglers," Hain wrote.

In the early 1990s, as he took on teaching assignments during breaks 
from his day job, David's reputation grew. Soon, he was teaching 
local police for the DEA's El Paso Intelligence Center, a 
clearinghouse for information about drug smugglers and their 
associates. He also taught for the Drug Interdiction Assistance 
Program at the U.S. Transportation Department, which focuses on 
commercial vehicle safety.

But his methods came under scrutiny in court. In July 1993, David 
stopped a man driving a half-ton pickup with tinted windows on 
Interstate 40 near the California-Arizona border. He asked the 
driver, a Hispanic man, to roll down the window and hand over his 
license and registration.

David said he thought the driver was suspiciously nervous and he 
thought he smelled cocaine though the open window, according to court 
records. David was by now a canine officer, but he didn't have his 
dog with him that day.

He told the driver to stand on the side of the road and began 
conversing with him.

David eventually told the driver that he was convinced there was a 
large of amount of cocaine in the truck and asked for permission to 
search. The driver was reluctant, but he eventually signed a 
bilingual form giving consent. David found more than 40 pounds of the drug.

At a court hearing, the driver's attorney unsuccessfully argued that 
the evidence should be suppressed because it was obtained through 
intimidation. David responded that he behaved appropriately. 
Prosecutors said he spoke "without coercion in a low-key conversational tone."

But a three-member federal appeals court ordered a new trial for the 
driver, saying David overstepped his authority to obtain approval for 
a warrantless search.

"Officer David persisted in his ' low key' questioning until he got 
the answer he sought," the court's ruling said. "Such persistent 
questioning is characteristic of a stationhouse interrogation."

The court ruled that David had improperly detained the driver without 
arresting him. The court did not specify how long he kept the driver 
on the roadside, but it said David should have given the driver a 
Miranda warning that he had a right to remain silent after David 
concluded he was going to arrest him.

"It takes 30 seconds to give Miranda warnings," the court said. 
"Officer David delayed giving Miranda warnings in order to subject 
[the driver] to psychological pressure to make incriminating 
statements. That was a blatant Miranda violation."

"Miranda warnings are intended to deter precisely the sort of conduct 
engaged in by Officer David: isolation, psychological pressure, and 
relentless pursuit of a confession," the court said.

Desert Snow would adopt "Relentless Pursuit" as the firm's motto.

By the late 1990s, David also participated as an instructor in 
Operation Pipeline, a highway interdiction program run by the DEA 
that trained nearly 27,000 police in 48 states over more than a 
decade. The program encouraged the same sorts of techniques that 
David had long employed on his own: high volumes of stops for minor 
traffic infractions and conversations with drivers to look for 
inconsistencies and obtain permission for warrantless searches.

David received acclaim for a Pipeline stop of a truck-trailer in 
1998. Pulling the vehicle over on a minor infraction - straddling two 
lanes - David and his partner found 720 pounds of marijuana.

About the same time, Democrats in the California statehouse formed a 
task force to investigate claims that Operation Pipeline was 
profiling Hispanic drivers.

"Pipeline teams are able to pull over a great many cars to find 
drivers who fit established 'profiles,' " the task force report said. 
"If a motorist 'fits' the profile, then the officer's goal becomes to 
conduct a warrantless search of the car and its occupants, in the 
hope of finding drugs, cash and/or guns."

The ACLU found that the majority of those stopped nationwide by 
interdiction programs such as Operation Pipeline were minorities, 
according to a 1999 report titled "Driving While Black."

"All the evidence to date suggests that using traffic laws for 
non-traffic purposes has been a disaster for people of color," said 
the report, written by Harris, the University of Pittsburgh law 
scholar. "Law enforcement decisions based on hunches rather than 
evidence are going to suffer from racial stereotyping, whether 
conscious or unconscious."

The ACLU filed a class-action lawsuit over such stops, and in 2003 
the California Highway Patrol settled, paying $875,000 and agreeing 
to provide additional training for officers but admitting to no wrongdoing.

That year, David retired and began ramping up Desert Snow. The new 
Department of Homeland Security was forming and a new market was 
opening up in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The invitation from Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) in the fall of 
2003 paved the way for David and Desert Snow. David took a 
tractor-trailer to Capitol Hill, where he surprised lawmakers and 
Capitol Police by revealing myriad cubbyholes for hiding contraband. 
Once he would have focused on drugs and money. Now he emphasized that 
the hiding places could be used by terrorists.

Funding for Desert Snow soon came from DHS, which provided a grant to 
help the firm tailor its instruction to counterterrorism. Over the 
years, the firm has received scores of contracts from DHS, Justice 
and other federal agencies worth more than $2.5 million. States and 
localities also have used homeland security grants and seized cash to 
pay for classes from Desert Snow and its competitors.

In 2004, one of the main thrusts of the homeland security efforts was 
to connect the dots of potential threats through information-sharing. 
Officials at ICE also began working with the DEA on an initiative to 
fight cash smuggling through better intelligence and collaboration 
with local and state police. The effort was framed as a fight against 
terror financing.

"To address this increasing threat, the DEA, IRS [Criminal 
Investigation] and ICE are working together to initiate a bulk 
currency program to coordinate all U.S. highway interdiction money 
seizures," DEA Administrator Karen Tandy told a Senate panel.

That year, David launched Black Asphalt.

Run as a private adjunct to the for-profit Desert Snow, Black 
Asphalt's goal was to enable highway patrolmen in different states to 
informally share information about drivers as quickly as possible. 
David has said he saw the need for such a system when he was a 
Pipeline instructor and noticed that only a quarter of the highway 
stops were being reported to anyone. Such information could be 
valuable to the DEA's El Paso Intelligence Center and the 28 
federally supported High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) 
task forces across the nation.

"The Black Asphalt was designed to support EPIC, HIDTA and other 
government programs," David wrote in his 2012 letter to the membership.

Black Asphalt soon attracted thousands of members from across the 
country. One lauded feature of the site is an extensive "concealment 
database" of hiding places in vehicles. By 2011, it had more than 
30,000 members, according to Hain. Any sworn officer can join after 
filling out a membership application online for a $19.95 processing 
fee. State and federal officials who assist in interdiction, such as 
intelligence analysts, can also be members.

"It was built by cops for cops," David Frye, Desert Snow's chief 
trainer and former director of operations at Black Asphalt, told The 
Post. "It's a specialized culture."

Using a template developed by Desert Snow, police filed thousands of 
automated reports through the secure Web site, whether or not the 
drivers had been charged, documents show. Details included the 
location of the stop, the vehicle identification number, the names, 
addresses, Social Security numbers and descriptions of the drivers.

Documents and interviews obtained by The Post show that reports were 
funneled to the DEA, ICE, CBP and other federal agencies. In 2009, 
the DEA paid $6,700 to Black Asphalt for an improved user interface 
with the system. In its law enforcement-only newsletter, the National 
Bulk Cash Smuggling Center, a part of ICE, describes Black Asphalt as 
one of "its valuable law enforcement partnerships."

In another part of Black Asphalt, users posted "be on the lookout" 
reports, also known as BOLOs, to single out certain drivers for 
police attention in other jurisdictions. The private BOLO reports 
generally rely on police intuition rather than hard evidence or probable cause.

In April, a California Highway Patrol officer stopped a woman driving 
in a Kentucky car that was littered with food wrappers and energy 
drinks. He did not believe her statement that she was driving to a 
funeral and asked her why she didn't fly. She did not have a good 
answer, he said. So he posted her driver's license number and urged 
other police to be on the lookout. "She will be loaded coming back 
for sure," he wrote.

To meet the growing demand for training, Desert Snow each year has 
cultivated up to 75 of the most successful and aggressive 
interdiction police officers from around the country. A part-time job 
at the firm's seminars was considered prestigious. Among the trainers 
are Royal Knights, the stars of the interdiction world.

Desert Snow charges as little as $ 590 for an individual for its 
three and four-day workshops of lectures and hands-on training in 
such subjects as "roadside conversational skills" and "when and how 
to seize currency." The firm often sets up its training in hotel 
conference rooms. The firm's three-day "Advanced Commercial Vehicle, 
Criminal & Terrorist Identification & Apprehension Workshop" cost 88 
students a total of $ 145,000, according to a price list posted by 
the state of New Jersey.

Police are taught the techniques that David had refined over the 
years, including how to assess the driver for signs of nervousness. 
"As a general rule, the innocent motoring public doesn't lie to you," 
Frye, Desert Snow's chief trainer and a part-time deputy in Nebraska, 
said in an interview.

If asked in court if it is normal for drivers to be nervous after 
being stopped by police, they are instructed to say: "While it is 
true that most people are nervous when stopped by law enforcement, my 
training and experience has shown that once persons who are not 
engaged in serious criminal activities learn what type of enforcement 
action is being taken, their nervousness subsides."

Frye said the firm does not teach racial profiling. "We never have 
and we never will!" proclaims on its Web site. "We 
teach officers to conduct legal traffic stops and how to identify 
major criminal activity by taking into account the totality of the 
circumstances on each and every traffic stop."

Frye, who was also a former Nebraska state trooper, said Desert Snow 
instructors look for "indicators" of criminal activity. Indicators 
cited in Desert Snow training materials obtained by The Post include 
air fresheners hanging from rearview mirrors, trash on the floor and 
the driver's demeanor, such as being too talkative or too quiet.

"Indicators are seemingly innocent things heard, smelled and/or 
observed during an enforcement encounter, including the contents of 
the vehicle, what was said, and the manner in which it was said, 
which when taken in their totality and compared with the innocent 
motoring public and traffic patterns of that geographic area, along 
with the officer's training and experience, show reasonable suspicion 
or probable cause that criminal activity was, is, or will be taking 
place," the material states.

A cornerstone of Desert Snow's instruction rests upon two 1996 U.S. 
Supreme Court decisions that bolstered aggressive highway patrolling. 
One decision affirmed the police practice of using minor traffic 
infractions as pretexts to stop drivers. The other permits officers 
to seek consent for searches without alerting the drivers that they 
can refuse and leave at any time.

"Police Officers Are Not Required To Inform A Motorist At The End Of 
A Traffic Stop That He Or She Is 'Free To Go' Before Seeking 
Permission to Search The Motorist's Car," the training material says.

Desert Snow urges police to work toward what are known as a 
"consensual encounters" - beginning with asking drivers whether they 
mind chatting after a warning ticket has been issued. The consensual 
chat gives police more time to look for indicators and mitigates 
later questions in court about unreasonably long traffic stops.

They're also instructed in how to make their stops and seizures more 
defensible to judges. "One Of The Most Critical Areas Scrutinized By 
The Courts Is The Reason For And The Length Of Any Detention," the 
material says.

As business boomed, David bought a yacht and a condo in Cabo San 
Lucas, Mexico, and invited associates down for fishing trips, 
interviews and documents show. Starting in 2010, the firm began 
spending tens of thousands each quarter on the lobbying firm Brandon 
Associates to stoke interest in interdiction training in Washington - 
almost $200,000 in all through last year. Brandon Associates has 
arranged meetings with senior officials at DHS, documents show.

Success has not shielded the company from criticism. Some of it has 
come from current and former Black Asphalt users who felt the site 
tolerated unprofessional behavior in its secure chat rooms. "We have 
to start policing ourselves and remembering that we are 
professionals," wrote DEA Agent Donald Bailey, now retired, in a chat 
room. "I have seen some postings and language on here that have made 
me cringe and can't believe that it was ever posted."

Computer-generated animations made by a Desert Snow marketing 
official featuring a cartoon cop called Larry the Interdictor have 
drawn especially ribald commentary. One is set in a courtroom where 
Larry insinuates that the defense lawyer questioning him is gay. He 
testifies that he disdains "Rastafarian douchebags who do nothing all 
day but smoke weed, live with their mom, and beat off to kiddie porn."

The video prompted hoots from Black Asphalt users online.

"omg i'm still rolling!!!! this has got to be the funniest stuff ive 
ever heard!" one user wrote.

"DUUUUUUUUUUUUUDE! That crap is HILARIOUS!" said another.

"Thanks for the video laughs," Joe David wrote. "It was great."

Larry the Interdictor was created by Hain, the Kane County deputy and 
author of "In Roads."

Hain told The Post said he made some of the videos as a hobby, on his 
own time. Others were part of a monthly marketing initiative at 
Desert Snow "to deliver information and statistics in an entertaining 
format," he said. He said he did not write all the scripts but 
declined to detail who did.

The Black Asphalt report narratives sometimes went on for 400 words 
or more, and included an officer's intent and attitude toward 
defendants. Some of them were meant to be humorous and earthy. This 
one, about a $ 2.5 million cash seizure, went out to 18 DEA agents:

"The driver starred [sic] blankly to the ditch, more than likely with 
visions of himself running through it," one Black Asphalt report 
said. "But as he was fantasizing about freedom, it gave me another 
good look at his carotid and he was thumping. Crazy thing, but my 
mouth went dry. I could see that this guy was truly scared, and all I 
could think was 'oh boy this is going be good.' "

Law enforcement authorities in several states began cautioning that 
Black Asphalt might run afoul of laws requiring prosecutors to 
disclose any relevant case information to criminal defendants. In 
several interviews with The Post, Black Asphalt members said they did 
not share the reports with their superiors or prosecutors because 
they did not think they had to.

In 2012, Kurt F. Schmid, executive director of the federal HIDTA task 
force in Chicago, wrote in a letter to the International Association 
of Chiefs of Police that such reports are "outside the bounds of [law 
enforcement] information flow" and so would not be made available to 

"Courts around the country are extremely vigilant at ensuring 
appropriate disclosures are made to defense counsels at criminal 
trials," said the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Post.

Frye has recently said in a posting on Black Asphalt that officers 
can address any disclosure issues by sharing Black Asphalt reports 
with their prosecutors. "The whole discovery argument is BS and 
ultimately comes down to the officer working with their prosecutors 
to determine what they need for each case," he wrote.

Iowa and Kansas prohibited police from filing reports into the 
system. Kevin Frampton, director of investigative operations at the 
Iowa Department of Public Safety, wrote on March 1, 2012, that the 
state attorney general determined that state police "sharing 
intelligence or investigative information with a private company 
creates an increased risk for civil and criminal liability for 
officers and the department."

On June 11, 2012, Assistant U.S. Attorney Deborah Gilg in Nebraska 
warned in a letter to state law enforcement there that such reports 
"may, in fact, violate state criminal law(s) and citizens' civil 
rights and liberties" because they contained law-enforcement 
sensitive information and personal data on citizens.

Hoping to maintain confidence in the system and provide an official 
imprimatur, David and Frye in 2012 asked the Logan County Sheriff 's 
Department in Guthrie, Okla., to take control of the Black Asphalt system.

"Since taking control of Black Asphalt Law Enforcement Network in 
August of 2012 the entire website has been overhauled, updated, and 
improved," Logan County Sheriff Jim Bauman wrote in an open letter to police.

In an interview, Frye acknowledged that he and other Desert Snow 
trainers were on loan to Logan to help run the system. A search of 
the term Black Asphalt on Google takes computer users to the Desert Snow site.

David and Frye also have sought guidance from the Bureau of Justice 
Assistance at the Justice Department. David P. Lewis, a senior policy 
adviser at Justice, said it was "a positive step" that the network 
had gone under the authority of Logan County, according to a December 
2012 letter obtained by The Post. Lewis said the network was then 
being used by 12,000 officers who accessed the system 1,000 times a 
day, an apparent decline from previous years.

"We recognize the unique and innovative nature of the Black Asphalt 
Web site and its efficacy for law enforcement," Lewis wrote. 
"However, it is not a criminal intelligence system" subject to federal law.

Lewis pointed out it did not meet federal standards for police 
intelligence systems, which require police to evaluate the 
information for relevance and a "reasonably suspected" link to 
criminal activity. It made 11 recommendations for improving the site, 
including requiring that BOLOs "be limited to situations of 
'significant investigative interest' " and "be based on 'credible and 
reliable' information."

In June, the Logan County Sheriff 's Department announced that it was 
handing over control of Black Asphalt to the sheriff 's office in 
Kane County. The point of contact is Deputy Ron Hain, the author of 
"In Roads" and the creator of Larry the Interdictor.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom