Finding and following people known for past criminal behavior is a pretty basic way to prevent future crimes and to potentially solve current open cases as well. Dallas police are using this thought process in targeting recent arrestees and past frequent offenders with the use of virtual “hook books.”
In the narcotics unit, for instance, an officer can click a link on his department computer and be shown recent police reports on arrestees, their phone numbers and known addresses, organizational charts connecting offenders, and even aerial photos of drug houses.
There are hook books for narcotics offenders and robbers, and one on the way to track auto thieves, chop shops, and theft rings. All seven patrol stations within Dallas have adopted the program and about 700 arrests have been made since the beginning of 2010 with this program.
Although the hook books are accessible at the stations, they aren’t yet accessible in patrol cars. But, officers on patrol can view an interactive map which shows where people with active warrants were last seen.
While these efforts seem like a logical way for police to find people involved in crime, you can’t help but wonder about potential abuses. Because an arrest isn’t an indication of guilt, it’s likely there are many innocent people being followed by these hook books, people who may be under the watchful eye of law enforcement even though there was never a conviction, and potentially never even charges filed.
The story in the Dallas Morning News highlights one offender who was a known burglar. He had recently been released from a drug treatment program and was arrested using the hook book on a probation warrant. While he did have an active warrant, let’s think about what would have happened if he was completely successful in his rehab stint—how would being followed by the police have affected his potential for relapse or recidivism?
Police must walk a very fine line between crime control and individual rights. Enforcing the law and even preventing crime can very easily infringe on the rights of the people. Because of this there are many laws and rules they must follow, whether arresting someone or interrogating them.
When you are facing criminal charges, it’s likely the police know more about your rights than you do. But this doesn’t necessarily mean they will inform you of all of them or watch out for your best interest. Instead, that’s the job of your defense lawyer.
If you are facing any criminal charges in the state of Texas, contact our offices today to speak with a local attorney who can offer a free consultation on your case.