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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Police Officer Threatens Woman Who Blogs About Officer-Involved Domestic Violence

A Screenshot of one threatening email messages sent to Officer-Involved Domestic Violence (OIDV)advocate at the Behind The Blue Wall blog.

Harassing and sending threatening messages to police accountability activists and people who report on police misconduct is a favorite pastime for police officers. Often unpunished and ignored by mainstream media, officers often feel as though it is their right to silence any critics... and most people tend to agree by telling advocates that they should simply expect to be threatened for talking about police misconduct and accept it.

This past year several sites devoted to uncovering issues of police misconduct have gone silent, including the well-known BadCopNews.com which compiled several cases of misconduct from around the world on a daily basis for years. While bloggers who write about political misdeeds or other issues enjoy protections from such abusive and threatening behavior, police misconduct bloggers have to suffer it and prepare as best they can for the eventuality when officers might make good on their threats.

Sadly, just last week another advocate against police misconduct has been added to the list of citizen reporters who have suffered such abuse and has learned that police departments always refuse to investigate threats issued by their own officers made against citizen reporters.

On December 14, the writer of Behind The Blue Wall started receiving harassing messages that she claims to have tracked down to a Palm Beach Sheriff's Deputy that she had posted some news articles about. The officer in question, Deputy Ira Peskowitz, has apparently been in the news quite often due to allegations ranging from domestic violence to alleged threats made to fellow officers.

She claims the officer, apparently upset that those articles had been republished on a her blog, created a fake Myspace page so he could initiate contact with the blogger via her Myspace presence and then escalated to emails that culminated with this message:
"When I find you and I will, your going to understand what it's like to be a fish out of water. God help you and your family. I tracked your IP address and I'm coming for you ...... you don't know when to stop and when you do it will be too late for you to start ever again."
The author apparently traced the messages back to officer Peskowitz and attempted to file complaints against the officer with the Palm Beach Sheriff's office to no avail. She also, fearing for her and her family's lives, contacted her local police department and was only told to call back if the officer was actually "banging on her door".

Fearing the officer would make good on his threats, and seeming to have good reason to do so as other officers who claimed to be threatened by him had resorted to filing restraining orders against him, went public with the threats in hopes that would cause the officer to think twice about making good on the threats.

Fellow bloggers, many of whom have also faced threats from police officers in response to their reporting, have offered their support and reposted information about the threats, including the author of the Riverside California blog Five Before Midnight, who has also had to suffer threats by police, as well as the Michigan OIDV Advocacy group who created a site devoted to the threats made so far.

Just as victims of police misconduct are often treated like third-class citizens, subjected to arrests made just to cover up for misconduct and ridiculed publicly by police officers and city officials, so too do the advocates for those victims become relegated to third-class citizen status and find themselves no longer protected by the same rights others enjoy.

In the end, all we can do as advocates against police misconduct is stand by each other and hope that, by shining a light on such misconduct as this, officers may think twice about making good on their threats of violence and the misuse of their authority to punish people who merely speak out against misconduct.

We too stand with the author of Behind The Blue Wall and offer what support we can in the hope that it might be enough to disuade further abusive retaliation against her for simply advocating for the victims of officer-related domestic violence.

13 comments:

Behind The Blue Wall said...

Thank you so much for your support!!!

Packratt said...

Well, I wish I could do more to help.

I know how it feels and, for now, it seems that all we can do is support each other when it happens and shine some light on those officers who feel emboldened to threaten innocent people like this.

I know it's hard, but if we give into their threats, they'll only learn that it works and do it more often.

You have my support so let me know if it happens again and if there's anything else I can do to help.

I wish you and yours all the best!

Truth said...

At FR naked also show our disgust towards Ira Peskowitz Threats at http://frnaked.blogspot.com/2008/12/officer-ira-peskowitz.html

Madame X said...

What this individual needs to do is file a complaint with the State Attorney General's Office. They are the ones who investigate state agencies and their employers. Also make a complaint to the FBI via their internet crimes complaint center (IC39). It might behoove them to include the law which pertains to "failure to protect" in the event the officer makes good on his/her threats. PROMISE them that ALL will be held accountable both at the agency and individual levels if ANYTHING should happen to you or your family. The squeaky wheel gets the grease usually.
As for the "officer" in question, what comes around goes around and if he continues to practice these kinds of civilly intolerable practices you can bet it WILL catch up with him eventually. It might not be today or tomorrow, but it WILL happen. Eventually he is going to piss off the wrong person.
Best wishes and remain vigilant.
X

Behind The Blue Wall said...

I called the FBI FIRST and was given misinformation. I'm smarter now. I did get ahold of the US Atty, did make contact with the FBI, and yes, was invited to do the complaint through the IC3.gov website.

MAYBE one day my phone will ring.

I'm not surprised. I've been covering the stories long enough to know how absurd it gets.

I just wrote this on the blog my friend set up for the Peskowitz "related" :) emails. Come see:

The only regret I have is not learning to play piano.
http://mioidvresponsetopeskowitzemailthreat.blogspot.com/2008/12/only-regret-i-have-is-not-learning-to.html

Behind The Blue Wall said...

Whoops, split it in half now. :)

Others Bloggers are noticing the Deputy Peskowitz-related email threats
http://mioidvresponsetopeskowitzemailthreat.blogspot.com/2008/12/others-bloggers-are-noticing-deputy.html

I added your logos.

Packratt said...

Madame X,

Thank you very much for the suggestion and for taking the time to share it. Very thoughtful of you and I appreciate that!

BtBW,

I read the post and I thought it was great, thank you for the mention.

Also, unsurprisingly I'm sure, I went through the same thought process both after I was freed from custody after being mistreated and after I started getting threats as well. So you're not alone, if that brings any solace.

I wish you both peace and all the best this holiday season... and thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts!

Anonymous said...

Question for an IT tech like yourself by an IT illiterate. How did he track her IP address? Was it by the missuse of his badge-calling AOL, or was it through hacking or spyware programs? If she never gave an e-mail address, would that have made it more difficult? What, if anything, could she have done to prevent this?
Thanks

Packratt said...

Anonymous,

Thank you for such a good question. I have a number of theories on the possible ways he could have retrieved an IP address from her and some of those do involve his misuse of his office to request information from service providers.

The possible ways he could have done this are as follows, in order of increasing unlikeliness:

1. It's most likely that he was just bluffing in an attempt to terrorize her.

2. Most likely he obtained what he thought was her IP Address the same way the blogger figured out his, via the email communication itself since the routing would be included in the header which would show the provider's email gateway address, not the user's. While for most people who use services like Gmail or AOL, it wouldn't really be useful to determining location, for users of corporate or governmental email servers, it would be an identifiable marker.

3. The initial contact apparently came via Myspace and I do know that several police agencies maintain a presence on Myspace so it is possible that he may have requested that Myspace provide him with the IP Address associated with that user's account. I don't know Myspace's policy about giving out that information without a warrant, but it's possible.

4. He may have been able to have some site monitor code embedded in his myspace page. I use multiple such services on this site and it does give me access to visitor information, but I'm not aware of such providers offering that to Myspace users, (I don't use Myspace) though I'd imagine it's certainly possible.

5. Another possibility is that he requested that information from her blog site's provider, Google. (Google is the owner of Blogger.com/Blogspot) in his official capacity. I believe they tend to require a warrant, but I may be wrong.

6. He could have contacted her email provider and requested that information in his official capacity. Again, this should require a warrant, but it's not unheard of.

7. He may have figured out who she is some other way, like deductive reasoning or asking other law enforcement officers in private forums many of them frequent.

There are a few other ways, but they are even less likely that what I've outlined so far. But suffice it to say there are a number of ways to do it.

As for preventing someone like him from getting that information... Use a proxy when doing anything on the internet (sometimes called anonymizers or web randomizers) which routes your browsing through third party servers. Also stick to email providers that have an established policy and record about protecting the information of their users from unwarranted searches. Don't use social networking services...

...or just stay off the internet. After all, the oldest saying in the information security field is that the most secure computer is the one that never gets turned on.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for asking such an interesting question!

Behind The Blue Wall said...

Tacoma Prosecutor won't pursue Palm Beach Deputy Ira Peskowitz-related email threats
http://mioidvresponsetopeskowitzemailthreat.blogspot.com/

Aji said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Packratt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Behind The Blue Wall said...

The day before yesterday I received a letter in the mail from Palm Beach Sheriff's Office Internal Affairs Division"

"...The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, Division of Internal Affairs, wishes to inform you that the allegations you made against Deputy Sheriff Ira Peskowitz, ID 7583, were able to be substantiated to a level of certainty where disciplinary action would be authorized. D/S Peskowitz received a Written Reprimad for his actions in this case. A Copy of the Personnel Complaint Report Summary Sheet is enclosed. You may request a copy of the written report..."

 
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