In response to a recent complaint about the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) Police and a Jan. 12, 2014, Tampa Tribune article, a preliminary review indicates that all proper protocols were followed throughout the Dec. 30, 2013, 55-minute traffic stop on I-95, which was initiated for a speeding violation. The MDTA takes these allegations seriously and will continue to investigate this personnel matter. (link)
As we wait for the records of the incident it’s interesting to note the position of the MTA.
If “proper protocols were followed” then why did the MDTA Chief and Internal Affairs apologize to Mr. Filippidis? Also, if “proper protocols were followed” then why then is this a “personnel matter“?
Apply logic between the parseltongue and you can come away with a possibility the MDTA wants attention on the officer rather than on the actual capability which allowed the officer to make his assumptions.
Their initial response reeks of similarity to James Clapper’s initial response when he was asked by congress if the NSA was collecting information on U.S. citizens. Our curiosity is really peaked now because Occam’s razor would infer the MDTA wants to present this as a “personnel matter” for how an officer responded. That’s not the real issue.
The bigger issue is what technology existed, which is used by MDTA, and spurred the officer to know Mr. Filippidis was a CCW holder. THAT is the bigger interest.
It’s not what the officer DID with the information, it’s why the officer HAD the information to begin with. In addition, did the fact the incident happened at one of the Federal Homeland Security sensitive site areas, the Fort McHenry Tunnel, have any bearing on the technology capability used by the state authority encountered.
Last week we spotlighted a story (HERE and HERE) about a Florida family driving through Maryland and mysteriously being targeted for a police stop. They were questioned about owning a gun, detained, searched, their car contents emptied – searched, and after approximately 90 minutes to 2 hours of detention during the search they were released.
Obviously for the driver, John Filippidis, and his family, this was alarming. What would prompt the Maryland Transportation Authority Police (MDTA) to randomly select their vehicle?
Because the first question to Mr. Filippidis was about his gun ownership, and the police search for the gun was based on his gun ownership, the Florida CCW permit that Filippidis holds was identified as the most likely impetus for the stop, questioning and search. [His firearm was locked in a safe in his Florida home]
This strikes us as highly alarming – so we contacted MDTA and we immediately filed public records requests to research what took place.
However, our interest has also spurred numerous contacts, tips and directions to help understand what’s going on. We now know where else to look to find out what exactly is going on. Mr. Filippidis’ experience could merely be the tip of the iceberg.
What is written below possibly explains how the family was targeted; why the family was targeted; and what intentions were behind the MDTA police engagement.
Maryland State has invested heavily in Homeland Security technical capabilities, and they have structured their law enforcement community to engage in very specific activity surrounding their investment.
Maryland State has a network of technical security databases which access the databases of all other states who comply and coordinate with them. For states who do not willfully comply, or those who are not set up to align technically, Maryland mines data from various LEO systems.
Maryland has a rather innocuous sounding name for the intelligence hub which contains this data, it’s called Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center.
The intelligence analysis hub has access to, and contains, Florida’s CCW list (among other identification systems) and mines the state’s database systems for vehicle plate numbers of the holders. These license plate numbers are then stored in a cross referencing database within the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center.
The database is directly connected to another Maryland technological system. ALPR (Automatic License Plate Reader) system is a tracking system synergized with the MCAC Hub.
All license plates travelling through ALPR assignments are recorded. The system is set up to allow flags to automatically notify local LEO. Every time one of the flagged license plates are detected by the ALPR an alert is generated.
As a consequence Mr. Filippidis license plate was recorded at the Fort McHenry Tunnel on I-95 as he noted within the article. The Maryland Authority Police pursuit car was probably positioned a couple miles from the ALPR camera. The camera(s) are located at the tunnel itself.
“More than 320 ALPRs are in use across Maryland. Information about every scanned license plate–even non-criminal–is stored at the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center.” (link)
[…] These days cameras are everywhere, but some do more than watch–they automatically run criminal records.
[…] Specially assigned police officers have LPRs mounted on their cars. Said Det. Brian Ralph, Baltimore Police. Ralph can scan up to 3,000 tag numbers a shift, searching for stolen vehicles and violent criminals. (link)
If a flag was established within the network, and Mr. Filippidis was such a flag, once the pursuit car was alerted by the ALPR system a simple pursuit would begin.
As the Tampa Tribune indicated in the article, the patrol car came abreast of Filippidi; this would allow the MTAP officer to visually confirm the driver ID from the high resolution photo from Filippidis driver’s license which was automatically on the officers on board computer screen.
POSSIBLE SCENARIO: Mr. Filippidis was identified by the MCAC database, his license plate cross referenced to his Florida CCW permit, an alert transmitted to the patrolling Maryland officer, and the rest is outlined in the article.
[…] Finally the patrol car’s emergency lights come on, and it’s almost a relief. Whatever was going on, they’d be able to get it over with now. The officer — from the Transportation Authority Police, as it turns out, Maryland’s version of the New York-New Jersey Port Authority — strolls up, does the license and registration bit, and returns to his car.
[…] Ten minutes later he’s back, and he wants John out of the Expedition. Retreating to the space between the SUV and the unmarked car, the officer orders John to hook his thumbs behind his back and spread his feet. “You own a gun,” the officer says. “Where is it?” (link)
See how it works?
*Note – thanks to the multiple sources who contributed to our understanding. In addition to the prior public records requests – we will also be seeking: internal memos, directives, or other printed matter related to out of state CCW holders traveling through ALPR system installations.
It should also be noted that a few MDTA officers on social media forums have stated the CCW information requires a call to dispatch who would process through NCIC and confirm (some dispatchers do this automatically and notify the officer). However, this process as described is separate from utilization of the data contained within the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center which is linked to the auto-plate readers.