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Be a contact for your local LEOs.


Cornerstone4
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Here's a topic for forum fodder...

 

I ran into an aquantance of mine that is a sergeant for our local PD this weekend. I asked him if he had ever heard of geocaching, and he wasn't sure. I gave a brief explanation, and explained various hiding techniques, and when I hit on skirtlifters, his eyes lit up! :laughing: It seems that twice in the past month they have had calls regarding suspicious activity around light poles, and in each instance, they found containers under the skirts. They deemed them inconsequential, (No spew jokes please!), and left them in place.

 

I told him that the reason I wanted to talk about it, was due to the fact that we are having two very large events here in February. I told him there would be a significant increase in "suspicious" activity that weekend. He asked me to come in and talk to him about it beforehand, so they could alert everyone on duty about us. That way, it would relieve their suspicions, and make any encounters easier on officers and cachers alike.

 

Talk drifted to some of the bomb scares that have happened in other parts of the country. He thought it may be a good idea to set up a contact for the PD in case a call comes in. He said there is always a chance of someone getting hurt when they detonate a device, even if the device isn't actually an explosive.

 

Do you see any downside to providing the local LEO's my cell phone number in case something comes up?

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Gee...it sounds like you've appointed yourself the "Caching Grand Poobah" down there. Why you? Are you specifically qualified for this? Do you feel you can adequately answer the following question:

 

"So let me get this straight....you guys hide boxes of stuff in the woods and the use satellites to find it? What's the matter? Got no life?"

 

:laughing:

 

 

 

I think it's a great and responsible thing to do especailly given the upcoming events in that small area.

Kudos to you.

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Do you see any downside to providing the local LEO's my cell phone number in case something comes up?

 

Yep:

 

1. You're not an expert on explosive devices. What are they going to ask you (Is that a bomb or a cache)? Even if it is listed as a cache, do you want that responsibility?

 

2. Liability.

 

3. Blame. Setting yourself up as THE cacher in the area is also setting yourself up as THE usual suspect.

 

4. Liability.

 

5. Exposing geocaching.com to liability based on your representation.

 

6. Liability.

 

7. Not worth the time. As they said, they had a "couple of calls" <or something similar>. Doesn't seem worth any effort.

 

8. Liability.

 

9. Feeding the "suspicious" activity alarmist attitude that we already have to deal with. Have him explain the "target" potential of a light pole. They didn't say a bridge, railroad tracks or a communications tower. It was a light pole skirt. Please.

 

10. Liability. You make the wrong call, and it DOES turn out to be something not leagal, they will need a scapegoat, and his name shall be "Conerstone4" right before they try to name Groundspeak.

 

Not sure exactly where you are located, but am fairly certain they have computers and I seem to recall jeremy saying something about setting up municipal accounts for just this purpose, in fact, the Forest Perserve around here has such an account.

Edited by baloo&bd
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...Do you see any downside to providing the local LEO's my cell phone number in case something comes up?

 

Just that they may actually use your number.

 

Seriously speaking there are a good number of LEO's who cache and if you got one or two of them hooked on the activity it would do a lot more good than your phone number. The biggest reason is that they are in the business and they are around a lot more often. You don't need to call them, they are responding with the other officers.

 

Failing that, your phone number is a good start. If you have a local cache group I'd get them in touch with the local leadership. Mostly what you can do is provide education on caching and what it is as they requested. They still have a job to do and better information makes it easier

Edited by Renegade Knight
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I dunno, seems a bit "alarmist" to me.

 

You can over-analyze anything, but I see no harm in explaining what caching is, showing them how to set up an account, themselves, etc.

 

I don't see this as them calling Cornerstone4 everytime they *think* they may have found a cache. More like having a local with knowledge that can help answer questions for them.

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I've spent a number of years planning events for corporate groups. Having a point of contact with local law enforcement is always a good idea. In your case they know that there might be more calls for "suspiciosus activity" the weekend of your event and can alert their officers in advance.

Edited by magellan315
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A local cache was blown up by the bomb squad robot. As a result we had the supervisor of the bomb squad come talk to a group of local cachers and had a great two way discussion. He learned about our hobby and what we hide and how to go online to look up caches. We learned what the "red flags" are for the bomb squad and things we should NOT be doing. It built some relationship with the police department and helped both sides reduce future issues. One thing that is helpful is to have the cache waypoint name clearly marked on the cache so they have a way to identify it and know who the owner is. (even if they just notify you that they destroyed it)

 

Instead of being the point person to be the contact, why not be the point person to arrange a meeting and establish some dialog?

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Do you see any downside to providing the local LEO's my cell phone number in case something comes up?

 

Yep:

 

1. You're not an expert on explosive devices. What are they going to ask you (Is that a bomb or a cache)? Even if it is listed as a cache, do you want that responsibility?

 

2. Liability.

 

3. Blame. Setting yourself up as THE cacher in the area is also setting yourself up as THE usual suspect.

 

4. Liability.

 

5. Exposing geocaching.com to liability based on your representation.

 

6. Liability.

 

7. Not worth the time. As they said, they had a "couple of calls" <or something similar>. Doesn't seem worth any effort.

 

8. Liability.

 

9. Feeding the "suspicious" activity alarmist attitude that we already have to deal with. Have him explain the "target" potential of a light pole. They didn't say a bridge, railroad tracks or a communications tower. It was a light pole skirt. Please.

 

10. Liability. You make the wrong call, and it DOES turn out to be something not leagal, they will need a scapegoat, and his name shall be "Conerstone4" right before they try to name Groundspeak.

 

Not sure exactly where you are located, but am fairly certain they have computers and I seem to recall jeremy saying something about setting up municipal accounts for just this purpose, in fact, the Forest Perserve around here has such an account.

 

Thanks for the input... :laughing:

 

Since Liability is a recurring theme in your post, that is the only one I'll address...

 

I see no real liability here. I can't imaging the police would actually base a decision of that magnitude off of my input. I never entertained the idea that I would have that kind of input or influence. I do appreciate your feedback though.

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...Do you see any downside to providing the local LEO's my cell phone number in case something comes up?

 

Just that they may actually use your number.

 

Seriously speaking there are a good number of LEO's who cache and if you got one or two of them hooked on the activity it would do a lot more good than your phone number. The biggest reason is that they are in the business and they are around a lot more often. You don't need to call them, they are responding with the other officers.

 

Failing that, your phone number is a good start. If you have a local cache group I'd get them in touch with the local leadership. Mostly what you can do is provide education on caching and what it is as they requested. They still have a job to do and better information makes it easier

 

RK,

 

I just started our local group, so we are very loosely organized at this point. In essence, you have the basic grasp of what we discussed. Many of the officers have gps units already. I know the ICE division of homeland security in our area all carry hand held units.

 

The main thing we really discussed was putting together a presentation for the officers to explain the game. I would fully anticipate someone actually on the force would take interest, and they could then use the site on their own. My contact number was just something he thought may help things out in the mean time.

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I dunno, seems a bit "alarmist" to me.

 

You can over-analyze anything, but I see no harm in explaining what caching is, showing them how to set up an account, themselves, etc.

 

I don't see this as them calling Cornerstone4 everytime they *think* they may have found a cache. More like having a local with knowledge that can help answer questions for them.

 

Agreed.

 

He was very appreciative of the heads up about the big events in February. He wants to do a little info session on the game just to give them some background.

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As both a LEO and a cacher, I can assure you that liability is a null issue. Liability typically means the assignation of blame. Does anyone really think that a local PD would blame Cornerstone for something that BillyBobNosePicker did? How could any one hold Cornerstone liable for the actions of somebody else?

 

I think your idea is a great start toward fostering a positive relationship between "The Man" and the caching community.

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(snip)

 

I told him that the reason I wanted to talk about it, was due to the fact that we are having two very large events here in February. I told him there would be a significant increase in "suspicious" activity that weekend. He asked me to come in and talk to him about it beforehand, so they could alert everyone on duty about us. That way, it would relieve their suspicions, and make any encounters easier on officers and cachers alike.

 

(snip)

 

Do you see any downside to providing the local LEO's my cell phone number in case something comes up?

 

It depends on the size of the PD and some other factors including the individual you are dealing with. Since he asked you to come back, provide them with copies of the event listings and about how many folks plan on attending. Have some handouts of what GC is all about and then some close listings so you can show him a couple of caches.

Don't forget to invite the officers to the events :laughing: . A nice warm coffee warms the soul, make sure there are some kids around so you can pump up the "family fun" rather than some guy poking his head in the bushes stereotype :laughing:

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The main thing we really discussed was putting together a presentation for the officers to explain the game ... My contact number was just something he thought may help things out in the mean time.

 

When we did an event in our [small] town, we provided the police dispatcher with a sheet that had a description of what geocaching was, plus a description and the locations of all the "scavenger hunt" locations. We also made sure to note that we had permission from the property owners. They told us this was better than trying to tell everyone. If a call for suspicious activity came in, the dispatcher would know what was happening. We did leave our phone number, though, as a contact point. I realize this was easier to do because it was for a specific time-frame, but it worked well for us.

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Since 9/11 I know there has been at least 3 different nationwide intel notices sent to all law enforcement agencies explaining geocaching. His agency would have gotten the notices, however, like everything else there are always the 10% of the people who never get the message.

You don't say exactly what your friend the Sgt intends for you to do as the contact. All his dept would have to do is log into Geocaching.com to do a quick check if any calls involve areas where geocaches were hidden. If your friend the Sgt anticipates using you to physically check out suspicious packages because they *might* be a geocache, or maybe not, then both you and he need to get a quick dose of reality check. That is very poor police procedure.

Edited by Wadcutter
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This may have come up before, but it'd be a decent idea to have the GC waypoint marked on all six sides of a box container, and on all visible sides of oblong containers, as well as the www.geo....... label.

 

I would think that most bomb squads would take the time, unless said object was ticking, so do a little research before touching, disrupting, or detonating a 'suspicious' object.

 

Additionally, in small cow-towns like the on in which I live, ~18,000 inhabitants, the police dept is small enough that you can walk in and ask if you can talk to the chief, and they say check out back cause he is changing the oil on one of the cruisers; so, you could print out the cache page for anything you hide and ask him to keep it on file and/or give it to the bomb squad or SWAT for archiving.

 

In addition to possibly keeping a box full of McToys from being blown to smithereens, these contact with law enforcement will aquaint them with geocaching in general, which will help when you are noticed wandering around in the bushes at 11pm with a backpack and something in your hand.

 

$.02, ~K

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If your friend the Sgt anticipates using you to physically check out suspicious packages because they *might* be a geocache, or maybe not, then both you and he need to get a quick dose of reality check. That is very poor police procedure.

 

Wow, I'm not sure how to respond... :laughing:

 

I'm not sure what I said to help you draw that conclusion...maybe it was a lack of complete information on my part. In my initial post, I tried to keep it brief, and throw out an idea for discussion. I never even intimated that I was thinking they would call me to a scene of a potential bomb site... :laughing:

 

I guess I just figured that having any information may be helpful in that situation.

 

Some of you have drawn the conclusion that I am trying to be the self-appointed contact man here as well. That isn't the case either.

 

The Sgt and I attend the same church, and see each other on the weekends. Our kids are in the same school, he is the DARE officer for our kids school, our wives were on the same PTA board...etc, etc.

 

I wasn't approaching him without a previous personal relationship, therefore, he was receptive, and appreciated my input. Our MEGA event in Feb will be in the gymnasium at the church, so he would have been aware of it in anycase, although he may not have realized how many folks are travelling to town for the event.

 

Anyway, since he was so receptive, I thought I would float the idea for others to think about. I realize it will be a different story in NYC than our community here, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

 

To those that have commented that it is good to put a positive face on our activity...thank you, that is what I was hoping to accomplish with this.

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Do you see any downside to providing the local LEO's my cell phone number in case something comes up?

 

6. Liability.

 

 

I see Liability being an issue, but not as much as baloo lays out. It would seem like you're setting yourself up as a "Good Samaritan" in the sport, not the definitive expert on what is and is not a cache or bomb. I think LEO's, especially in a small to med size town having a point of contact in the sport is a good idea. I know I wouldn't want to have the responsibility in Chicago....but...I think dialogue is a key issue here. If they don't call you and say "Can you come see if this is a cache or not" I don't see a problem. If they do make that call, you'd be doing their work for them, so go ahead and decline.

 

--MGb

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This may have come up before, but it'd be a decent idea to have the GC waypoint marked on all six sides of a box container, and on all visible sides of oblong containers, as well as the www.geo....... label.

 

I would think that most bomb squads would take the time, unless said object was ticking, so do a little research before touching, disrupting, or detonating a 'suspicious' object.

Marking is always good.

How about also marking them "This is not a bomb". No bomber would ever write that. Just wouldn't be fair or ethical. :D

BTW, bombs only tick in the movies.

 

 

I'm not sure what I said to help you draw that conclusion...maybe it was a lack of complete information on my part. In my initial post, I tried to keep it brief, and throw out an idea for discussion. I never even intimated that I was thinking they would call me to a scene of a potential bomb site... :)

You haven't explained exactly how Sgt Friend intends to use you as a contact other than this paragraph in your initial post:

"Talk drifted to some of the bomb scares that have happened in other parts of the country. He thought it may be a good idea to set up a contact for the PD in case a call comes in. He said there is always a chance of someone getting hurt when they detonate a device, even if the device isn't actually an explosive."

So what will be your role as this contact? Technical advisor? Are you going to definitively say the package they find is not a bomb because it is close to a geocache coord?

Liaison with LE is always good. Just don't overstep your knowledge and stick your neck out by assuming too much when called. If they even remotely suspect, or receive a call reporting a suspected bomb, he already has a contact for such calls - EOD. To rely on someone not EOD trained on such calls would be a real career shortening decision on his part.

Edited by Wadcutter
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I don't think being a contact is a bad idea myself.

 

First off, you would not be called upon too often. Second, if you were called, then there is a good chance that you will be familiar with the cache in question, if it is indeed a cache. If you are familiar with and know that it is a cache then you can say so and possibly save alot of headache. If you don't know and/or not sure, then the poilice will handle it the way they need to. Certainly looks like it could possibly save some grief and i sure don't see a liability issue here!

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Thanks C4 for taking the time to contact the LEO about the 2 great events you have going on in Feb. Since 500 or so people will be descending on Temecula for this weekend it is bound to get the attention of the PD.

 

I for one really appreciate that you are thinking out us out-of-towners caching in your city. It will only go to improve the overall caching experience we have on our trek to CA!

 

I think it is a great idea for you to go talk with them and explain caching and show them the website and how to get information about where caches are located.

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Ring ring ring. Conerstone4 this is Sgt. Xyzz we think someone is trying to blow up a bush in the woods, could this be a cache?

 

ring ring ring Conerstone4 this is Sgt. Xyzz we think someone is trying to blow up a light pole in Walmarts parking lot, could this be a cache?

 

Ring ring ring. Conerstone4 this is Sgt. Xyzz we think someone is trying to blow up a no parking sign, could this be a cache? :)

 

Maybe we need to think about what would actually be a target to a bomber & not allow caches to be placed in those locations. ie. electrical transformers, right next to public buildings (libraries etc.) under bridges.

I know this is a little vague, but there are some obvious spots. just my thoughts.

 

Conerstone4, I think its a great idea & I will try to do the same. I have a friend who is the local K-9 bomb/drug dog handler & have not talked to him about caching yet. - dave

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Marking is always good.

How about also marking them "This is not a bomb". No bomber would ever write that. Just wouldn't be fair or ethical. :)

BTW, bombs only tick in the movies.

 

The bomb squad supervisor asked us to not put "this is not a bomb" or anything like it on caches because it could be positioned so that the word bomb was the only thing showing or it could be worn off and the word bomb could be the only thing left.

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I think Cornerstone4's original idea was to let the local LEO's know about all the extra suspicious activity during the timeframe of the events, and only later was it brought up about bombs.

If its like the event earlier this year there will be a gazillion new caches out there for the events and the majority will probably be 1/1s or 1 1/2

1 1/2s and we all know what they'll be like, easy quick parking lot grabs or the side of the road type,where a lot of people will be stopping. It would be nice if the local LEO's had an idea of what was going on.

Go for it C4

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Marking is always good.

How about also marking them "This is not a bomb". No bomber would ever write that. Just wouldn't be fair or ethical. :)

BTW, bombs only tick in the movies.

 

The bomb squad supervisor asked us to not put "this is not a bomb" or anything like it on caches because it could be positioned so that the word bomb was the only thing showing or it could be worn off and the word bomb could be the only thing left.

 

But how many bombs, actually have the word "Bomb" on them...You'd have to give the potential Bomber some serious stupid points for that...The closest example I can think of is claymores which appropriately read something to the effect of "This side toward enemy"

 

--MGb

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Maybe we need to think about what would actually be a target to a bomber & not allow caches to be placed in those locations. ie. electrical transformers, right next to public buildings (libraries etc.) under bridges.

I know this is a little vague, but there are some obvious spots. just my thoughts.

There's no way to second guess where someone would place a bomb. Some could be placed directed at a specific target such as a building or people. Some could be placed just to target a group of people. Some could be placed as a diversion. Seen these where a small explosive device was set in one area to draw responders to the bomb location while those who set the bomb used the diversion to pull a bank robbery in another area. Their intent was not to specifically harm anyone but to cause a commotion and draw police to the bomb scene and away from their robbery target.

Nor is there anyway to determine what a bomb might look like. Seen them hidden inside an ink pen and seen them the size of a credit card. And hidden inside a portable TV, a coffee can, and backpacks. Saw pictures and video of one the size of a copying machine that took down a complete building. The only thing limiting the description is the maker's imagination.

 

The bomb squad supervisor asked us to not put "this is not a bomb" or anything like it on caches because it could be positioned so that the word bomb was the only thing showing or it could be worn off and the word bomb could be the only thing left.

Guess you missed the smiley at the end.

It wouldn't matter what was written on the container, bomb or otherwise. If the call comes in as a suspicious package the writing on the sides isn't going to ID what's inside. The police would handle it as a suspected bomb. As mgbmusic pointed out, bombers don't lable their work. I've never seen a homemade IED that was labled.

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...Maybe we need to think about what would actually be a target to a bomber & not allow caches to be placed in those locations. ie. electrical transformers, right next to public buildings (libraries etc.) under bridges.

I know this is a little vague, but there are some obvious spots. just my thoughts.

...

 

The handy dandy list of terrorist targets includes urban areas due to people density, and rural areas due to a lack of people. With all the other contrasts in any list that tries to cover all the bases you end up covering the entire nation. Geocaching does prohibit caches at percieved high risk and high visibility (as well as high distruption if there is a problem) locations such as police stations, major highway bridges, courthouses, and schools.

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Marking is always good.

How about also marking them "This is not a bomb". No bomber would ever write that. Just wouldn't be fair or ethical. :)

BTW, bombs only tick in the movies.

 

The bomb squad supervisor asked us to not put "this is not a bomb" or anything like it on caches because it could be positioned so that the word bomb was the only thing showing or it could be worn off and the word bomb could be the only thing left.

 

But how many bombs, actually have the word "Bomb" on them...You'd have to give the potential Bomber some serious stupid points for that...The closest example I can think of is claymores which appropriately read something to the effect of "This side toward enemy"

 

--MGb

 

It is not that a real bomb would have the words on it or that a terrorist would be stupid enough to do it. Its just that a muggle seeing the container gets alarmed, calls in a says "there is something in a bush that says bomb on it". No need to make muggles hysterical because they get the LEOs excited.

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You don't say exactly what your friend the Sgt intends for you to do as the contact. All his dept would have to do is log into Geocaching.com to do a quick check if any calls involve areas where geocaches were hidden.

 

Assuming that the cache isn't a subscriber only one - or geolitter.

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