Hackers just took down the website of the largest police union in the United States. While they were at it, they released the names and addresses of officers, as well as a series of controversial contracts between city governments and the Fraternal Order of Police, that may shed light on why police officers are able to act in violation of the law and not face prosecution.
The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) represents about 330,000 law enforcement officers across the United States. They say that the FBI is investigating the hack, after 2.5GB of data were taken from its private servers and was dumped online via social media.
The apparently took down the union’s national site, fop.net, which continued to remain offline throughout Thursday evening.
“We have contacted the office of the assistant attorney general in charge of cyber crime, and officials from FBI field offices have already made contact with our staff,” Chuck Canterbury, FOP’s national president, stated
“Some names and addresses were taken,” he added. “It concerns us. We’re taking steps to try to notify our members but that is going to take some time.”
There were also a number of controversial posts leaked from the FOP’s members-only online forum which mostly attacked Democrat politicians and liberal-leaning Supreme Court justices as “anti-police”.
The FOP claims the hack originated in the United Kingdom.
“They were able to feed our system a pseudo-encryption key that the system should not have accepted but did because of software errors,” he added.
He also told the Guardian UK that FOP servers in Tennessee and Ohio are now being examined for possible additional breaches.
The hacker, going by the screen name Cthulhu said that they had released the files after an anonymous source wanted them made public “in light of an ever increasing divide between the police groups and the citizens of the US”.
Cthulhu released a statement to the Guardian, saying “our role is simply to present the material in an unadulterated form for the public to analyze.”
Canterbury blamed “anti-police rhetoric” for the cyber attack. “This is just a group that is negative towards law enforcement,” he said. In the posting, Cthulhu denied being “anti-police”.
Cthulhu says that is nothing. In addition to what was released, they claim that the really juicy stuff is being held back – for now – among 18 terabytes of police data taken from the hack.
The Guardian says that the information released thus far includes, “Hundreds of contracts between regional authorities and local fraternal order of police lodges across the country were posted online as part of the hack. Some such deals have been sharply criticized as shielding police officers from prosecution or disciplinary action following the excessive use of force.”
Alex Vitale, an associate professor of Sociology at Brooklyn College, said these leaked contracts might give a lot of insights into the secret dealings between police and local governments – as well as why police are often able to break the law without facing prosecution.
“Police associations, they’re certainly not very transparent,” Vitale said. “No one really knows what is going on inside police unions. The most troubling thing is that they have been able to work out disciplinary procedures that shield them from oversight, as in what steps that the employer has to go to discipline or terminate someone.”
(Article by M. David and Reagan Ali)