It’s like Father Connoly’s attempts to keep kids on the straight and narrow, but with fake Facebook accounts of hot teen chicks. The New York Times reports on an innovative (and highly invasive) program to keep kids who’ve been arrested from committing robbery.
The involuntary NYPD program called Juvenile Robbery Intervention Program (JRIP) targets youth (almost exclusively minorities living in housing) and subjects them to continual harassment at their school, home and in the streets and monitors their every move online with fake profiles:
Officers not only make repeated drop-ins at homes and schools, but they also drive up to the teenagers in the streets, shouting out hellos, in front of their friends. The force’s Intelligence Division also deciphers each teenager’s street name and gang affiliation. Detectives compile a binder on each teenager that includes photos from Facebook and arrest photos of the teenager’s associates, not unlike the flow charts generated by law enforcement officials to track organized crime.
Detectives spend hours, day and night, monitoring the Facebook pages and Twitter accounts of teenagers in the program, known as the Juvenile Robbery Intervention Program, or J-RIP, and of their criminal associates. To do so, detectives create a dummy Facebook page — perhaps employing a fake profile of an attractive teenage girl — and send out “friend requests” as bait to get beyond the social network’s privacy settings.
Joanne Jaffe, the department’s Housing Bureau chief, commented on the program saying, “We are coming to find you and monitor every step you take”. “And we are going to learn about every bad friend you have. And you’re going to get alienated from those friends because we are going to be all over you.” Talk about creepy…
The program was started in 2007 in Brownsville, known as the highest concentration of low income public housing development in the North America and the worst neighborhood in New York City. In 2009, the program was expanded to East Harlem, the second highest concentration of public housing in the nation, closely following Brownsville. Both Brownsville and East Harlem are largely black and Latino, making over 85% of the population in each neighborhood, meaning JRIP disproportionately targets minorities who live in public housing and subjects them to continual harassment by the NYPD who claim to be practicing tough love.