Officials Angered Officers Posing as Census Taker

Officials Angered Officers Posing as Census Taker
Posted by FoM on June 30, 2000 at 08:23:30 PT
By Paul Gustafson, Star Tribune 
Source: Star Tribune
Two St. Paul police officers investigating an alleged drug house posed as U.S. census workers earlier this month.Patricia Waller, the U.S. Census Bureau manager for Ramsey and Washington counties, said Thursday that she was "just awed" by the officers' duplicity and that she was checking with the regional office in Kansas City to determine whether impersonating a census worker constitutes a federal offense.
And Ramsey County public defenders, who informed the Census Bureau of the ruse by the officers, questioned whether it was legal or ethical. "I don't know if the officers broke the law, but it seems to me that what they did was highly unethical and so unprofessional that it should be discontinued immediately," said Diane Alshouse, an assistant public defender.Federal officials, concerned that members of minority groups are undercounted in the census, have waged a campaign this year to convince the public that census data is kept private and that census workers can be trusted.St. Paul police spokesman Michael Jordan confirmed that the officers said they were census workers, but his account of the incident differs from a written police report. Jordan said that he couldn't explain the differences between the accounts, but that he may have more information today. Department officials haven't talked to the officers about the incident because one was on vacation and the other was away at training, he said.Asked whether the department believes such conduct is proper, Jordan said, "I'll give you a response to that at a different time."According to Jordan, the incident on June 6 began as the two officers were talking to a resident who complained about an alleged drug house on St. Paul's East Side.When a person suspected of selling drugs at the house approached the officers and demanded to know who they were and what they were talking about, the officers replied that they were census takers, Jordan said.But a written report filed the day of the incident says that the two officers, posing as census workers, went to the alleged drug house in the 1000 block of Greenbrier St. and asked Heidi Frison for information about who lived at the house. The report doesn't name the officers.Several hours later, officers executed a search warrant at the house and arrested four people, including Frison. Some of those arrested were black and some were white.Frison and two other people were issued citations for operating a disorderly house, but charges were later dropped against Frison and one of the other people.Frison confirmed Thursday that two men who said they were census workers talked to her outside of the house before it was searched."They just said they were census workers," she said. "They said they were sent out because two houses had not filled out their forms. I took them as who they said they were. But I'm learning." Concerned About Trust: Several public defenders said that, at the request of census officials, they have been encouraging clients, many of whom are poor and minorities, to cooperate with census workers. Now, the public defenders worry they have lost their clients' trust. Waller said Thursday that she fears the St. Paul incident may undermine public confidence in Census Bureau workers who don't condone and had no knowledge that officers were posing as census takers."I really want people to know that if they have any concerns about this, I will take their calls directly. I don't want the credibility of the St. Paul census office injured by this. We had absolutely no idea about this," she said.The Washington Post reported in February that census officials in Texas earlier this year rejected an FBI agent's demand for a census worker badge and other identification in order to impersonate a census employee.Federal law states that "whoever falsely assumes or pretends to be an officer or employee acting under the authority of the United States or any department, agency, or officer thereof, and acts as such, or in such pretended character demands or obtains any money, paper, document, or thing of value, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both."Census Bureau officials have yet to contact the Police Department about the incident, Jordan said. He added that he is not aware of any other incidents in which officers posed as census workers. Staff writer Curt Brown contributed to this report. Published: Friday, June 30, 2000  Copyright 2000 Star Tribune. Cannabis & Drug Policy Information: Police Archives:
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Comment #4 posted by kaptinemo on June 30, 2000 at 12:10:31 PT:
Link didn't take.
Try this one
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Comment #3 posted by kaptinemo on June 30, 2000 at 11:54:34 PT:
Counting on your kindness
In many countres abroad, the only response a government official gets to nosy questions is cold silence. This is largely because in the history of those countries, such questions can mean only one thing: trouble for you.We here in America have yet to learn that this act of seemingly rude non-compliance can spare you tons of grief. We are too used to being asked the most intimate questions about our daily lives by people who literally have no business asking them. We don't want to seem rude, so we almost instinctively invite authority figures into our homes. Not realizing that by doing so, we play right into their hands.CD1 is quite right when he says you do not have to let anyone into your home without a warrant. Letting them in implies a *concious waving on your part of your 4th Amendment rights*. Which is something the Friendly Policeman/FBI investigator is hoping you will be ignorant of, so he can entrap you by claiming you gave implied consent for a search.Time for a reminder: please visit this site again.www.aclu.orgIt just might save you that aformentioned 2,000 lbs of woe. 
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Comment #2 posted by observer on June 30, 2000 at 10:07:04 PT
Tell the Census People ... Nothing.
You can act like they (Census takers) don't exist; if they want, they can still "count" you. Eventually, they will give up and go away... Worker Charged With Rhea County Rape"DAYTON, Tenn. -- A Dayton man hired by the U.S. Census Bureau to follow with census nonfilers in RheaCounty has been charged with raping a woman on his assigned route. . ." your Census and ... Party: "Resist the Census!"
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Comment #1 posted by CD1 on June 30, 2000 at 08:36:47 PT
You do not have to let Census takers into your home. You can answer their questions at the door. Protect yourself. Don't let them (or any government official) into your home without a warrant. These police officers should be prosecuted, but somehow I feel this will be the last we hear about this incident.
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