10 Political Figures Who Could Not Pass a Modern Background Check

Background checks look at past behavior in attempts to predict what will happen in the future. They are used in all segments of modern society, during business transactions and credit evaluations. Landlords use background checks to investigate applicants for housing, and employers with sensitive job requirements use them to determine whether or not job applicants check-out. Organizations request background checks with specific feedback in mind, focusing on the elements of people’s histories that give them the information they need most. Your criminal history and basic information about where you have lived are included in profiles of your background, as well as your marital status and other details about your history. Political figures, even past Presidents, are not immune to the failings of human nature, landing them in hot water along the way. Would these former United States Presidents and high-profile politicians pass background checks?

Photo courtesy of Library of Congress

Photo courtesy of Library of Congress

  1. Andrew Johnson – Background checks rely on specific points of data to create profiles of people’s lives.  Sometimes the whole picture tells a different story than the snapshot created during a background check, but facts and figures usually don’t lie.  In the case of President Andrew Johnson, the first American President ever to be impeached, the public record might not reflect the reality of our 17thPresident’s character.

    Getting impeached from the United States Presidency ranks right up near the top on a list of things you’d rather not have pop up during your background check.  Johnson was impeached during a divided political period in American history.  The Republican revolution occurring during the time did not bode well for the moderate Johnson, who was bullied politically and impeached without much cause.  The articles of impeachment were drawn up for high crimes and misdemeanors including violation of a recently passed act of Congress with which he did not agree.  The entire proceedings have been hailed as a witch-hunt against Johnson.  In 1868 the House of Representative voted on impeachment, resulting in an acquittal for President Johnson, who was widely seen as the victim of a railroading effort by his political opposition. Learn more at History.com

  2. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

    Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

  3. David Duke – This would-be political heavy-hitter is most notorious for his role with the Ku Klux Klan. In fact, his government service is limited to his elected role as a member of the Louisiana State Assembly.  His visibility outside the state results from his unsuccessful attempts to gain other political offices.  He ran for President in 1988 and in 1992, and as recently as the twenty-twelve elections was still playing an active role in presidential politics.

    Mr. Duke is unapologetic about his positions regarding voluntary segregation and each man’s right to protect his heritage.  In addition to failed presidential campaigns, Mr. Duke has attempted to gain other positions in government, including United States Senator, United States Congressman, Governor of Louisiana and State Senator.  As a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, Duke is outspoken about race relations and also formed the group National Association for the Advancement of White People (NAAWP).  He posts regularly to online forums associated with white supremacy and has spoken against Jewish control of media outlets.  He was convicted of tax fraud in 2002, and sentenced to 15 months in prison.  It was determined that he had been bilking money from followers, which he eventually spent on himself.  In part, he told followers that he was about to lose his own home to debt and needed money to stay afloat.  After raising hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of donations, it was determined he was not in the financial distress described. These Huffington Post stories contain detailed information about Duke.

  4. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress

    Photo courtesy of Library of Congress

  5. William Jefferson Clinton – Until Bill Clinton occupied the office of the presidency, one-hundred thirty years had passes since the impeachment of Andrew Johnson, which stood as the only such action on the United States books.  Unfortunately for President Clinton, he holds the dubious distinction for being the next and only other President to be impeached.

    The exploits of the former President are clearly ingrained people’s memories; in part due to the fact that he is one of the more recent Presidents to get caught in an inappropriate situation.  On the other hand, the details of his indiscretions were particularly salacious, creating significantly greater public interest than the regular output from the oval office.  However you slice it, the 1998 impeachment vote taken by Congress is a background check development that might be looked at as a black mark on the former President’s record.  In Mr. Clinton’s case, the stain on his credibility resulted from lying about his previous activities, rather than the unconventional behavior itself.  In other words, had the President come forth with his wrongdoing, or even owned up to it when it was obviously exposed, he may have been able to preserve his reputation.  The Raw Story Looks at Mr. Clinton here

  6. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress

    Photo courtesy of Library of Congress

  7. Ulysses S. Grant – Extensive background checks, like those conducted by law enforcement agencies at all levels, often include assessment of friends, family and neighbors.  So the crowd you associate with might have an impact on the results of your background profile – for better or worse.  If there was a presidential case for running with the wrong crowd, U.S. Grant might be one of the better examples of a reputation tarnished by association.

    During his presidency, Grant was rocked by several ongoing scandals.  The improprieties ranged across a spectrum of inappropriate patronage and manipulating financial markets.  There were serious implications for the Nation’s most important employee, even when he was not a primary player in the developing scandals.  Keeping the wrong company first got Grant in trouble when he responded to a gold market situation with unapproved measures.  Stock scandals followed, as the President’s Congress and Cabinet became involved in patronage deals giving them access to favorable stock manipulation.  In 1875, Grant’s principles were further questioned when close associates were found to be skimming Whiskey taxes for their own use.  The conditions during his presidency became so outrages that the very notion of political corruptness among his allies and advisors became known as ‘Grantism’.  Having your name tied to immorality and corruption is not a positive background check outcome. The Miller Center provides profiles of Grant and other past Presidents.

  8. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

    Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

  9. Silvio Berlusconi – Regardless of the prevailing country being governed, certain standards apply.  Silvio Berlusconi is a colorful character in his own right, gifted with great wealth and charisma, but his personal record includes a few legal blemishes that may get in the way during background checks.

    In addition to his convicted role as a tax evader, Mr. Berlusconi has been linked to additional improprieties.  The former Italian Prime Minister has been accused of turning a blind eye toward organized crime, and for filing false accounting reports.  Other accusations of bribery and corruption have followed Mr. Berlusconi through the spotlight, including allegations of influence peddling with judges and police officials.  One of the most problematic legal questions dogging Mr. Berlusconi is his 2013 conviction of soliciting a minor for sex.  He was found guilty of paying for sex with a 17 year old, and is prohibited from holding office during the seven and one-half year sentence he was given.  The case is expected to come up for appeal, so the sentence will not be carried out until the appeal is concluded. The case is one of approximately 20 proceedings aimed at Mr. Berlusconi during his tenure in office. Mr. Berlusconi in the news.

  10. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress

    Photo courtesy of Library of Congress

  11. Richard M. Nixon – Taking a page from the Bill Clinton handbook, long before it was written, President Richard Nixon used his authority for personal pursuits of power.  Long associated with political scandal, the former President gained notoriety for his early-70’s antics and over the top political gamesmanship.

    The central feature of Richard Nixon’s downfall was a scandal which came to be known simply as “Watergate”.  The reference is to the Watergate Hotel and business buildings where the most famous abuse of Presidential power occurred.  In 1972, a group of five men broke-in to the Democratic National Headquarters located within the Watergate complex.  The break-in and the President’s subsequent attachment to the ensuing cover-up effort brought Nixon to the mercy of his political adversaries.  Had he not resigned in 1974, it is almost certain he would have been impeached for the cover-up and lies associated with Watergate.  White House profile of the 37th President.

  12. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

    Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

  13. Albert Fall – Although not a household name, Albert Fall will live in infamy for his scandal-plagued tenure as Warren Harding’s Secretary of the Interior.  It is not uncommon for politicians to bring their own supporters with them once they gain office.  In the case of the Harding Presidency, prestigious cabinet posts were meted out to friends and supporters of the President.  As a result of hiring associates from back home in Ohio, Warren Harding had an administration uncharacteristically wrought with ethics difficulties.  Multiple cabinet officials were implicated in a variety of improprieties resulting in disciplinary action, the worst of whom was Albert Fall.

    While some of the corrupt cabinet members made their own criminal names, it was the Teapot Dome scandal that brought down Fall and others Harding associates.  Fall was the first-ever cabinet member convicted of a crime, for his role in the Teapot Dome affair.  In exchange for control of the federal oil reserves in Teapot Dome, Wyoming, Albert Fall had taken a bribe from Mr. Harry F. Sinclair.  Mr. Fall served two years in prison as the most famed member of Harding’s “Ohio Gang” Mr. Fall’s interesting role in history is studied here.

  14. Photo Courtesy of Library of Congress

    Photo Courtesy of Library of Congress

  15. Ronald Reagan – Business dealings are regulated in most cases, but certainly subject to transparency in almost all cases.  What Ronald Reagan learned during his tenure as President of the United States is that is does matter who you do business with.  Guilt by association is a powerful elixir for the American public, so if your bedfellows include Contra rebels and Iranian arms dealers you will be held accountable.

    In 1986 it came to light that the Reagan administration was active in a side business unknown to American citizens.  Top players in the administration, it turns out, were selling arms to Iran.  The practice was problematic for several reasons, not the least of which concerned an embargo on Iran strictly prohibiting it.  How much the Commander in Chief knew, and when, is still the subject of debate, but there is another aspect of the illegal activity that disturbs some analysts even more.  Some of the officials involved in the Persian arms deals also advocated for using the money in very specific ways.  Half a world away, arms profits were allegedly targeted for funding Contra rebels in Nicaragua.  Not only was the public left out of the loop, but the Congress had already acted decisively prohibiting further funding for Contras.  The Iran-Contra Affair, or Irangate, as the episode became known, remains a blemish on the former President’s background. For all the facts about the former President, see his profile at the Reagan Library.

  16. Photo Courtesy of Library of Congress

    Photo Courtesy of Library of Congress

  17. Jesse Jackson Jr. – Perhaps no civil rights advocate has shared the podium with more Presidents and influential politicians than the Reverend Jesse Jackson.  Wielding great power across the country, it was in Illinois that his son Jesse Jackson Jr.  was to make a name for himself in politics.  Despite the head-start given him by his family name, and the morality espoused by his father, politics did not work out well for the younger Jackson.

    Convicted felons are not high performers on background checks.  And so it goes for Mr. Jackson, who  was convicted of several crimes in office.  After leading the charge in Congress for the 2nd District of Illinois, the Congressman was investigated for wrongdoing in fall of 2012.  He subsequently resigned, amid bizarre absences and claims of medical disorders ranging from bi-polar disorder to gastrointestinal distress.  As it turns out Mr. Jackson was funding an extravagant lifestyle, along with his wife, using campaign donations from his re-election fund.  As a result, the former co-chairman of President Barrack Obama’s election campaign was sentenced to 30 months in prison.  In addition to the misappropriation of funds, Mr. Jackson was convicted of mail and wire fraud.  For her role in the scheme, which netted about seven-hundred fifty thousand dollars’ worth of illegal spending, Sandi Jackson received 12 months in jail.

  18. Photo Courtesy of Library of Congress

    Photo Courtesy of Library of Congress

  19. George W. Bush – President George Bush had his share of detractors during his time in office.  Sentiment against his father aside, Bush had his own negative impact on people’s perception of him.  The truth is that his legal troubles started long before the whole weapons of mass destruction problem came to light.

    Bush was arrested at the age of 20 for some drunken antics with friends, which resulted in the group stealing some items from a department store.  The charges were dropped.  In 1976, however, Bush was cited for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated near his family’s Kennebunkport home.  The drunk-driving conviction alone, nor his acknowledgement that he overused alcohol until age 40, are not enough to count the younger Bush out entirely, but there additional concerns about his substance use.  Some sources indicate that the former President may have used drugs like Cocaine, which could be problematic for passing standardized FBI background screenings.

15 Most Outrageous Bank Robberies of All Time

Clever thieves find all kinds of ways to get their hands on bank reserves, donning outrageous disguises and crafting elaborate strategies.   Throughout history, particularly brazen criminals have logged spectacular thieving efforts across the globe.  Success rates vary, but crime generally does not pay.  Public interest in robberies is directly related to the entertainment value provided by the crooks.  Interesting approaches, high paydays, and outright successes are embraced by observers, who root for creative criminals that beat the system.  Robin Hood effect aside, robbing banks is hard work – just ask the would-be gangsters on our list of outrageous bank robberies.

Photo by Ell Brown on Flickr

Photo by Ell Brown on Flickr

1. Knightsbridge Security Deposit Robbery

Spectacular robberies are especially captivating when criminals heist huge sums of money or large amounts of valuable goods.  The $98 million taken in this 1987 robbery ranks it among the top dollar-amounts ever stolen.  To pull-off the heist, mastermind Valerio Viccei and an associate entered the security deposit facility pretending they wanted to rent a security box.  Once guards and security personnel were vulnerable, the men overpowered them and took control of the bank.  After putting up a closed sign and letting-in their helpers, the men proceeded to clean out the safety deposit boxes.

The strong-arm robbers did not get away with their crime.  Viccei was arrested and jailed, but due to laws in Italy where he was imprisoned, he led most of his life with lots of liberties.  He died under suspicious circumstances as police were sure his next plot was underway.  Like many criminals, Viccei led a high-profile life of luxury, which led to his downfall.  Before committing the Knightsbridge robbery in England, he was already wanted for dozens of bank robberies in his native Italy. Interestingly, Viccei befriended one of the law enforcement officers responsible for his arrest, frequently corresponding with him while incarcerated.

2. Dunbar Armored Robbery

Armored trucks ferry countless sums of money between banks and financial institutions.  In 1997, an employee of the Dunbar Armored Company decided to make a play for one of the largest cash heists in U.S. history.  The mastermind behind the crime, Allen Pace, was an inspector for the company who used his time there to plan a robbery.

With the help of five friends and passkeys required to access the facility, Pace took control of the depot on a busy cash night.  The men simply overpowered each driver as they came in with trucks full of cash, transferring the take to their own rented truck. Iin the end, the men loaded-up nearly $19 million dollars before high-tailing it.  the men managed to elude capture for years, making efforts to conceal their wealth.  A group of clues eventually led to one of the members of the crew, which started the whole case unraveling.  The men were eventually sentenced to terms ranging from seven to twenty-four years.  Most of the money was never recovered, including some that was burned to avoid being traced through sequentially numbered bills.

3. Brink’s – MAT Warehouse

One of the most notorious heists ever committed, the Brink’s-MAT robbery targeted the company’s bank facility at Heathrow Airport.  The conspirators got a little more than they bargained for, intending to steal a few million in cash.  Upon arrival, the six-man crew was greeted by nearly $30 million dollars worth of gold bullion, diamonds and cash.

The job was an inside effort, in part, aided by the cooperation of security guard Anthony Black.  The man is also responsible for the downfall of the group, as he was the one to turn over his fellow conspirators.  Once inside, the men disabled the remaining guards by dousing them in gasoline and threatening to set them ablaze if they failed to cooperate.  The crooks made off with 3 and one-half tons of gold, most of which has never been recovered.  Of the six original thieves, only two were ever sentenced for the crime, and the restitution for the entire amount stolen – nearly $28 million, was placed on a single perpetrator Micky McAvoy. Survivors associated with the crime are said to be cursed by it.


4. Dog Day Afternoon

Al Pacino portrayed a memorable bank robber in Hollywood’s Dog Day Afternoon, a depiction similar to a real life bank hold-up.  In August, 1972 two men, John Wojtowicz and Salvatore Naturile, undertook an infamous bank robbery plot that didn’t end well for the pair.  The poorly planned heist was a crime of passion, executed without basic precautions.  For example, the men were not disguised, leaving them vulnerable to identification later.  To make matters worse, they made no effort to conceal their fingerprints.

The men were homosexual, adding a further layer of notoriety to the crime, which actually drew gay rights activists to the crime scene.  the bumbling robbers spent too long looting the bank, so the police were able to respond and surround them.  The ensuing hostage stand-off provides the subject matter for the movie, in which Wojtowicz negotiates for help escaping. The poorly executed crime was too nerve-racking for the eighteen year-old Naturile, who was eventually shot dead by the police.  For his role in the crime, John Wojtowicz received a prison sentence totaling more then 27 years. Wojtowicz served 6 years of his sentence.  Although the film takes liberties with the story, most of the events depicted are true.  Some of the money given to Wojtowicz for his story was used by his partner to get sex reassignment surgery.

5. Northern Bank Robbery

This cash robbery stands as one of the largest takes in Ireland’s history.  There have been money-laundering arrests associated with the crime, but it remains unsolved in large part.  There is speculation that the IRA was involved in the heist, but all factions of the organization have denied involvement.

The Donegal Square headquarters of the Northern Bank was robbed in December of 2004, giving up nearly thirty-million pounds sterling to the thieves. First, the gang of criminals gained entry into the homes of two prominent bank officials.  Holding their family members hostage, the men were forced to participate in the robbery.  The timing of the robbery, before Christmas, gave the criminals access to a cash storage facility loaded with currency bound for the holiday shopping season. With the help of the terrified bank staffers, the gang was able to make off with millions worth of bank notes.  Since the robbery, bits and pieces of the haul have been recovered, and some individuals have been charged with attempting to launder proceeds from the robbery, but the investigation continues to this day.

6. Cheddington Mail Van Raid (Great Train Robbery) of 1963

An English train robbery intercepting a Royal Mail coach yielded a sizable pay day for the brazen gang behind the robbery.  As much as 2.6 million pounds was seized as the men took-over control of the train.  The coach was travelling between Glasgow and London, when the men engineered the track signals to facilitate their crime.  One of the men on the crew was an experienced train robber, so the men had his abilities to guide them.  After boarding the train and disabling the conductor with blows to the head, the men were able to gain control.

Bruce Reynolds, one of the group’s core members, along with 15 other men, concocted the robbery scheme including several of the gang’s central figures.  After gaining control, the men unhitched the cars they did not need and proceeded up the track to their waiting getaway truck.  Two tons of mail bags were loaded into the truck before the crew departed to a hideout seventeen miles away.  The crew divied up the take and hurriedly left their safe house as the area heated-up with police.  Their downfall ensued when a member of the gang failed to do his part by burning down the hideaway.  Using clues left at the hideout, investigators eventually caught up with a dozen conspirators, some of whom were given jail sentences of 30 years each.

Photo by colin.brown on Flickr

Photo by colin.brown on Flickr

7. Dar El Salaam Bank

This modern-day heist came amid turmoil in the Middle East, allowing guards at a Baghdad bank to walk away with a staggering sum of money.  In 2007 a group of insiders worked together to orchestrate one of the richest heists in history, bilking an Iraq bank out of an estimated $282 million in United States currency.

There are still mysteries surrounding the crime, which left the private banking facility reeling after several prison guards banded together to pull off the heist. The guards, who slept nights at the bank, disappeared along with the money, singling them out as suspects immediately.  The guards wre arrested quickly, and most of the money was recovered.  The incident is reminiscent of a move pulled by Sadaam Hussein in 2003, when he used his son to withdraw nearly one billion dollars from the bank before his collapse.  Most of the money was later found in the walls of the despot’s palace, but hundreds of millions have yet to be recovered.  While it is more of a “fleecing” than a traditional robbery, Hussein’s approach was no less criminal than that of the guards at the private Baghdad bank.

8. Cornerstone Bank Waco, Texas

Some bank robberies involve huge sums of money and cleverly devised plots, requiring intricate coordination between multiple participants.  Others are less complicated.  While giant paydays are the stuff of bank robbing legend, it is not only the dollars attached which make robberies outrageous.  Sometimes the motive, the amateurish crime itself, or the ridiculous follow-up create the true spectacle surrounding a crime.  In the Waco case of the Cornerstone bank, it is the antics of the unskilled criminal which propel the bank robbery into the outrageous category.

Hannah Sabata, a troubled 19 year old girl, had a beef with the government for taking away her child and charging her with neglect.  She also had mounting debt with no means to pay-up.  Hannah’s solution was not a summer job, but instead an impromptu bank robbery.  The young lady first stole a car to use for her getaway, before appearing at the bank to demand money.  With threats of violence, she convinced the teller to hand over the loot, which she successfully fled with.  Full of herself, and proud of the effort, she promptly logged on to her YouTube account to brag about her exploits.  So specific were her amateur videos that she showed the key to the car she stole and the stack of money taken from the bank.  Not only did she talk about the crimes, but she reinforced her guilt by writing about them for the world to see.


9. Bank of France Robbery in Toulon

The suspected mastermind behind this high-profile French robbery committed suicide in prison this year.  Marc Armando, sentenced to 18 years for his role in the famed heist, was incarcerated awaiting trial for a drug trafficking charge when his body was found hanging in his cell.  It is thought that Mr. Armando provided the coordination behind the 1992 Bank of France robbery known as the heist of the century.

To carry out the plot, a group of about 10 conspirators kidnapped a family member of a guard working at the bank.  With threat of harm to his loved one, and a back-up cache of explosives strapped to his body, the guard cooperated with the gang of thieves.  The crooks made away with around $30 million dollars, most of which was never recovered.  Some of the gang members were never prosecuted for their crimes, but a bulk of the gang was held accountable in court.  Within a couple months, authorities had rounded up a majority of the gang’s members, but only about 10% of the money they stole has been recovered to date.

10. Banco Central in Fortaleza, Brazil

In terms of values stolen during high-dollar bank robberies, this one lands in the Guinness Book of World Records for a “pure” bank heist.  Sure, Saddam Hussein fleeced his own bank for a cool billion, but that wasn’t a genuine effort like the Brazilian affair.  In 2006, a group of criminals numbering in the dozens banded together for the creative Brazilian bank robbery.  The gang posed as landscapers working in a nearby building, before digging a tunnel underground to their intended target.  The 250 foot passageway took them to the base of the bank, which they bored-into over the course of a weekend. In the end, the group took off with an estimated $70 million worth of stolen funds.

The gang was successful in removing what amounted to three tons of currency, and eluding police for a time.  To date, 28 members of the gang have been held accountable for their crimes, including Antonio Reginaldo de Araujo, considered to be the criminal mastermind behind the robbery.  Some of the conspirators already convicted are serving sentences as long as fifty-three years.  Despite rounding up a good share of the gang, only about 10-percent of the stolen money has ever been recovered.

11. Sentry Armored Car Courier Company

One of the largest cash robberies in United States history, the crime was against an armored transport company, but the take was money from banks.  Bounty valued at more than $11 million dollars was taken from the bank truck facility with the help of an insider.  One of the guards on duty the night of the crimes assisted the thieves, pretending he was the victim of an attack and robbery committed by three men.  The conspirators were exposed due to various money-trails left in their wake.  According to the gang, seven-million in cash was split between four robbers, resulting in money laundering concerns for the group.  After attempting to conceal some of the booty in Greece, and other amounts in Switzerland, some of the crooks U.S. holdings were exposed, leading to their arrests.

The guard on duty was found handcuffed to a pipe, complete with a detailed account of how he ended up there.  Unfortunately for the inside man, security records indicated that a garage door had been accessed by the guard.  His story unraveled when details of his account did not match facility records. To date, only about $1.5 million worth of the stolen cash has been recovered.

12. Seafirst Bank Robbery

This high-dollar heist became well known for the staggering take, but also for a quirky characteristic shared by the thieves.  When the two men robbed the Seafirst Bank in Lakewood, Washington they were commiting the richest bank robbery in history (at the time).  But they also wore trenchcoats, which immediately assigned the iconic feature to the case, forever known as the “trench coat robbery”.

Despite the novelty of the attire, real guns were used and the men behind the coats were not casual about their profession.  Ray Bowman and William Kirkpatrick were professional bank robbers, suspected in at least two dozen other robberies in Washington State.  At Seafirst, the duo walked away with nearly $5 million dollars and a place in the record books.  Unfortunately for the pair, they would trip themselves up with less than professional behavior.  Kirkpatrick was pulled over for speeding, yielding all kinds of clues during a search of his car.  In addition to fake documents and crime tools, Kirkpatrick carried close to $2 million dollars with him.  His counterpart, Bowman, didn’t fare much better, failing to pay his storage locker bill on time.  The owner of the locker opened it up, alerting the police to a cache of weapons found inside.  It was not long before Bowman was in custody too.

Photo by matteson.norman on Flickr

Photo by matteson.norman on Flickr

13. First Interstate Bank Bellevue, Washington

This bank was one of many robbed by a prolific couple doing business on the West Coast in the late eighties and early nineties.  John Madison and Carolyn Marie Williams carried out more than fifty armed robberies across California, Washington and Texas before being prosecuted for the First Interstate heist.  The couple used a precise M.O. each time they robbed, with Carolyn driving the getaway car and John brandishing a gun inside.  In fact, his calling card was to discharge a round from the gun into the bank ceiling, showing robbery victims he meant business.  His quirky habit earned him the nickname “Shootist” from police officers.

Both of the Williams’ pleaded guilty to their crimes and Johnny Madison received sentences totaling 92 years for the crimes he could be prosecuted for.  His own record-keeping helped police outline the eight year string of successful robberies committed by the Williams’.  By the time he was brought down in 1994, his running total was approaching one-million dollars.

14. Loomis Fargo Bank Robbery

In October of 1997 an enterprising employee of the Loomis Fargo Company put a robbery attempt in motion that would yield a $17 million dollar payday.  The mastermind was David Ghannt, a supervisor at the regional vault of the Loomis Fargo Company.  The robbery represents the largest cash heist on U.S. soil, but the bid was unsuccessful.

Eight people were eventually indicted as direct conspirators, as well as sixteen others identified as playing peripheral roles in the scheme.  Ghannt was suspected for his role in the crime almost from the beginning, as he went missing to Mexico shortly after the robbery.  His co-conspirators spent lavishly once he was out of the country, drawing suspicion and getting everyone noticed by the feds.  Nicknamed the “hillbilly heist” because of the participants’ lack of savvy, the crime was a highly popular late night comedy target. Despite the high-profile spending of the gang members, around 95% of the total take was eventually recovered or accounted for.

15. Geezer Bandit Hold-Ups

There is no way of knowing exactly what lies beneath the disguise of this bank robber associated with at least 16 crimes across California.  Is an elderly man, as it appears, really committing the brazen robberies?  Or is it the work of a clever master of disguises concealing his youthful identity in an effort to misguide investigators?  Whatever the case, the circumstances surrounding the robberies provide entertainment value as well as serious concern for victimized banks.

Many of the Geezer’s targets have been Bank of America locations, but his patterns are not exclusive to any particular company.  His approach is the same everywhere though.  He enters each bank with a satchel or briefcase, from which he extracts a note for the teller, which describes his or her imminent death if cooperation is not forthcoming.  His total estimated take has not been revealed, but the growing tally is assumed to be significant given the number of successful crimes he has pulled off.  During one robbery, he was seen to be fleeter of foot than most elderly subjects, supporting the theory that it is a younger person in disguise.  His or her popularity is explained by the unique nature of the effort, but there are twenty-thousand additional reasons for the public to pay attention to this story.  Information leading to the Geezer’s capture is worth $20,000 to the FBI.


10 Most Heinous Serial Killers of all Time

Throughout history, serial killers have made lasting impressions not only for the numbers of people they victimize, but also for the gruesome ways they operate.  Diabolical killers each leave their own unique signatures on the crimes they commit.  And when multiple victims surface, their notoriety grows.    Our unquenchable thirst for details about heinous criminals keeps the media scrambling for ways to showcase sensational crimes, spawning made-for-TV movies and documentaries about the world’s infamous killers.  As a result, serial killers live in infamy, as household names associated with some of humanity’s darkest moments.  These examples stand-out among history’s most depraved serial killers, landing them among our top ten.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

1. Jeffrey Dahmer

Dahmer’s own end only added to the bizarre circumstances surrounding his case.  He was eventually beaten to death in prison, fulfilling the death wish he had expressed multiple times while incarcerated.  But the tale of his gruesome exploits started years earlier when he was exposed for a lengthy crime spree.  Dahmer’s case had all the hallmarks of a twisted serial murder plot, complete with cannibalism and necrophilia.  The contrast between the seemingly normal public life Dahmer lived, and the unspeakable acts occurring behind closed doors made the case all the more unusual.  In the end, being beaten to death in a prison bathroom was a fate many thought Dahmer had coming.

Details of Dahmer’s crimes continued to emerge for months after initially coming to light in the early 1990’s.  Dahmer, it turns out, had been trolling for victims at homosexual nightclubs, successfully luring them to his small urban apartment with promises of sex and drugs.  Once there, Dahmer engaged in various perversions including killing, dismembering and sometimes eating parts his victims.  By drugging his victims and killing them, Dahmer sought to possess them somehow, even freezing body parts to revisit later.  Drums of acid and other heinous instruments of horror were removed from his apartment in the days following Dahmer’s arrest, cementing his place as one of history’s most evil villians.  Jeffrey Dahmer Files explores the life of the killer in a quasi-documentary format.

Photo courtesy of The Orchid Club on Flickr

Photo courtesy of The Orchid Club on Flickr

2. John Wayne Gacy

The façade presented by serial killers leaves the public aghast at the nature in which pure evil moves through society.  Neighbors, friends, and local characters go from beloved to bedeviled when their unspeakable acts are revealed.  John Wayne Gacy was a well-liked local figure, so it was particularly disturbing when the series of murders he committed came to light.

Gacy was a visible public figure, even donning the costume of “Pogo the Clown” to participate in magic shows for children.  He ran a string of Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants, and was popular enough to consider a run for mayor in his hometown.  But Gacy had perverse appetites which slowly came to light.  He was a sexual deviant, pursuing wife-swapping and prostitution, as well as sex with young men.  To feed his depravity, Gacy eventually kidnapped and murdered more than 30 men and boys, torturing and killing them after sex.  Over the course of many years, he buried the bodies below and around his home, leaving a trail of evidence for prosecutors.  Gacy was tried and put to death for his heinous killing spree and psycho-sexual exploits. Recently revealed tapes contain never before heard Gacy commentary.

Photo Courtesy of Florida State Archives

Photo Courtesy of Florida State Archives

3. Ted Bundy

The heinous nature of their crimes does not always indicate slow-minded killers.  In-fact, serial killers like Ted Bundy are usually of above average intelligence, sometimes by a significant measure.  Unfortunately, using I.Q. for evil, rather then good, often leads to prolonged killing sprees among criminals clever enough not to get caught right away.  Ted Bundy, born Theodore Robert Cowell, stands as one of the most prolific killers in history, eluding capture long enough to end the lives of at least 30 victims.  The true number of Bundy’s victims remains unknown and probably exceeds the specific killings he confessed to.

Like John Wayne Gacy, Bundy was a sexual deviant who eventually succumbed to his perverse desires, kidnapping and killing a string of women and girls throughout the 1970’s.  He was an attractive, charismatic individual who presented himself with a cast or crutches to lure women to his aid.  He’s kill them with blows to the head, and admitted to keeping parts of their bodies and having sex with their corpses.  He moved around in Washington, Utah and Oregon focusing on college campuses as sources for young female victims.  His trials were bizarre, and Bundy successfully escaped during one, by acting as his own lawyer and running from the unsecured law library.  Ted Bundy earned multiple death sentences for his serial killing spree, eventually being put to death by lethal injection, without taking responsibility for many killings believed to be his doing. There is strong support for findings indicating Bundy killed more than 100 people.

Photos courtesy of freeinfosociety.com

Photos courtesy of freeinfosociety.com

4. Edward Gein

Time tempers the impact of heinous crimes, but serial killers live long in infamy.  Ed Gein committed his twisted acts in the 1950’s, but remains the subject of fascination today.  In part, the gruesome nature of his crimes have served to keep them in the public eye.  Like his sick Wisconsin counterpart Dahmer, Gein was cannibal and necrophile haunted by bizarre obsessions.   In the end. exposing his seven year killing spree would bring some of history’s most depraved acts to light.

Gein’s obsessions included female anatomy, Nazi experiments on people, and an overwhelming desire to change his sex from male to female.  He initially robbed graves to support his bizarre desires, but his crimes eventually escalated into the murders of women and girls.  Clippings about the disappearances were found on his farm at the time of his arrest, along with a partially dismembered body.  As the investigation continued, unspeakable items were uncovered at Gein’s home.  Human body parts were utilized as household items, including skull-bowls and upholstery made of human skin.  A human heart was found in a pot on the stove.  Gein was institutionalized for the rest of his life, where doctors tried to uncover explanations for his psychotic, murderous behavior.

Photo courtesy of Florida Department of Corrections

Photo courtesy of Florida Department of Corrections

5. Aileen Wuornos

Serial killers are typically men, but the disturbing practice extends to the fairer sex as well.  Because of the violence and physical strength required to subdue victims, men are better equipped to commit serial crimes than women are, but Aileen Wournos provides a fascinating study into the twisted mind of a female serial killer.

Wuornos emerged from a troubled childhood with emotional scars and a young history of promiscuity.  At 14, she was sent to a home to give birth to a child, which was adopted.  She was a petty criminal early on, engaging in theft forgery and prostitution, while moving through a series of failed relationships.  In 1989, when bodies started appearing under suspicious circumstances, it foreshadowed the unfolding tale of a female killer on a spree.  Wuornos killed at least 7 men, using firearms to carry out her crimes.  She was eventually put to death and was portrayed by Charlize Theron in a Hollywood movie about her murderous spree.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

6. Gary Ridgway

DNA advances changed outcomes for many modern day serial killers.  Linking criminals to victims using advanced DNA technologies provides the smoking gun responsible for bringing down some of history’s most notorious villians.  But the technologies have not been court-worthy for all that long.  Gary Ridgway was linked to his early-80’s crimes well before he was definitively tied to them with DNA evidence in 2001.  Ridgway had been killing since 1982 when he strangled a sixteen year-old victim to death.

Ridway’s death toll is disputed, but he pleaded guilty to 48 counts of murder.  It is widely believed he killed as many as 60 women in Washington State.  His killing spree was so prolific he cannot remember all his victims.  Most were young, many prostitutes that were picked up along Route 99.  To avoid the death penalty, Ridgway took police to four graves of his victims and confessed to many other murders.  He was sentenced to life in prison in 2003.  In his own twisted mind Ridgway thought he was performing a valuable service, ridding the streets of vile prostitutes.  His victims were commonly in their teens and early twenties.  He is known colloquially as The Green River Killer, for dumping remains near the site.

AP Photo

AP Photo

7. Donald Harvey

Serial killers satisfy unique perversions as they kill.  For some, it is a sexual gratification tied to misplaced feelings of affection and desire.  Others are obsessed with the human body, killing as a way to explore it in sadistic ways.  And killers have their own methods to their madness – some using guns to kill victims, while others engage in more personal slaying practices.  Donald Harvey is a notorious 1970’s killer that claimed is victims from a position of trust – as a nurse’s aid.

Using his access to patients to satisfy his sickness, Harvey poisoned hospital patients with cyanide and arsenic.  He eventually confessed to more than 70 murders, occurring before 1978.  An anonymous tip and police search of his home led to his arrest and convictions.  It is said that Mr. Harvey also infected patients, before nursing them back to health.

Photo courtesy of Texas Department of Corrections

Photo courtesy of Texas Department of Corrections

8. Henry Lee Lucas

Lucas and an accomplice carried out untold murders – ranging in the hundreds by many accounts. Their motivation appears to have been primarily justified as “thrill killings” conducted simply for the adrenaline rush.  Eventually convicted of 10 murders, Lucas avoided the death penalty when his sentence was commuted.  The decision to spare his life relates to doubts about the conviction that was to end it.  The killer was convicted in 1984 for the rape and murder of a victim clad only in orange socks.  The “Orange Socks” verdict was called into question by eveidence showing Lucas may have been in another location when the crimes were committed.

The prolific killer started close to home, claiming his own mother as his first murder victim.  His claims of self-defense were rejected, and he was sentenced to 20-40 years in jail.  After serving ten years of his sentence, Lucas was released.  There is no real way of knowing how many people Lucas actually killed, he was well-known for exaggerating his claims, and at various times confessed to murders numbering in the thousands.  Plausible victims stand in the hundreds, but Lucas’ death in 2001 took his secrets to the grave.

Public Photo

Public Photo

9. Charles Manson

No list of infamous serial killers is complete without references to the crimes of Charles Manson.  The famed leader of a remote hippy cult is responsible for some of the most high-profile killings in world history.  Manson was the leader of a commune, enlisting followers to do his dirty-work.  The sensational nature of the group’s murders and the antics of the ensuing trials stayed in the public spotlight for years.

Manson was a failed musician with enough charisma and intelligence to dupe followers into thinking he was the second coming.  Two famous crime scenes provide the Hollywood backdrops for atrocious acts of violence committed there.  Manson followers, both men and women, participated in gruesome murders at the home of Sharon Tate, an actress and husband of film director Roman Polanski.  She was pregnant at the time of her death, which resulted from multiple stab wounds.  Several people died there, and at the home of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca who also fell victim to the Manson “family” killing spree.  Cryptic clues scrawled in blood of victims were left behind at the crime scenes, which were horrific.  Manson was eventually linked to the crimes.  During his trial followers conducted organized demonstrations and his co-defendents mutilated themselves in shows of support for Manson.

Public Photo

Public Photo

10. Dean Corll

Known as the Candy Man in his home neighborhood, due to his family’s candy business, Corll was in fact a brutal serial killer.  In the early seventies, Dean Corll raped and killed at least two-dozen young men and boys.  The “Houston Mass Murders“, as his crimes came to be known, were carried out with the help of accomplices in the Houston area.  In fact, Corll’s involvement in the crimes did not come to light until he was shot by one of his co-conspirators.

Corll, an Army veteran, had a predilection for sex with young boys, who he raped and killed with the help of accomplices.  A steady-stream of victims were furnished by Corll’s associates, who also sometimes participated in the attacks.  During a falling-out, Corll was shot to death by one of these associates.  After his death, the magnitude of Corll’s crimes started to unfold.  He had sadistically abducted, raped, tortured and killed dozens of boys under the age of 18.  As his accomplices identified victims and led police to bodies, the heinous nature of this serial killer was exposed.

Moms: 10 Must-See Ways to Keep Your Kids Safe on Facebook

Social media advances open channels of communications that impact people’s lives in positive ways, but there are also risks associated with connecting in this way.  Savvy users know the ins and outs of the system, but children are not always prepared to defend themselves against web-based threats.  For concerned parents, following strict safety protocols provides the best assurance against harmful consequences for younger family members.

Photo by karindalziel on Flickr

Photo by karindalziel on Flickr

Facebook is a relatively open forum, allowing users to post personal information about themselves.  If the proper controls are not used effectively, sensitive information can fall into the wrong hands.  Young children are especially vulnerable, but even teens familiar with the platform take missteps along the way. To limit their exposure to unnecessary risks, follow these basic guidelines for keeping kids safe on Facebook.

1. Protect Passwords

Passwords play a vital role in internet security, so attention should be paid to this Facebook feature.  First, passwords should be selected sensibly, rather than falling into the standard patterns of using pets’ names and birthdays for safety codes.  Instead, mix up your signals with words that don’t point to you, and include both upper and lower case characters in the passwords you select.  Special characters like dollar signs and ampersands strengthen security too, adding additional layers of complexity to password choices.  Passwords should be changed periodically  to hedge against familiarity that lets your guard down.  Parents must specifically retain their children’s Facebook passwords, helping kids manage their safety.

As you work with your children on Facebook, stick to the same password principles you apply to other online security situations.  The object of your password selection is to do the most you can to discourage intruders, frustrating them into leaving your child’s account alone.  Computer programs used by online attackers sometimes cycle through hundreds of password combinations every second, attempting to decipher your code.  Never use your own name, or a combination of your first, last or middle name as a password.  It is simply too easy to link information like your name to your password.  Always use combinations of letters and numerals in your child’s password, making it harder to crack.  longer is better too, creating statistical advantages for each character you add to your password.

2. Monitor Facebook Activities

Nobody wants to overstep their boundaries enforcing children’s internet usage, but monitoring kids’ online behavior is the only way to insulate them from Facebook opportunists.  Parents in-tune with photographs posted by their kids have censorship abilities that can head-off problems before they happen.  And monitoring interactions with other users provides assurances that kids are not running with the wrong Facebook crowds. Free monitoring tools are available online, and for parents wishing to distance themselves from the effort, professional monitoring services do the job for hire.

It is important for parents’ to remember that kids have no expectation of privacy online, especially concerning social networking and sites like Facebook.  Your duty to protect your kids at all costs is relieved by the virtual nature of online platforms where your kids participate.  Check-in on your child’s Facebook usage from work if you have to, but don’t give them a pass for their online hobbies.  Friends of your children are also good resources for keeping an eye on your own kids.  Check friends’ accounts periodically to see what they are sharing about your children.

3. Censor Yourself

The easiest way to avoid problems with Facebook is to filter what you share via the site.  Despite its personal nature, connecting friends and family in intimate ways, Facebook is a public clearinghouse for information – viewed by hundreds of thousands of users daily.  Actively limiting what you make available to Facebook users is the only way to maintain control of sensitive photos and information.  Children share too much anyway, even during face to face interactions, so extra care must be taken to censor them online.  And teens with the world by the tail sometimes need to be reminded of the permanence of the internet, and the need for self-censorship.

Facebook users are advised to post only things they’d happily share with just about anyone.  Assuming that posts will be respected and taken at face value is the wrong approach.  Facebook users preying on children thrive on bits of information they can use to get their way.  Showing their vulnerabilities online opens the door for predators waiting to take advantage of your children’s trusting natures.

4. Learn and Use Facebook Safety Features

Facebook’s efforts to protect you online are less effective when users are in the dark.  To get the most from them, learn your options for security, so that you are an active proponent for your child’s online safety.  When in doubt, change settings to “only friends”, limiting access for unapproved visitors.  And always think of Facebook as an evolving resource, staying on top of security changes as the develop.  Features like Active Sessions and Login Approvals add extra layers of security to Facebook, protecting children from unauthorized access.  Features like Facebook’s one-time password may not seem child-centric, but every effort to bolster your online security protects them too.  The disposable passwords are designed for instances when you don’t want to sign in using your real information.  When using public computers or accessing Facebook from handheld devices, App Passwords are another option for protecting your Facebook sign-in information.

Trusted Contacts are maintained by Facebook users to ensure there is a safe contact available at all times.  Designated users are assigned Trusted Contact status at your own discretion, for help when you are unable to access your Facebook account.  Simply contact them when you forget your password or login information, and they can provide them for you.

5. Know What Others are Posting About Your Child

Facebook photos and other details about your children’s lives don’t always come from the horses mouth.  Friends and classmates are often guilty of handling these items loosely, leaving undesirable links to your child on the World Wide Web.  In cases where others post the wrong message about your kids, it might be necessary to have them remove the photos or sensitive information.  While it is easy to limit your own sharing, monitoring others output can be more difficult.  Make sure your children are well-versed on what is and isn’t appropriate for friends to share online.

Photo by wetwebnetwork on Flickr

Photo by wetwebnetwork on Flickr

Losing control of your online identity can happen quickly, especially for children, whose social lives are much more micro-managed than most adults. Unfortunately for some, things start unraveling before there is time to set up damage control.  “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” could not be more true than itb is on Facebook.  That compromising photo, or ill-advised Facebook post are no threat at all, provided they do not exist.  Trusting immature intuitions is not a sound strategy for parents – even the most well-behaved kids fall prey to moments of poor judgment.  The key is to equip them with the tools for knowing when an innocent friendly exchange might be a mistake that follows them forever online.

6. Don’t Friend People You Don’t Know

Managing who you are linked to on Facebook sets the tone for your online identity.  Don’t automatically friend Facebook users just because they want to link to you.  Instead, actively screen your children’s friends so that they are precisely the folks your kids are online to connect with.  Fake profiles are used to run Facebook scams, phishing for information and creating spam opportunities.  Don’t allow opportunistic criminals to prey on your children’s accounts under the guise of friendship.  The same goes for tagging people in photos and using other facebook options.  These features are designed with adults in mind, and are not designed as random clicks for kids.  As an adult representative, it is your duty to keep your children up to speed about Facebook features, so they are used properly and don’t call unwanted attention toward your kids.  And stay abreast of changes, like a recent Facebook addition allowing hashtagged posts to become clickable.   As features change, past posts and future etiquette do too.

7. Protect Personal Information

There is really no reason to post sensitive information in your Facebook profile.  Phone numbers, residential addresses and private information should not be visible to the public.  Putting these bits of data out there for all to see creates easy access for internet scammers.  Even birthdays should be guarded, released only to those you know and trust.  While the social element of a happy birthday may seem innocent enough, date of birth is a prized piece of personal information for identity thieves and others using Facebook to mine data.  Further protection is added by guarding email addresses and running up to date anti-virus programs on your child’s computer.

There is no limit to the creativity employed by thieves and other internet scammers preying on children.  Consider your child’s identity to be a big puzzle, with bits of personal information representing its individual pieces. Your job then, is simple:  Keep the pieces out of the hands of the bad guys.  Each vital statistic helps predators create the mosaic they’d like to use to gain something from your kids, so even the most innocuous details should be coveted by parents.

8. Guard Your Child’s Location

Revealing too much about your location and the activities you are engaged in can be problematic online.  When you check-in on Facebook, it is not necessary to identify where you are, or more importantly – where you aren’t.  Much has been made about location-oriented social sharing apps, and for good reason.  Outlining your vacation itinerary on Facebook, for example, is a bad idea.  When schedules are shared thieves know you are not home, so your house automatically becomes more attractive as a target.

Emphasize the importance of location anonymity to your under-aged Facebook users, encouraging them to use other modes of communication to share certain information.  Facebook users targeting children like to see location posts from minors, because they often contain indications that parents will not be present. Opportunists’ sophisticated efforts to get into kids’ inner circles are greatly assisted by notifications that combine locations with activities, such as “Hey world, we are in Dan’s basement playing online while his parents cruise the harbor until 11:00 o’clock.”

9. Reinforce Good Judgment

Even though Facebook employs added security features for teen accounts, there are still ways for kids to get in over their heads.  Parents and kids need to work together to stay safe online, rather than as adversaries.  Taking into account the prominent roles computers play in modern teens’ lives, it becomes clear that a strong-handed approach might not be your best bet.  Keep communication lines open, learning from your children as you go.  Judgment calls successfully navigated by kids should be rewarded and reinforced, providing incentives for future conservative Facebook behavior.

There is a good chance your own kids know more about Facebook than you do, so you are in it together.  While this might be okay with you, it is natural for kids to push-back at certain ages.  As you and your family embrace new technology, don’t forget that it is uncharted grounds for everyone aboard.  Discover the best ways to incorporate advances into your lives together, so that everyone is on the same page.  If your child has different ideas about the ways he or she would like to proceed online, help them get what they want from the experience, without compromising their safety.

10. Create Your Own Facebook Page

Familiarity breeds security online, so parents should participate on Facebook to better understand it.  Friend your own kids, especially younger ones, and have discussions about online boundaries.  The fine line parents are sometimes required to walk extends online, making sure kids know you are there, while respecting their space too. Having a page also lets you lead by example.  Your posts are available at all times, for your own kids and others to use as guidelines for proper Facebook etiquette.

What you choose to do with your Facebook account is up to you, but more than one parent signing-up to monitor children have become avid users of the site, finding benefits they may not have anticipated.  Whatever you do, make sure your Facebook presence doesn’t hang over your kids like a scarecrow looming in the garden.  While there are plenty of risks to be found online, Facebook and other social sites are primarily conceived to provide enjoyment for users, which is diminished by over-bearing parents.  And don’t lose sight of the adult nature of Facebook, which is not technically designed for participation by users under the age of 13.


Hiding Your eMail: 172 Ways to Keep Everything You Do Online, Secure

Realistically, anyone with access to data dumps from fiber-optic lines belonging to American telecom carriers will eventually be able to read your communications. However, it’s entirely possible to make it much more difficult for anyone to be able to pinpoint and decipher your movements online. When you can hide a message so that no one even suspects it exists, that is most secure, and if you can use a less traveled path of connection it also helps hide your tracks.Some people have figured out smart ways to stay invisible, but connected.

But if you’re like most of us and still using the public telecom system for browsing and e-mail, you’ll want to try out many of these 172 privacy tools to anonymize your web presence, encrypt your data, and erase your tracks.

  1. SSL – Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol is a layer of software that operates between HTTP (internet protocol) and TCP (protocol for moving internet data from point to point), and it preserves security in internet transmissions by using RSA encryption.

    Socket wrench, universal joint and sockets. Courtesy of Kae, 9 December 2008

  2. NoScript – NoScript is an extension for Mozilla-based browsers that uses a whitelist to decide which sites can use plugins like JavaScript, Java, and Flash. It also lets you control cross-site scripting and clickjacking.
  3. HTTPS Everywhere – HTTPS Everywhere is an extension that works with either Firefox or Chrome, and the “S” means your HTTP connection has been secured by encrypting data that passes between your computer and other network locations.
  4. CyberGhost – CyberGhost advertises itself as a free utility permitting anonymous web surfing, and it also encrypts all your transmissions, which is perfect protection for any public location.
  5. LastPass – LastPass is a secure password manager that gives you one master password to access its interface. LastPass will then use your stored credentials to log you into any other site you request.
  6. LongURL – LongURL is a web interface that expands short URLs so you can see where a link is taking you. It supports a number of formats like TinyURL and bit.ly.
  7. Trusteer Rapport – Trusteer Rapport’s endpoint security software performs ongoing data collection to power its behavioral algorithms in order to block phishing attacks and installations of Man-in-the-Browser malware.
  8. Two-step verification – Two-factor or two-step authentication adds security to your login by requiring two pieces of virtual identification from you. Google’s version asks for a password plus an on-the-spot phone code.
  9. VirusTotal – VirusTotal is a free online utility that lets you scan dubious-looking files (maximum size is 64 MB) and URLs. VirusTotal records scan results and makes that dataset available for searches.
  10. Tor – Tor keeps your browsing anonymous by using onion routing, a network of virtual tunnels which screens your location and activity within the network to make sure no one eavesdropping on the network knows who’s communicating.

    Barbus tor or Tor tor (Hamilton, 1822) from the Bhavani river. Courtesy of Henry Sullivan Thomas, The Rod in India, 1897

  11. Duckduckgo – Duckduckgo is a search engine that keeps your searches private by refusing to collect or share any information about you and what you search for on the web.
  12. StartPage – StartPage is another private search engine that functions as a go-between, removing any data on you from your web queries before sending them to Google and relaying Google’s answers back to you.
  13. Smart Referer – A Firefox add-on called Smart Referer lets your browse anonymously by removing any information about where you came from when you use a link to move from one site to another.
  14. Bitdefender QuickScan – Bitdefender QuickScan is an online virus scanner to detect any malware currently running on your device. Don’t ever permit this kind of scan from an unknown agent, but you can trust Bitdefender.
  15. HTTPS – HTTPS is a secure network communication protocol that adds HTTP programming, for hypertext capability, to SSL/TLS programming, for security. Security includes encryption and certificates used to identify the sender and receiver of transmitted data.
  16. Sophos Virus Removal Tool – Sophos Virus Removal Tool is a free download that looks for viruses, spyware, rootkits, and the Conficker worm. It checks not only files but also both user and kernel memory .
  17. Microsoft Safety Scanner – There’s no charge to download the Microsoft Safety Scanner, and its 10-day expiration date means it’s intended for one-time use, to address a specific infection.
  18. VPN – A VPN, or virtual private network, provides private communications between computers using the public telecom system. This is achieved using tunneling, and it’s a cheap substitute for a secure private line.
  19. Dropbox – Dropbox is a free cloud service with security features (SSL and AES-256 bit encryption) that lets you save and share files. When you save a file on Dropbox, Dropbox in turn saves that file on all your devices.

    VR pillar box in George Street, Oxford, England. Courtesy of Motacilla, 11 October 2011

  20. FTPS – FTPS (secure FTP) is a new version of the old FTP (file transfer protocol), updated to add security. It’s a file transfer utility that moves data over an encrypted channel.
  21. TLS – TLS (transport layer security) is a secure communications protocol intended to supplant the older SSL, using symmetric cryptography for privacy and an MAC data integrity check.
  22. CuteFTP – CuteFTP is an FTP program that consolidates all older versions, including Pro, and offers a new mobile service called TappIn that gives you instant secure FTP connections among all devices on your network.
  23. ShareFile – ShareFile is a Citrix product, a top-end secure file transfer package with a high file size limit (10 GB). Data storage meets SSAE 16 guidelines.
  24. Core FTP LE – There’s no cost to download Core FTP LE, a file transfer utility that lets you choose among five different security protocols. It has no nags, ads, or registration.
  25. IronKey(tm) – IronKey(tm) secure flash drives have a Cryptochip feature to ensure drive encryption and password requirement. Certified to meet Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) 140-2 Level 3 standard.
  26. Keystroke Interference – Keystroke Interference thwarts keylogging software, which records your keystrokes, by adding random characters to all your input. It includes AI to learn and camouflage your personal style of typing.
  27. HouseCall – HouseCall from Trend Micro is a free online scanner that targets viruses, Trojans, worms, harmful browser plugins, and malware. Now has added ability to specify files and folders.
  28. Check Point GO – When you plug in a Check Point GO secure flash drive, it creates a protected environment so you can work from someone else’s PC without risking your data. Includes VPN client.
  29. Linux – Linux the operating system boasts two strong security advantages. Different levels of access shield sensitive data, and varied distribution details mean one virus design can’t affect all Linux users simultaneously.
  30. Wontok SafeCentral – Wontok SafeCentral is a packaged solution for businesses that ensures safety by preventing applications from interacting with anything other than Trusted Security Extensions, thus foiling malware.
  31. SecureAnywhere(tm) Complete – SecureAnywhere(tm) Complete gives you continual anti-virus protection for all types of devices, including browser warnings. It even protects you while you’re signed into Facebook and Twitter.
  32. Firesheep – Firesheep is an extension for Firefox that shows users which of their HTTP connections (e.g. to Facebook or Twitter) inadvertently reveal their account information. In public wireless tests, Firesheep listed all insecure accounts of users in the vicinity.
  33. HTML Purifier – HTML Purifier is a HTML filter library that uses a whitelist to block cross-site scripting (XSS). It’s a handy open-source tool for anyone who has to produce secure HTML pages.
    HTML Purifier

    Tata Swach is a low-cost water purifier that works on the principles of nanotechnology. Courtesy of Globalfunky, 27 May 2010

  34. Proxy server – Proxy servers are the core of anonymization on the web. Any direct communication between your computer and another network location may compromise your data, but if you communicate only with a proxy that proxy will relay your requests to the outside world and bring the responses back to you.
  35. Windows Defender – Windows Defender was originally designed to combat spyware, but has been expanded in scope to cover all malware. Your PC may not have shipped with Defender turned on, so make sure to check its status.
  36. Spybot – Search & Destroy(r) – Spybot – Search & Destroy(r) is a perennial classic in spyware detection, and even though it’s added anti-virus protection it’s still free. Use the Immunize function to strengthen your browsing defenses.
  37. MailWasher – MailWasher blocks spam and the viruses it can contain by letting you preview e-mail safely. You can examine what’s on your remote e-mail server and download only the mail you know to be no threat, deleting the rest.
  38. Active Spam Killer – Active Spam Killer (ASK) is for Unix and Linux installations. It filters out spam by sending a confirmation request when it receives e-mail from an unknown source, then whitelists the senders that reply.
  39. McAfee SpamKiller 4.0 – McAfee SpamKiller 4.0 is a standalone spam filter that lets you filter and review e-mail that’s on your remote server before you download it, so you don’t have to risk bringing questionable mail onto your own computer.
  40. Wireshark – Wireshark is a network security tool that allows you to analyze your network traffic by capturing and displaying packets of data in a comprehensible format as they pass through your network.
  41. Snort – Snort detects and prevents network intrusions. It’s free, it’s open source, and it can be used as a packet analyzer, packet logger, and threat defense system.
  42. SpiderOak – SpiderOak secure cloud storage provides an online home for data stored on all kinds of devices. It’s instantly accessible, completely private, and includes synchronization for file-sharing.
  43. TrueCrypt – TrueCrypt provides free disk encryption software for Windows, Mac, and Linux. You can encrypt any of the following: virtual disk, partition, flash drive, or OS partition.
  44. Cain & Abel – The best way to determine password strength is to test it using a password cracker, and Cain & Abel provides that service for any Microsoft OS.
  45. John the Ripper – John the Ripper was designed as a fast password cracker targeted at identifying weak Unix passwords, but you can also use it to test passwords for other operating systems like Windows and DOS.
    John the Ripper

    Image: A Suspicious Character, collection: Illustrated London News, With the Vigilance Committee in the East End, October 13, 1888. Courtesy of Illustrated London News, artist unknown, uploaded by Jack1956

  46. fgdump – fgdump is an updated version of an old favorite password tester called pwdump, and it specializes in Windows-resident NTLM and LanMan passwords. Requires administrator access.
  47. KeyScrambler – KeyScrambler’s different versions support anti-keylogging measures in between 32 and 200 browsers, depending on how much you pay. Premium also protects your keystrokes in cloud services Dropbox, Google Drive, and Sky Drive.
  48. Tcpdump and libpcap – Tcpdump and libpcap together form a perennially loved and used network traffic analysis package, in which tcpdump captures packets as a command line utility and libpcap is a complementary C/C++ library for that traffic capture.
  49. Kismet – If you need a program that performs packet analysis for wireless networks, try Kismet– it can detect other networks and tell you whether anyone’s breaking into your network.
  50. OpenSSH – If you ever experiment with building your own internet communications system rather than using a third-party browser and e-mail application, you’ll need a basic encryption tool like OpenSSH to shield all your data traffic.
  51. PuTTY – PuTTY is a perfect example of a simple internet transmission program that goes through telnet and uses SSH for security. What PuTTY does– open a secure channel through which your computer can access another directly– is how the peer-to-peer internet used to work, and the privacy advantage is obvious.
  52. SSH – SSH, or Secure Shell protocol, provides guidelines for secure and private login and exchange of information over the insecure public telecom system. It replaces the old telnet protocol.
  53. Ettercap – Ettercap lets you stress-test your own network by launching man-in-the-middle attacks in which it intercepts and alters communications. Don’t miss the countermeasures section to help you use what Ettercap teaches you.
  54. IP identifiers ping, dig, and traceroute – Any time you need to know the identity of an IP making unsolicited contact with your computer, remember these three basic tools that can help you track down the offender: ping, dig, and traceroute.
  55. Paros – Not sure whether one of your web applications has been secured? Test it with Paros, a Java-based proxy that reveals vulnerabilities to frequently used attacks like cross-site scripting.

    The Paros seafront in Greece. Courtesy of Dimorsitanos, August 2009, cropped by Beyond My Ken 20 September 2010

  56. Fake AP – If your wireless network has suffered unauthorized activity, or has shown up on a public detection map without your consent, you can camouflage your location by erecting a screen of short-lived access points with Fake AP. For defense purposes only, please.
  57. Google Hacking for Penetration Testers – Google Hacking for Penetration Testers: This remarkable paper on revealing your system’s vulnerabilities by using Google queries will show you how easily an attacker can view website pages you thought were securely hidden.
  58. Procmail Sanitizer – Procmail Sanitizer is a behavioral e-mail security tool. Instead of checking for viruses, it lets you choose a set of rules such as “attachments cannot access the registry or execute code” limiting what your e-mail and its attachments are permitted to do on your system.
  59. Sender Policy Framework and Sender ID – Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and Sender ID are similar methods of validating IP addresses permitted to send mail from your domain name, used as authentication that distinguish between legitimate mail generated by you and spam.
  60. Tails – Tails is a portable OS that lives on a DVD or flash drive. It includes a number of built-in applications like a browser and an e-mail client, and it’s designed so you can use any computer to surf anonymously.
  61. S/MIME – Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (S/MIME) protocol secures your e-mail by laying out rules on how to encrypt mail, ensure message integrity, and authenticate senders using digital signatures.
  62. SonicWALL(tm) – SonicWALL(tm) Email Security is a strong, scalable business package by Dell that includes controls for each end user mail account, so you can tailor user permissions individually.
  63. Barracuda Email Security Service – Barracuda Email Security Service (BESS) offers secure cloud e-mail to businesses that want to host their own e-mail but pay a third party to provide spam filtering and malware protection.
  64. Norton AntiVirus – Norton AntiVirus is a gray eminence in the world of paid malware protection, and while its 2014 product is double the price of the original, the software is still reliable.
  65. Enigmail – Enigmail is a plugin for Thunderbird and Seamonkey that adds OpenPGP protection to your e-mail by way of both encryption and digital signature authentication. Requires the free GNU Privacy Guard.
  66. Cloud Security Readiness Tool – Microsoft’s Cloud Security Readiness Tool requires you to answer a set of questions about your current IT setup to generate a report in response, aimed at exploring how moving to the cloud can help secure your business data.
  67. Trend Micro SecureCloud 1.1 – Trend Micro SecureCloud 1.1, for users of Trend Micro’s Beta Portal, provides encryption for your cloud storage. Service includes your choice of AES encryption type.
  68. CipherCloud for Google Gmail – CipherCloud protects your all business data traveling through Gmail by providing a secure reverse-proxy interface and a mail transfer agent that adds encryption for inbound mail.
  69. Porticor Virtual Private Data – Porticor Virtual Private Data is a cloud system that uses encryption to guarantee data security that will meet regulatory requirements for safeguarding sensitive customer information.
  70. CloudPassage Halo – CloudPassage Halo offers secured cloud storage geared at businesses that must comply with regulatory requirements for protecting their data. Halo lets you automate your security policy while adjusting the parameters of your storage at will.
  71. The Bat! – The Bat! comes in several flavors and offers e-mail encryption plus secure authentication. SecureBat! is now The Bat! Professional, and its addition of hardware tokens produces very strong security.
  72. The Anonymizer – As you gathered from the “legacy content” notice, the original Anonymizer was one of the first anonymous surfing services appealing specifically to users who objected to being tracked. You can pay for today’s Anonymizer, or treasure the memory.
  73. Proxymate – If you’ve always wanted to access websites that are forbidden to U.S. surfers, try a proxy based in another country. You can gamble on British sites by routing your traffic through Proxymate.
  74. Onion routing – Onion routing, like so much of web technology, originated with the U.S. military as a DARPA project. It was devised as a means of hiding location information, and that’s the same function it performs today in anonymous surfing.
  75. HidemyAss with PPTP – HideMyAss is an anonymous surfing service that employs Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) to give you an encrypted VPN connection, and supplies clear instructions on how to set up a PPTP connection with a dialer.
  76. Guardster – Guardster has several different proxy products aimed at privacy, including a free online proxy service and two subscription services, an encrypted SSL proxy and a secure SSH tunnel proxy using the SOCKS, or Socket Secure, protocol.
  77. iPhantom – The iPhantom proxy service keeps you anonymous during your contact with other web locations, and for further privacy does not store any of the identifying information describing your contact with the iPhantom server.
  78. IP Hider – AllAnonymity’s IP Hider inserts a proxy server to relay your web requests, meaning the IP visible to marketing trackers belongs to that proxy rather than your computer.
  79. AVG – AVG Free is one of the anti-virus programs that offered enough quality to break the grip of paid services like Norton. Those companies used to sell AV software with free updates, and when they converted to a package-plus-subscription model they inadvertently sparked the boom in AV freeware.
  80. avast! Free Antivirus – avast! Free Antivirus is a justly favored product, delivering sturdy detection and removal at no cost for a full quarter of a century. Happy Birthday, avast! Many people team avast! with AVG because what little one might miss, the other usually catches.
    avast! Free Antivirus

    Capture of the Pirate, Blackbeard, 1718 depicting the battle between Blackbeard the Pirate and Lieutenant Maynard in Ocracoke Bay. Courtesy of http://www.neatorama.com/2007/10/22/pirate-lore-7-myths-and-trrrrruths-about-pirates/,
    by American painter Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, 1920

  81. Panda Cloud Antivirus – Panda Cloud Antivirus protects your stored data from viruses and spyware. It uses behavioral analysis to recognize and stop new malware and includes community firewall protection.
  82. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free – Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free specializes in removing all kinds of malware, but is particularly effective against worms, trojans, rootkits, rogues, dialers, and spyware. You can automate updates and scanning.
  83. Ad-Aware Free Antivirus+ – Ad-Aware Free Antivirus+ adds anti-virus capability to its classic spyware defenses. It now prevents malware from being written to disk in an inadvertent download, and runs unknown executables in a safe sandbox environment.
  84. Comodo Antivirus – Comodo Antivirus offers a free edition that keeps viruses and other malware of all your devices. It employs cloud-based scanning to find questionable hidden files.
  85. Comodo SSL Certificates – Comodo SSL Certificates are your way of guaranteeing your web customers safe contact with your site, using SSL to shield customers’ personal financial information. Comodo has been in the SSL certificate business since 1998 and provides good client support.
  86. Emsisoft Emergency Kit – If you have ever been confronted with an infected PC and encountered difficulty controlling its behavior, you’ll welcome the Emsisoft Emergency Kit. It downloads onto a flash drive, and you can plug in the drive to scan your PC for viruses.
  87. Avira Free Antivirus – Avira Free Antivirus provides not only broad-spectrum malware protection but also adds two extra features by way of a toolbar to block tracking in your browser and rate the security levels of sites you visit.
  88. Rohos Mini Drive – Rohos Mini Drive lets you password-protect your flash storage with a hidden, encrypted partition. The Portable option lets you use a similar secret partition on any PC.
  89. Kryptelite – Kryptelite is freeware that provides basic encryption and decryption ability, and if you upgrade to other Kryptel products you can get more advanced features like encrypted backups and scripted encryption.
  90. Pismo File Mount Audit Package – Pismo File Mount Audit Package lets you mount several file types as virtual folders, including encrypted, password-protected private folders which let you conceal data on your drive.
  91. Free File Camouflage – Free File Camouflage is a steganography tool that lets you hide your messages inside a .jpeg image file. The goal of steganography is not only to encrypt but to let your messages escape notice altogether.
    Free File Camouflage

    Mgr Patrick Le Gal, évêque aux Armées françaises. Courtesy of Mangouste35, 06/08/2008

  92. Ad-Aware is no longer safe as of testing September 9, 2013 – Hearts all round the world broke when Lavasoft, producer of once beloved antispyware stalwart Ad-Aware, inserted unwanted toolbars and even a browser hijack into free Ad-Aware downloads. You can avoid lengthy and painful removals by avoiding Ad-Aware altogether.
  93. CTI Text Encryption – CTI Text Encryption is a free text encryption tool with support for multiple languages, including those read from right to left. Recommended for creating strong passwords.
  94. AxCrypt – AxCrypt is an open source file encryption project designed for Windows, and it includes the following capabilities: password protection, encryption in the right-click menu, double-click to work with encrypted files, and automatic re-encryption after editing.
  95. Anti Tracks Free Edition – Anti Tracks Free Edition removes all traces of your computer activities from your hard drive, including browsing history, temporary files, installation logs, and other telltale signs of your passage.
  96. ToolWiz Bsafe – ToolWiz BSafe offers file encryption with simple features that produce advanced results. Its ability to mount an encrypted folder as a virtual drive is described as “opening the safe,” because the only time that hidden data is accessible is while you’re working on it.
  97. BCTextEncoder – BCTextEncoder presents its free e-mail encryption program as a way to avoid the embarrassment of sending an e-mail to the wrong recipient. Uses public key and password-dependent encryption.
  98. Anonymize.Net – Anonymize.Net provides anonymous web browsing using a VPN (virtual private network), with one offshore proxy in Panama and a continental proxy in Canada. Use their handy WHOIS page to see your own IP revealed, and then check the difference when you view the page by proxy.
  99. the Cloak – the Cloak functions as an online proxy service, and has published a clear and helpful explanation of how a proxy can help you refrain from displaying your private information to web trackers.
  100. Internet Anonym – Steganos has a line of anonymity/privacy products, perhaps the best of which is Internet Anonym. Internet Anonym protects your IP even when you have to use public WiFi , letting you choose details of false information displayed by your browser.
  101. Idzap – IDzap offers three ways to protect your privacy on the internet. You can choose IDzap Free Anonymous Browsing Service, you can pay for a fully featured version called IDsecure Anonymous Browsing Service, and you can add encrypted e-mail with IDseal Secure Email Service.
  102. CryptoHeaven – CryptoHeaven provides a suite of secure encrypted e-mail services, encrypting not only the messages themselves but also the hosting and online storage features. CryptoHeaven’s goal is leaving no weak points in its data security.

    The Great Last Judgement, Peter Paul Rubens. Courtesy of L’Alte Pinakothek di Monaco

  103. Snoopblocker – Snoopblocker is a free online web proxy service that lets you enter a URL and browse anonymously, with several encryption options neatly arranged in checkboxes.
  104. Z1 SecureMail Gateway – Z1 SecureMail Gateway is billed as a “virtual mail room” that handles all encryption, decryption, and digital signature authentication for your e-mail. You can tailor individual security policies by using the console.
  105. Hushmail – Hushmail is an encrypted e-mail service based in Canada, it promises not to display any third party ads, and it gives you a free trial period. The Personal option is expensive, but service is reliable.
  106. Lawdex Secure Document Exchange – Lawdex Secure Document Exchange (SDX) is designed for businesses that need to keep client records in strict confidence, particularly law firms, medical practices, and financial services companies.
  107. Mutemail – Mutemail bases its secure e-mail service offshore, and if you already use a secure client (Mutemail specifies Secure Bat! and Thunderbird as examples), you can use that program through Mutemail’s SSL interface.
  108. NeoMailbox – NeoMailbox, hosted in Switzerland, offers secure e-mail plus anonymous browsing with IP concealment, SSL connections, and even disposable e-mail addresses if you prefer to communicate with that level of anonymity.
  109. ShareMeNot – Whenever you see embedded buttons from companies like Facebook or Google, those companies are tracking you. ShareMeNot disables the tracking until you deliberately click one of the buttons in order to share.
  110. Greasemonkey – Greasemonkey is unquestionably the most helpful of the Firefox extensions because it lets you add scripts to Firefox to achieve any goal you like, including user security and anonymity. It will also accept .js files that you create.
  111. Don’t Facebook – Don’t Facebook, EVER, if you wish to keep your private information out of the public eye. That being said, if you must Facebook at least keep up with your privacy settings, and to do that you have to stay apprised of the latest policy updates.
  112. Ghostery – Ghostery is not only effective in blocking web trackers, it’s a lot of fun to use. You will be shocked at the number of active trackers you find, and you’ll enjoy killing them off. Firefox addon.

    Edwd Kelly, a Magician. in the Act of invoking the Spirit of a Deceased Person. Courtesy of fromoldbooks.org, taken from Astrology, A New and Complete Illustration of the Occult Sciences by Ebenezer Sibly, M.D. F.R.H.S., Embellished with Curious Copper-Plates, London, 1806. Engraved by Ames of Bristol, original drawing by Sibly.

  113. DoNotTrackMe – DoNotTrackPlus has grown up to be DoNotTrackMe, but it still gives you a free and simple way to block more than 600 online trackers from following you around the web. Firefox addon.
  114. TrashMail.net – TrashMail.net creates junk e-mail addresses that forward mail to you, then terminate automatically after catching a certain amount of mail. You can sign up with insecure sites without risking your preferred address. Firefox addon.
  115. Ultimate Privacy – Ultimate Privacy offers a complete privacy and anonymity service that lets you perform all your online tasks safely. Includes browsing by proxy, disposable e-mail addresses, and PC eraser. In business since 1997.
  116. SpamAvert – SpamAvert offers an interesting disposable e-mail service online. You choose a word to serve as a one-time junk mail address, then come to SpamAvert to pick up your mail.
  117. Adblock Plus – Adblock Plus was born in 2006 as a free Firefox addon, and it’s been blocking annoying ads all over the world ever since. You choose which ads to block based on filter lists.
  118. CsFire – CsFire guards against cross-site scripting, whether the problem is a Cross-Site Request Forgery attack or simply an attempt to track your browsing habits. Firefox addon, now available for Chrome.
  119. SmartScreen Filter – SmartScreen Filter uses blacklists of phishing sites, malware sites, and malicious files to vet your browsing and downloads, displaying warnings when appropriate. Built into Internet Explorer 8 and above.
  120. PrivacyChoice – PrivacyChoice helps you stay private on the web with free online scanning for your website or app. Software offerings include Privacyfix to manage your privacy settings on sites like Facebook and Google.
  121. Boss Key – Boss Key is a child’s trick that might save your job by letting you hide that browser or game with a simple keystroke, including cutting the sound and changing screen resolution if necessary.
  122. Certificate Patrol – Certificate Patrol is a Firefox addon that inspects certificates and certificate hierarchies to make sure a site is safe to visit. Inspections are also performed for individual parts of each page.
  123. Telex – Telex is the old communications system that uses automated teleprinters (think Western Union in the mid-20th century). Today, web customers in censorship zones use secret Telex requests hidden in HTTPS connections to escape the zone and surf freely.

    Telex machine T100 manufactured by Siemens. A sign inside said ‘T.grpl.82, T100; nüral F5230.’ Courtesy of Flominator, 11 February 2005

  124. Long URL Please – Long URL Please expands short links within a page while truncating the new long link to keep the page formatted properly. You can set options for how you’d like your links to change, and Long URL Please works with most types of short links. Firefox addon.
  125. Disconnect – Disconnect is a tracking blocker that actively keeps up with new trackers as they are added. There’s a small toolbar button showing overall status and a dropdown to give you more detail.
  126. ScriptNo – ScriptNo is a Chrome extension that tells you about scripts that have been, or could be, blocked on every page. Uses whitelists and blacklists to help you set preferences.
  127. Ccleaner – Ccleaner from Piriform cleans up your Windows system, making it harder to track you online with cookies and sweeping out temporary files, download history, and Autocomplete settings.
  128. HOSTS file – A Windows HOSTS file is a list of host names that match to IP addresses, and a specially edited HOSTS file can make your browser skip downloads of web flotsam like cookies and banner ads. You can download such a file from MVPS HOSTS.
  129. Pidgin – Another secure messaging client that uses OTR is Pidgin, which is free and open source. You can use the Pidgin interface to manage your other IM applications.
  130. Don’t Google – Don’t Google, EVER, because Google has no respect whatsoever for your web privacy, and makes no bones about invading it in order to monetize your personal data. A quote from Google’s recent court filing: “a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties.” Ouch!
  131. Gibberbot – Gibberbot uses existing messaging applications like Google Chat and Facebook Chat to offer an unlimited free communication option that’s encrypted using the OTR (Off-The-Record) standard.
  132. GnuPG – GnuPG, or GNU Privacy Guard, is the Gnu project’s version of OpenPGP, as laid out in the 2007 specifications called RFC 4880. It’s a command line tool you can insert in code for your other applications.

    Gnu. Photo taken at Kliprivier Nature Reserve, Johannesburg. Courtesy of derekkeats, Flickr: IMG_4955_facebook, 9 May 2009

  133. GSMK CryptoPhone 500 – The GSMK CryptoPhone 500 gives you strong encryption plus full source code access so you can verify your level of protection. Includes voice encryption and secure messaging.
  134. Speak Freely – Speak Freely is a VoIP program for Windows, meaning you can use it to call another PC and have a voice conversation over any network that uses TCP/IP. Special instructions for encryption are available.
  135. Zfone – Zfone is a VoIP program that lets you use the internet to make encrypted phone calls. It uses the new ZRTP protocol produced by the same engineer who designed PGP.
  136. Mil Shield – Mil Shield not only erases but also shreds your computer’s history files, removing not only browsing history and Autocomplete information but also index.dat files and Flash cookies.
  137. Private Eye – Private Eye is a handy utility that lets you see and edit what’s in your protected storage area, which holds data about what you’ve been doing on your computer (including browsing).
  138. Sookasa – Sookasa is an encryption program that works with Dropbox, creating its own folder in your Dropbox directory and automatically encrypting any files placed therein. Designed for businesses who want to remain data-compliant in the cloud.
  139. PC-Encrypt – PC-Encrypt has several encryption products. A-Lock encrypts e-mails, PC-Encrypt encrypts your files and folders, and a utility called PC-Docmail even sends encrypted files directly from your desktop to recipients.
  140. Mixmaster – The Mixmaster remailer protocol involves sending packets of equal size in rearranged order to make them less traceable, which explains the name. Mixmaster protects against packet analysis and provides anonymity.

    This is a hand-held electric beater (also known as a hand-held electric mixer). Courtesy of Donovan Govan, taken using a Canon PowerShot G3, 24 April 2005

  141. Pretty Good Privacy – Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) is an an email encryption program originally distributed by MIT, and when it was released in 1991 it spread around the world, enraging the American government. Today PGP is the guiding principle of most secure e-mail communication.
  142. PirateBrowser – PirateBrowser bundles the Tor client with a proxy-enhanced version of Firefox and adds some special configuration to produce a means of eluding the web censors in those countries so afflicted.
  143. PGPdisk – PGPdisk is a utility that creates encrypted disk partitions, and it is now distributed as part of PGPfreeware 6.0.2i. Later versions beginning with PGPdisk 6.5 can only be found in paid programs, but the plan is to keep older PGPdisk free.
  144. Symantec Drive Encryption – Symantec Drive Encryption provides full disk encryption that includes the following types of files: user, swap, system, and hidden. Works on not only computers but also removable media.
  145. Check Point Full Disk Encryption Software Blade – Check Point Full Disk Encryption Software Blade (yes, it’s a long name) protects everything on your hard drive, including personal data, OS files, and temporary files.
  146. Neo’s SafeKeys – Neo’s SafeKeys lets you use a virtual keyboard displayed on your monitor to input sensitive data like personal information and passwords. That means there’s no way to record your keystrokes, because no keystrokes are used.
  147. SecureDoc – SecureDoc makes sure your data stays secure with full disk encryption, multi-factor authentication instead of single passwords, encryption of removable media, and basic file and folder encryption.
  148. File Shredder – File Shredder is a free application that thwarts software designed to retrieve deleted files from Windows computers by overwriting the deleted files several times, making it impossible to recover them.
  149. AbsoluteShield Track Eraser – AbsoluteShield Track Eraser is a comprehensive data removal system capable of erasing all of these: browser cache, history, cookies, typed URLs, autocomplete information, and saved passwords.
  150. Burn 2.5 – Burn 2.5 overwrites deleted Mac files using the same overwriting process recommended for shredding Windows files. Burn is a free utility and recommended for use with encryption software Enigma.
  151. E3 Security Kit – E3 Security Kit is the privacy subset of the Windows tool package Extreme Power Tools (XPT). It’s built around the ShredPerfect+ utility, described as a long, dull, highly effective process that’s guaranteed to destroy your files completely.
  152. Eraser – Eraser is a free application that not only overwrites individual files but also ensures any extra copies are removed by erasing any free space on the disk.

    Standard pink erasers, made by Sanford. Courtesy of Evan-Amos, 09-28-98

  153. Evidence Neutralizer – Evidence Neutralizer cleans traces of your activities off your PC, making it difficult to follow you by using temporary files, Autocomplete information, browsing history, and even index.dat files.
  154. SDelete – SDelete is a data overwriting tool written by a Microsoft employee that you can download at no charge and use anywhere you’d normally use a command-line utility.
  155. Privacy History Eraser – Privacy History Eraser removes all your internet history, including sites you visit, recently used files, downloads, cookies, and temporary files. It looks for items left behind by Windows programs like Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player.
  156. Pwgen – Pwgen, or Password Generator, creates random, secure passwords that are deliberately easy for you to memorize, because you can pronounce them. The utility was written by a Linux open source coder.
  157. AutonomyCentral – AutonomyCentral is an e-mail client secured with both RSA public key and 256 AES encryption, and it works with the privacy-oriented Vaultlet Mail application. You can send and receive messages from your flash drive.
  158. Random Password Generator – Random Password Generator is an online utility that produces a nonsense word you can pronounce which ends with a number. There’s also a version for iPhone and iPod.
  159. Sectéra(r) vIPer(tm) Universal Secure Phone – If you’re looking for extra strength in phone security, the Sectéra(r) vIPer(tm) Universal Secure Phone by General Dynamics can provide privacy that’s suited to classified information. The phone is recommended for government use.
  160. ZoneAlarm Free Firewall – ZoneAlarm Free Firewall gives you unobtrusive protection against hackers and malware at no cost, and it’s designed to work well with other antivirus programs. Includes privacy toolbar.
    ZoneAlarm Free Firewall

    Wheelock MT-24-LSM fire alarm horn. Photographed by Ben Schumin on November 23, 2002. Courtesy of Ben Schumin, edited by ZooFari, edit April 17, 09

  161. Tonga Remailer – The Cypherpunks are encryption-oriented privacy strategists, and one of their efforts is the Tonga Remailer. The Tonga Remailer is based in the country of Tonga, and it’s an anonymous remailer that uses the classic Mixmaster protocol.
  162. Firewall Free – Comodo’s Firewall Free gives you basic firewall protection, including anti-virus capability, warnings about particular files, and automatic updates if desired. There’s also a free version of a similar Mobile and Tablet Security program for your other devices.
  163. CNET is no longer a trustworthy download source – There’s bad news from the free download front: CNET is no longer a trustworthy download source. It’s developed a bad habit of forcing unwanted utilities like junk toolbars and adware on downloaders, and its use should be avoided.
  164. Online Armor – Online Armor Free gives you basic firewall protection at no cost, including spyware defenses, browser safety, and meaningful messages. Added features include HOSTS file checking, control over start-up programs, and keylogger blocking.
  165. AntiLogger Free – Zemana AntiLogger Free instantly encrypts all your keystrokes so keyloggers are presented with unreadable, secured data. It works for every application you use rather than just your browser.
  166. SpyShelter Personal Free – SpyShelter Personal Free baffles keyloggers while protecting your system and defeating capture of any data from your screen or clipboard. There’s also a paid Premium option.
  167. MyPrivateLine – MyPrivateLine provides disposable phone numbers that you can give out to anyone without worrying about revealing your identity or location. The disposable number forwards to one of your real numbers.

    Western Electric Company Princess phones. Green one is rotary dial, has hardwired handset cord, and dated November, 1973. Yellow one is Touch Tone dial, has a modular handset cord, and dated June, 1984. Courtesy of User:KansasCity, 15:30 24 February 2006

  168. KeePass – KeePass is a password manager, free and open source, that lets you keep all your passwords in a single database secured with a master key file.
  169. 1Password – The 1Password generator not only creates strong passwords for you but also stores them securely, recalling them into your browser at your command. Available for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android.
  170. Encrypting File System – Did you know Windows has its own file encryption utility? It’s called Encrypting File System (EFS), and unfortunately it’s available only in Professional, Ultimate, and Enterprise editions. It exists in the file right-click menu’s Properties, and it’s very easy to use.
  171. Vormetric Data Security Manager – Vormetric Data Security Manager is a piece of hardware that manages security for your server installations of Vormetric Encryption Expert Agents. It generates and distributes keys, and it can also provide encryption.
  172. Vasco Online Application Security – Vasco describes itself as “the authentication company,” and its active and passive authentication services will secure your online applications that handle sensitive financial and health-related data.

50 Best Law Enforcement Blogs of 2013

Crime news fills newspapers and dominates nightly news broadcasts, but these are not the only sources of relevant police information.  Too often, the perspective of enforcement officers is left by the wayside, as sensational crime stories focus on perpetrators and victims.  But police have a lot to offer beyond cleaning up other people’s messes.  In fact, many individual officers and some law enforcement agencies maintain blogs that keep interested readers informed about criminal justice, and offer recommendations for improving personal safety.  The following examples highlight a few of the interesting police blogs found on the World Wide Web.

  1. Think Different – Kristen Ziman is a Commander with the Aurora, IL Police Department, in charge of the Patrol Division.  She operates this blog as a personal outlet for some of her thoughts about criminal justice.  She carries credentials to back her police credibility, including a Criminal Justice Degree and a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice Management.  She has participated in numerous other training programs as well, and is a graduate of the prestigious FBI Academy.  Her work leading to her current position as Commander included stints with several divisions within the force.  The articles presented on her blog offer insight into criminal behavior, attempting to teach readers how to remain safe and avoid becoming victims.
  2. The Police Perspective – The introduction of this is blog is immediately engaging, comparing the positions of police officers to those of hated minorities.  The notion is used to illustrate that men and women in blue are somehow easier to judge harshly than regular citizens.  It is an interesting hypothesis that the blog’s author, Joel Shults, supports with first hand evidence.  He attributes the phenomenon to several societal conditions including, media coverage, power envy and the actions of hate groups targeting cops. Shults posts infrequently, but the thought-proving entries are worthwhile for the unusual perspective they provide.
    Photo by Tobyotter on Flickr

    Photo by Tobyotter on Flickr

  3. Second City Cop – As should be immediately apparent, this blog is maintained by a Chicago Police Officer.  At least it was, before he retired, so now it is a former police officer pulling the strings to inform readers about police issues in the Windy City.  The content is general commentary, but slanted toward Chicago happenings.  The author provides insight into problems facing the Chicago Police Department, devoting an entire section of the blog to his take on the Chicago force.  A recent article, for example, lambasted an attempt to cut the department budget by 10% next year.
  4. The Enforcer’s Notebook – The author of this blog voluntarily gives up his right to remain silent, instead offering musings about police work.  Stories convey the details unfolding at real police calls, each seasoned with the blogger’s first-hand police perspective.  They are presented sporadically, with no rhyme or reason, but the officer behind the content manages to post monthly or so.  The Enforcer is unapologetic about the content found on his site, inviting readers to get lost if they don’t like it.
  5. Officer “Smith”:  Thought From Behind the Badge – Officer Smith is a seasoned police enforcement agent with more than thirteen years on the job.  “Smith” is an alias, and he is known to work somewhere in California.  Aside from these tidbits, readers must simply take the content of his blog at face value.  Articles focus on issues arising during the course of service, ranging from ways the officer has helped civilians in the past, to notifications about laws on the California books that readers might not be familiar with.
  6. Officer Resource – This unique compendium of articles is different than many police blogs, which offer information about cases or policies.  This site is maintained for the officers themselves, by police enforcement officials who know where cops are coming from.  Secure forums provide places for law enforcement professionals to exchange information with other cops, where only officers are allowed to participate.  There is also a case law reference section provided for police officers visiting the site, so they can consult legal precedent for information about their own active cases.  Officer safety is another key concern of the blog administrators who are devoted to promoting true blue causes.  Investigation tools are also furnished to help officers clear cases, especially rookies seeking guidance from experienced officers.  The site serves as a conduit for public engagement where officers interact with citizens in positive ways.
  7. SGT Says – Run by a volunteer reserve police officer, this collection of articles shares stories taken from 35 years of police experience in public and private law enforcement.  Entries discuss shootings, riots, protests and real life accounts of what happens on police calls.  Common enforcement weapons are also discussed, including Tasers, batons, shotguns and handguns.  Discussions are frank and to the point, covering news stories and other social conditions through the eyes of an experienced law enforcement agent.  Practical information is also present, like a recent series of posts dealing with disaster preparedness.
  8. Motor Cop Blog – Motorcycle officers are a unique breed, bringing their two-wheeled perspective to this blog administered by a California motor officer.  Topics are drawn from the news, including recent analysis of the Zimmerman case and other high-profile criminal justice events.  The site advocates for law officers and looks at current events through the lens of working police officers.  Motor Cop also responds to questions from readers of the blog in a regular feature entitled “Ask MC”.  A recent response helped a reader understand Miranda rights and the role they play in criminal justice.
  9. A Police Wife – Spouses of law enforcement officers are represented here, benefitting from the targeted information presented at A Police Wife.  Blog entries follow news articles, commenting about those which impact wives of police officers.  Human interest posts, like a recent call for police patches to replace some lost by a child, provide lighter topics for readers.  Interested visitors to the site are invited to complete online polls and to participate in research studies.  Posts are somewhat sporadic, but there are also links to other blogs which update more frequently.
  10. Cop Thoughts – Provocative posts to this blog stimulate readers to look at everyday situations through the eyes of a police officer, fostering better civilian understanding of what law enforcement officers face every day on the job.  Pointed entries are directed at the public. Presented in conversational ways that inform readers about laws and the differences between police officers and regular citizens, the thoughts are not filtered or toned-down.  Sarcasm and irony are used by the officer/blogger to drive home points about how citizens can make the jobs of cops easier.  While the tone is not for everyone, some readers will experience “light bulb moments” as they read the content provided.
  11. Written on Her Heart – Maintained by the spouse of a police officer, articles presented here touch on a variety of issues impacting police wives.  The site is divided into several categories, many of which do not relate to police work.  The section called Police Wife collects all the posts dealing with issues overcome by law enforcement families.  Advice helps readers tackle common practical matters that impact police, like what to do with the kids when dad has to work overtime for a developing case, and how to communicate with your police officer husband.
  12. Discover Policing – Helping match law enforcement candidates with employment opportunities for officers is a prominent objective of this blog.  Weekly job posting are included as regular posts, enabling visitors to peruse nationwide job openings for law enforcement personnel.  In addition to job openings, articles presented on the site furnish in-depth looks at criminal justice, including a recent entry that followed a school resource officer as he performed daily duties associated with his liaison role.  Education and what it takes to land a good job as a cop are also discussed in recent posts, asking the question: “Do you need a criminal justice degree”?
    Photo by Robert Thivierge on Flickr

    Photo by Robert Thivierge on Flickr

  13. From Cop to Mom and the Words in Between – Kathleen A. Ryan is a retired police officer turned mother whose interests now lie primarily in writing and publishing.  She does maintain updates related to police work, and her novels reflect police themes gleaned from years on the job.  Posts are arranged in categories, including a section covering police-related articles.  The topics in the police section vary, taking some themes from prevailing headlines, but also looking into historical criminal justice concerns.
  14. Improving Police – This former police chief’s lifelong motivation has been to improve police and departments.  His own story is one of a patrol officer rising through the ranks to become chief of police.  What makes this blogger’s story unusual is that it occurred in just seven short years.  David Couper is a published author, whose book deals with the same subject matter presented on his blog.  His historical accounts of policing look at the development of enforcement agencies over time, with particular attention paid to the many missed opportunities that provided inroads for improving police departments and officers.
  15. 10-8 Double A – This personal blog is topically diverse, dragging readers along through the random thoughts of the site’s administrator.  Content explores criminal justice issues and provides links that can be used to access deeper material about issues presented in blog articles.  The site contains links to product reviews conducted by the blog owner, offering evaluations of police equipment and firearms.  Other articles pay tribute to fallen officers, naming them individually to honor their service as peace officers. Personal posts on the site seem authentic, sharing the feelings associated with responding to various disturbing crime calls.
  16. The Boogie Man is my Friend – This entertaining blog follows the life of an atypical former police officer, offering looks behind the scenes, as well as providing information for staying safer.  The unique perspective comes from the fact that the blogger is a female police officer, who is also older than most female law enforcement bloggers.  Her no holds barred approach does not mince words, providing uncensored looks at police work and what comes after retirement from the force. Momma Fargo, as the blogger is known has moved on to other things, but her interests in police work and firearms handling has not waned.
  17. A Cop’s Watch – Going beyond local law enforcement issues, this blog also discusses world affairs and politics.  In addition to content of this nature, regular posts speak to the personal interests of the blogger maintaining the site.  Tributes to fallen officers and other features honoring the blue code are included too.  National security interests are explored in-depth, including period reports about hotspots like Lebanon and Syria.  Legal cases are evaluated locally alongside national features about United States sovereignty.  Regular posts outline inconsistencies within the criminal justice system, challenging readers to figure out why they exist.
  18. Amherst Police Blog – This blog is an example of those maintained by law enforcement agencies, rather than individual bloggers with things to say about cops.  The site is maintained by the Amherst Massachusetts police department.  Entries look at police issues beyond what happens on the beat, focusing on other department activities like fundraisers and public service events.  Training programs and other opportunities for citizens to interact with officers are included in blog entries, which are posted several times each month.  Anti-drunk-driving campaigns and neighborhood crime watch efforts furnish cooperative efforts for local residents and police, strengthening the community bond between officers and local civilians.
  19. Cops Alive – Cops helping cops is the fundamental theme of this informational resource aimed at law enforcement professionals.  Strategies for successful careers as public servants are outlined alongside information about issues commonly impacting men and women in blue.  For example, a recent post discusses post-traumatic stress disorder and refers officers to resources helping them cope with PTSD.  Additional topics are widespread, including advice about tools and equipment used by police.  Guest posts expand on related topics, adding even greater diversity to the content found on the site.  A special section of the site is dedicated specifically to police news stories taken from the headlines.
  20. Suburban Cop – Entries to this blog cover current events related to police work.  Posts are updated several times annually, providing recaps of news items related to fugitives, criminal justice and legal system outcomes.  The site is maintained by a suburban law enforcement professional who welcomes the change after serving on the New York City police Department for 8 years.  His opinions about security, police matters, and prepping for disaster are also colored by his time serving in the United States Army Infantry, which includes a combat tour in Afghanistan.  He also furnishes product reviews for certain tactical equipment used by police on the job.
  21. Suddenly Cop Wife – Following the events in the life of a law enforcement spouse, this blog contains posts on a range of topics.  The articles presented are mostly personal opinions of the author, rather than hard law enforcement news.  Current events impacting police, and their wives, are explored in entertaining posts peppered with humor.  There are some news items featured, especially those impacting local police, which are interspersed with personal posts detailing regular daily living in a police family.  For additional news coverage, headlines are featured in a clickable sidebar that opens into a special section dedicated to headlines.
  22. The Badge Guys – Dedicated to security issues, this blog carries regular contributions from several experienced security professionals.  School and campus security, as well as the debates surrounding campus carry laws and other educational security concerns are on the front burner here.  Facilities security and emergency preparedness are also discussed, with particular attention paid to crime trends in these areas.  The “guys” behind the blog are men and women with various credentials related to law enforcement.  Greg Stephens, for example, is an expert on workplace security and armed response laws.  Julie Adcock, another contributor, is a former Florida Sherriff’s Department employee bringing on-the-job experience to her blog entries.
  23. The Lollipop Tree – Maintained by a dispatcher responsible for more than one Massachusetts town, this blog has been active since 2007.  Bringing her on the job experience to the internet, posts are updated several times monthly, containing lots of photographs and human-interest-type content.  As an EMS dispatcher, the blogger is inherently familiar with many aspects of police work, but the blog entries she maintains are not what would be considered hard criminal justice news.  Instead, the content is lighter, containing vivid imagery.
  24. OCSD Newsroom Headlines – As a service to the general population and a resource for law enforcement professionals, the Orange County Sherriff’s Department maintains this blog.  The content is centered around local issues, particularly developments within the department.  As an interface between the agency and its public, visitors have access to several helpful features.  Recruiting announcements for new officers are posted on the site as well as support staff positions for hire within the department.  Updates about special police initiatives like a Labor Day Anti-Drunk Driving effort are included in regular posts.  Staff announcements, like a recent article about some retiring police dogs are also provided by contributors. The blog is highly active, receiving several posts daily, which are archived for ongoing access.
  25. The Restless Sleep – Giving readers a deep look at the New York Cold Case Squad, contributors’ areas of expertise fall across a range of criminal justice and law enforcement disciplines.  Participants like Vito Spano, former director of the Squad, provide first-hand insight into what it takes to solve cold cases.  Pathologists and crime scene investigators contribute forensic input, and several active officers and detectives bring perspectives from the beat.  Recent articles explore missing persons cases and discuss evidence gathering techniques for unsolved homicides.
    Photo by nereocystis on Flickr

    Photo by nereocystis on Flickr

  26. Homicide Watch DC – The narrow subject matter of this police blog centers on Washington D.C. murders.  Driven by community support, the blog attempts to follow every DC murder from the crime through the conviction of the perpetrators.  Court documents and the original news stories covering events provide source material for the entries, as well as input provided by friends and family members of victims.  Social media is also employed to link witnesses, investigators, and media representatives to paint comprehensive pictures of District of Columbia homicides.
  27. Waiving Miranda – Here, a sex crimes detective offers inside information in regularly updated posts, which contain details about cases he worked on.  The site is divided into distinct categories, allowing readers to hone in on topics of interest to them.  The blog host writes fiction too, so some of the articles posted are chapters taken from his work.  In the sections about interrogation and other police work, he chronicles the experiences he had working cases and interviewing suspects.  Waiving Miranda’s title refers to the authors desire to be truthful about his police work, even if the content becomes more difficult for civilians to read comfortably.  Additional reflections are placed in the police commentary section, for general observations and law enforcement information.
  28. Industry Insights – Found on officer.com this blog contains entries from several regular contributors tied to law enforcement.  Blog entries discuss myriad police issues, ranging from officer safety to criminal justice legislation.  Some entries are lighter than others, each providing insight into law enforcement vocations.  Training methods and standards for law enforcement personal provide topics for regular posts, which also encompass wider issues of national importance. The blog area is only one feature of the site, which includes additional resources and links for police officers.
  29. Women in Law Enforcement – Police magazine maintains this blog devoted to unique law enforcement issues facing women employed by law agencies.  Recommendations for female readers include ways to land positions on squads they want, as well as input on how to handle pregnancy when you are a cop. One of the site’s primary contributors, Lt. Lynn Doucette, is a patrol supervisor for a Maine law enforcement agency who previously worked as an undercover investigator for the state.  Patricia Teinart also contributes regularly.  She is currently employed as a patrol officer in Texas, but she has previously worked in juvenile gang units and narcotics task forces.
  30. The Thinking Policeman:  A Former Police Officer’s Blog – A retired inspector posts here approximately one-half dozen times each month.  Topics include all manner of police related content, including general criminal justice commentary and observations about the way police work is conducted.  The unique UK perspective carries universal police themes, but also enlightens readers about international investigations and newsworthy events.  A recent entry discusses crime and punishment outcomes related to charges of rape, stimulating reflection on the issue.
  31. Duke’s Police Blotter – Daily posts from Duke keep readers informed about criminal developments across the country.  The blog leads with a regular feature called officer down, which contains entries about individual officers wounded in the line of duty.  The site administrator also offers to help with good causes raising awareness for police officers, and invites readers to submit information about events.  News stories from publications like the Chicago Tribune are put under the microscope at Duke’s to help readers understand what is happening in major U.S. cities.  Entries concentrate on Illinois criminal justice, but this is not an exclusive blog for any particular region.  Public policy is analyzed, especially as it relates to police pensions and other law enforcement concerns.
  32. Crime File News – A former Chicago Police Officer maintains this blog, and several others, concerned with law enforcement issues and police work.  The blogger behind the content is a private investigator now, utilizing skills learned in his former role as a policeman.  Posts cover current events related to law enforcement, as well as wide-angle national political issues.  The blogger has strong viewpoints, which he expresses unapologetically, providing solid supporting facts and details.  Recent stories take issue with Obama administration policy, pointing to inconsistencies between what the Commander in Chief says and what he ultimately does.
  33. The Things Worth Believing In – Hosted by a police lieutenant, this blog presents opinions and reflections related to the job – but not always.  The author maintains a philosophical tone throughout most of the site’s content, keeping a certain distance between himself and the reader.  Self-defense and security provide themes for many articles contained on the site, some with instructional videos attached.  The site administrator, a former SWAT enforcement officer, evaluates tactical equipment, including firearms and accessories.  Practical training sequences are also provided, instructing viewers about proper gun handling techniques and strategic behavior.  One recent post advocates active training, rather than passive education, for mastering self-defense and personal safety techniques.
  34. Leo Affairs – Officers accused of wrongdoing or otherwise deprived of their rights need outlets to help them respond to charges.  This blog started in that capacity, providing a forum for preserving officers’ rights.  The site has grown, however, to include additional content for police officers, like a message board area where officers can seek and discuss information without fear of retribution.  The site contains information designed for officers with questions, including resources about internal affairs, policeman’s bill of rights, whistle-blower laws and public corruption.
  35. DeKalb Officers Speak – This site is for officers to express themselves about issues related to their employment as law enforcement officials in DeKalb County.  Families and friends of local cops are also invited to participate, providing a venue for their discussions about law enforcement life.  News stories are analyzed in the blog too, providing another side to stories that sometimes get manipulated by the press.  An interesting feature of the site is its “Crime Tracker”, which allows users to see first-hand where the local crimes are being committed.  The Tracker places icons at the site of each crime, making trends very easy to see.
  36. 24X7 – This North American police blog operates under a slightly different premise than others.  The author is a technology minded police official that understands many interactions with police are not positive ones for citizens.  Victims are distraught when they interact with cops, and other face-time with police officers is often garnered because an individual has committed a crime.  The author here is driven by the desire to create a forum of information for civilians to access on their own time, which helps them understand what police are up to as they perform their jobs.  Daily activities from the streets are shared in the blog’s section entitled “Shift Diaries”, providing a good starting point for interested readers seeking a snapshot of police work.
    Photo by Robert Thivierge on Flickr

    Photo by Robert Thivierge on Flickr

  37. Police Issues – Maintained by Julius Wachtel, Police Issues is designed as a resource for law enforcement professionals, but it also serves educators and students of criminal justice.  Wachtel, who contributes most of the original content present on the site, has nearly twenty five years on the job in various law enforcement roles.  He spent 23 years as an ATF agent and supervisor, before retiring in 1998.  His case work was primarily in the areas of gun trafficking and bombing investigations.  In addition to blogging about police issues, he is a criminal justice consultant and lecturer on the subject.  He is also a published author, penning a book about Stalin last year.
  38. The Police Law Blog – Maintained by lawyers, for police officers, this resource provides legal information for cops.  Featured articles report news headlines, which are analyzed for the ways they impact police. Other entries support rights for law enforcement professionals, offering case studies gleaned from the courts.  The blog is updated sporadically, but the dense legal information contained in each post is significant, despite being scarce.
  39. Official Blog of the International Association of Chiefs of Police – Rank and file officers are not the only law enforcement officials seeking to be heard on the World Wide Web.  Chiefs of Police have their voice too, provided in part by the official IACP blog.  Blog posts follow industry conferences and events, furnishing announcements about important happenings as well as reporting about what occurs at the meet-ups.  Another important facet of the organization is bringing law enforcement agencies together to work on issues jointly.  For example, recent posts highlight multi-jurisdictional efforts to curb the number of highway accidents on Interstate 80.
  40. Anaheim Police Department Blog – The lead story recently, about a gun buy-back program implemented by the Anaheim Department is typical of the content found here.  The program netted 100 guns for which police gave out $14,000 as incentives to participate.  Other special events and police directives are reported on the site, providing access for local citizens seeking updates.  Anaheim residents are encouraged to take active roles in their own safety, by utilizing three distinct police department programs.  Neighborhood Watch is a widespread effort to bring neighbors together against crime.  In addition to this service, the department operates a Citizen’s Police Academy and a Cops for Kids program.
  41. Social Media Beat – As social media becomes more prevalent in society, it impacts the way law enforcement officials do their jobs.  The phenomenon presents opportunities, like enhanced communication abilities and rapid outlets for disseminating information.  But new development within social media channels also present challenges for police, leading to device thefts and new ways for criminals to exploit technology.  This blog, maintained by the IACP Center for Social Media, keeps officers and citizens up to speed about social media’s role in public safety.  Recent blog headlines state the importance of transparency in law enforcement, which can be reinforced using social media.
  42. Milwaukee Police News – Brew city police developments are covered by this news blog, which has an appealing modern design.  The site is a direct initiative from the Department to keep Milwaukee area residents informed about criminal activity in the city.   “The Source” section isolates individual cases, providing status updates about police investigations, arrests and other crime fighting efforts.  The city’s Chief of Police is featured prominently on the site, which also includes a section dedicated to Milwaukee’s most wanted criminals.  Posts also call out officers responsible for acts of heroism while conducting themselves on the streets.
  43. South Bend Police Blog – This official blog of the South Bend Police Department is not as active as some other metropolitan blogs, but the information presented provides a valuable resource for local residents.  Practical lessons are featured in some posts, including a recent discussion about excessive speed and hydroplaning on wet roads.  Additional alerts inform citizens about ongoing crimes in the area.  One such computer hoax provided the topic for a recent article included on the site.  Timely postings about specific regulations and statutes give guidelines for special conditions like fireworks use and other seasonal concerns.  The blog also maintains an “ask a cop” feature, allowing users to pose specific questions to members of the force.  Responses are archived, creating an ongoing resource.
  44. Santa Cruz Police Department – The Santa Cruz Police Department blog shares developments about crimes and perpetrators, including crystal clear images of bad guys taken off the streets.  Reports of attempted crimes are also included, reinforcing the prowess of the department in heading crimes off before they actually occur.  The blog also honors former members of the force who pass away in retirement, remembering them with tribute articles and photos from their time with the force.  Follow-up posting show how cases are resolved, including initial court dispositions for arrested criminals.  Property is also accounted for, especially when it is successfully recovered for victims.
  45. Law Enforcement Corruption – When the good guys become bad guys, this blog stands at the ready to hold them accountable for their misdeeds. In fact, a prominent banner located at the top of the page provides a clickable link for reporting police corruption.  The macro view of police corruption is presented on the blog, with analysis of global corruption trends, but articles also zero-in on specific regional cases, like a recent lawsuit filed by a Newport Beach police officer ostracized on the job for reporting inappropriate conduct.  Corruption investigations are also followed, providing information about outcomes for corrupt police.
  46. Police-Led Intelligence – Coverage provided here is wide in scope, including national security intelligence information as well as articles about local policing efforts.  The content is deeper than the boots on the ground type blogs maintained by local officers, including analysis of advanced investigative techniques and intelligence gathering methods. The blog is maintained by Dave Henderson and Nick Selby.  Mr. Selby is a law technology expert well-versed in information security and other modern law enforcement areas.
  47. United States Park Police Press Room – The United States Park Police carry a proud tradition as one of the oldest law enforcement agencies in the U.S.   They are one of the only agencies with state and federal powers, operating primarily in Washington D.C., San Francisco and New York City.  Monthly posts to the official blog maintained by the agency recap department events, chronicling participation in special policing efforts.  Park police assigned to Washington D.C. play large roles in policing public monuments and area parks.  The Criminal Investigation Branch of the Park Police uses the blog to enlist public support solving cases, requesting information from potential witnesses and citizens with knowledge of crimes.
    Photo by cwwycoff1 on Flickr

    Photo by cwwycoff1 on Flickr

  48. Chief Brian Miller – Hammond, Indiana Police Chief Brian Miller maintains an active blog informing citizens about crime eradication efforts and other department developments.  Recent posts highlight multiple prostitution stings conducted by the department in recent months.  In some cases, female decoys lured potential customers into the waiting cuffs of Hammond cops, while other efforts were carried out using phony customers that were approached by working girls.  The detailed information presented by Chief Miller is bound to have an additional deterrent impact, listing each person arrested and including their photos on his blog.
  49. Arcadia Police Department News and Information Blog – The official blog of this California police department focuses on reporting developments surrounding the agency.  The blog is maintained by Tom LeVeque, who incorporates a number of helpful features into the resource.  Crime-mapping, for instance, visually illustrates exactly where crimes are occurring, providing detailed information for concerned local residents.  Notifications about road closures and construction projects also make their way into blog entries, furnishing alternate routes and project timelines.  Tips for staying safe are also provided, like common-sense warnings that open windows at ground level invite criminals in.  Breaking news is also posted to the blog, as developing crimes unfold.
  50. Police Brutality (and atrocity) Blog – This watchdog resource highlights cases in which police officers appear to act inappropriately toward suspects and others.  One recent article highlights the tragic death of a 95 year old man who police shot with a bean bag.  Accountability is a prevalent theme among blog posts here, reflecting the site organizers’ call for investigations of suspicious incidents involving death and injury to suspects.  As Taser use becomes more widespread, articles on the Brutality Blog involving Taser-related death are also growing in numbers.

50 Top Firearm Blogs of 2013

Gun laws are the subject of ongoing analysis nationally and in individual states, where most United States citizens have the right to apply for concealed carry permits.  Crime and violence take center stage on the evening news though, so arguments about guns are not going away.  To support their positions, passionate gun enthusiasts put forth opinions about safety and constitutional rights, while opponents point to growing numbers of gun crimes resulting in harm to children.  Wherever they fall on the gun control spectrum, people are engaged in spirited discussions about gun ownership, concealed carry laws and criminal justice outcomes for perpetrators using guns.  In addition to activists, there are also large numbers of firearm hobbyists who simply use the World Wide Web to share information and ideas about guns. The following examples include those typical of the gun and firearm blogs driving today’s political debates, as well as recreational blogs devoted to firearms.

Photo by Greta Caresini on Flickr

Photo by Greta Caresini on Flickr

  1. The Firearm Blog – Committed to firearms, rather than politics, this site includes several daily postings about guns.  The informational resource is centered on firearms and accessories, providing reviews and information about new products.  Home and personal defense products are also discussed, illuminating equipment and tactics for the best individual defense.  Ammunition, custom firearms and auctions where guns are sold also draw significant coverage from writers on The Firearm Blog.
  2. Gun Nuts Media – People are interested in guns for different reasons.  Some are curious, with little experience handling firearms, while others are confident with their knowledge of guns.  But the often overlooked reality is that people use guns recreationally, for hunting and competitions too.  Gun Nuts Media is devoted to firearm sports like target shooting and the equipment sportsmen use to participate.  Product reviews for rifles and target guns are included in regular posts, as well as historical looks at important firearms and events in the world of shooting sports.  Articles also look at prevailing gun news, providing analysis for readers interested in the legal side of gun ownership.
  3. 30 Cal Gal – Guns have a masculine association that sometimes brings men to mind when firearms are considered, but this blog puts to rest any sexist leanings tied to weapons.  The blog is maintained by a competitive long range shooter named Anette Wachter, who also happens to be female.  She carries a great deal of credibility in the sport, as a member of the United States Rifle Team and an NRA record holder shooting from 300 yards.  She competes in tactical rifle events as well as those involving multiple guns.  Her blog chronicles her adventures in the sport, inviting readers to accompany her through competitions via her regular blog entries.
  4. GunPundit – The name of this blog gives clues to its content, which is less about sporting issues and more about politics.  Posts are recaps of items taken from the news, with personal commentary provided by authors whose positions are decidedly pro-gun.  Legislative stories from around the country, including Colorado’s recent recall initiative and news about a Wisconsin gun manufacturer are supplemented with gun-related product announcements and human interest stories about firearms.
  5. The Weapon Blog – There is something here for everyone interested in guns, whether for sporting purposes or as a social issue worthy of exploration.  Recent articles include coverage of constitutional developments in the gun control argument, following Justice Scalia through recent comments he made about the future of gun laws.  Obama administration policies are also explored, with an eye toward preserving gun rights for Americans.  The lighter side of firearms is also enjoyed from a hobbyist standpoint, including a recent feature highlighting a new brand of vodka that is marketed in a machine gun shaped bottles.  The site demonstrates its commitment to Constitutional law by including links to documents drafted by the founding fathers.
  6. View From the Porch – VFP is a multi-faceted site reflecting the interests of the administrator, which run toward bikes and guns.  Articles look at social issues as they emerge in the news, providing analysis of how they mesh with civil rights and gun laws.  The blog is maintained by an Indiana woman who is a gun enthusiast and target shooting hobbyist.  Her entries are regular, and not always about guns, but there are tidbits throughout that relate to firearms and social policies about them.  The site has been active for 8 years, chronicling developments in gun culture and taking jabs at the Obama administration.
  7. Vuurwapen Blog – This highly technical blog looks at practical issues related to gun ownership and maintenance as well as self-defense equipment and methods.  Recent product reviews include an expanded analysis of several commercially available oils and lubricants for firearms.  The site administrator supports his opinions with examples from the field, as he does in all of the reviews and product evaluations found on the site.  The technical information has been offered here since 2009, and supports a training course offered by the author.  First-aid and other related topics are explored alongside firearms and gun training.
  8. Traction Control – Traction is a news blog not entirely devoted to firearms, but guns and related issues make their ways into the content regularly.  Articles cover gun-control events like rallies and speeches, informing readers about actual outcomes.  Gun-related security updates, including news from high-profile court cases, are included alongside posts about militias and personal defense.  The opinions expressed seem to support the call for gun rights, often taking issue with Obama administration actions and other gun control initiatives.
  9. The AnarchAngel – This security blog provides information and advice about personal and home security, including entries about firearms and their defensive uses.  The site also contains recommendations about computer security and ways to protect personal information.  The commentary is not organized in a particular order, and posts are interrupted periodically by random photographs and other musings of the authors.  There is factual evidence presented to back-up most of the claims made by Chris Byrne, the blog’s administrator.
  10. The Next Chapter – The site’s title refers to the author’s retirement, which prompted him to share his thoughts in blog entries.  The site maintains an extensive list of archived entries, each dedicated to a particular type of firearm.  The entries are thoughtfully written from a first-hand perspective, showing the user’s familiarity with the weapons he evaluates. Lots of concealed carry weapons are reviewed, as well as holsters and accessories for safe and effective gun safety management.  Some historical weapons are included in the commentary, which also stimulates readers to consider the future of personal security.  Recent entries also dissect Obama administration policy, especially as it relates to criminal justice and gun control. 
    Photo by Kevin Dooley on Flickr

    Photo by Kevin Dooley on Flickr

  11. Advanced Armament Blog – The blog entries here assume readers have a better-than-average knowledge of firearms, including entries dedicated to modifications that can be made to stock weapons in order to make them more lethal or better handlers.  Military style tactical weapons seem to be featured most prominently in posts, which also look at accessories like silencers, scopes and night vision equipment.  Cutting edge weaponry and gunsmithing techniques provide frequent blog topics at Advanced Armament, but new product releases and stories about killing wild game with tactical guns are also regular features.
  12. Day at the Range – The information contained here focuses on the machinery, rather than the thought-provoking political discourse present on other blogs.  The site administrator is more interested in sharing practical information with gun owners, including recall information and updates about new product releases.  Ammunition and other gun accessories are also evaluated in posts that feature new loads and discuss venerable stalwarts like the .44 Remington magnum.  Industry news from firearm manufacturing circles keeps readers on the cutting edge of emerging gun technology, and informs gun enthusiasts about research and development into the next great weapons.  Recent reviews include in depth looks at revolvers and semi-automatic handguns.
  13. Armed and Safe – There is no question about the intentions of these blog organizers, who place their mission statement front-and-center.  Gun rights advocacy is at the heart of the site, with many blog entries featuring themes about gun control.  The blog seeks to dispel myths about guns, supporting American citizens’ fundamental rights to carry guns for protection.  Regular updates about changes to individual state concealed carry laws keep readers informed about application requirements and legal ramifications of concealed carry.  Legislative activities in the House of Representatives and Senate are followed closely in blog entries, as well Obama administration policies toward firearms.
  14. Learn About Guns – Readers are faced with volumes of information about guns as they navigate this legal-oriented blog.  The organizers present information from a gun rights perspective, supporting Constitutional rights and legal self-defense.  The blog sets out to shatter myths about gun crime, by providing examples of lawlessness occurring without guns.  Facts are presented statistically, to reinforce the tales of successful self-defense conveyed on the site.  Other myths about gun sellers and patrons of gun stores are challenged from the perspective of traditionally maligned groups, like minorities.  Basic gun knowledge is present in abundance, alongside reviews of firearms and related accessories.  Links to pro-gun articles help support the advocacy endorsed by the site.
  15. Defense Review – The contact contained here might fly over the heads of casual readers without much previous firearm exposure.  Blog entries detail new equipment releases and provide up to date information about product accessories that are available for modern firearms.  Guns are reviewed, including feedback returned directly from the range.  Tactical equipment including survival gear and other high-tech attire are also put under the microscope in product reviews testing their functional performance.  Many of the items featured are very specific to the weapons they are used with, so not every article is light reading.
  16. Good Hill Press – Like many gun rights blogs, this site takes up conservative causes alongside the call for preserving fundamental constitutional rights.  The wide-angle view presented includes analysis of national policy issues and legal developments related to national gun control and criminal justice.  Recent posts discuss whether or not gun registration automatically opens the door to discrimination against gun owners and concealed carry applicants.  National stories also include features about sovereign security, like exploration of weapons of mass destruction and other political hot-button issues.
  17. Shall Not Be Questioned – The backdrop for this blog is constitutional law and the fundamental right to defend oneself.  The information provided by bloggers looks at laws currently on the books and the Obama administration’s push to impose greater gun control on American firearm owners.  Close scrutiny is paid to incremental developments, which contributors to this site feel are only the beginnings of total gun confiscation.   Whether readers agree with the possibility or not, the legal information provides food for thought and a refresher course in constitutional politics.
  18. Gunner’s Journal – Entries pay homage to the Model 1911, calling it America’s first handgun.  The gunner behind the site is a former police officer who worked more than twenty-five years on the job.  The blog bundles several of his interests into a single outlet for opinions and information.  Shooting, history and computing capture the interests of the retired cop turned blogger, who is also a certified firearms instructor.  Posts are not made frequently, but there are archived information present detailing previous posts, which includes gun reviews and discussions about accessories and related topics.
  19. Guns, Holsters and Gear – Gun enthusiasts are quick to share information about gun successes and failures, commenting on newly released weapons and accessories.   The material contained in this blog is a compendium of such information, evaluating guns and equipment as they find their ways to the market.  While the blog’s title covers three of the biggest concerns for gun lovers, the entries go beyond these three mainstays, providing reviews and information about other gun related equipment too.  Cleaning kits and ammunition are put to the test by reviewers, who share their opinions about value and efficacy of gun products.  Tactical arms and gunsmithing modifications are also discussed in recent posts.
  20. NRA Blog – Everyone captivated by an interest in firearms or by the laws surrounding gun control and concealed carry eligibility finds something of interest in the NRA blog.  The powerful organization is at the center of heated national debates about guns, but NRA members are also sportsmen and women interested in news about guns.  The blog shows the reach of the organization, highlighting contests and philanthropic efforts of the group.  Law enforcement sections, and other blogs maintained strictly for hunters and sportsmen round-out the articles present, including those dedicated to youth education and firearms training for hunting-aged teens.
  21. An NC Gun Blog – Ordinary citizens are eager to spread news and information about guns.  This blog is maintained by a hobbyist who is expanding his own understanding of firearms and sharing his revelations along the way.  Many of the posts challenge the gun control mentality, favoring constitutional protection instead.  The site is based in North Carolina, so content includes full coverage of state gun bills and legislative proposals.  Links are also present, to other blogs offering opinions and information about guns.  Articles tackle sensitive gun subjects like school security and background checks, stimulating active responses from blog readers.
  22. All Nine Yards – The host of this blog vows to hold nothing back, and when it comes to commentary about gun laws the site doesn’t mince words.  Regular posts keep tabs on gun legislation in states and in Congress.  Open carry, concealed carry and other legal issues are tracked through the court system, providing updates about changing gun laws.  The site also conveys news of gun recalls and other news from manufacturers about new releases and accessories.  Recent posts also touch on personal security topics like keeping your home safe and avoiding becoming a carjacking victim.
  23. Another Gun Blog – Legal cases and details about gun legislation are shared here by a law clerk who is a self-described gun nut.  Self-defense laws and other weapons-related controversies are followed with regular posts flavored with the host’s legal perspective.  Additional information about stand your ground laws and other state initiatives related to guns and personal defense are shared to keep readers informed about what is happening around the country, especially the East coast.  Equipment is also put under the microscope, with pictures and reviews of handguns.  Supreme Court cases and famous historical figures are quoted to support articles favoring constitutional rights.
  24. A Girl and Her Gun – This blog represents grass roots gun enthusiasm to show how firearms are integrated into the regular daily life of a female gun owner.  Posts are not all about guns, containing personal stories and articles from guest, but there is a common thread present throughout the content found here:  Personal responsibility.  The underlying mantra behind the site is to be prepared, regardless of your station in life.  In addition to firearms, the blogger advocates proficiency in other self-defense methods like hand-to-hand combat and using knives.  Stories about other gun enthusiasts and inspirational accounts of successful self-defense round out the articles posted on the site.
    Photo by Chris Gladis on Flickr

    Photo by Chris Gladis on Flickr

  25. God, Gals, Guns, Grub – Stories from the shooting range provide details about firearms handling, cleaning, and safe storage.  The organizers of this blog are committed to keeping citizens safe by sharing information about personal protection with guns.  Posts are filled with tips and instructive details about handling guns in real situations, as well as practicing with them at the range.  Equipment updates about guns, magazines, grips and other firearms accessories are also included in regular posts, featuring specs and test results for various pieces of equipment.
  26. Borepatch – Personal reflections about firearms and related issues furnish most of the content of this blog, but it is a personal journal more than it is a hard gun-news resource.  The author is a dedicated gun rights advocate, passing common-sense observations on to readers.  Stories detailing things people encounter in regular situations are dissected for their political and sociological implications, in an approachable and straightforward way.  Internet security information and safe firearms handling techniques are shared free of charge, keeping readers up to speed in both areas.
  27. Cocked and Loaded – The gun-rights message is heard loud and clear in posts contained within this conservative political blog.  While the politics behind the site are one-sided, the information contained in posts is dedicated primarily to the facts about firearms. Articles include updates about equipment and personal endorsements from contributors attesting to the quality of certain firearms.  Advice includes entries about which guns are the most important to own for particular situations and why.  Prepping for social unrest and other practical gun-related discussions include embedded YouTube videos detailing strategies for staying safe in society.  Larger security issues are also contemplated in features about national policies.
  28. Everyday No Days Off – Wide-ranging gun discussions are centered on equipment and laws influencing public opinion about firearms.  Open carry laws as well as concealed carry legislation are covered in recent posts, which advocate for gun rights. Combat news is also included in some posts, outlining developments in current military hotspots like Afghanistan and Syria.  Articles follow gun stories through the news cycle, offering updates about gun charges and other developments about people’s experiences with firearms.  Posts are supplemented with videos and photos appealing to gun enthusiasts, including recent entries containing footage of gunners blasting away at inanimate objects.
  29. From the Barrel of a Gun – The content here represents another personal blog about guns, offering insight and opinions from gun enthusiast contributors.  Commentary is not limited to firearms, instead tackling conservative topics that fall across the legislative spectrum.  Updates about state laws and changes to federal policy are examined with an eye toward their impacts on constitutional gun rights.  Practical tips about gun ownership are also included, like the four cardinal rules of gun handling and other useful information.  Timely posts draw headline news into the discussion, providing commentary about social and political milestones.
  30. Gun Free Zone – Despite a title that might lead readers down the wrong path, this blog is not an anti-gun destination.  On the contrary, the administrator chose the name to be ironic in his advocacy for constitutional gun rights and preserving each American citizen’s position to defend him or herself.  The pro-rights blog follows the development of a man who once believed guns were not necessary pieces of protective equipment.  As his viewpoints develop, readers are invited to share his posts and offer comments.  News stories involving guns are shared by the author, who looks for ways gun violence can be avoided.
  31. Newbie Shooter – Gun news and commentary is provided here by a relative newcomer to the shooting debate.  Contributing authors discuss ongoing issues within the gun-control camp, exposing inconsistencies with the arguments control advocates put-forth.  In addition to getting behind gun rights initiatives, the author supplies updates about court cases and gun related outcomes within the legal system.  In one recent post, he lists the contact information for key legislators involved in gun control debate, encouraging readers to make their pro-gun opinions known to elected officials.  The Newbie behind the blog wants to support others who are just getting familiar with firearms, even offering to take people to the gun range to try shooting.
  32. No Lawyers, Only Guns and Money – The organizer of this blog borrows lyrics from a popular Warren Zevon some to stimulate interest in his site.  Any news with a firearm component is fair game for the site, whether centered on legal issues or weaponry itself.  Recent posts discuss the shortage of ammunition, illustrating that it is an international phenomenon rather than one only impacting United States gun owners.  The series of posts includes video footage provided by ammunition manufacturers showing the steps they are taking to alleviate the ammunition problem and continue meeting demand.
  33. The Truth about Guns – Gun rights and self-defense are explored here with posts keeping tabs on legislative developments and gun stories in the press.  As news developments are followed, contributors offer opinions about how cases and bills are being handles.  Questions are posed hypothetically, to dial in potential solutions to ongoing problems of gun violence and personal security.  Recent posts ask pressing questions about society and guns, like:  “Should Starbucks employees be allowed to carry guns?”  Robert Farrago, who maintains the blog, also publishes practical self-defense tips and recommendations for steering clear of criminals.
  34. Gun Noob Blog – The information shared by contributors to this blog is designed for shooters in the novice to intermediate categories.  Gun reviews are abundant, with particular attention paid to handguns used for personal protection.  Reviews focus on whether particular guns are good choices as first weapons, rather than attesting to their general usability.  Safety standards for handling guns and general firearms information are maintained in another section of the blog, providing solid answers for beginners confused by the breadth of information (sometimes conflicting) about guns found on the internet.
  35. – This gun-friendly blog is maintained by a 22 year Navy veteran with an interest in firearms and gun laws.  The name references the fact that most of the blog entries are contributed by the female site owner, who is a self-described tomboy.  Information contained on the site delves deeply into gun rights issues with personal stories and updates about pending legislation.  Readers, especially women, appreciate the series of links provided for other gun=related sites maintained by female gun enthusiasts.  Lil Chantilly, the woman operating the blog is a contributor to other online gun resources as well.
  36. We Like Shooting – This resource is dedicated to all aspects of firearms and shooting, with particular attention going to equipment reviews and practical guides for becoming better shooters.  Legal developments and sociology of gun culture is also discussed, but the bread and butter areas of the site are devoted to equipment reviews and other practical tips.  Survival methods and tactical considerations are also abundant, offering proven strategies from qualified contributors.  Posts are arranged in accessible sections, allowing readers to target specific information, and the content addresses a wide range of experience levels among enthusiasts. Recent posts in the tips section provide opinions about what might be the best carry gun for women, as well as an entry describing 4 basic shooting rules.
  37. Nobody Asked Me – Contributions made here are homespun offerings stemming from the personal experiences of the site’s administrator. A recent entry, for example, chronicles his own exploration of three different ammunition rounds.  The information provided is first-0hand, from experiments conducted at the range.  The author enlists the help of additional reviewers, who accompany him on research trips.  The blog’s owner, W. Emerson Wright is a retired Navy pilot with interests in writing and shooting, combined here in his informative personal blog.
  38. Black Man with a Gun – Kenn Blanchard maintains this blog, with leanings toward preserving gun rights.  Reverend Blanchard is an author and broadcaster, as well as being a counselor to children and a leading gun rights activists for more than twenty years.  He has testified before Congress about gun laws, as well as appearing in several state legislative houses lobbying for gun rights and constitutional protection.  As a man of color, Reverend Blanchard is particularly interested in curbing gun laws seen as racist.  To that end, he has been a regular contributor to documentaries and broadcasts a regular podcast that has been downloaded over one million time to date.
    Photo by Pal Joakim Olsen on Flickr

    Photo by Pal Joakim Olsen on Flickr

  39. Loose Rounds – This technical blog speaks to gun enthusiasts with technical updates about guns and equipment.  Articles include straight-up reviews as well as product release information issued by manufacturers.  The blog is broken into sections containing targeted discussions about survival, personal safety, and firearm maintenance.  Editorial opinions are also shared by contributors passionate about gun causes.  Extensive comparisons are provided, keeping readers ahead of firearms developments, and alerting gun owners to recalls and other manufacturer news.  A recent pot discusses the stopping power of various handguns, putting forth unique arguments about the wounding power and effectiveness of certain guns.
  40. The Spent Round – This blog contains general information about firearms, including commentary about gun laws and education.  Recent posts discuss state legislation pertaining to gun control, as well as outlining the findings of a Harvard study linking gun control to no reductions in violent crime.  After limited exposure to guns during his youth, the site administrator was away from them until 2012, when he reintroduced shooting into his repertoire of interests.  His site features an interesting section defining anti-gun terms for readers unfamiliar with the argument. 
  41. Armory Blog – All things related to firearms are addressed by equipment-oriented blog entries found on the Armory Blog.  New guns and accessories are placed under the microscope for evaluations by experienced handlers, but novice viewpoints are welcomed too.  Recent guest posts include a primer about proper gun storage tips for beginners.  News, reviews and opinions take the form of practical commentary, alerting readers about new products and gun-related services.  Gear reviews focus on where deals can be found purchasing the latest and greatest gun accessories and firearms.
  42. The Gun Wire – Blog posts on The Gun Wire come in the form of YouTube videos, which include lots of footage taken at gun ranges.  The idea is to present first-hand verification about the performance of certain firearms.  Entertainment value is high in some videos, when enthusiasts take powerful handguns to range to shoot at watermelons and other dramatic targets.  On the site’s home page, readers can easily access links to news stories that go hand in hand with postings found in the blog.  The archived section of the site provides opportunities to click on historical dates to see exactly what the gun headlines were for specific dates in history.
  43. Romeo Tango Bravo – Reviews of firearms and accessories are conducted for interested readers, including those that look at newly released and even pending releases in the firearms category.  Guns are broken down into categories, like bolt-action, semi-automatic and other classifications before being reviewed.  Recent comparisons posted on the site contrast several left handed guns available for sale, providing handling details and product specifications.  The Rugar American Rifle, a newly released rimfire gun, was the site’s featured review recently, offering a wealth of information about the new gun.  Authors and firearms experts are invited to contact blog administrators about providing reviews and guest posts for the site.
  44. Armed Candy – Another resource with content provided primarily by women who enjoy guns, this blog covers wide-ranging topics that emphasize women’s role in gun culture.  In fact, the site administrator works with other female gun bloggers to strengthen their message. While the content on the site is varied, there is an emphasis placed on information helping shooters become more accurate and consistent with firearm performance.  Fun features, like a daily “whatsit”, challenging readers to identify an odd object, add a lighthearted feel that helps break-up the dense technical content associated with guns and ammunition.
  45. Guns and Ammo Blog – This perennial force in the firearms publishing industry provides gun news through its online blog channel.  Posts cover breaking news in the firearms industry, including first looks at new guns and accessories.  Reviews are also conducted at the range, complete with footage showing exactly how guns perform there.  Personal protection is the main gist of the content contained here, but articles cover just about anything related to firearms.  Television and Hollywood connections are not overlooked, with features about TV shows like Sons of Guns and analysis of weapons used in movies like World War Z.
  46. Massad Ayoob on Guns – This blog is maintained by a famous personal defense expert with experience handling guns.  The analysis is deeper than many online resources, because Mr. Ayoob takes the time to expand his points over the course of several articles contained in series’.  His gun blog is featured on a site containing related information about survival and alternative lifestyles.  A recent series of posts by Mr. Ayoob looks at the far-reaching implications of the George Zimmerman verdict and the potential ramifications associated with the not-guilty outcome.  Gun types are also compared to determine which models are most effective under given circumstances.
    Photo by Iqbal Osman on Flickr

    Photo by Iqbal Osman on Flickr

  47. Pistol Training – When handled by untrained civilians, handguns can be more dangerous to their owners than they are to criminals.  Pistol Training offers insight into weapons handling that centers around safe storage and interaction with concealed carry handguns.  Guns and accessories are evaluated as they come to market, featuring expert analysis about features and design enhancements they contain.  In addition to costs and performance measures, advice is offered about situations in which particular guns would be found most effective. Videos, some taken at gun ranges, illustrate the concepts discussed in articles posted to the site, including correct positioning and movement for accurate firing.
  48. Walls of the City – As is the case with many passionate gun blogs, information posted here is not exclusively devoted to firearms.   Many entries are concerned with civil liberties issues and other societal trends worth commenting on.  But gun content is present for enthusiasts, some of which is classified under the “reviews” section of the blog archives, where individual firearms are evaluated for effectiveness.  The section is not limited to guns themselves, but also includes reviews of holsters, sites, handgun grips, and a host of other accessories coveted by gun lovers visiting the site.  Other blog sections include general posts, and those not necessarily linked to guns.
  49. My Gun Culture – In addition to shooting tips and basic information about firearms handling, entries provide reviews of guns and shooting products.  Reviews are broken into sections, each dealing with an accessory like holsters, cases, scopes and so on.  Ammunition and attire are also analyzed, to provide up to date information about available, and effective, products. The site’s owner, Tom McHale offers his own insight, flavored by a career as a marketing specialist, on prevailing topics like gun control, concealed carry laws, self-defense and just plain old sport shooting.
  50. The Gun Shots – This resource serves as the online mouthpiece for Outdoor Life magazine.  Practical articles are presented, covering a wide range of topics, from proper shooting posture to suitable gun recommendations.  A recent post, for instance, advocates for the use of 20-gauge shotguns as personal home defense weapons rather than the 12-gauge guns generally recommended for the purpose.  News from around the gun manufacturing industry is highlighted too, including news about companies moving their facilities and releasing new products.  Articles clearly favor gun rights, addressing readers from the sportsman crowd who are most likely to be proponents of constitutional gun rights.


50 Best Criminal Justice Blogs of 2013

Staying on top of the news involves local awareness, but looking beyond your neighborhood at trends around the country – even the world, gives you a better understanding of the criminal justice system and what it takes to protect yourself in modern society.  Luckily there is a lot of help available across the World Wide Web, where countless bloggers take to their keyboards to provide unique perspectives on crime and punishment.  There are so many criminal justice angles to study, recognizing good information is not always easy for Web surfers.  The following blogs provide solid, thought-provoking content for criminal justice enthusiasts, students conducting research, and citizens keeping tabs on the legal system.The Department of Justice

  1. The Justice Blog – Going right to the source, The United States Federal Government, allows readers to stay informed about legal developments occurring at the federal level.  The official Department of Justice Blog addresses wide-ranging criminal justice issues with informational posts from Department staffers, as well as blog entries accredited to Attorney General Eric Holder himself.  Recent articles discuss issues ranging from gun violence to health care.  The blog also serves as a portal to other informational resources, including links to blog posts from organizations like Office on Violence Against Women. The blog gives the Justice Department a chance to communicate directly with the public, creating a perception of transparency within the administration.
  2. Michael Brown Today – Homeland security and other social issues are examined with thought provoking entries from a former political insider, who participates in the system differently today.  Mr. Brown was an Undersecretary in the Department of Homeland Security responsible for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which brings unique perspective to his criminal justice blog.  Topics range from hot button issues like climate change to justice-oriented posts relating to race relations and partisanship in the criminal justice system.
  3. In Homeland Security – Criminal justice and homeland security issues go hand in hand, so news and information about critical current events relating to terrorism and U.S. defense are shared alongside legislative policy news about justice.  The site is maintained by a network of experts drawn from diverse justice backgrounds including security research, emergency preparedness, disaster relief, border security, cyber security and other disciplines related to criminal justice and national safety.  The world news perspective adopted by the blog sheds light on defense issues, allowing readers to stay informed.  Daily posts explore current events topics like regional conflicts in Egypt and other volatile areas.
  4. Intelnews -The wide scope of information covered at Intelnews shares a common thread, the specialized intelligence helps illuminate topics like criminal justice and national security.  The blog is maintained by two experts specializing in intelligence, counterintelligence, espionage and other information gathering disciplines.  The pair offers news and commentary about current events that include angles relating to spying and national security.  Drawing content from the headlines, the experts analyze the roles played by organizations like the National Security Agency, and distill behind the scenes intelligence activities into easily digested entries designed to keep readers informed.
  5. Homeland Stupidity – Readers turn to blogs for different reasons, so not everyone interested in criminal justice will find this site informative.  On the other hand, the irreverent content provides thought provoking jump-off points for political analysis and discussion.  The posts contained here take devil’s advocate positions targeting social issues and current events.  The no-holds barred technique stimulates reactionary impulses, which is what makes the site interesting.  Whether you agree with a recent post about United States involvement in Yemen, or not, you’ll appreciate the stimulating presentation of ideas from the security professionals running the blog.  Never mind that the positions seem tongue-in-cheek a times, they still stir reflection, which is always good for the criminal justice system.
    Photo by darrenjsylvester on Flick

    Photo by darrenjsylvester on Flickr

  6. Second City Cop – The Windy City Police Department carries a strong tradition of immigrant officers walking the city beat, and rough and tumble enforcers running the town during rougher times.  But the profession is as honored and respected today as any job has historically been.  The entries included in the cop blog show a different side of an officer, who chooses to share thoughts and opinions about a wind range of topics.  Most of the time, posts are related to city government and criminal justice trends, but the scope of subjects also includes general information about gun laws and federal policies.
  7. Crime Museum – The official blog for the National Museum of Crime and Punishment shares stories about criminal justice and related topics, focusing on interesting turns of justice that stand as important milestones in history.  The entertaining site creates dramatizations of important historical crimes, and the colorful perpetrators that carved out their own places in history.  The stories are real, not sensationalized, which adds a true-life element for readers.  Unsolved crimes and uncertain details about famous criminals allow readers to speculate and draw their own conclusions about the veracity of historical accounts.
  8. ExcessiveBail – The acerbic wit found here doesn’t speak to everyone’s interest in criminal justice, but the content is varied enough to offer some appeal for most readers.  The tongue-in-cheek analysis focuses on issues as varied as wrongful incarceration and Edward Snowden’s plight.  Many entries look at real court cases and dissect legal precedent, so the data backs-up the verbosity in any case.  The entertaining sarcasm is directed toward lawyers and the legal process, playing up absurdities and silliness at all stages of jurisprudence.  Police actions and legal policy are highlighted in posts that look at unusual laws and court case outcomes with a cynical mockery that keeps the blog interesting.
  9. Early American Crime – The title says it all – this blog is a compendium of information about crimes historic.  The author has a long history studying various aspects of the social history of crime and punishment.  Anthony Vaver holds a PhD earned from The State University of New York, and is a best-selling author on the subject of criminal justice.  Entries draw from historical texts and represent a cross-section of crimes, following the fate of criminals through the accountability phase, when punishments are handed down.
  10. Death penalty Information Center – Whether you are for it or against it, capital punishment stimulates vigorous discussions on both sides. This blog gives a voice to attorneys and other contributors who weigh in on the subject from all angles.  Real life case studies about clients they have had on death row provide legitimacy to the arguments calling for a reprieve in the death penalty.  Legislation is followed closely, tracking public sentiment and trends among lawmakers about capital punishment and its role in the justice system. False confessions and other imperfections in the ways we determine guilt are offered as arguments against capital punishment, pointing out all the ways the current system can fail.
  11. Prison Culture – The views expressed by contributors to the Prison Culture blog are far from mainstream, in fact the main idea advocated by the authors, abolishing prisons, might seem revolutionary.  The philosophy behind the blog’s angle points to the inefficiency and immorality of a giant PIC, or prison industrial complex.  According to the PIC theory, by way of its size and scope across society, the PIC takes on a life of its own, thus influencing too many segments of society.  The blog studies mass incarceration and transformative justice, pointing to inadequacies in the way we process crime and punishment.
  12. Matt Mangino – The opinions of criminal defense attorneys provide important insight into the workings of the criminal justice system, even when their ideas are unlike your own.  Matt Mangino is an attorney and a former prosecutor, so the perspective he brings to his blog is unique.  The entries deal with current events and legislative policy in editorial presentations that are often reprints of Op-Eds and other Mangino publications.  Mr. Mangino was also a member of the parole board, so his criminal justice musings are also colored with his exposure to that side of the legal system.  Overall, the articles are thought-provoking and well-constructed.
  13. The Crime Report – The Crime Report provides a comprehensive look at every aspect of the legal system, from legislative actions to courtroom happenings.  Crime is covered first-hand with investigative features taking readers inside the criminal justice system, and putting facilities under the microscope.  Other social issues that deal with crime and deterrence are presented, allowing readers to formulate informed assessments of the legal system.  Headlines are dissected by guest experts, who offer their opinions on the impact of daily events.  Security and safety issues are discussed too, as they relate to the internet, educational facilities, and other venues vulnerable to crime.
  14. Huffpost Crime – The semi-sensational features contained on the Huffington Post crime page cover hard news, but also contain softer stories related to crime and punishment.  Featured posts carry built-in credibility, coming from guest authors with the credentials to support their opinions.  The ever-present Hollywood angle also expands on current stories about celebrity misbehavior and famous people who have become victims of crime.  Recent contributions include editorials about gun control, racial profiling and United States drug policy.  Video feeds and lots of sensational stories contribute to the captivating nature of the site.
  15. Doc Bonn – Doctor Scott Bonn, “Doc Bonn” is an expert on criminal justice issues, maintaining a blog that shares information about his own history in the criminal justice system as well as general information about crime and punishment. Doc Bonn is a professor at Drew University and an expert consultant frequently called upon by the media to offer insight about current criminal justice events.  He holds a PhD and has consulted for both television and film.  In addition to being a published author, Scott Bonn can be hired as a speaker, shedding light on criminal justice topics in academic and media settings.
    Photo by Lee Haywood on Flickr

    Photo by Lee Haywood on Flickr

  16. Jonathan Turley – Politically inspired discussions about criminal justice policy dominate this resource, which reports about various Washington agencies and the roles they play in national security and public safety.  Individual liberties are at the heart of some posts, including entries about warrantless surveillance and other social hot-button issues.  The blog plays to the absurdity of some current news stories, giving pause for reflection about how we administer justice in the United States. Entries are quick to examine missteps by the current presidential administration and compare and contrast campaign pledges with the actual output from the administration. Turley is a professor and published author in areas of constitutional law and legal theory, he currently teaches at George Washington University.
  17. The Charles Smith Blog – Despite its name, the blog is administered by Harold Levy who references a historic case of injustice with the blog’s title.  Harold Levy is interested in forensic pathology, particularly when there are questions about how it is applied to reach verdicts in criminal cases.  Articles examine legal policy and look at agencies of government that carry out criminal justice initiatives, including the FBI and Federal Supreme Court.  A stream of contributors focus on cases where injustice may have prevailed, examining how evidence was used to draw verdicts.  “Junk science” and other flawed legal protocols influence criminal justice outcomes, so accountability is promoted by blogs like this one.
  18. The Sentencing Project – Advocating for reform in sentencing law and otrher criminal justice policies provides the basis for this activist blog that points to a six-fold increase in the populations of United States prisons as clear evidence that reform is in order. Mandatory minimum sentences and punishment policy that does not consider the individual characteristics of criminals are challenged by thoughtful articles examining the trends in incarceration.  The site links to mainstream media articles that support the reform argument, including pieces that evaluate racial disparities across the number of individuals currently in jail.
  19. Solitary Watch – “News from a nation on lockdown” is brought to you by blog entries pointing-up the state of the criminal justice system in the U.S.  Solitary confinement in United States correctional facilities, especially for long periods of time, has become the subject of scrutiny among advocates of reform. Articles use individual case studies to illustrate the current conditions at U.S. prisons and show the detrimental effects of long-term solitary confinement.  The mission of the blog is to shed light on what is considered a widespread human rights issue, and to call attention to newsworthy happenings related to solitary confinement policy.
  20. Think Progress – Current events and modern cultural issues are explored using individual categories that guide readers to the articles they are most interested in.  Topical areas like justice, immigration, health, sports and the economy are expanded with entries that relate to actual news events, and contain analysis of policy in specific areas.  For example, readers learning about immigration are assisted by entries highlighting various facets of the immigration reform argument, including the Obama administration positions and developments in the Congress and Senate.  Articles are supported by videos and images related to the stories, which also feature in-depth coverage of important political figures like Colin Powell and Justice Scalia.
  21. Cop in the Hood – Maintained by a professor of criminal justice who also carries street credentials, this interesting blog highlights current events related to police science and criminal justice.  Peter Moskos is a professor of criminal justice at the John Jay College and the City University of New York Doctoral Program in Sociology.  Mr. Moskos is also a former Baltimore City police officer. Law enforcement culture and other police science concerns, including crime prevention, drive the content here, with a focus on measuring the quality of outcomes involving police officers and exploring criminal justice policy.  In addition to writing books and scholarly articles, Peter Moskos discusses criminal justice issues on media outlets like CNN and NPR.
  22. The Bad Luck Detective – Suzie Ivy is a police detective with an interesting story, shared here alongside articles about cases and other police issues.  Ms. Ivy started her law enforcement career later in life than many police officers, prompting here to speak out as a middle-aged cop.  Her blog entries run the gamut from serious exploration of societal issues, to humorous, lighthearted anecdotes taken directly from her work as a police officer.  Her diverse life experiences (she owned a bookstore for 20 years) help color the unconventional material she presents.
  23. The Crime Analyst’s Blog – An experienced crime analyst uses this blog to dissect police techniques and other law enforcement trends, with an eye toward maximizing the effectiveness and efficiency of law enforcement agencies and their individual members.  Cutting edge police science procedures and prevailing criminal justice techniques are explored in articles carrying themes reinforced by the author’s 20 year career as a Texas crime analyst.  Individual laws and specific criminals are fair game for feature articles that give readers more information than mainstream media sources.
  24. Take All Prisoners – This Psychology Today blog goes “Inside the Fence” to consider mental health issues of the criminal justice system, including prisoner health and other components of the penal system.  Entries analyze the psychology of criminals, providing valuable insight for preventing future crimes.  Forensic psychology and other specialized areas related to criminal justice provide topics for blog entries, as well as psychological analysis for specific groups of criminals – children, for example.  Conduct disorders that lead to criminal behavior are also scrutinized for insight into how they eventually cause criminal activity.
  25. Officer Smith – Thoughts from Behind the Badge – Blogs run by police officers are some of the most credible, because the information they provide is often laid-out first-hand, by the law enforcement agents themselves.  This blog is a casual example of an individually administered peace officer site, with authentic, original material.  In this case, a California police officer presents straightforward opinions and musing about current events and actual on-the-job tales of criminal justice.  The frank discussion includes examples of things not to do when a police officer is requesting your attention, and stories about criminals who learn the hard way that police officers usually prevail when challenged.
    Photo by darrenjsylvester on Flickr

    Photo by darrenjsylvester on Flickr

  26. Chris Uggen’s Blog – Sociology and criminology are key components of the criminal justice system in the United States, providing glimpses into the minds and motivations of criminals and illuminating long term crime trends.  Bloggers like Chris Uggen delve into the broad questions behind criminal behavior and what leads to criminal conduct.  Critical analysis is employed to dissect social trends for kernels of wisdom that can be applied universally, to create better criminal justice outcomes.  By analyzing how people behave in groups, we are better able to understand the dynamics between “normal” and criminal behaviors.
  27. Vera Institute of Justice Blog – The Institute behind this blog is dedicated to fairer justice and equality within the legal system, acting as a project manager and consultant to the criminal justice industry.  The group’s research and information is reflected in blog entries about prisons, including policy and social considerations related to incarceration.  Financial crime and immigrant issues are discussed in recent posts, illuminating a deeper side of the justice system, which is not always featured in mainstream news stories.  State crime news and other current criminal justice developments are analyzed in periodic posts that highlight social trends in criminal justice areas like sexual abuse and white-collar crime.
  28. The Detective’s Diary – Jan Tucker is a private investigator and advocate for causes related to criminal justice.  He is a columnist and contributor to criminal justice publications, and also speaks about public safety issues on Black Talk Radio.  His blog entries announce events and other newsworthy happenings within the law enforcement community, especially those which focus on Latin American causes, for which Tucker is a supporter.  Police information and notifications regarding changes to existing laws are present, as well as endorsements for particular causes Mr. Tucker promotes.
  29. Schneier on Security – From wide angle views of United States surveillance and security policies, to individual examples of how you can increase your own personal safety, this blog contains a wide range of analysis.  Academic articles are featured to illuminate current events and show research on the cutting edge of criminal justice legislation, like internet safety for children.  Updates about laws and research round out the material presented by Bruce Schneier, which includes a look at emerging technologies and devices changing the way we conduct our national and personal safety affairs.
  30. Cold Case Squad – Joe Giacalone investigates cold cases and evaluates them to see if they are worth re-opening.  Informative blog entries expand news stories, focusing on criminal behavior and cold cases.  Old cases, never solved, are the focus of entries that expose crime investigation techniques for curious readers, but the studies are also serious looks at real cases.  Death investigation policies and procedures are analyzed, with an eye toward clearing more cases.  What you can do correctly, and what may have already been done wrong, are evaluated to improve the investigation process and clear more cases.
  31. Crime and Consequences – Sponsored by the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, articles focus on important developments in criminal justice – from current events, to historical analysis.  News stories that have impacts on the criminal justice system, and other relevant topics, are put under the microscope to provide greater understanding of legal issues.  Prison policy, first amendment rights, and other social concerns taken from the headlines provide topics of discussion for posts on the site.  Important Supreme Court cases and hot-button social issues like the death penalty are covered extensively.
  32. Cops Alive – Law enforcement professionals need help while they are on active duty, but there are also questions to be answered after their service is over.  This blog helps provide information for officers actively engaged in public safety, as well as those who have provided service and are no longer staffers with law enforcement agencies.  Articles keep readers abreast of changes in laws and about legislation impacting criminal justice.  Legal issues and their law enforcement consequences are discussed, providing general references for officers in need.  Expert contributors, most hailing from law enforcement careers, provide insight into real-life peace officer concerns.
  33. SGT Says – Thirty-five years of law enforcement experience stand behind the information contained in this resource.  Takeaways are the result of experience collected on real police calls over the author’s entire career in law enforcement.  Topics include crime prevention techniques, like installing burglar alarms and learning personal defense practices designed to keep people safer.  Various weapons are used by police officers, so the author does not shy away from including them in discussions of public safety.  Rifles, shotguns and handguns, as well as non-lethal personal defense tools like Tasers and sprays are featured in anecdotes about shootouts, protests, riots and a host of other types of police calls.
    Photo by Becca James on Flickr

    Photo by Becca James on Flickr

  34. Blue Sheepdog – This organization provides information and resources for police officers, covering material in three primary areas.  Training, criminal justice information, and reviews of law enforcement products are the most important areas of discussion for sponsors of this blog, who aim to help officers in any way they can.  Firearms and other gear are reviewed by the professionals who use them, providing invaluable insight into equipment and supplies that might mean the difference between life and death in the field.  Job postings and other peace officer resources are also available for readers, who access information in a variety of formats.
  35. Positive Leo – Law enforcement and criminal justice are areas that draw diverse viewpoints, so the professions often come under scrutiny for the opinions expressed by officers and other staffers.  Unfortunately, a great deal of the press is negative, so this blog challenges the status quo, focusing on the positive aspects of criminal justice instead.  Entries cover widespread happenings in criminal justice, from individual department successes to changes in law enforcement policy benefitting officers. To recognize exemplary behavior, individual peacekeepers are featured in profiles calling out their strengths and accomplishments.
  36. Connected Cops – Focusing on the role of the Internet and social media outlets on law enforcement, this cutting edge blog keeps readers informed about modern communication and social networking.  Pinterest, twitter and other ways people connect are now woven into the fabric of our lives, so it only follows that they play a role in policing Americans too.  News from around the web is compiled here to provide quick access to articles about media and police.  Regular contributors include law enforcement professionals and social media experts familiar with criminal justice uses for social media connections.
  37. My Life of Crime – Bonnie Kernene maintains this resource about crimes of all kind, but the focus is generally on violent or high-profile crimes against people.  The site is dedicated to the principle that it is the victims of crimes, rather than the perpetrators that should be remembered, and that victims’ rights should always come first.  By remembering victims, we preserve the human element of violent crime, adding deterrence against future acts of violence.  The blog includes posts from Bonnie’s Twitter account, and allows readers to keep tabs on current cases.  Individual crimes are taken from the headlines, and updated with information about how criminal justice unfolds with each case.
  38. Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice Blog – Programs of rehabilitation for boys and girls across America are administered to gain the maximum benefit for troubled youth.  Blog entries look at who is committing crimes and criminal justice interventions used to curb criminal behavior among youths.  Modern issues like gun violence and the escalation of violent crime among young people are discussed frankly, in order to change people’s lives and address problems within the criminal justice system.  The blog highlights social trends, as they relate to law, equality, and justice.  Policies are examined, from those maintained by the presidential administration all the way down to local police enforcement.  Current legal arguments are dissected, to shed light on legal cases as they move through the court system, setting precedents for those that follow.
  39. Global Guerrillas – Various versions of the future are entertained by people passionate about how things will eventually go for the human race.  Whatever you believe, it is safe to say that the realm of possibilities changes daily.  National security and criminal justice concerns are always evolving in the face of growing technology and constantly responding to the new ways criminals exploit security.  As a result, the future of national security is adapting to defend against new crimes and illegal tactics.  Systems disruptions and other tech-oriented strategies were not a part of past conflicts, but blogs like this one point to the important role they play in modern disagreements, and the increasing role technology plays in crime.
  40. Women in Crime Ink – Crimes involving women account for a unique segment of illegal activity within the criminal justice system, analyzed here by a bevy of crime experts.  Regular blog contributors include prosecutors from all levels of the legal system, as well as journalists familiar with crime reporting.  Experts from forensic disciplines and other social analysts are also represented, with posts addressing the psychology of criminals.  Tracking social trends helps criminal justice professionals and other interested readers stay current, so the unique viewpoints expressed in the blog help a wide range of followers.
  41. HLS Watch – Homeland Security Watch provides news and opinions about important domestic security issues.  By analyzing current events, and the policies behind positive security outcomes, the blog contributes better ideas and procedures for national security.  Recent topics of blog posts include disaster preparedness and personal safety concerns, as well as features about the key players responsible for establishing national security policy.  On HLS Watch, news stories about hurricane recovery efforts are at home beside blog entries about political candidates most likely to focus on homeland security.
  42. David Bratzer – Criminal justice policy and other issues germane to his profession are explored with blog entries posted to this site, maintained by a police officer from British Columbia, Canada.  Reform oriented articles, especially concerning drug policy in North America, are the backbone of David Bratzer’s site.  Mr. Bratzer graduated from the Police Academy at Justice Institute of British Columbia in 2006, before embarking on a career in law enforcement and sharing his own opinions online.  Recent articles tackle topics like bike theft in Canada and the impact of foot patrol officers on overall crime rates.
  43. Riding in the Squad with Christ – Contributing authors cover a variety of topics related to police work, including musings about faith and how it interacts with other aspects of the job.  Tools of the trade are discussed, including reviews of products used by police officers. News recaps and links to feature stories in publications like The Guardian and New York Times are also present, stimulating analysis of current police practices and the laws that govern enforcement.  Recent reviews include tactical boots, which were broken-in by the author for two weeks, before being evaluated over the course of several days of wear.
  44. Covered Law Enforcement – This Christian police blog embraces religion as an integral part of the law enforcement profession, re-interpreting the ‘thin blue line’ philosophy of law enforcement, to include a large place for Jesus Christ.  The site offers encouragement for police officers faced with challenges inherent to the job, like low pay, long work hours, and pressure that builds under the constant stress of being an officer.  Emotional and spiritual issues are tackled in blog posts that revive faith and help religious police officers stay true to god as they conduct the business of the people.
  45. Momma Fargo – Unique insight contained in articles on Momma’s blog come from a seasoned police officer who shares real life tales of criminal justice.  Experience plays a key role in the way police officers handle themselves in the field, so the author of this blog sheds light on the growth and development she experienced as a law enforcement professional.  Glimpses behind the scenes of police work and criminal justice allow her to share her opinions about topics ranging from seat belt laws to local criminal activity.  As an entertainment resource, opinions and personal stories provide the backdrop for actual crime drama.
  46. Behind the Blue Line – This blog is maintained by the social media officer for the Vancouver Police Department, so the entries contain first-hand information, direct from the department.  The role of social media in law enforcement continues to grow, so departments nationwide are in the process of updating their capabilities in this area.  Daily blogging is a big step for police entities that also use Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest to stay visible to the public and to interact with citizens in entirely new ways.  The author of this Vancouver blog is ahead of the curve, sharing social media progress of the Canada Department.
    Photo by darrenjsylvester on Flickr

    Photo by darrenjsylvester on Flickr

  47. Saskatoon Police Service Blog – Staying ahead of crime is facilitated by keeping the public informed.  Up-to-the-minute posts keep citizens abreast of criminal development in Saskatoon and surrounding areas.  Links to news features about crimes that have recently occurred – some still unsolved, provide quick access to information about the local criminal justice system.  Listings are also maintained on the site, alerting readers about special events and crime fighting tools available to the public.  The valuable service creates networking opportunities and makes it easier for individuals to share information that heads-off criminal activity before it occurs.
  48. Phillypolice Blog – Providing a direct conduit between the local police department and the citizens it protects, this active blog contains important information.  Updating readers about police happenings is one of the best ways to stay ahead of criminals, so city-run blogs like this Philadelphia resource are playing greater roles in crime-fighting than ever before.  Crimes are highlighted in real-time, making it easier to spot perpetrators before the evidence grows cold.  Follow-up articles trace the progress of cases, staying with them until outcomes are reached in the criminal justice system.  Individual criminal profiles are also provided, reinforcing public awareness about particularly dangerous repeat offenders.
  49. Crime Shadows News – Current events and general news related to criminal justice provide the bulk of the content maintained here by Chis Yarbrough.  Discussions include wide-angle views of public policy and civil rights, as well as looks at individual legal cases.  Links take readers to other criminal justice sites, focusing on exposing criminals before they strike again.  Pictures and featurettes call attention to perpetrators, especially those responsible for particularly atrocious crimes.
  50. Houston Police Department Blog – Following a growing trend in law enforcement, Houston Police Department maintains a blog used for a variety of functions.  Practical matters like recruiting and keeping readers informed about events are addressed using blog entries that keep citizens up-to-date.  Accountability and transparency are heightened when articles outline Department expenses and show how money was spent to improve the Department.  Human interest stories make Houston police officers more accessible to civilians, offering glimpses into the everyday lives of law enforcement professionals on-the-job.