Tuesday, November 7, 2023

MDC Agents use the Teletech system to charge hunters - Letter from a concerned agent

         “Dear Mr. Dablemont.---


         We began a new phase of law enforcement when the MDC adopted the telecheck system.  It provides much information about the individual who uses it, capturing the hunter’s name address and permit number.   It provides the date and time of permit purchase, the date and time of the animal being checked, the telephone number or computer address used to check it. It also provides the history of the permits purchased and all animals checked.  

         Soon the telecheck system was being used as a major component of law enforcement by agents.  The telecheck system was soon being used to instigate investigations.   It started with “quick check” investigations, where there was only a short time  between permit purchase and the checking of the animal.   This was very successful and lead to a broadening use of the system. So it began to be modified to get more information for enforcement agents. 

         Filters and alerts were place on the system. It began to be used to provide information on such things as; multiple animal checks, after hours checks and first-time checkers.  Filters provided real-time alerts for short interval checks and checks on landowners with small acreage. The system has also been used to check on hunter education certification.  While it sounds like a good tool for legitimate law enforcement, resulting investigations began to come dangerously close to violating civil trights.  

         The system allows for PROFILING FEMALE HUNTERS, and others who are first time users of the system. Agents began to use any information they deem suspicious to find and confront hunters who have legally checked a deer or turkey.  Many times these confrontations occur on a hunter’s private property with no probable cause. Typical of this would be singling out a woman with a first time archery kill.  (making her produce and shoot her bow) Probably none of these hunters are given their Miranda Rights before they are questioned.  They are routinely commanded to provide proof they killed the animal legally!!!

         Some hunters are told to prove their proficiency with a gun or archery equipment.  Agents often want to be taken to the site of the kill. The requests are more like demands, with hunters feeling they have no rights nor options other than to comply. Telecheck is the basis for what we call ‘audits’  These audits are encouraged by the supervisors, and amount to telecheck enforcement saturations.  

         Agents saturate a county or region and spread out over that area, with one individual monitoring a laptop computer, directing other agents to individuals who have recently checked animals.  The agents then confront that individual and try to find a violation.  Most audits occur on private property with Miranda Rights optional.  They intimidate people into compliance with what they want.  

         The state statute that allows for agents to enter private property to check for some kind of violation is probably stretched.  It is unclear whether a telecheck suspicion investigation is legal.

Our agents have no special search and seizure powers.  They must adhere to the Fourth Amendment of the U.S.Constitution.  They must have a search warrant or consent to search and they are required to give Miranda Rights before questioning.  Agents must have probable cause before making an arrest. 

         Finally if you use the Mo Hunt App on your I-phone to buy permits there is something you need to do… You need to look in settings for the MO Hunt App and disable the “Use Specific Location”.  Otherwise MDC agents can track your location!!!” 

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