Rave rumors puts Mason County on alert

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Sheriff’s deputies in Mason County are on alert as rumors of yet another large-scale rave planned for the lakeshore have surfaced.

Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole told 24 Hour News 8 while there’s no concrete evidence a party will happen, he’s not taking any chances.

Cole said he has told all off-duty deputies they’re on call for the weekend in case there’s trouble.

The news comes on the same day the second of three suspects was arrested in connection with the rave that involved as many as 2,000 people in Mecosta County Aug. 2.

Danny Misner turned himself in Friday morning. Another suspect, Brittany Johnson, was arraigned Thursday.

James Taylor, Brittany Johnson and Daniel Misner
(James Taylor, Brittany Johnson and Daniel Misner)

The third suspect, James Taylor, is still on the loose. Investigators say he left town soon after last weekend’s party.

“We believe Mr. Taylor has fled to California,” Mecosta County Prosecutor Peter Jaklevic said during a news conference Thursday. “We will be seeking his arrest and transport back to Michigan.”

But how did investigators get that kind of information?

They might have asked around.

Or just go to Taylor’s Facebook page, where there’s a blow-by-blow account of his flight out west.

There, Taylor talked about grabbing lunch during a layover in Denver. Another post shows a map of where he eventually landed in California.

While the Internet can be a valuable tool for lawbreakers, it can also be an Achilles heel.

No doubt, someone in law enforcement is on a social network trying to figure out where the next party will be.

“There will be some proactive measures taken prior to the start of the parties,” said Mecosta County Sheriff Todd Purcell when asked how his department tracks raves.

However, he didn’t get in to specifics.

“That would defeat the purpose of the measures if we were to tell you,” added Jaklevic.

Law enforcement with a computer mouse instead of a gun is becoming more common and essential.

“If we’re going to be successful in solving crime, we have to get in to the cyber world,” said Kent County Undersheriff Jon Hess.

His department hired their own Internet crime analyst two years ago.

He’s a civilian employee who spends his days cruising the web, looking for everything from crime tips to crime patterns.

“He’s been absolutely fantastic,” Hess said. “He came to us from the Denver Police Department. He helps connect the dots for us.

That includes cruising social networks.

Kent County has had to deal with its own rave problems in the past, and Facebook has helped deputies stop them before they start.

“People will buy tickets, show there tickets online… there’s things that people do that will help us find out where these things are happening,” Hess said.

In the case of last weekend’s rave in Mecosta County, there were no tickets; promoters texted the location at the last minute.

Law enforcement cyber experts have the ability to go undercover, fishing for invitations.

‘Those resources on the Internet are open to us, just like they’re open to them to do their own criminal business,” Hess said.

He added it’s not a replacement, rather, an enhancement to the more-traditional way of enforcing the law.

“An analyst knows where to search, knows how to search, but it’s not without the other basic, traditional tools and tips that we get,” Hess said.

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