Sarasota County Florida will create internal school security force

Sarasota County FL April 19 2018 The Sarasota County School Board decided Tuesday to create and manage an internal school security department over the next two years, dramatically shifting course from earlier discussions about continuing and expanding a program employing sheriff’s deputies and police officers from elementary through high schools.

Under the plan — a direct response to demands for increased security because of school shootings — the program would be phased in beginning this fall and completely implemented by the end of the 2019-20 school year, and will cost the district a total of about $3.1 million over those two years. The district plans to hire about 30 employees in the first year and 26 the following year, staffing their elementary schools with the trained and sworn law enforcement officers first and then adding them to middle and high schools.

For the 2018-19 year, Bowden will try to negotiate with local law enforcement agencies to retain the school resource officers in middle and high schools for that year while the district attempts to integrate their new, district-managed police officers at the elementary level. That will cost the district anywhere from an additional $1.4 to $2.5 million.

Three of the board’s five members, Caroline Zucker, Jane Goodwin and Shirley Brown, spoke highly during the meeting of the idea of an internal police department. The concept was compared to the college police forces that staff many higher education campuses.

They will buy into the district and buy into the kids and keep those kids safer because they are responsible and they don’t report to anybody else but the school system,” Zucker said. “I like your plan for two years, because this gives you ample time to be able to put everything in place.”

Goodwin echoed that point, adding that the school police department employees could work with students after school and have a positive impact on their lives.

But School Board members Bridget Ziegler, the chairwoman, and Eric Robinson, were reluctant to quickly sign on to the new program, noting that it was a big task to undertake with only four months before the next school year.

Zucker, reflecting on previous criticism by Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight that the board was moving too slowly on security after the Parkland school shooting in February, countered one of Ziegler’s comments by saying, “We were told we’re moving too slow, and now we’re moving too fast?”

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Hackers Infiltrated Mortgage Company

A recently closed California hacking and identity theft case sadly illustrates the misery that can be visited on unsuspecting victims when their personal information is compromised.

Between 2011 and 2014, four U.S. citizens who resided in San Diego—but carried out their crimes from across the Mexican border in Tijuana—hacked the computer servers of major U.S. mortgage brokers, stealing detailed loan application information from thousands of customers and then using the victims’ Social Security numbers, addresses, dates of birth, and driver’s license numbers to open unauthorized lines of credit and take over and drain victims’ retirement accounts.

“The damage crimes like these have on victims, the economy, and society in general are significant,” said Special Agent Chris Christopherson, who investigated the case from the FBI’s San Diego Division. “Individuals had their finances wrecked and their credit destroyed, through no fault of their own. For many of them,” he added, “the impacts are still being felt.”

One of the fraudsters in the conspiracy, John Baden, was the chief hacker. He infiltrated mortgage companies using a common hacking technique known as “fuzzing,” which works by overloading a web server with massive amounts of data that can lead to the server revealing security loopholes.

Once Baden had access to victims’ information, he and his conspirators, Victor Fernandez, Jason Bailey, and Joel Nava, went to work. Fernandez—the group’s ringleader—identified multiple victims’ brokerage accounts and took control of them by calling the companies and providing the victims’ personal information to change passwords and contact information. Then it was simple for him and his conspirators to wire funds—sometimes up to $30,000 at a time—from the victims’ accounts to accounts they controlled.

Victims stretched from California to Florida, and one individual lost nearly $1 million in the scheme, Christopherson said. A second part of the scheme involved extensive credit fraud. The criminals used victims’ detailed personal information to set up bogus lines of credit and retail credit card accounts to which they charged thousands of dollars for goods and services. Most of the proceeds from the sale of items in these crimes were used to buy drugs.

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TSA agents ask some travelers to remove snacks from carry-ons

Washington DC April 1 2018 You’ve taken off your shoes and removed your laptop from your carry-on bag to go through airport security screening. You candy bar may be next.

Although it’s okay to board an airplane with food, some Transportation Security Administration agents have been asking travelers to remove their food from carry-on bags at checkpoints before putting them on the conveyor belt. Signs have also appeared at some TSA checkpoints directing people to remove snacks before screening.

It’s apparently a recommendation, however, not a requirement, and part of a new policy that is not really a policy – or at least not a uniform one. Whatever it is, it’s left peckish travelers feeling a little peeved, as USAToday and others have reported.

Travelers are permitted to take food and snacks onto an airplane after the bags have been screened. A TSA official also said Wednesday there has been no nationwide policy change requiring people to remove food from their carry-ons to get through security.

But confusion appears to have set in as the TSA adopted new, unrelated procedures last year for screening electronic devices, the TSA official said.

As terrorists became more skillful hiding explosives, the federal agency announced July 26 that TSA agents would require travelers to remove electronic devices larger than a mobile phone and put them in a separate bin for screening. The new procedure on electronics – which was rolled out little by little so as not to interfere with peak holiday travel last year – is expected to be fully in place at all checkpoints by this summer.

But while the TSA was implementing the procedure for screening personal electronic devices, some agents started directing travelers to remove their snacks, too. That’s because high-tech scanners detect organic compounds contained in some explosives and sometimes give false alerts on food. That requires a hands-on bag check, which slows down the line.

At some checkpoints, TSA agents who were telling travelers to remove their large electronic devices would spot a stash of potato chips or cookies and have the traveler to put those aside, too. It was, as a TSA official described it Wednesday, more or less an opportunistic request.

But somehow this has morphed into procedure at some airports and not others. Some passengers who have been asked to remove junk food from bags have reported that TSA checkpoint officials told them the agency planned to adopt a policy that would make everyone to do it.

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More armed security officers in US schools, study finds

WASHINGTON — Armed security officers are becoming more prevalent at America’s schools, according to a federal study released Thursday amid a heated debate over whether teachers and other school officials should carry guns.

While student and staff fatalities at school persist, students report fewer instances of violence, theft and other abuse during the past decade, the survey found.

Armed officers were present at least once a week in 43 percent of all public schools during the 2015-16 school year, compared with 31 percent of schools a decade before, according to data from a survey conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics.

Last month’s mass shooting at a Florida high school put renewed focus on the role of armed school security guards, after a video showed that a sheriff’s deputy at the school approached but did not enter the building where the attack was taking place.

The study was released a day after Education Secretary Betsy DeVos kicked off a federal school safety panel, which has been criticized for not including teachers, students and experts. It comprises DeVos and three other Cabinet secretaries. DeVos told the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday that the panel will include the secretaries of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services and the Justice Department. The first meeting of the commission was held behind closed doors and few details were released.

DeVos said in a statement Thursday that while there were some positive trends in the survey, “we know — and tragically have been reminded in recent weeks — there is much more to be done to keep our nation’s students and teachers safe at school.” DeVos said commission members will travel across the country to look for solutions to school violence.

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Town hires private security to enforce no littering law

Selwyn Township. Canada March 23 2018 A security firm will be hired to help address littering along the James A. Gifford Causeway in Selwyn Township.

On Wednesday, Peterborough County Council approved staff recommendations to tackle nuisance littering along the causeway, which spans Chemong Lake and links the communities of Bridgenorth and Ennismore.

The area is a hotspot for both local and visiting anglers. Concerns about littering were highlighted last August by area resident Brad Sinclair. Just two days after a thorough cleaning, Sinclair once again found litter scattered everywhere again.

We will have summer staff who will educate the users of where and where not to fish. We will increase and expand litter pick up throughout the season and will update signage along the causeway. Litter is an issue everywhere – we must all do our part!

Chris Bradley, the county’s Director of Public Works, says security will be occasionally hired during expected peak fishing times to ask anglers to move from the areas between the exterior guardrails.

“We are optimistic that the folks who come to the area to enjoy recreational activities will be able to do it in a bit of a safer environment than what we had before,” he said. “This should enable us to keep the area a little cleaner.”

Other recommendations include increasing the frequency of litter collection (three times a week from May to October); launching a new communication/awareness campaign and posting new and improved signage to direct anglers to areas that are safe and maintained by county staff.

The recommendations came as part of county staff consultations with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Parks Canada and the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters.

However, Bradley notes there will not be a no-trespassing bylaw for the causeway. In December, county staff met with lawyers, who highlighted the challenges of developing and enforcing a no-trespassing bylaw.

Lawyers indicated that municipal bylaw enforcement officers do not have the authority to compel people to identify themselves verbally or to provide identification. As a result, tickets can’t be issued to an unidentified person and a bylaw could not be enforced.

A staff report notes lawyers recommended that “no trespassing” signage can still be posted near the prohibited areas (exterior guardrails) and that a police officer can be contacted to charge an individual.

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Glenbrook District 225 to add security guards during after-school hours

Glenview IL March 21 2018 Glenbrook High Schools District 225 will expand security at Glenbrook North and Glenbrook South high schools beginning April 2.

In a 6-0 vote, the Board of Education approved Monday a proposal to hire unarmed, civilian security officers for after-school hours at both schools. Board member Marcelo Sztainberg was absent.

The proposal recommended hiring three security officers at both schools who would work from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday, according to an administrative report.

On Saturdays, two security guards will work from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and one guard will work from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. On Sundays and holidays, one security guard will work each shift, according to the report.

Over the summer, one security guard will work during the day and one guard will work evenings Monday through Sunday, according to the report.

The security guards will be hired through American Heritage Protective Services, Inc., the security company the district currently partners with to provide one security officer at each high school from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., said Brad Swanson, assistant superintendent of human resources. The guards who work the night shift will continue to do so under the new proposal, he said.

The cost to hire the additional guards through the end of the fiscal year is approximately $80,000, and the cost for the additional guards for an entire fiscal year is approximately $330,000, according to the report. Each guard will be paid $21.64 an hour, it said.

The administration decided to fill the gap in security after school when students are participating in athletics and other school programs, said Superintendent Michael Riggle.

“We do a lot in our schools,” Riggle said. “We want our schools to be used, but we also want them to be safe.”

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TSA is testing explosive-detection technology with Amtrak

The Transportation Security Administration and Amtrak are testing new technology to detect concealed explosives, the TSA said Tuesday.

The equipment, known as “stand off explosive detection technology” can detect an explosive when an individual passes by the device, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer said in a news release. An alarm would go off on the equipment operator’s laptop, triggered by an individual’s “naturally occurring emissions from the human body.”

The tests will be conducted at New York’s Pennsylvania Station in the Amtrak terminal.

Protecting so-called soft targets like railway stations has been a challenge for security officials, who are tasked with ensuring safety but need to balance that with ensuring the smooth movement of hundreds of thousands of travelers.

The TSA’s administrator, David Pekoske, said in November that airport-like security, in which passengers have to line up for personal and carry-on bag screening, was not necessary at rail stations.

“We don’t intend to roll out anything like what we have in the airports,” Pekoske said, adding that random passenger checks and police with canines among other measures are sufficient. “We are satisfied at his point.”

However, in December, a man was injured by a pipe bomb he had attached to his torso with Velcro in a blast that went off at a 42nd Street subway station in Manhattan.

The technology aims to help officials detect concealed suicide vests or other improvised explosives, the TSA said, which is better known for its passenger screening at U.S. airports.

“The use of these devices enables a rail or transit agency to help safeguard against terrorist threats in the mass transit environment,” the TSA said. “TSA is supplying two models of the equipment for the purposes of the pilot.”

The TSA last year started testing the equipment in the Los Angeles transit system.

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School district creates own police force

CENTER POINT TX March 12 2018 — He’s still getting used to being called “chief,” but it’s clear that Jimmy Poole is comfortable leading the newly created Center Point Independent School District Police Department.

“I like to talk to kiddos,” said Poole, 62, whose long law enforcement career includes two years as a school resource officer in Kerrville.

He also spent 25 years as a Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission officer and was a Kerr County deputy for five years, ending last November.

He encourages students to call him Officer Poole, saying: “I feel awkward with the title. I’ve never been a chief before.”

Despite Poole’s relaxed outward demeanor, he’s all too aware of the gravity surrounding his new job, especially in the wake of last month’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead.

“In law enforcement, you’re always defensive,” said Poole, whose time behind a badge began in 1977 as a Brazoria County deputy. “I am always in fear of my life and in fear of someone harming others.”

The Center Point rural district moved to establish its own police presence last year after the Kerr County sheriff’s deputy who’d been assigned here part time took a different job and no other deputy immediately wanted the position.

Local school trustees, who authorized district employees several years ago to bring guns on campus if they are kept locked in vehicles, considered arming teachers and/or having no security presence before spending just over $100,000 to establish the district’s Police Department.

“We had to buy everything, from a new Tahoe down to the reflective vest to wear while directing traffic,” Superintendent Cody Newcomb said.

Security problems are rare on the single campus that includes three schools serving 560 students in prekindergarten through 12th grade, but Newcomb noted that without Poole, it could take 20 minutes for help to arrive from Kerrville in an emergency.

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Pennsylvania men ran pet supply business by stealing inventory

Richmond VA March 3 2018 The first heist happened in Colonial Heights, near Petersburg, according to court documents.

From there, the seven-person crew struck stores in North Chesterfield, Midlothian, Richmond and Mechanicsville before heading east toward Hampton Roads.

By the end of the day, they’d hit at least nine businesses.

Their target: pet supplies.

Joseph Heim Jr., 42, of Harrisburg, Pa., and Timothy B. Erb Jr., 24, of Wormleysburg, Pa., were indicted last week in connection with a shoplifting ring that targeted PetSmart locations across Virginia and North Carolina. They were arrested May 6, 2016, in Suffolk.

In all, the conspiracy netted at least $38,000 worth of pet supplies and possibly more than $100,000, according to court documents.

“This is very, very profitable,” said Robert Moraca, a vice president with the National Retail Federation. He referred to it as “organized retail crime,” and said it, along with shoplifting in general, is a growing problem. He said the industry now views it as more serious to their profits than internal theft, administrative errors and vendor fraud.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Randy Stoker declined to comment on the indictment, which charges the men with conspiracy and interstate transport of stolen property.

Federal court records do not list attorneys for Heim and Erb, who have been incarcerated for almost two years on state charges.

Heim entered into a plea agreement with state prosecutors and was sentenced last year to three years in state prison. Suffolk prosecutors on Wednesday dropped charges against Erb in light of the federal case.

According to the indictment, Heim and Erb were running a pet supply business that got its inventory by stealing from PetSmarts.

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South Carolina’s correction facilities to have help from State Guardsmen

COLUMBIA, S.C. March 2 2018 –  Still unable to use jamming technology to stop smuggled cellphones, South Carolina’s corrections officials are enlisting State Guardsmen to help them combat the devices they call the top security threat behind bars.

On Tuesday, Gov. Henry McMaster signed an executive order allowing South Carolina State Guardsmen to help patrol the perimeters of the state’s prisons, watching for people trying to smuggle in contraband including cellphones.

The program is starting at one of the state’s high-security prisons, with the goal of expanding to other facilities. Bryan Stirling, the state’s Corrections director, said the program will allow him to move his officers back inside the prison, keeping institutions safer.

The partnership is the latest anti-cellphone step taken by Stirling, who has long argued that being able to jam signals from the smuggled phones — used by inmates to plan crimes and acts of violence — would be the best way to keep his employees and the public safer. Each year, Stirling’s agency seizes thousands of cellphones, smuggled inside prison by visitors, errant employees, and even delivered by drone.

Wireless service providers have said that, while they support efforts to cut out inmates’ illegal calls, they worry signal-blocking technologies could thwart legal calls.

The Federal Communications Commission, which regulates the nation’s airwaves, has said it can’t permit jamming in state prisons, citing a decades-old law that prohibits interruption of the airwaves at state-level institutions. But the agency has been softening on the issue, thanks to persistent pleas from officials including Stirling and McMaster, as well as members of Congress including Tennessee Rep. David Kustoff.

Stirling recently met in Washington with his counterparts from other states, along with wireless industry and FCC officials, to discuss ways to potentially use technology like signal jamming to fight the phones.

While continuing to push for that ability, Stirling has implemented increased searches, scanners, and even used dogs specially trained to sniff out cellphones. Last month, he announced a partnership with Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, paying Lott’s deputies to patrol woods near a maximum-security prison in Columbia, arresting people for trying to smuggle in contraband.

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