Texas school police to use drones to keep campuses safe

“School district police officers here completed a months-long drone training program at Sanchez Elementary on Friday.

This spring, Drone Pilot Inc., a Central Texas training firm, taught four officers from the McAllen Independent School District Police Department on the usage of drones. The 100-hour training, which began in February, went through various real-life scenarios.

Friday, the officers had their final exam on completing would-be scenarios of search and rescue. Their drone skills were tested on finding a missing child/endangered adult and identifying an unknown object, a skill that could help diffuse a bomb scare. Another mission was going through hazardous materials like an ammonia leak from a car.
Gene Robinson, vice president, co-founder and flight team director of Drone Pilot, said the officers learned to problem solve and jointly worked together in their missions.

“They (officers) will use the skills that we taught them, go out and try to solve,” Robinson said.
The drones will be used for faster response times and be used for investigative purposes to hold aerial views of parking lots, reconstruct collisions, look for evidence/crime scenes, and assess structural damage to buildings after a natural disaster or arson and most commonly, locate intruders in and around campuses.

“This training will be good for the public to keep them safe,” McAllen ISD Police Sgt. Charles Eric Treviño said. “When you look at it at ground level, it doesn’t look the same when you take it at aerial photographs. It’s different.”

“It’ll take minutes versus possible hours bringing an agency to check it out,” Treviño added about response times.

The drone training was divided into three phases. The introductory section covered legal issues and copyright information. Section two, covered the proper usage of equipment and regulations with recording and documenting the missions on logbooks. The final section was team cooperation and following proper procedures before beginning a mission.
Government use of aerial drones became much easier when the Federal Aviation Administration flipped the switch on new regulations last year, prompting some law enforcement agencies to adopt the technology.

The San Marcos Police Department has purchased a drone that will be used for investigations into vehicle crashes involving serious injury or death.

Before the FAA created new regulations last summer, the Austin Fire Department had already been operating drones to monitor and respond to wildfires for more than a year under a rare exemption that made it one of the first public safety agencies in the country allowed to use drones.”

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Security and police make several arrests at Livingston Mall

“Police assisted security officers and made several arrests with various charges on May 13 and May 14 at the Livingston Mall.

The first call from the Livingston Mall was about person being held in the parking lot by security for potentially being in possession of stolen property, according to police.

Upon police arrival, it was revealed that the individual possessed multiple items stolen from six different stores at the Livingston Mall. Subsequent to investigation, Robert Braswell, 33, of East Orange was arrested and charged with receiving stolen property and was released on his own recognizance pending court action.

The next afternoon, police received a call from both Lord & Taylor security and Livingston Mall security, whom were attempting to take an individual into custody who may have previously passed bad checks. Upon arrival, the female was fighting with security officers, according to police.

Ultimately, Latesha Shavers, 35, of Perth Amboy, was charged with assault and resisting arrest. Police said she had also been under investigation by Lord & Taylor security the previous week for passing bad checks.

Shavers was subsequently charged by Livingston police for passing bad checks and theft by deception on an incident that occurred on May 7. Following these charges, she was remanded to the Essex County Jail.”

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Facebook says police can’t use its data for ‘surveillance’

Facebook is cutting police departments off from a vast trove of data that has been increasingly used to monitor protesters and activists.

The move, which the social network announced Monday, comes in the wake of concerns over law enforcement’s tracking of protesters’ social media accounts in places such as Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore. It also comes at a time when chief executive Mark Zuckerberg says he is expanding the company’s mission from merely “connecting the world” into friend networks to promoting safety and community.

Although the social network’s core business is advertising, Facebook, along with Twitter and Facebook-owned Instagram, also provides developers access to users’ public feeds. The developers use the data to monitor trends and public events. For example, advertisers have tracked how and which consumers are discussing their products, while the Red Cross has used social data to get real-time information during disasters such as Hurricane Sandy.

But the social networks have come under fire for working with third parties who market the data to law enforcement. Last year, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter cut off access to Geofeedia, a start-up that shared data with law enforcement, in response to an investigation by the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU published documents that made references to tracking activists at protests in Baltimore in 2015 after the death of a black man, Freddie Gray, while in police custody and also to protests in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014 after the police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old.

On Monday, Facebook updated its instructions for developers to say that they cannot “use data obtained from us to provide tools that are used for surveillance.”

The company also said, in an accompanying blog post, that it had kicked other developers off the platform since it had cut ties with Geofeedia.

Until now, Facebook hasn’t been explicit about who can use information that users post publicly. This can include a person’s friend list, location, birthday, profile picture, education history, relationship status and political affiliation — if they make their profile or certain posts public.

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Arlington Heights police warn about ‘grandkid scam’

Arlington Heights police are warning residents to be wary of calls seeking money to bail loved ones out of jail after an elderly woman was taken for $4,000 last week in a so-called “grandkid scam.”

A scammer phoned the woman on Thursday, claiming to be her grandson, with another person saying her grandson needed money to get out of jail, according to Crime Prevention Officer Brandi Romag.

The woman then followed the scammer’s instructions to go to a local Target store and buy gift cards totaling $4,000, Romag said.

“The sooner they get you moving, the sooner they’ve got you,” Romag said.

She said the scammers told the woman to call them back with details about the gift cards she purchased.

“They ask for the gift cards’ numbers and the PIN, and instantly, the money is gone,” Romag said.

The “grandkid scam” typically begins with a call in which an elderly person is told his or her grandchild needs money for bail, for a medical bill or to get out of some other kind of trouble, according to the Federal Trade Commission website www.ftc.gov. The victim is commonly told the matter is urgent and must be kept a secret, the site says.

“Scammers are good at pretending to be someone they’re not,” the website says. “They can be convincing, sometimes using information from social networking sites or hacking into your loved one’s email account to make it seem more real. And they’ll pressure you to send money before you have time to think.”

Officials advise that anyone receiving such a call should hang up immediately, then call his or her grandchild’s phone number or another family member to determine whether the problem is legitimate. But the scammers can be very persuasive, authorities say.

“Sometimes these callers are very adamant, and they tell the victim they’ll stay on the line with them or will call them back in 10 minutes,” Romag said.

She said often the phone scams involve an easily obtained gift card.

“These offenders prey on your emotions,” Romag said. “It doesn’t make any sense that you’d need to buy a gift card in these situations, but the elderly victims are being told that their grandchildren are in trouble and by the time they figure out something’s not right, it’s too late.”

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U-Haul truck filled with ATMs found by police

WASHINGTON (ABC7) — D.C. Police say they discovered ATM machines inside an abandoned U-Haul truck Monday, and now they are working with police in neighboring Prince George’s County to see if they include some of the five machines recently stolen there.

A resident of a Southeast Washington neighborhood called in to report the abandoned U-Haul, which was blocking parking spaces in an area near 2021 38th Street SE.

When police looked inside, they say they saw at least four ATM machines and a safe.

The area where the U-Haul was found is just a couple blocks from the border with Prince George’s County, where police say five ATM machines have been stolen in the last month.

Prince George’s County did not give the exact locations where the ATM machines were stolen but did say they were scattered in different parts of the county.

ABC7 News confirmed with an employee at a Mobil Corner Mart on Livingston Road in Fort Washington that an ATM had been stolen from outside the store last week.

The employee expressed hope that the machine had been found.

The employee says surveillance video shows that the thieves tied the ATM machine to a white truck and then yanked it from its place outside the store. The theft happened this past Wednesday.

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National Cyber Security Awareness Month

Data breaches resulting in the compromise of personally identifiable information of thousands of Americans.

Intrusions into financial, corporate, and government networks.

Complex financial schemes committed by sophisticated cyber criminals against businesses and the public in general.

These are just a few examples of crimes perpetrated online over the past year or so, and part of the reason why Director James Comey, testifying before Congress last week, said that “the pervasiveness of the cyber threat is such that the FBI and other intelligence, military, homeland security, and law enforcement agencies across the government view cyber security and cyber attacks as a top priority.”

The FBI, according to Comey, targets the most dangerous malicious cyber activity—high-level intrusions by state-sponsored hackers and global cyber syndicates, and the most prolific botnets. And in doing so, we work collaboratively with our domestic and international partners and the private sector.

But it’s important for individuals, businesses, and others to be involved in their own cyber security. And National Cyber Security Awareness Month—a Department of Homeland Security-administered campaign held every October—is perhaps the most appropriate time to reflect on the universe of cyber threats and on doing your part to secure your own devices, networks, and data.

What are some of the more prolific cyber threats we’re currently facing?

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High-end retail theft ring busted that targeted Western US

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco prosecutors have charged 16 people in a retail theft ring that stole more than $200,000 worth of clothing, purses and other merchandise from high-end stores such as Louis Vuitton and Salvatore Ferragamo, the district attorney’s office said Monday.

Ten more people have been charged in other Western U.S. cities where the group stole an additional $200,000 worth of merchandise, including Honolulu and Seattle, prosecutors said. The group is accused in dozens of thefts dating back to 2015.

“We’re taking something that on its face might have been a single or maybe two or three events, and we have been able to connect this to many other events,” San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said at a news conference announcing the charges.

Linking the defendants to multiple thefts increases the potential sentences they face, he said.

The group in some cases sent as many as 10 or 12 people into a store with bags to grab as much merchandise as possible before running out the door, Assistant District Attorney Frank Carrubba said.

Some of the thefts became violent, with the thieves using pepper spray on store employees or brandishing knives, Carrubba said. There were often getaway drivers.

The charges filed include robbery, grand theft and commercial burglary.

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Clerical errors have kept hundreds of Alaska inmates in jail

Last Tuesday, a prisoner walked out of the Anchorage jail a free man. Unremarkable, except it was five months after his sentence ended.

By the Department of Corrections’ own admission, the man — who the department would not name — spent nearly an extra six months incarcerated because of a clerical error in the computation of his complicated sentence.

His case is an extreme example of a widespread and insidious problem in Alaska’s criminal justice system.

Over the past five years, DOC has kept — or would have kept if the errors hadn’t been discovered by state investigators — more than 100 inmates in jail for days, weeks and even months after their sentences expired because of clerical errors, an analysis of data from the state ombudsman’s office shows.

That number, attorneys and investigators agree, is probably a major under count. It represents only inmates who’ve completed a lengthy formal process with the Alaska Office of the Ombudsman.

For every prisoner who complains, there are more who just sit a few extra days in jail, said Bethel attorney Jim Valcarce. He consistently fields two to three calls per month from people, almost all in rural Alaska jails, who say they’ve been detained for longer than their sentence.

“I’ve seen it a few days and I’ve seen it as long as a month,” he said.

Those people are missing out on work, family life, subsistence activities, holidays, he says. They are missing out on their lives.

“I can’t think of anything worse, more unfair, than someone who is sitting in jail for no reason. That’s a miscarriage of justice.”

Such errors break one of the foundational contracts of the justice system: That people should go free once they’ve served their time. At the same time, sentence miscalculations cost the already cash-strapped state hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The prisoner released Tuesday alone would have cost the state at least $23,000 in unnecessary incarceration.

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82 Weapons Seized From Interstate Gun Trafficking Ring, Officials Say

CIVIC CENTER — Investigators busted six people on Friday and seized more than 80 weapons after breaking up an interstate gun trafficking ring that brought weapons from the south into the city up the I-95 “Iron Pipeline,” officials announced Monday.

Abdul Davis, 52, sold 82 guns — including assault weapons and handguns — to an undercover NYPD detective posing as a Manhattan-based dealer in Washington Heights after first purchasing them from four dealers in Georgia and Virginia, according to the NYPD and Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

“And then each time, like clockwork, he headed back up I-95 and arranged to make sales to the undercover,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said during a press conference at One Police Plaza.

“And that’s where you get the name ‘Iron Pipeline’ on I-95.”

Officials said Davis worked with his girlfriend Shelita Funderberk, 50, out of their home in New Jersey to purchase the weapons from southern dealers Trenton Pointer, 45, Daemon Jenkins, 49, Malik Rainey, 44, and Milton Tillery, 37.

Officials said they were first tipped off to Davis through informants, and the New Jersey man may have been selling weapons for up to 10 years.

The undercover detective first started meeting with Davis on March 16, 2015, in his car at West 166th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue, right next to New York Presbyterian Hospital, according to the Manhattan DA.

Davis sold the detective the guns — including 67 pistols, eight revolvers, five assault weapons and two shotguns — during 26 separate transactions, the most recent of which happened on April 19, Vance said.

The New Jersey man usually arranged the sales with the southern dealers through phone calls and text messages and wired money to their accounts before driving to their homes to pick up the weapons, officials said.

“The reason we can charge out-of-state defendants for criminal sale of weapons in New York was from evidence that they knew they were selling weapons to come up to New York State,” Vance said.

All six people were charged with conspiracy and criminal sale of a firearm.

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CPD INTERIM SUPT. EDDIE JOHNSON PLEDGES TO WEAR BODY CAMERA

“They play an important role in not just fighting crime, but also in learning from actual encounters with the public,” he said in a statement.

The department launched its pilot program in January 2015 in the Shakespeare District on the Northwest Side. Thirty officers have been testing the cameras. Those officers made an average of 16 videos a month, compared with an average of 60 videos a month per officer during a pilot program in Seattle and 80 videos a month per officer in New Orleans, where virtually every cop wears one, a Chicago Sun-Times analysis found.

Chicago Police Department policy requires officers with body cameras to keep them on a “buffering mode” during their entire tour of duty. That means the camera is turned on, but not recording. But officers in the pilot program in the Shakespeare District were not required to follow that policy all the time, CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said.

“It was a technical and usage analysis,” he said. “We were running a limited pilot, not requiring officers to turn them on at all times.”

That’s why the Chicago Police officers have recorded fewer videos on average than other cities, Guglielmi said.

Starting this spring and throughout the summer, the department will expand its pilot program to six other police districts — Austin, Wentworth, Deering, Ogden, South Chicago and Gresham. About 450 body cameras are being shipped to Chicago this week, officials said.

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