Massachusetts school deploys ‘shooter detection system’

METHUEN Massachusetts (Reuters) - A Massachusetts school has introduced a security system designed to alert authorities and administrators when shots are fired in the building, the first of its kind in the United States, according to the manufacturer.

The technology, adapted from a system in use by the U.S. military in war zones, is being marketed to schools and other public spaces across the country after a spate of deadly mass shootings.

Authorities in Methuen, about 30 miles north of Boston, demonstrated the Guardian Active Shooter Detection System on Tuesday, when the school was closed for the Veterans Day holiday, with a man firing blanks in the school’s hallways.

After the shots rang out, police coordinated a response over radios and an audience, which included Massachusetts Democratic representative Niki Tsongas and police chiefs from across the region, watched as circles pinpointing the shots appeared on a floor plan projected in the school’s auditorium.

“It is the responsibility of all of us to make sure our schools are sanctuaries for learning,” Tsongas said ahead of the demonstration. “From Columbine to Sandy Hook, unspeakable acts of violence have occurred in our schools, and gun violence is now a major concern for our children, our educators and our parents,” she said.

U.S. schools have ramped up security in recent decades, installing metal detectors and surveillance systems to counter a surge in shootings. New England saw one of the worst such attacks in 2012, when a gunman killed 20 elementary students and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

James Alan Fox, a professor of criminology at Northeastern University, said a system like the one in Methuen could lead to fewer injuries and perhaps save lives.

Shooter Detection Systems’ CEO Christian Connors said the system was the first of its kind in the country, and that the company was talking to the federal government about its wider use. The system costs $50,000 to $100,000 for a school of Methuen’s size, Connors said.

The system consists of an outdoor acoustic system and 50 to 60 smoke-detector-size sensors installed in hallways and classrooms, he said. It also uses infrared cameras to detect muzzle flashes, he said.

The technology was developed with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, an arm of the U.S. Defense Department, and Raytheon, which has deployed similar systems in Iraq and Afghanistan, the company said.

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Police start random searches of CTA rider bags

Police random searches of CTA passenger bags at some of 145 CTA rail stations began Monday — part of a new police counter-terrorism effort.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has endorsed the searches, saying the “world is different” and New York, Boston and Washington, D.C. were doing explosives searches on their transportation systems.

However, Police News Affairs officials didn’t have much news about the new effort Monday morning.

A spokeswoman for Police News Affairs declined to reveal what stations had been targeted Monday morning, saying “It’s going to be random. We are not disclosing locations because it would be counterproductive to our crime prevention and counterterrorism efforts.”

The spokeswoman did not know if anyone had been arrested yet, or if any passengers had refused to be searched, which means, under new search rules, they would be denied admission to ride CTA trains at the search location.

Earlier it the morning, CTA media relations — which put out the initial joint news release about the “new counterterrorism effort” — referred questions about it to Police News Affairs.

Officials previously have said two “mobile explosives screening teams” would be conducting the random searches. The searches are supposed to take less than a minute each and involve swabbing bags with sticks capable of detecting explosive material.

Critics have said would-terrorists who spot the search teams could merely move on to another station.

A spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois has said the agency will be closely monitoring the effort to see if searches are truly random.

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Cops Can Compel You To Unlock Phone

Cops can’t make you give them your smartphone password — but they can compel you to slap your finger onto your Apple Touch ID device to unlock it, a Virginia court ruled Thursday.

It’s an odd sort of loophole: The Fifth Amendment protects you from offering knowledge that could incriminate yourself, meaning you don’t have to tell a cop your phone’s password if he or she asks you for it. But you can be required to turn over physical evidence or DNA information. In the Virginia case, the judge ruled that a fingerprint is considered a physical object — and police are allowed to force you to give it to them.

Apple’s Touch ID lets you unlock your iPhone or iPad with your fingerprint, saving you the trouble of typing in a password. The feature made its debut last year and is available on the iPhone 5S, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, iPad Air 2, and iPad Mini 3.

The ruling by Virginia Beach Circuit Court Judge Steven Frucci is linked to the case of David Baust, an emergency medical services captain who was charged in February with attempting to strangle his girlfriend. Prosecutors wanted to access video on Baust’s locked phone, the Virginian-Pilot reported.

The Touch ID case is not as binding as a Supreme Court ruling, but it sets a precedent that other cases can draw on, Mashable noted. According to the Virginian-Pilot, it’s unclear how the ruling will impact Baust’s case. If his phone is protected by Touch ID, prosecutors could access it using Frucci’s ruling. If the phone is protected by a passcode or both a passcode and Touch ID, they can’t.

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Missouri School Districts Start Train Teachers To Carry Concealed Weapons

In response to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012 that left 20 children and six staff members dead, some school districts in Missouri have started training teachers to carry concealed weapons in classrooms.

For a $17,500 fee, districts that opt in to the 40-hour program receive training for two staffers from current law enforcement officers through the Shield Solutions training school. Teachers are required to spend five hours in a classroom and 35 hours on the range with the required firearm, a Glock 19 semi-automatic pistol. Ten districts have undergone the training thus far, with three more having signed contracts and even more in negotiations, according to The Kansas City Star.

After completing the program, qualified teachers then technically become Shield Solutions employees and receive a “nominal stipend,” Don Crowley, training supervisor for Shield Solutions, told The Huffington Post on Monday.

“They become an employee of Shield Solutions in that if they are called upon to dispatch a threat, then that is when they hold a duty to Shield Solutions to do so,” Crowley explained.

Moreover, only school district administrators, fellow program members and local law enforcement will be privy to the identities of the teachers trained to carry concealed weapons.

In an effort to avoid harming the wrong students, teachers will also be armed with a special type of bullet designed to lodge inside the first body it makes contact with.

Young school children will also be prohibited from hugging their teachers if they are carrying concealed weapons in order to avoid detection of the firearm.

“Kids in elementary age like to hug their teachers, but students cannot put their hands on you,” Crowley added. “They can knuckle bump, they can shake hands, but hugs are no longer appropriate.”

Since Sandy Hook, at least 74 school shootings have occurred, averaging more than one each week that school was in session.

In response, the Missouri Legislature passed a bill last month permitting trained teachers or administrators to carry concealed weapons in the classroom. The bill, which awaits Gov. Jay Nixon’s (D) signature, would also lower the age requirement for a concealed carry permit from 21 to 19.

Crowley viewed the legislation as unnecessary, however, calling the bill a “reiteration of a law that already exists under [Missouri Revised Statutes] Chapter 571, which says concealed weapons are unlawful unless the school board or the governing body of that school district okays it.”

Several states have approved similar legislation, despite opposition from many school administrators.

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IDENTITY THEFT: NO CHARGES DESPITE EVIDENCE

CHICAGO (WLS) – It’s no longer a matter of “if” but “when” someone will take your personal information. Chicago police say in 2013 there were more than 13,000 reported incidents of identity theft or other similar crimes, and the department has also recently beefed up its financial crimes unit.

But one suburban woman is questioning why two suspects who may have taken her identity haven’t yet been charged.

Cyndi Foglio has a giant stack of paperwork full of credit checks, collection agency notices and $2,500 of payday loans in her name. They’ve ballooned to almost $200,000 with a 499 percent interest.

She says after discovering the identity theft in February 2013, she turned to the Algonquin Police Department for help.

More than a year ago, in August 2013, investigators handed the case over to the Chicago Police Department because the potential suspects live in Chicago. According to an Algonquin police report, subpoenaed information shows that the online payday loan was withdrawn from an IP address on the South Side. The report lists suspect names, a phone number and even an e mail.

“They have names and addresses and the phone numbers on there,” Foglio says. “I am asking them to do something about it.”

Chicago police say they’re still investigating, and that it’s not a slam dunk case. Police wouldn’t answer specific questions about Foglio’s concerns, citing that ongoing investigation, but did talk about the challenges they face in crimes similar to this one.

“IP addresses can be static or dynamic,” says Sergeant John Lucki, commanding officer of Chicago’s Financial Crimes unit. “They are not always associated to a fixed entity or location, so that creates a floating area as to what’s being done out there.”

Lucki says IP addresses can also be unsecure, meaning hundreds of other people could have hopped on that connection.

But Algonquin police, in their investigation, traced that pay day loan money to a pre-paid cash card with an account number, which was registered to one of the same suspects connected to that IP address. But for a non-violent crime, even that may not yet be enough proof for prosecutors.

“If you can’t assemble a complete case usually success for prosecution is minimal,” says Lucki.

Lucki says that in 2012, more detectives were added to the financial crimes unit to keep up with the growing number of cases.

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Google and Apple Won’t Unlock Your Phone, But a Court Can Make You Do It

Silicon Valley’s smartphone snitching has come to an end. Apple and Google have promised that the latest versions of their mobile operating systems make it impossible for them to unlock encrypted phones, even when compelled to do so by the government. But if the Department of Justice can’t demand that its corporate friends unlock your phone, it may have another option: Politely asking that you unlock it yourself, and letting you rot in a cell until you do.

In many cases, the American judicial system doesn’t view an encrypted phone as an insurmountable privacy protection for those accused of a crime. Instead, it’s seen as an obstruction of the evidence-gathering process, and a stubborn defendant or witness can be held in contempt of court and jailed for failing to unlock a phone to provide that evidence.

With Apple and Google no longer giving law enforcement access to customers’ devices, those standoffs may now become far more common. “You can expect to see more cases where authorities are thwarted by encryption, and the result is you’ll see more requests that suspects decrypt phones themselves,” says Hanni Fakhoury, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “And by requests, I mean demands. As in, you do it or you’ll be held in contempt of court.”

In some cases, the Fifth Amendment’s protection against self-incrimination may block such demands, under the argument that forcing defendants to unlock their phone would compel them to testify to their own guilt. But the few cases where suspects have pleaded the Fifth to avoid decrypting a PC—the legal equivalent of a smartphone—have had messy, sometimes contradictory outcomes. “This is not a settled question,” says James Grimmelmann, a professor at the University of Maryland Law School. And it likely won’t be, he says, until more appeals courts or the Supreme Court consider the issue.

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Drone used in Hannah Graham search

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WJLA/AP/CNN/ABC News) – The search for missing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham now includes the use of an aerial drone — the first time, according to authorities, one has been used in the search for a missing person in the state of Virginia.

The addition of the drone to the search effort comes more than two weeks after Graham disappeared from Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall area.

The drone has a high-quality camera, and it will “look closer” at objects of interest, said John Coggin, chief engineer of the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership and one of the members of the team operating the drone.

As the drone worked from overhead Wednesday, more than 50 law enforcement personnel participated in the ground search of an area.

Police still aren’t saying much at all about their evidence against the suspect in Graham’s disappearance, but they seem to be working systematically to link his DNA to an expanding circle of attacks on women, a criminal defense expert suggested.

Between searches of Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr.’s car and apartment and his arrest on a charge of abducting Graham last week, police had ample opportunity to obtain genetic evidence connecting him to multiple attacks, said Steve Benjamin, past president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Matthew’s lawyer, James Camblos, said he met with his client for about 2½ hours earlier this week, but still doesn’t know what evidence police have.

Already, police said they have linked Matthew via DNA to Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington’s 2009 death, and previously, authorities had said DNA in Harrington’s case was connected to a 2005 abduction and sexual assault in Fairfax City.

At least two additional sheriffs’ offices in Virginia – Campbell County and Montgomery County – said they are now reviewing old murder cases to see if they are connected to Matthew.

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Judge OKs serving legal papers via Facebook

Social-media users, beware — that next Facebook “poke” could be from a process server.

In a groundbreaking court ruling, a Staten Island man got permission to use Facebook to serve his ex-wife legal notice that he doesn’t want to pay any more child support.

A Family Court official ruled that Noel Biscocho could use Facebook to serve Anna Maria Antigua because other, more traditional methods to slap her with papers have not worked.

Staten Island Support Magistrate Gregory Gliedman noted in his Sept. 12 order that it was the first of its kind in New York, and also the first in the United States that didn’t involve an attempt to serve someone overseas.

Seeking to cancel his court-ordered $440-a-month child support based on their son having turned 21, Biscocho, in a July 6 affidavit, said he tried to reach his ex at her home, but was told that Antigua had moved out with no forwarding address.

A Google search also proved fruitless, and neither his son nor the couple’s daughter, 22, returned messages.

But Biscocho noted that Antigua “maintains an active social media account with Facebook” — and had even “liked” some photos posted on Facebook by Biscocho’s second wife “as recently as July.”

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Guns at School? If There’s a Will, There Are Ways

CLARKSVILLE, Ark. — The slim, black 9-millimeter handguns that the school superintendent David Hopkins selected for his teachers here weigh about a pound and slip easily into a pocket. Sixteen people, including the janitor and a kindergarten teacher, wear them to school every day.

Although state law prohibits guns on campus, Mr. Hopkins found a way around it.

Like rural educators who are quietly doing the same thing in a handful of other states, Mr. Hopkins has formulated a security plan that relies on a patchwork of concealed-weapons laws, special law enforcement regulations and local school board policies to arm teachers.

Without money to hire security guards for the five schools he oversees, giving teachers nearly 60 hours of training and their own guns seemed like the only reasonable, economical way to protect the 2,500 public school students in this small town in the Ozark foothills.

“Realistically, when you look at a person coming to your door right there with a firearm, you’ve got to have a plan,” Mr. Hopkins said. “If you have a better one, tell me.”

After the Newtown, Conn., rampage last December, 33 states considered new legislation aimed at arming teachers and administrators, according to an analysis by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Only 5 enacted laws that expanded the ability for public educators to arm themselves at school.

Still, some teachers and administrators around the country have carried guns for years under state or local laws that impose few restrictions on where concealed weapons can be carried.

“It’s a fairly common practice among the schools that do not have sworn officers,” said Asa Hutchinson, a former congressman and a candidate for governor in Arkansas. He recently led the National Rifle Association’s school safety initiative, which produced a 225-page report that advocated armed security officers or, in some cases, armed teachers in every public school.

Mr. Hutchinson said he recently spoke with a superintendent in Arkansas who had been carrying a firearm for 10 years. The district was among 13 in the state, including Clarksville, that have special permission to use rules designed for private security firms to arm their staff members.

Just before the school year began, the state suspended the practice temporarily after Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued an opinion that school districts could not act as private security companies. This month, however, a state board voted to allow the districts to continue using the law until the legislature reconsiders the issue in two years.

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N.J. Plan Would Allow Searches Without Warrants For Underage Drinking

MONTVILLE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A proposed ordinance in Montville, New Jersey could give police officers broad powers – including entering private property – if underage drinking is even suspected.

As CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported, the proposal has some people questioning just how far police should be allowed to go.

Residents value their privacy in the upscale community of Montville in Morris County. But the proposed ordinance could change all of that.

Police officers under the ordinance could search homes with probable cause, and without a warrant, if they suspect underage drinking.

“I am not in favor of them just coming into the homes, because there – other people have said – there are children that do make mistakes on various occasions, and that’s more of a parent responsibility rather than a police responsibility,” said Anna Marie Cecire of Montville.

The proposal is so controversial that when it was heard in a local committee room, a vote was postponed until members could hear from the police chief.

But another aspect of the plan does appeal to residents. While teens caught drinking face criminal charges under state law, officers under the Montville proposal could choose to let underage drinkers face lesser penalties.

“They are kids, and kids make mistakes, and they need to understand the consequences, but I don’t think it needs to be on their college application or somehow affect them in the future,” said guidance counselor Debbie Meenan.

Despite that, some 17-year-olds in Montville said the proposed ordinance gives police too much discretion.

“I just feel that it’s not really their business to be going into people’s houses,” said high school senior Brendan Zevits. “If you want to do that, you need to get a warrant.”

“Just coming in our houses searching – eventually, it’s going to turn into hunches and all that, and once you base it on a hunch, then it’s all downhill from there,” said high school senior Stephen McManus.

The mayor, committee members and the police chief do not appear to want to talk about the proposal, Sloan reported. None of them returned CBS 2’s calls.

One town official said the ordinance, which also imposes fines of up to $350, is vague in some areas. For that reason, it will be heard again on Sept. 23.

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