Attorney General OKs Armed School Employees

AUSTIN - Texas school districts that allow employees to carry handguns for the protection of students do not violate state laws banning concealed firearms at school sporting events or during school board meetings, Attorney General Greg Abbott said in an opinion released Friday.

Although firearms generally are banned in those places by other state laws, Abbott said the state’s so-called “guardian plan,” approved a year ago for mostly rural school districts that cannot afford to hire security, provides an exception.

Abbott said employees or school trustees specifically authorized by school district administrators to carry concealed weapons will not run afoul of the other laws specifying the prohibited places.

State Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, last fall had asked Abbott for an opinion on the matter after several Texas school districts began authorizing employees to carry concealed weapons on campus, and several questioned whether the state’s gun laws limited their work areas.

In his ruling, Abbott said it also covers school marshals, school employees who are designated to carry concealed weapons on duty for security purposes under another state law.

The laws were approved a year ago amid controversy over allowing Texas school districts to beef up security in the aftermath of the December 2012 attack on Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut that killed 26, including 20 students. Supporters insisted that having trained, armed employees could thwart an attack, while opponents claimed putting more weapons in schools was not the answer unless they were carried by trained police officers.

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Below is a look at the 5 biggest benefits to carrying a concealed carry permit or license regardless if your state is Unrestricted, Shall Issue or May Issue for concealed carry. Unrestricted states still offer licenses for those who wish to apply, and those licenses provide advantages to firearm owners.

Five benefits of concealed carry permit

1. Licenses put police officers at ease

2. Licenses help when openly carrying around uninformed people

3. Licenses allow firearm owners to carry in more public areas

4. Licenses educate firearm owners on laws that could save their lives

5. Licenses make it easier to buy firearms

Facial recognition – coming soon

Technology giant NEC’s Hong Kong branch is promoting a small, “easy to install” appliance which will enable businesses to monitor their customers based on facial recognition.

From a recent NEC press release:

The new Mobile Facial Recognition Appliance enables organizations in any industry to offer an ultra-personalized customer experience by recognizing the face of each and every customer as soon as they set foot on the premises.

Face recognition is becoming ever more sophisticated and accurate, bringing automated detection and tracking of people by the way they look within reach of all sorts of people.

For law enforcement this technology is, of course, a dream. Despite limited success in the real world, any modern conspiracy thriller worth its salt includes a scene where creepily intrusive/heroically hardworking forces of law and order are shown to be able to find anyone passing near any security camera, and follow them around with minimal effort.

With the FBI’s latest plans to expand facial recognition data this sort of thing comes another step closer to reality.

It’s not just the feds and the snoops that love the idea though. In the business world, who people are and what they’re up to has become the basis of a massive industry, with big data on anyone and everyone being used to hone and target advertising and promotions in an effort to suck in a few more customers.

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Cameras on campus help police fight crime

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT/WYMT) - On the University of Kentucky’s campus signs promote seeing excellence, tomorrow, and of course blue. Although there should be more signs saying they see you.

“Right now, we’ve got over 400 cameras out and we’re expanding almost on a daily basis,” stated UK Police Chief Joe Monroe.

“I just never really knew they were there, until you told me about them. It’s amazing,” reacted one sophomore student.

“I don’t think they really tell us those kinds of things at freshman orientation,” added a freshman student.

It’s not as if these cameras are hidden, they’re in plain sight on poles and even the emergency call stations around campus.

“The system will actually be able to have almost 2,000 cameras by the time the project is through,” explained the Chief.

It was this network of cameras that caught a recent arson attempt outside Commonwealth Stadium.

“We were able to deploy the new camera system and actually research and look at some of the video footage. (We) actually get a good description of the suspects,” said Monroe.

According to police, the footage caught several suspects attempting to light a car on fire via a cardboard box on Wednesday night. Investigators add that the car was not badly damaged. Still it was all seen by a security camera mounted high above the parking lot on the Commonwealth Stadium scoreboard.

“A lot of times you don’t have witnesses, so now we’re able to use the camera system as our witness and gather this evidence very quickly,” Monroe explained.

In the last month, campus police say the system has helped them solve two crimes, and they say it could even evolve into a way to prevent crimes.

“For students and staff that are walking on campus, they can call in to us and we’ll be able to follow them on cameras, by the time the project is through.”

Also by the time the project is complete, police expect to have a central command center where all of the video feeds can be monitored. While the police already patrol the campus heavily, having eyes everywhere will go a long way.

The three students arrested are said to be Jennings Kleeman, 18, Cullen Gallaher, 18, and Ian Baughman, 19.

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Canadian arrested for hacking revenue agency using Heartbleed security bug

A 19-year-old Canadian man has become the first person arrested in relation to the Heartbleed security vulnerability, which he used to steal taxpayer information.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is accusing Stephen Arthuro Solis-Reyes of hacking into the Canadian Revenue Agency’s (CRA) website late last week.

Solis-Reyes, of London, Ontario, is suspected of stealing around 900 Social Insurance Numbers.

“It is believed that [Mr] Solis-Reyes was able to extract private information held by CRA by exploiting the vulnerability known as the Heartbleed bug,” the RCMP said in a statement.

“The RCMP treated this breach of security as a high priority case and mobilized the necessary resources to resolve the matter as quickly as possible,” RCMP assistant commissioner Gilles Michaud said. “Investigators from National Division, along with our counterparts in ‘O’ Division have been working tirelessly over the last four days analyzing data, following leads, conducting interviews, obtaining and executing legal authorizations and liaising with our partners.”

Solis-Reyes has been charged with “unauthorized use of a computer” and “mischief in relation to data.” He is scheduled to appear in court on July 17.

The 19-year-old is a second-year student at Western University, located in his hometown. In high school, he was on a team that won first place in a programming competition at the London District Catholic School Board. He has also authored a BlackBerry phone app that solves Sukoku puzzles, according to The Globe and Mail.

His father is a Western computer science professor. The family lived in Lafayette, Indiana before moving to Ontario.

Early last week, the open-source OpenSSL project released an emergency security advisory warning of Heartbleed, a bug that pulls in private keys to a server using vulnerable software, allowing operators to suck in data traffic and even impersonate the server. Heartbleed was first noticed by a Google researcher and Codenomicon, a Finnish security firm.

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) reported that the private information of about 900 people was stolen thanks to Heartbleed’s impact. CRA became one of the first major organizations to curtail services as a result of the vulnerability.

“Regrettably, the CRA has been notified by the government of Canada’s lead security agencies of a malicious breach of taxpayer data that occurred over a six-hour period” last week, CRA said on Monday.

Private firms and governments are working to patch their vulnerabilities to the bug, yet more breaches are expected.

The Canadian government “was really slow on this,” Christopher Parsons from the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto told CBC.

Yahoo was one major private entity to immediately address its exposure to Heartbleed, claiming it had successfully updated its servers after hearing of the bug.

“If you look at Yahoo, it had begun updating its security practices prior to the CRA fully taking action,” Parsons said. “The same thing with other larger companies. As soon as they saw what was going on, they immediately reacted and issued public statements.”

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$3 million in merchandise recovered from Hazel Park shoplifting ring

What is believed to be one of the largest local shoplifting rings in at least four decades has been broken up by Oakland County detectives, officials announced Wednesday.

Five people have been arrested in connection with the ring: Shah Abullais Khalish, 28, of Hazel Park and Delwar Miah, 23, of Detroit, are believed to have been the ringleaders, and April Lynn Cooper, 29, and Sandra Gale Cooper, 47, both of Warren, and Shantell Danne Collins, 24, of Detroit, were also charged.

The suspects are believed to have been part of a $3 million-plus retail fraud ring — the largest such operation that Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard has ever seen.

“The scope and size” of the operation is “amazing,” Bouchard said during a Wednesday afternoon press conference.

Bouchard’s law enforcement career began in the 1970s.

Investigators seized merchandise believed to have been stolen from multiple retailers, including CVS, Walgreens and Victoria’s Secret.

The investigation began as a drug case, as the Sheriff’s Office’s Narcotics Enforcement Team received a tip about people who were possibly selling pseudoephedrine for use in methamphetatmine production.

NET investigators soon determined that the suspects were not selling pseudoephedrine but were stealing between $9,000 and $15,000 worth of merchandise, per person, per day.

“This was great work by the detectives to follow a case where it goes, and they’ll continue to do that,” Bouchard said.

The merchandise was taken to a warehouse on Dequindre near 8 Mile Road in Hazel Park, and it was sold on Amazon, eBay and other online retailers.

“A lot of this (theft) was right out the front door,” Bouchard said, adding that those who commit retail fraud often have special “boosting” clothes with compartments sewn into them.

Investigators obtained search warrants on March 19, watched the suspects steal items from CVS and Walgreens and arrested all five suspects, officials said. More than $9,000 worth of merchandise was found in the suspects’ vehicle.

A search of the warehouse followed. The building contained more than $3 million worth of Victoria’s Secret merchandise, along with $30,000 worth of CVS and Walgreens merchandise and $100,000 in other brand name products. Investigators also seized $75,000 in cash from the building.

“This warehouse was a substantial warehouse,” Bouchard said.

“They bought this warehouse about nine months ago with $200,000 in cash. They were generating that much money that they could plunk down $200,000 in cash.”

Seven semi trucks were needed to empty all the merchandise from the building.

The operation crossed state lines, as most of the Victoria’s Secret items came from Las Vegas, Bouchard said.

He could not reveal the exact details of where the items came from and said more charges could be forthcoming.

It is unclear how long the operation had been in place but the time frame is likely measured in years, Bouchard said.

All five suspects are charged with two counts each of organized retail crime and one count each of receiving and concealing stolen property. Bond was set at $300,000 for both Khalish and Miah, while the Coopers and Collins received $50,000 bonds. All five have been released on bond and are next scheduled to appear in court at 1:30 p.m. April 25 in front of 44th District Judge Derek Meincke.

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Grand Rapids Public Schools security officers help nab man with gun

GRAND RAPIDS, MI April 5 2014 – Grand Rapids Public Schools security officers helped police track down a teen who allegedly carried a concealed stolen handgun during a fight Thursday near the district’s Central Campus.

Police were called to a fight between about 15 people in the area of Lyon Street and Prospect Avenue NE about 2:54 p.m. April 3.
Security officers from nearby Innovation Central High School, 421 Fountain St., attempted to break up the altercation and noticed a 17-year-old male with a handgun, police said. The teen rode away on a bicycle before police arrived.

The suspect isn’t a student, but a security officer provided police with his name and a description.

Police arrested the teen about a half-mile away near Hawthorne Street and Eastern Avenue NE. The handgun was recovered in a garage in the 100 block of Langdon Avenue NE. Police said the suspect admitted to dropping the gun there after the fight.

Police determined the gun was reported stolen to the Wyoming Police Department.

The suspect is held on charges of carrying a concealed weapon and possession of a stolen firearm, police said. The prosecutor’s office will review the case Friday.

Anyone with additional information about the incident is asked to call police at 456-3604 or Silent Observer at 774-2345.
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Parking argument leads to armed confrontation outside club

A dispute about parking at a Near North Side nightclub early Friday ended with security guards detaining a man who they said threatened them with a gun.

The guards told police that they asked Van M. Johnson, 30, to move his Chevrolet Camaro out of the valet parking lot in the 800 block of North Orleans Street. Johnson argued, police said, and the guards eventually told the Near West Side man that he wouldn’t be allowed back inside the nightclub but that he still needed to move the car.

At that point, prosecutors said, Johnson retrieved a revolver from the car’s glove box and threatened the security guards. When the guards drew their own weapons, Johnson complied and was detained until police arrived at around 2:25 a.m., his arrest report said. Officers recovered a .32-caliber revolver loaded with four live rounds from his car.

Johnson, of the 2200 block of West Monroe Street, was charged with three felony counts of aggravated assault on a peace officer with a weapon, as well as a single felony count of aggravated unauthorized use of a weapon.

In bond court Saturday, Judge Laura Marie Sullivan ordered him held on $25,000 bail.

Court records didn’t name the nightclub.

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NOPD to kick off city-wide surveillance camera database

NEW ORLEANS — A gunman approached a couple in the 500 block of Dumaine Street and attempted to rob them Wednesday morning.

It’s a crime that might have gone unsolved before, but thanks to Safe Cam 8, police know a nearby businesses’ surveillance camera captured the entire thing.

“Very quickly the detective are on the case and looking for video,” said Bob Simms, chairman of the French Quarter Management District’s Security Task Force. “We found video from one of the businesses on the 500 block and she just sent that to the detectives.”

The business and its cameras are one of 1,300 cameras registered on Safe Cam 8, a database used by police to keep track of all the privately-owned and operated cameras in the French Quarter and the CBD.

“It’s very rewarding, but I am very surprised at how quickly it has taken off,” Simms said. “People in the 8th District want to be a part of making the French Quarter a safer place.

” Because of its success, police are now launching a city-wide version of the crime-fighting tool.

“Our district supervisors or our district investigations supervisors and detectives can now just go to one database and say show me anything in the 900 block of Royal Street, and it will give them a visual as well as well as the contact information and the detectives will immediately start trying to contact people,” said NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas.

Serpas said their new citywide database Safe Cam NOLD will be rolled right into the Safe Cam 8 program so detectives will knows where cameras are up throughout the city.

But the NOPD stressed one important point, and one that could be a deterrent for residents if they’re don’t with how Safe Cam NOLA works.

“We are not tunneling in in anyway,” he said. “We are not using the Internet in any way to look at people’s videos or house any of that data. This information stays on their personal camera systems in their homes and business.”

The Safe Cam NOLA website went live Wednesday. So if residents or businesses have surveillance cameras installed, they can start registering their cameras immediately.

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Allow armed ‘school safety’ employees on every campus

Every Florida school could have an employee carrying a concealed gun, under a bill a House education panel approved Wednesday. The bill is a reworked version of an armed-teachers bill that died in the Florida Legislature last year. Both are a response to the fatal shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012 and an effort, one lawmaker said, to provide “one additional gun for the good guys.”

Like last year’s bill, this year’s is controversial, though opponents said the 2014 version was much improved.

The House bill (HB 753) would allow districts to have at least one “school safety designee” on each campus. That person would carry a concealed gun but would first need to meet firearm and school safety training requirements. To be tapped, that person would have to be an active duty or retired military or law enforcement or licensed to carry a concealed weapon.

Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, said previous laws that made schools “gun-free zones” were well intended but inadvertently left schools defenseless, if a “monster” got on campus.

“They don’t even have a water pistol in which to charge the gates of hell…to confront this monster,” he said.
“I think it’s time to embrace this,” he added. “Firearms save people’s lives. That’s why policemen carry them.”

The bill passed with strong support from the House education k-12 subcommittee’s Republican leadership.

But Democrats on the panel said their local school districts did not support the legislation.

“They’re saying arming administrators and teachers does not guarantee any more safety in the school system than what is in there now,” said Rep. Gwyndolen Clarke-Reed, D-Deerfield Beach.

But Rep. Dave Hood, R-Daytona Beach Shores, said it was a “creative solution” to school safety worries and provided “one additional gun for the good guys.”

Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, the bill’s sponsor said it would allow “properly trained individuals” to help defend students. Schools would not have to create the new armed “designee” program, however.

But Steube said it could help those campuses that feel vulnerable. “Let’s give ourselves the Constitutional and God-given rights to defend ourselves.”

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Mi.Sheriff’s department can now monitor school security cameras

ROMULUS MI March 11 2014 — Calling it “another layer of security,” Marty Rotz believes having cameras at Romulus Central School linked to the Seneca County Sheriff’s Office is another way to give parents peace of mind.

“We’re very excited about this partnership with the sheriff’s office and the extra security it will provide,” the Romulus superintendent said Wednesday during an interview with Sheriff Jack Stenberg and Undersheriff Gary Sullivan at the sheriff’s office.For the last several weeks, the sheriff’s department has had access to school cameras via computer through LAKENet, which connects dozens of school districts through Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES.

Rotz believes Romulus is the first district in the region to have its cameras linked to a police agency.

Rotz said the link was established after Romulus made upgrades to its camera system last summer. There are about 50 cameras in the school, mostly in corridors, entrances and around parking lots; because of privacy issues, they are not in classrooms and bathrooms.

“We have had cameras for years, for our own use such as investigating student trouble … and we started asking questions to the sheriff’s office about the possibilities,” he said. “Getting the sheriff’s department to have access to what we have is frosting on the cake.”

While Rotz, Stenberg and Sullivan said the cameras can certainly alert police to an emergency situation, they can also help with the investigation of less serious incidents at the school. The district’s computer server stores video on the cameras for about two months.

“We can look at back tapes if we’re looking into criminal mischief, maybe somebody joyriding in the parking lot,” Stenberg said. “To be able to go back and look at the footage could be invaluable.”

While the cameras at Romulus Central are not monitored continually at the sheriff’s office, Sullivan said road patrol deputies can also access them by vehicle computers. The Internet portal allows for numerous camera angles to be seen at one time.

“We’ve found it works beyond our wildest expectations,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan credited two information technology employees, Sue Fegley from the school district and John Palladino from the sheriff’s office, for their work. Sullivan added that the camera link is among several measures Romulus has added to increase security, including putting large classroom numbers on windows and having key fobs for access to entrance doors, which deputies can use to make sure doors are locked during non-school hours.

“Romulus is at the forefront of schools when it comes to security,” he said.

Stenberg said the sheriff’s office may also reach out to the South Seneca school district on a similar partnership, and possibly work with police in Waterloo and Seneca Falls on doing the same in those school districts.

Rotz said the district’s increased security, in part, is due to the lack of a school resource officer. The district cut that positions several years ago due to funding.

He added that the cameras and the link to the sheriff’s office is not meant to provide constant surveillance.

“This is not something we were looking to throw in people’s faces and say we’re always watching,” he said. “We just want folks in the district and parents to know there is a level of security here. We also think there will be an element of deterrence by having the cameras and people knowing the sheriff’s office has access to them.”

Stenberg said in the event of an emergency, access to the cameras could give officers valuable information before entering the building.

“It could save a tremendous amount of time in assessing a situation. Going into a building is scary enough. Without information makes it even moreso,” he said. “With the cameras, now the first man in the door has some information, and getting to the scene quickly and having that information is crucial.

Time is of the essence in these situations and critical to our response.”

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