Video monitoring security system launches at 4 Tacoma schools

TACOMA, Wash. – Tacoma Public Schools are testing a new video monitoring security system for people trying to enter selected school buildings while class is in session. The school district looked at a number of different security options after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut.

The video monitoring system has been installed at four schools in the district. Campuses at these schools are completely locked up from arrival to dismissal.

Anyone trying to get into the school building during those hours must show ID at the video camera installed at the front entrance of the school before they’re allowed inside. Along with showing an ID, visitors have to explain why they’re there.

School staff monitor the video from a computer system at the main office and then decide whether to buzz the visitor, student, staff or parent indoors.

The four schools were picked because of issues with their layouts. Staff couldn’t see where people went after they entered through the main doors. For example, at Mason Middle School the main office isn’t near the front entrance.

The district has heard some complaints about inconvenience, but overall staff and students say they feel safer knowing exactly who’s coming into their building.

“I do think it’s necessary and unfortunately they don’t have these in my children’s schools. I wish they would, as a parent, mom and employee I feel like our school building is safe and secure,” said Andrea Borell, Mason Middle School secretary.

Each video monitor security system costs $10,000 and was paid for by a Capital Bond Levy passed by voters. If the district determines they’re effective, the video monitoring system could roll out to other schools in the district.

View Source

Planes Gather Cellphone Data to Find Criminals

The Justice Department is collecting data from thousands of cellphones through high-tech gear deployed on airplanes that mimics communications towers, The Wall Street Journal has reported.

The newspaper said the hunt for information about criminal suspects is also collecting data from many innocent Americans.

Citing sources familiar with the operations, the newspaper said the U.S. Marshal’s Service program, which became fully operational in 2007, operates Cessna aircraft from at least five metropolitan-area airports to collect the data. The airports were not identified in the Journal story.

The planes are equipped with devices that mimic cell towers of large telecommunications firms and trick cellphones into reporting unique registration information. The 2-foot-square devices allow investigators to collect data from thousands of cellphones in a single flight, the Journal reported. The devices collect their identifying information and general location.

The Justice Department would neither confirm nor deny the existence of such a program to the Journal. An official told the newspaper that discussion of such matters would allow criminal suspects of foreign powers to determine U.S. surveillance capabilities, adding that Justice Department agencies comply with federal law, including by seeking court approval.

Calling it “a dragnet surveillance program,” Christopher Soghoian, chief technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union, said: “It’s inexcusable and it’s likely — to the extent judges are authorizing it — they have no idea of the scale of it.”

The device being used by the Marshals Service identifies itself as having the closest, strongest signal — though it doesn’t — and causes all the cellphones that can detect its signal to send in their unique registration information. Cellphones are programmed to connect automatically to the strongest cell tower signal.

Phone companies are cut out in the search for suspects. Law enforcement has found that asking a company for cell-tower information to help locate a suspect can be slow and inaccurate. This program allows the government to get that information itself.

People familiar with the program told the Journal they do get court orders to search for phones, but it isn’t clear whether those orders describe the methods used because the orders are sealed.

View Source

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.

View Source

Suspects target local NC Ulta shops for expensive perfume

ROCK HILL, S.C. -Nov 12 2014 – Rock Hill police released surveillance video Friday showing a shoplifter leaving a store with $2,700 worth of perfume bottles.

It’s the latest in a string of incidents targeting the Ulta Beauty chain. Authorities are working to see if the cases are connected.

The video shows the man heading straight to the Chanel counter and putting 30 bottles of Chanel perfume in his shopping bag.

Since September, perfume bandits have struck five area Ulta stores in Charlotte, Salisbury and Rock Hill.

Thieves are primarily after the Chanel products which retail at $100 dollars a bottle, on average.

In late September, CMPD released surveillance pictures of two suspects they say hit four Charlotte-area shops in three days.

This week, Salisbury Police released pictures of one suspects holding a bag of stolen bottled in his shopping bag.

Authorities say the suspects are becoming bolder in their perfume pursuit.

Police say the suspect threatened to spray the store employees with mace when confronted at a store in Charlotte in September.

This week, police say, the suspect claimed he had a gun before making his escape.

The suspect in the Salisbury case hit the same store on Tuesday and Thursday, and police say he was seen walking into the store with four females. Police say they distracted the clerk, as the suspect cleared the shelves of perfume.

If you can identify the individuals in the photos, you are asked to call Crime Stoppers.

View Source

Police radios to aid principals in crisis situations

MANSFIELD – Each second is critical to first responders when dealing with a crisis in a school building.

Effective communication between law enforcement officers can stop a situation from escalating, or in the worst of situations, be the difference between life and death.

Mansfield police and city school officials recognize this, and the two entities jointly introduced a collaborative effort Wednesday that would allow more effective crisis communication between law enforcement and school administrators.

Mansfield police will provide the district with three police radios, which will be worn by Mansfield High School principal Brad Callender, middle school principal Jason Goings and Sherman Elementary School principal Steven Rizzo.

The principals will use the radios to communicate directly with police in the event a critical situation occurs.

“I think we’ve seen through the years with school shooting incidents that (response) time is definitely a factor,” Mansfield police Chief Ken Coontz said. “If something were to go wrong inside one of the schools, we would have the school administrator talk directly with responding officers to give up-to-the-second information on where the responding officers should arrive.”

The idea, Coontz added, is to eliminate the time it normally takes for an administrator to relay information to a dispatcher, who in turn communicates that to officers.

All three principals received training on how to use the radios.

Coontz said the police department will provide the three radios to the district at no cost. Police hope they can get radios into the district’s remaining five buildings and eventually into other schools in the area.

The collaborative effort represents the most recent attempt by the district to bolster school safety.

Mansfield City Schools employs a school resource officer, as well as part-time school specialists who monitor the hallways and intervene in the case of trouble among students.

The extra safety supervisors, along with the new effort to equip principals with radios, are a part of the district’s state-mandated school safety plan.

Read More

West Michigan districts use random canine searches to find contraband

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – From alcohol stored inside plastic food containers and marijuana pipes fashioned out of produce, West Michigan school leaders routinely find students trying to hide contraband on district grounds.

And in some instances the discoveries are being made with the help of drug dogs searching buildings in a move that administrators say is equal parts prevention and awareness.

“Every school has drugs in it, this is one of our ways to control that,” Charlie Brown, Rockford Public Schools security director, said of canine searches at the district’s middle and high schools. “We believe it works.”

Rockford is among several West Michigan school systems that hire Interquest Detection Canines of Michigan Inc. to perform the inspections.

The dogs, which are trained to find drugs, alcohol, gun powder-based products, tobacco and medications, also are used locally in Grandville, Forest Hills, East Kentwood and Byron Center schools among 46 districts across the state. East Grand Rapids uses the city’s public safety department to conduct regular searches on its high school campus.

Records obtained by MLive and the Grand Rapids Press under the Freedom of Information Act show the findings by dogs at area schools are relatively low compared to overall student population, but educators believe the more vigilant they are, the better for students.

The public records request showed the discovery of more than 86 prohibited substances or items at the area schools that have used Interquest since 2011. Alcohol, tobacco and marijuana or drug paraphernalia were the most common finds, but dogs also alerted to fireworks and a toy cap gun among other items banned from school property.

The dogs have come up with 28 student code violations at the six Forest Hills high and middle schools, the most in the region. Canine searches at Grandville revealed 26 hits, Kentwood with 22, 10 at Byron Center and Rockford with two. East Grand Rapids searches found no substances or weapons.

There is no mandate for documenting details of what the dogs find and district record-keeping varies, making complete comparisons between districts difficult. The figures also don’t include items found by security staff or administrators during the year.

Read More

Camera-Covered Jacket Turns You Into a Walking Surveillance Station

There’s a lot of talk these days of surveillance, but not so much about sousveillance. “Sousveillance means watching from below, whereas surveillance denotes seeing from above,” says Kim Yong Hun, a member of the Seoul-based artist group that created this security camera-bedecked blazer. Just like surveillance cameras protect goods in stores from above, this jacket protects its wearer with watchful eyes from below.

To make the jacket, Kim Yong Hun and Shin Seung Back, who together make up Shinseungback Kimyonghun, stitched over a dozen cameras into a standard business blazer. Four of them work; the rest are decoys. If the wearer is in danger, or even just in a sketchy situation, a push of a discrete button in the sleeve switches those four cameras on to capture a panoramic video of the user’s surroundings. The video transmits over Wi-Fi to a public website, holding anyone and everyone nearby accountable. In some ways, the jacket enables a more streamlined version of something we’re already doing, which is constantly recording the world around us with our smartphones. The button simply deletes a step in the process.

The Aposematic Jacket moniker comes from aposematism, the group of organisms, like poisonous frogs, that flamboyantly advertise the harm they could inflict on a predator should they dare to attack. Whereas frogs are venomous, the wearer of jacket can ruin an assailant with information. “The ones who ignore the warning will taste toxicity of the recorded images,” Kim says. In concept, the jacket isn’t just relying on surveillance for safety; it’s relying on the threat of surveillance.

In their art, Kim and Shin explore how technology shapes human behavior, and vice versa. (One of their recent projects is a collection of pictures of clouds that facial-recognition software tags as people.) In the case of the Aposematic Jacket, they’re looking at how people might treat others when there are handful of camera lenses staring them dead in the face. “Cameras make people act ‘properly,’ ” Kim says. “Once someone’s behavior is recorded, it will exist beyond time and space so that will have the possibility of being ‘judged’ by others anytime and anywhere.” This helps explain the jacket’s, erm, inconspicuous look. It doesn’t subtly incorporate the cameras into its design, because broadcasting the possibility of being recorded is the whole point.

Read More

CIA’s Secret Fear: High-Tech Border Checks Will Blow Spies’ Cover

When Tom Cruise had to break into police headquarters in Minority Report, the futuristic crime thriller, he got past the iris scanners with ease: He just swapped out his eyeballs.

CIA agents may find that just a little beyond the call of duty. But meanwhile, they’ve got to come up with something else: The increasing deployment of iris scanners and biometric passports at worldwide airports, hotels and business headquarters, designed to catch terrorists and criminals, are playing havoc with operations that require CIA spies to travel under false identities.

Busy spy crossroads such as Dubai, Jordan, India and many E.U. points of entry are employing iris scanners to link eyeballs irrevocably to a particular name. Likewise, the increasing use of biometric passports, which are embedded with microchips containing a person’s face, sex, fingerprints, date and place of birth, and other personal data, are increasingly replacing the old paper ones. For a clandestine field operative, flying under a false name could be a one-way ticket to a headquarters desk, since they’re irrevocably chained to whatever name and passport they used.

“If you go to one of those countries under an alias, you can’t go again under another name,” explains a career spook, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he remains an agency consultant. “So it’s a one-time thing — one and done. The biometric data on your passport, and maybe your iris, too, has been linked forever to whatever name was on your passport the first time. You can’t show up again under a different name with the same data.”

The issue is exceedingly sensitive to agency operatives and intelligence officials, past and present. “I think you have finally found a topic I can’t talk about,” said Charles Faddis, a CIA operations officer who retired in 2008.

“I can’t help you with this,” added a former intelligence agency chief. “I do think this is a significant issue with great implications for the safety and security of our people, so I recommend you not publish anything on this. You can do a lot of harm and no good.”

Read More

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.

Read More

Who? What? When? Why? Where? And How?

A key factor in placing any person at the scene of a crime is obtaining evidence that can place an identified suspect as it relates to the scene of the crime. Previously discussed methods of physical surveillance and obtaining records are usually the best evidence of placing a suspect at a specific place and at a specific time, but as most investigations involve reacting to incidents, this may not be always possible.

Second best evidence is the examination of an electronic device that had been possessed by a suspect. The only reason why this is not as good as physically placing a person at a scene is because unless there is additional corroborating information, a forensic examination of electronic media by itself cannot place a person at that device.

Investigations need to establish where the electronic device has existed by date, time, and location based on the device’s activity. As there will be a multitude of dates and locations collected, our ever growing timeline of suspect activity comes into play to keep track of the evidence chronologically. In a case where several electronic devices have been used by a suspect, the amount of data expands exponentially.

Read More