Shoplifting cases drop 66% thanks to sign program

In the past decade, the number of shoplifting cases in Greene County has increased dramatically.

“The number of cases that we had in 2013 was just a little above 300 cases,” Judge Stidham said. “Ten years earlier, we had three on the docket the entire year.”

Greene County District Judge Dan Stidham said people were rarely shoplifting out of necessity either.

“For the most part, it seems to be people who don’t really need to shoplift. They do it for the thrill,” he explained.

That’s why in late 2014, the county started working do modify that behavior.

Now if an offender is convicted for shoplifting, they’re given two options; do the time or wear the sign.

“But the word got out very quickly that you can’t go steal something now and just get slapped on the hand,” Stidham said.

The program started in October 2014 but because of court process, the first offenders didn’t wear the signs until February 2015.

Six people wore a sign in February 2015.

“Then in March, we had every available court date full of people wearing the signs,” Stidham said. “We actually didn’t have enough signs to accommodate people.”

Over the course of 2015, those numbers started to dwindle.

“We’ve had a 2/3 decrease in the number of cases just in the first year. I think this time next year, I think we’ll have it down to the point we had it before where we’re just seeing a few cases a year,” Stidham said.

So far, Stidham said no one has chosen three days jail time over wearing the sign in public for three hours.

“I keep waiting for someone to say ‘No, I want to go to jail,’ but no one has,” he said.

Because of that, the consequences of shoplifting have been seen by a lot of people.

“I really thought we might decrease it by a third, maybe a fourth. Maybe if we were fortunate, 40 percent or 50 percent but I did not expect to see a two-thirds drop that fast.”

Stidham said the program is similar to a hot check program he started in 2000 to combat that problem.

However, if something else starts becoming a big problem like shoplifting, the judge said they’ll look at ways to expand the program to modify other criminal behavior.”

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Online petition calls for heightened security at NorthPark

A petition has been posted online to improve security at Dallas’ NorthPark Center.

The petition, filed on change.org, is addressed to NorthPark Center General Manager Billy Hines and asks to “confirm all Northpark Center security cameras are operational & increase security escorts.”

The call for change comes after recent crimes at the popular shopping destination on US-75 in northern Dallas. Most recently, a woman was attacked in the NorthPark parking garage in broad daylight on Jan. 27.

Three suspects attacked Brittany Arterberry with pepper spray and tried to steal her purse, she said.

Late last year, an off-duty Dallas Police officer fired his weapon at two shoplifting suspects leaving the garage in their vehicle. Those suspects had a brush with a mall security officer, who jumped on the hood of the suspects’ vehicle to “avoid being run over” after failing to stop them.

The suspects were arrested five days later.

The change.org petition, posted Sunday, states that the center needs a more reliable way to contact security officers for assistance, and that fully functional security cameras would “deter future incidents.”

It had over 150 online signatures by 9 p.m.

Several commenters backed the petition, saying they want to feel safe at NorthPark. Some commented that they go to the mall with young children and aren’t comfortable with recent acts of violence there.

“There needs to be more security measures to stop these attacks from happening,” said one comment from a woman in Colleyville. “I’m too scared to go with my children to the mall until I see security measures increased.”

News 8 has reached out to NorthPark Center for a statement regarding the petition, but has not yet heard back.

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Hundreds of DHS badges, guns, cell phones lost or stolen since 2012

Hundreds of badges, credentials, cell phones and guns belonging to Department of Homeland Security employees have been lost or stolen in recent years — raising serious security concerns about the potential damage these missing items could do in the wrong hands.

Inventory reports, obtained by the news site Complete Colorado and shared with FoxNews.com, show that over 1,300 badges, 165 firearms and 589 cell phones were lost or stolen over the span of 31 months between 2012 and 2015.

The majority of the credentials belonged to employees of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), while others belonged to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) employees.

The lost or stolen guns also mostly belonged to CBP employees, though others were cited as belonging to TSA and ICE workers. The agencies all fall under DHS.

The missing badges and guns suggest a shocking lack of security from federal law enforcement officers and represent a significant security risk, experts say.

“It’s scary that you’d have that number of credentials out there that someone could manipulate,” Tim Miller, a retired Secret Service special agent, told FoxNews.com.

While Miller said the phones are likely to have enough protocols in place to prevent them from being used for nefarious purposes, the badges and credentials are an entirely different matter and could allow access to sensitive areas such as cargo.

“The thing that’s particularly concerning is that if you get real credentials, it’s very easy to manipulate them, and you’ve got someone else’s picture on what law enforcement would see as valid,” Miller said. “Then you factor in terrorism, it’s a significant concern that people would run around with authentic credentials and be able to access areas they wouldn’t otherwise be able to access.”

When reached for comment, DHS did not dispute the inventory report data — which Complete Colorado, a Colorado-based online news site, had obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request. The reporter who obtained the data also works with Denver-based free-market think tank the Independence Institute.

In a statement to FoxNews.com, a DHS spokesman said they strive to be “good stewards of government resources” and have improved oversight and reduced the number of lost or stolen items over the past few years.

“If a credential holder loses or has their credentials stolen, the holder must report the incident to their supervisor and credential issuance office immediately,” spokesman Justin Greenberg said. “Once the incident has been reported, this information is entered into appropriate DHS and law enforcement databases, which disables use of the lost or stolen item.”

He also noted that DHS encrypts all mobile devices, laptops and tablets.

Miller said officials need to be doing more, considering the sheer number of guns and badges that have been lost or stolen.


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Memorial museum security guard enjoys working among natural history

Editor’s note: In 300 words or fewer, this series spotlights people in our community whose stories typically go untold.

It’s still dark outside as Michael Fallon walks up the stairs to work, passing a saber-toothed tiger on his left. He unlocks the front door and flicks on the lights, illuminating the 40-foot wingspan of a Texas Pterosaur hovering above him.

Fallon is the first one at work every day and the last one out. Until the next employee arrives around 9 a.m., the Texas Memorial Museum’s 66 million-year-old Monasaur skeleton keeps him company.

“A lot of people kid me about that movie ‘Night At The Museum,’” he said. “If the animals were to come alive, it would be spooky, but in reality, it’s just very quiet.”

Most of his workday is spent in his security nook inside the museum’s Great Hall. Two computer screens stare back at him with live surveillance footage of the museum grounds.

At all times, he is ready to respond to a crisis. After nine years in the U.S. Air Force and 23 with UTPD, he is well versed in emergency protocol, although at the museum he rarely has to use it.

“If I can keep people happy and safe, that makes me happy,” he said.

In 2010, Fallon retired from UTPD because it was time for a new chapter in his life. He said being a cop is a young man’s game, and as he moved deeper into his 50s, he wanted a change of pace.

The museum provided just that. Michael gets to see every patron who comes through the museum, from retirement home groups to pre-K classes. He watches each of them experience the same wonder and awe he feels every day from his security nook.

“I think people should appreciate natural history so they know what was here long before we were and appreciate what we have now,” he said. “It humbles you.”

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FireKeepers Casino Hotel’s security staff receive specialized training

FireKeepers Casino Hotel’s security staff has received a series of highly-specified training sessions to ensure safety at the 236,000-square-foot property in Emmett Township.

In a media release on Monday, the casino highlighted its security training measures for its more than 100 on-site security officers. The casino’s security training program prepares its officers with a number of areas including officer conduct, customer interaction, human trafficking, drug awareness and active shooter training, among others.

The training programs are directed by George Jenkot, vice president of security and surveillance; Dale Isbell, director of security and surveillance; Sam Abdo, training and special events supervisor of security; and the casino’s security supervisors and officers.

“All of our training sessions focus on the various facets of the property and are designed to raise awareness and help our Team Members recognize potential issues and learn when to report them to Security,” Jenkot said in the release. “It is the responsibility of our Team Members to watch and report and it is Security’s responsibility to provide the education so they can do so.”

Among the casino’s programs, the human trafficking program is designed for officers to recognize and react to the signs of human trafficking. The drug awareness program is a similar training session overseen by the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi Tribal Police, the Special Operations Detective from Calhoun County and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Its active shooter training is among the casino’s most extensive programs, created to help officers recognize warning signs and keep guests and employees safe in the event of an active shooter situation.

The casino said it intends to implement a series of refresher training courses for veteran officers this year.

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Body armor now required on all Cleveland EMS responses

The new policy only allows a few exceptions for when employees can remove their ballistic vests

A new body armor policy, put in effect on Jan. 1, requires all Cleveland EMS personnel to wear a ballistic vest at all times, unless they are inside a station or hospital.

The Cleveland EMS general order on ballistic/body armor, issued on Dec. 21, 2015, directs personnel working in an operational capacity to wear body armor at all times while on duty unless the EMT, paramedic, captain or sergeant is engaged in tasks inside an EMS base facility, inside or on the grounds of a hospital, attending training at EMS headquarters, attending a court hearing, or at a medical appointment.

Employees are to wear the ballistic vests either under their shirt or inside an external vest carrier over their shirt.

Employees are also responsible for cleaning and inspecting their body armor.

Previously Cleveland EMS personnel were only required to wear body armor on specific call types, such as assaults and active shooters.

Cleveland EMS staffs 18 ALS ambulances and responds to more than 100,000 emergency calls per year.

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Weapons stolen from security officer at Indian River State College

Police in Fort Pierce are searching for weapons stolen Saturday night from a security officer’s vehicle at Indian River State College.

The crime happened between 6 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.

Police said the stolen weapons are a Kimber 45 caliber pistol, a Bushmaster AR 223 rifle and a Colt M4 Carbine 5.56mm with loaded magazines. A Fort Pierce police badge was also taken.

Police said the security officer is Hall Solomon, a retired Fort Pierce police officer.

They said Solomon was on duty when someone pried open one of the vehicle doors and stole the weapons.

Solomon said when he returned to his truck to get something, he noticed that his weapons were missing. He said each one was in a separate gun case and losses total about $4,000.

Police confirm that the weapons were from Solomon’s personal collection. Solomon said he’s also a gun dealer.

Detectives are hoping finger prints from Solomon’s vehicle can lead to an arrest. There’s no suspect information at this time.

If you have any information about this crime, call the Fort Pierce Police Department.

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Off-duty NYPD cop saves suicidal man

A hero cop saved a man’s life by asking him a simple question: do you want a hug?

Officer Christian Campoverde was Christmas shopping with his family at Queens Center Mall last week when he heard a distraught man mumbling that he wanted to kill himself, according to the NYPD News.

Campoverde, who was off-duty at the time, noticed something didn’t seem right with the man and followed him to a balcony area where the man had one leg over a railing. There, Campoverde began to talk to him about why he wanted to end his life and as both strangers connected, he said “Is it OK if I give you a hug, do you want a hug?”

The man replied with a yes and was taken safely by EMS for evaluation.

“I just saw somebody who needed help,” Campoverde, who finalized the NYPD’s Crisis Intervention Team training the week prior, said.

The training focuses on assisting officers on how they can recognize signs of mental illness, respond to such calls and helping someone in a crisis.

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Corrections officer awarded Medal of Valor

A corrections officer at the South Central Correctional Center received the state’s highest public safety award for his actions in a 2014 inmate attack.

Nathan F. Box was one of nine officers from across the state who received the Missouri Medal of Valor honor from Gov. Jay Nixon during a ceremony last Wednesday in Jefferson City.

Officers who responded to deadly threats in 2014 represented Missouri police and EMS and fire departments, as well as the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Missouri Department of Corrections and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Box sprung into action on May 30, 2014, when a prisoner attacked a corrections officer with an 8-inch-long steel improvised weapon.

The offender had stabbed the officer multiple times, including in the jaw, back of the head and left torso when Box came to the officer’s aid.

He first deployed pepper spray at the attacker, but it had no effect.

Because corrections officers do not carry guns, Tasers or other weapons, Box physically engaged the attacker, attempting to pull him away from the injured officer. The attacker remained violent and began attacking Box.

In subduing the attacker to protect his wounded colleague, Box suffered a stab wound and a fractured jaw. Despite his injuries, Box was able to subdue the attacker and recover the improvised weapon.

The wounded officer who was originally attacked was treated at a hospital and released. Box was also treated, including requiring surgery on his jaw.

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Disney installs metal detectors, prohibits toy guns at parks

Disney acknowledged that it’s an armed world, after all — installing metal detectors at eight theme park and water park entrances in Florida and California today as part of a package of new security measures in the wake of recent mass shootings.

Toy guns are prohibited and adults are no longer allowed to wear costumes under the new policies. Disney has also stopped selling toy guns — including toy blasters and squirt guns — at the properties. Some stores at the parks, such as a Pirates of the Caribbean-themed gift shop, had featured racks full of plastic guns available for purchase.

A Disney spokesperson said security measures, both visible and non-visible, have been added in recent weeks, including additional law enforcement and use of dogs in patrols. The parks use private security.

The measures were attributed to “the current state of heightened awareness” involving guns, the spokesperson said, and follows attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., in which shooters targeted victims in public places.

“We continually review our comprehensive approach to security and are implementing additional security measures, as appropriate,” Disney said in a statement.

The security additions come one day after the Department of Homeland Security identified “public events or places” as potential terrorist targets in a National Terrorism Advisory System bulletin.

Security measures were also added at non-Disney parks such as SeaWorld, Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood.

Information about the security overhauls was reported by the Orlando Sentinel. The website wdwmagic.com, which focuses on news and information about the resort, also posted images showing the security changes.

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