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by: Amy Canfield - Monday, March 10, 2014

NEWARK, N.J.—Liberty International Airport here has replaced lighting outside and inside of its Terminal B with 171 “smart LEDs.” The Sensity-manufactured lights, which last longer and consume less energy than traditional lighting, include security cameras and other functions.

Viewed as a pilot project by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and Honeywell, and started last fall, its primary goal is to “test the efficacy of the cameras deployed in conjunction with energy efficient LED lights,” a port authority spokeswoman said in response to a request for information from Security Director News.

The spokeswoman said the Port Authority would “not be doing any interviews on this particular topic,” but she did provide background information.

Video footage collected during the project is being used to monitor congestion and for security purposes, she said. The airport is using footage of the terminal’s ticketing area to monitor queues and activity, with possible future monitoring of unattended baggage.

The Port Authority will decide how the collected footage from the LEDs will be used after the results of the pilot project have been evaluated, she said. The footage would be shared only with other law enforcement agencies conducting authorized investigations that submit official requests or subpoenas.

by: Amy Canfield - Friday, February 14, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah—Digital Recognition Network Inc. and Vigilant Solutions Inc. have filed a federal lawsuit challenging Utah’s outright ban on automatic license plate readers.

The ban “arbitrarily prohibits an activity that is protected in all other settings and violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” the plaintiffs said in a prepared statement.

The Utah Automatic License Plate Reader System Act, which prohibits the use of automated high-speed cameras to photograph license plates in the state of Utah, infringes on constitutionally protected speech and causes the companies imminent and irreparable injury, the companies noted in a prepared statement.  The companies are calling for preliminary injunctive relief.

The case could have far-reaching national repercussions as more than 20 states are currently reviewing bills that would curb the use of license plate recognition systems for both private and law enforcement use, the companies noted in the statement. Further, five states have already enacted legislation that is identical or similar to the Utah act.

“Taking and distributing a photograph is an act that is fully protected by the first Amendment,” DRN / Vigilant outside counsel Michael Carvin said in the statement.  “The state of Utah cannot claim that photographing a license plate violates privacy. License plates are public by nature and contain no sensitive or private information. Any citizen of Utah can walk outside and photograph anything they please, including a license plate.”

DRN and Vigilant assert that their ALPR systems do the same exact thing any citizen can do – see license plates, interpret the alphanumeric characters, and mentally log where the license plate was seen.  ALPR systems can just complete the tasks much faster. 

“This law is ill-defined and clearly driven by a national anti-LPR campaign initiated by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU),” Mike Moore, former Mississippi State Attorney General and now head of the Mike Moore Law Firm, said in the statement.  “ALPR data has proven to be an invaluable tool for law enforcement to solve crimes and apprehend criminals while protecting the privacy of U.S. citizens and fully abiding by the U.S. Constitution. The Legislature has unknowingly created a potential safe haven for pedophiles, rapists, and other serious criminals by preventing law enforcement from having access to LPR data from private companies, and by requiring law enforcement to delete their own data—it just does not make sense from the perspective of the public safety of the citizens of Utah,” according to Moore.



by: Amy Canfield - Monday, February 10, 2014

BOSTON—More barriers will be set up to separate Boston Marathon runners from spectators. The FBI will deploy a SWAT team. State police will use portable surveillance cameras along the route.

These are just some of the heightened security measures, as reported by The Boston Globe, for April’s Boston Marathon.

In the town of Hopkinton, where the marathon begins, spectators may not be allowed as close to the starting line as they have in the past, and vendors might face more scrutiny, the news report said. Other towns along the route have put new measures into place as well, the result of weekly marathon-based meetings of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, held since last August. More National Guardsmen will be armed.

Some 36,000 runners are expected at this year’s race, a year after the terrorist attack that killed three and injured 264.



by: Amy Canfield - Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Purdue University Police Chief John Cox has commended his officers, the West Lafayette, Ind., police and school authorities for their quick response to the Jan. 21 shooting on campus that left one student dead.

“Everyone did exactly what they should have done," he said in a CNN report. “You train and plan, and train and plan for one of these incidents and hope it never happens. But unfortunately, it did."

Cody Cousins, an undergraduate teaching assistant, allegedly sought out and fatally shot fellow teaching assistant Andrew Boldt in the Electrical Engineering Building on the Purdue Campus about 12:30 p.m. Cousins then surrendered to police outside the building.

The school sent text messages about the shooting to students, asking them to take shelter where they were. That request was lifted by 1:30 p.m., though the electrical engineering building remained closed so police could investigate.

The shooting at Purdue came a day after a student at Widener College in Chester, Pa., was shot on outside an athletic complex on the campus. The student called 911 after being shot in the side and reportedly is hospitalized in stable but critical condition. A Widener spokesman said the shooting was not a random act of violence.

The Widener suspect remains at large. Police were reviewing surveillance footage and using K-9 units to track the suspect, who they believe fled into a residential neighborhood adjacent to the athletic complex, on the edge of the campus.

by: Amy Canfield - Friday, December 6, 2013

The now 83-year-old nun, 64-year-old gardener and 58-year-old housepainter who were found guilty of breaching security at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn., in July 2012 remain behind bars, awaiting sentencing.

The three peace demonstrators were found guilty last May on felony charges for cutting through a fence and defacing property at the maximum security uranium processing facility. Reportedly, they were undetected by the majority of the perimeter surveillance equipment, ground sensors, security guards and canine patrols.

A sabotage charge against each of them carries a maximum prison term of up to 20 years; the damaged property charge has a penalty of up to 10 years. Sentencing was initially scheduled for this fall but has since been rescheduled for Jan. 24.

Security experts have called the break-in the biggest security breach in the nation’s atomic history. The Department of Energy investigated and released a special report on the facility’s security failings, including inoperable security equipment, an inadequate security force, no timetables for the maintenance of security equipment, and lack of physical barriers. Previous studies said the problems had been present for 10 years, according to an article from Robert Lee Maril, sociology professor at East Carolina University.

And there’s more about some other seemingly major Y-12 problems, regarding the construction of a new new facility to be built at Y-12.

Maril writes:

In summary, the same two business entities, Bechtel Corporation and Babcock and Wilcox Company, tasked with security at Y-12, a security system breached by an octogenarian nun and two other senior citizens, are also the same two business enterprises in charge of the planning and design of the new facility, UPF, to be built at Y-12 (estimated total security costs at Y-12 at the time of the breach in 2012 were $150 million). To date, costs for the planning and design of UPF have risen in 2012 to $6.5 billion from approximately $1.1 billion in 2004. Several months after the security breach at Y-12, these same two corporations, Bechtel Corporation and Babcock and Wilcox Company, were named as the primary construction contractors for UPF at Y-12. At this time the NNSA refuses to provide taxpayers with the construction costs of the UPF until 2015.”

Food for thought?

You can read more about how the break-in and its impact played out on



by: Amy Canfield - Monday, November 25, 2013

Schools in Newtown, Conn., deployed extra security Nov. 25 in preparation for the scheduled release of the report on last year’s shooting that killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

That deployment included increased police presence at schools with help from neighboring towns’ police forces, Interim Superintendent John Reed told parents in an email, according to a report from Reuters.
“By supporting one another, we will work our way through these challenging circumstances,” Reed said in the Reuters report.
On Dec. 14, Adam Lanza, 20, shot and killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, at their Newtown home, and then went to Sandy Hook Elementary School, where he once attended, and killed 26 people before killing himself.

The official investigative report on the massacre had been expected much earlier, but was delayed a number of times. A Connecticut law passed earlier this year says that some evidence from the state's investigation will never be made available to the public, Reuters said.
The law, passed in response to the shooting, prohibits the release of photographs, film, video and other visual images showing a homicide victim if they can “reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy of the victim or the victim's surviving family members,” Reuters reported.

In the aftermath of the shooting, a number of school security measures have been proposed and put in place, while many have gone by the wayside, experts say. You can read about that here.





by: Amy Canfield - Monday, October 28, 2013

Quick, at which Florida airport do the most loaded-gun confiscations take place at security checkpoints or after being found in checked luggage?

No, not Miami, which serves 19.6 million department passengers per year. And no, not Orlando, which serves 17.5 million. It’s the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, which sees about 12 million departees on their way each year.

The Broward County airport has received this ranking for the second year in a row. So far this year, the TSA has intercepted 38 guns at Fort Lauderdale in both checked luggage and at the checkpoint. That compares to 35 in Orlando and 30 in Miami, according to a report in the Sun-Sentinel newspaper.

Last year, 42 firearms were intercepted in Fort Lauderdale, compared to 29 in Orlando, 23 in Jacksonville and 14 in Miami, the newspaper said.

For the record, travelers with gun permits may only transport unloaded firearms in a locked, hard-sided container or as checked baggage. All firearms, ammunition and firearm parts, including firearm frames and receivers, are prohibited in carry-on baggage. And all must be declared at check-in. All of the gun-carriers in Broward had concealed weapons permits, officials said, they just didn’t follow the right protocol.

No one's is quite sure why Fort Lauderdale comes in "first" on the list. The article points out that at New York's JFK, one of the busiest airports in the nation, only one gun was spotted.



by: Amy Canfield - Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Metal theft—especially theft of copper—is alive and well, unfortunately. Some 33,775 insurance claims were filed from Jan. 1, 2010, to Dec. 31, 2012, for the theft of copper, bronze, brass and aluminum, up 36 percent from the previous two years. Of those claims, 96 percent were for copper alone, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

Ohio leads in that timeframe with the highest toll at 3,228 metal thefts, according to NICB. It’s followed, in that same timeframe, by Texas with 2,624; Georgia, 1,953; California, 1,888; and North Carolina, 1,682. This shows a 36-percent increase in claims when compared with the 25,083 claims reported between Jan. 1, 2009, and Dec. 31, 2011.

The number of claims filed is found to have a statistically significant correlation with the price of copper, NICB said.

This year, thieves have stolen copper throughout the United Sates, including from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, which disabled the approach lighting for one of the runways. Copper theft is suspected in an explosion this week at the University of California, Berkeley.

Four-thousand pounds of copper was nabbed from a New York power station, and in the biggest copper heist on record, more than six miles of copper was stripped from a Utah highway.

The full NICB report can be viewed here.

by: Amy Canfield - Friday, September 20, 2013

WASHINGTON—Security is tightening at some of the nation’s military facilities following the deadly shootings at the Washington, D.C., Navy Yard on Sept. 16.

Extra security has been present at facilities in Maryland, Virginia and Oregon this week, news organizations reported.

The 142nd Fighter Wing of the Oregon Air National Guard added an extra security guard and tightened patrols, while a Walter Reed National Military Medical Center spokeswoman said security there had increased. She declined to offer details. Reports said visitors to Maryland’s Fort Meade may experience delays because of extra measures being taken at entrance security checkpoints.  

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the Pentagon to review security at all U.S. defense installations worldwide and examine the granting of security clearances that allow access to them, The Associated Press reported. "We will find those gaps and we will fix those gaps," he told the news organization.

The attack at the Navy Yard raised serious questions about the adequacy of the background checks done on government contractors who hold security clearances, Hagel said.

by: Amy Canfield - Friday, September 6, 2013

Friday was Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s last day on the job, which she held since 2009.

DHS held a send-off ceremony for her, at which U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Vice President Joe Biden praised her accomplishments and thanked her for her service.

Lord knows she had a big job to do, fraught with controversy over the years, but with some successes as well. Biden and Holder both brought up the fed’s response to Hurricane Sandy and the Boston Marathon bombings.

Napolitano is moving on to become president of the University of California System, although Biden apparently thinks he’s got her next career move in mind.

He said today, according to CNN reports, that he would like to see her on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Napolitano was the third DHS s Uniecretary and the first woman to hold the position.

Before that, she was governor of Arizona.

We wish her well, we’re sure the new job will be a tad easier—we hope, for her sake—than managing 22 different disparate agencies and overseeing 240,000 employees.