ST. PAUL, Minn.—Once upon a time, police officers in Minnesota had to physically transport criminal complaints to the courthouse, a process that was both time consuming and frustrating for law enforcement. However, the state is currently in the midst of deploying a state-wide system that allows law enforcement to electronically file criminal cases and better track those cases.
Sadly, it often takes a tragic event to highlight vulnerabilities and weaknesses. It took something as awful as the Virginia Tech massacre to make schools, students and parents more aware of the importance of emergency response plans and caused a huge push to add technology like mass notification systems. Virginia Tech prompted schools to dust off their emergency plans, refine them and start conducting regular drills, as well as better educate their staff and students about security procedures. I would bet most schools have conducted some form of an active-shooter drill because of Virginia Tech.
And there are lessons to be learned after the murder of University of Virginia student Yeardley Love allegedly by her ex-boyfriend, George Huguely. University officials were unaware that Huguely had been arrested in November 2008 on charges of public intoxication and resisting arrest. The arresting officer's report said Huguely had threatened to kill her and a female probation officer, and he had to be subdued with a stun gun, according to this article in the San Francisco Examiner.
Some say that having that information could have possibly prevented Love's murder.
If school officials had known about that arrest, University of Virginia President John Casteen said they might have been able to discipline Huguely and keep a closer eye on him. Instead, he said the incident highlighted not just a gap in the law, but "a hole you can drive a truck through."
I have to say I'm skeptical about such logic. Sure, knowing that Huguely had run into some trouble certainly couldn't have hurt, but would it have really stopped anything from happening?
Casteen is calling for a state law that would require police to report off-campus arrests of students to colleges and universities.
But law enforcement officials and some campus safety experts say such a law would be complicated and costly. They question what steps would be required to verify if a suspect was a student, either halfway across the state or halfway across the nation.
While I think schools in general work very closely with their local law enforcement agencies and probably do pass along that type of information, it really can't be expected that agencies beyond the local area will contact school officials when students have a run-in with the law. I would think the logistics would just be too difficult. And frankly, police are taxed enough as it is, should campus officials really be adding more to their plates?
COLUMBUS, Ohio—The Ohio Senate on May 27 passed legislation that would allow conceal-carry permit owners to carry their firearms into establishments that serve alcohol. Ohio Senate Bill 239 was approved 23-10 and now heads to the Ohio House for a vote.
HARRISBURG, Pa.—The Pennsylvania Senate on May 26 passed legislation that would make it a felony to participate, in any capacity, in organized retail crime, a move that represents ongoing effort at the state level to battle ORC, a crime that often crosses state lines.
While I think someone like myself, who leads a fairly active lifestyle, would still have had a hard time catching that spry-looking 17-year-old kid, there's no doubt that security officers should be in better-than-average shape. After all, their jobs often depend on strength, agility and stamina.
Nonetheless, I was still surprised to hear this response to my blog, especially from those in the security industry, until I read this article in USA Today. Apparently, an increasing number of police and fire recruits are flunking fitness tests around the nation.
When the Jackson Police Department tried to recruit new officers this spring, more than a third of the applicants were not able to pass the initial physical fitness test.
Well, that must be because the fitness exams are tough, right? Not exactly. The academy requires push-ups, a 1½ mile run, an obstacle course and a flexibility test. And apparently it's the running that causes most of the recruits to fail. That's bad, but it only gets worse:
Last year, the Cambridge Health Alliance and researchers from Harvard University and Boston University found that 77 percent of fire and emergency medical technician trainees in Massachusetts were either overweight or obese.
And there's even more: One of the authors of the report said they "consistently find that among police and firefighters, generally three-quarters are overweight and that includes one-third that are obese."
Those measurements are determined by one's body mass index, which compares weight and height. When a person's BMI is between 25 kg/m2 and 30 kg/m2 they are overweight and obese when it is greater than 30 kg/m2.
(Here's the formula, in case any of you are also curious: BMI = weight x 703 / height in inches, squared)
And, it gets even worse. Instead of agencies maintaining high levels of physical fitness requirements to whip these folks into shape, some departments have lowered physical strength standards to avoid discrimination lawsuits.!!
"In combination with a less fit pool," said the author, "that will end up allowing more obese recruits to successfully join these services."
Perhaps it wouldn't hurt any of us to start training for the Security 5K now:
There's been a lot of controversy recently over an incident at a Philadelphia Philly's game after a security officer Tasered a 17-year-old fan who jumped the fence and ran onto the field. They've been pulling the videos off YouTube left and right, so here's the best picture ever:
The Phillies reacted to Monday's Tasering by saying the team would discuss with police "whether in future situations this is an appropriate use of force under these circumstances."
Well, apparently they decided Tasers weren't appropriate to use on fans. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer the night after this incident, another fan jumped the fence and ran onto the field. Instead of Tasering him, security simply let him get tired and then surrounded him and walked him off the field (despite fan cheers to "Tase him").
Philadelphia officials find this method "preferable" and from now on, Phillies security will be responsible for catching any fans running onto the field, according to the Inquirer.
Frankly, I think this is weak.
Making this kind of overarching decision that security officers won't Taser unruly fans not only further limits the authority of these officers, but it could potentially jeopardize their safety (most of these fans are under the influence of something, I'm betting). And, most importantly, it continues to perpetuate the notion that Tasers are dangerous and lead to "excessive use of force".
During my adventures last week in Dallas as part of the media preview tour for ASIS International's annual seminar there in October, we spoke with both private and public officers about their use of Tasers. The consensus was that Tasers are one of the most effective tools an officer carries. Especially for private security, who often do not carry guns, it's more effective and less harmful than a billy club. And I have to agree: I would much rather be Tasered than smashed in the skull with a billy club any day.
Don't forget that most departments require all officers who carry Tasers to get Tasered themselves so they realize how much it hurts. Especially when thought of as an alternative to guns, I would think the public would be very much in favor of Tasers. But apparently, the public doesn't seem to have that kind of common sense.
WASHINGTON and SAN JOSE, Calif.--A relationship that has been contentious at times has turned to collaboration after the nation's largest online retailer announced it has partnered with one of the most prominent retail associations to fight organized retail crime.
WASHINGTON and SAN JOSE, Calif.—A relationship that has been contentious at times has turned to collaboration after the nation’s largest online retailer announced it has partnered with one of the most prominent retail associations to fight organized retail crime.
AUGUSTA, Maine—The Maine Legislature’s Joint Transportation Committee has moved forward a bill this week that would set statewide policy for the use of license plate recognition technology. As part of LD 1561, “An Act to Regulate the Use of Traffic Surveillance Cameras,” LPR data would have to be purged after 21 days, unless actively being used in the investigation of a crime, and only law enforcement, Department of Transportation, and toll booth entities would be allowed to employ the technology in the state of Maine.