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ORC legislation

Collaboration main weapon in fighting ORC, RILA exec says

Garth Gasse: 'It takes an army'

YARMOUTH, Maine—Those making efforts to combat organized retail crime have made great strides, but there’s a long way to go, including more collaboration, according to Garth Gasse, director of asset protection for the Retail Industry Leaders Association.

Cops minimize Taser accusations by adding video

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tasers have caused a significant amount of contention between law enforcement and the public. While Tasers are generally a non-lethal weapon, there have been some cases where they were either used excessively or on people who had other health problems (i.e. pacemakers) that resulted in death.

After such incidents, some organizations have determined that Tasers aren't appropriate. Remember the incident where a 17-year-old Philadelphia Philly's fan was Tasered by a security guard after he jumped a fence and ran onto the field? After that incident, the Philly's decided Tasers weren't to be used on fans.

During my conversations with both private and public officers about their use of Tasers, the general consensus is 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.

But there have been plenty of media stories about the abuse of Tasers and now it seems that police and security officers are doing more to protect themselves from accusations of misuse, according to this article in USA Today.

More than 2,400 law enforcement agencies across the U.S. have bought 45,000 of the $400 video camera attachments that Taser International started selling in 2006, says Steve Tuttle, spokesman for the Scottsdale, Ariz., company. Sales have been brisk in the past six months, he says, as agencies look to provide accountability for the department, he said.

The Taser Cam is activated as soon as the officer unholsters the Taser and turns off the safety and there is no way to deactivate the camera without disabling the gun.

The Las Vegas Metro Police Department bought 1,061 cameras in 2008 with a federal grant so that every patrol officer had one on, says Officer Marcus Martin, departmental spokesman and a Master Taser Instructor, in the paper.

The videos have backed up contentious situations many times, Martin says. In one case, a suspect on PCP was stunned with a Taser several times before police subdued him. "Without the video, the officer would be in trouble because of the long usage, which can be perceived as a misuse of force," Martin says. "The officer was clearly exonerated because you could see the altercation."

While it's certainly not cheap to add these cameras to Tasers, it seems like a good investment. After all, it's a whole lot less expensive than going to court and potentially shelling out a settlement, that's for sure.

No teamwork at World Cup: Police break up security riots

Monday, June 14, 2010

As I indicated in an earlier blog, there have been some serious concerns about the strength of security at World Cup events. Just today, the game between Italy and Paraguay was nearly canceled after security stewards (that must be what other people in the world call officers) walked off the job because of pay disputes, according to this article. Walking out on game day forced South African police to take control of security at the stadium.

But this wasn't the first big issue involving security and police. On Sunday, stewards stationed at a different stadium (but who were employed by the same security company, Stallion) clashed with riot police also over wage issues. And it gets worse:

Police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades to break up a protest by around 400 stadium staff protesting what they said was a pay cut from 250 rand ($A39) to 190 rand per day.

So now police resources are being used to fight security officers? You're suppose to be on the same team, remember?

Here's a statement from Rich Mkhondo, head of communications for the local World Cup organizing committee, who said the protest did not impact on security at the match (uh huh):

"Two hours after the end of the first match at the Durban stadium last night, there was an internal pay dispute between the principal security company employed by the organizing committee and some of the static security stewards employed by the company at the match," Mkhondo said in a statement e-mailed to the AP. "Police were called on to disperse the protesting stewards."

Attempting to secure an event like the World Cup is not exactly easy. There are a lot of logistics involved, including efforts to coordinate multiple entities who likely have not worked together in the past (read all about these challenges in this SDN article). While I empathize with the workers who are allegedly being screwed by their security employer, game day is not the time to make one's point (although it is certainly effective at drawing attention). Security is too important at this event and there are too many lives at stake for such disputes. I'm assuming police forces are taxed at the moment and they certainly don't need to be spending resources to battle the people who are suppose to be their partners.

What's the liability involved with security guards?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

When I wrote a story about the city of Oakland considering supplementing its police force with armed security guards, the primary argument I heard against such a thing was liability.

“There was a push by the city council to put security guards on the street because private guards are cheaper than police officers,” said Officer Jeff Thomason, public information officer for the Oakland Police Department. “But from our perspective, it’s a liability. They’re not highly trained and they might be placed in a situation where they have to use deadly force.”

I just read this article in the Boston Herald about an incident where an armed private officer shot and killed a patient who stabbed a doctor. This case seems fairly straightforward that the officer acted appropriately, but the issue of liability is still a major concern. Apparently the officer was a "special officer" employed by a private company (which remains unnamed), but was licensed through the Mass. Police. Here's the blurb from the article for more clarification:

Boston police license special officers, who are employed by private companies. To obtain a license, candidates must pass a licensing exam, according to police policy.

Special officers who want to carry a firearm are also tested on their ability to use the weapons and apply deadly force, the policy states. The testing takes place at the Boston Police Department Range.

Licensed special officers have the power of police officers to make arrests and enforce laws and ordinances within city limits. Special officers are prohibited from applying for or executing search warrants.

In the article, the officer's father confirms that he is a special officer and attended police academy training and previously held a summer job as a police officer in Provincetown.

But even if he was specially trained, if this is becomes a wrongful death suit or ends up in court, who's responsible? The police or the private company? Is this a risk police departments or municipalities are willing to take?