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policies and procedures

Report aims to reform aviation security


WASHINGTON—The directives issued by Congress regarding policies and procedures for the U.S. Transportation Security Administration to protect the flying public has been largely reactionary, according to critics of the agency. As a matter of fact, the TSA itself was formed in a very reactionary manner, as a response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Keeping tabs: Restaurant corporation integrates video with POS system


BOSTON—Monitoring activity and transactions at multiple high-volume restaurants without a dedicated loss prevention staff wouldn’t be possible without the use of enhanced business intelligence, said David Starmer, director of IT for Back Bay Restaurant Group. The corporation owns seven brands of restaurants in 35 locations ranging from five-star establishments to casual dining experiences

Black Friday weekend brings larger crowds, minimal incidents


WASHINGTON—More than 212 million shoppers ventured out to stores during the Thanksgiving weekend—17 million more than last year—but despite larger numbers, there were relatively few reported incidents, according to a report released yesterday by the National Retail Federation.

Holiday theft estimated to be $2.77B for retailers


THOROFARE, N.J.—While the upcoming holiday season means a boom in sales for retailers across the country, it also means an increase in retail theft, both internal and external. Professor Joshua Bamfield, executive director of the Centre for Retail Research, who authored the 2010 Global Retail Theft Barometer, estimated that U.S. retailers will lose $2.77 billion to theft this holiday season (mid-November through end of December).

Conviction of transit officer leads to riots

Friday, July 9, 2010

There were riots in the streets of Oakland, Calif. last night following an involuntary manslaughter conviction of a white Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer for shooting a 22-year-old unarmed black man on January 1, 2009.

That sentence carries a maximum four-year sentence.

But some in Oakland expected a tougher penalty for the former police officer, and took to the streets in protest, reported CNN.

Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts said the high point of the protests there were about 800 people in the streets, which lead to the arrests of 50 people.

The shooting was captured on a bystander's cell-phone video camera:

At his trial, the officer claimed that he intended to draw and fire his Taser rather than his gun. But I wonder: How does a legally sworn officer make that kind of mistake? I'm not an expert on guns or Tasers, but it's my understanding that they're held and fired quite differently. It's apparent from the video that this situation was getting out of hand and there was a lot of chaos, so maybe the officer just lost his head? But I wonder too if this is any indication that these officers aren't properly trained?

Especially after watching the video, it seems like inexperience and chaos likely contributed to this outcome. There's a moment in the video, right after the shot is heard (around the 1:25 mark), when the officers seem completely stunned, especially the officer with the gun. It seems like they don't know what to do with the body or how they should deal with the situation.

Of course, it's still murder, regardless of whether he meant to do it or not. The officer will be sentenced August 6, and it'll be interesting to see how many years he gets and what the public's reaction will be.

TSA changes its tune: Will screen based on intel, not passport

Friday, April 2, 2010

One of the immediate “knee-jerk” reactions following the Christmas Day bomber attack was to conduct secondary, enhanced screening procedures for all U.S.-bound passengers traveling from 14 “state sponsors of terrorism or other countries of interest,” according to this Jan. 3 article from CNN.

Well, today the Transportation Security Associated changed its tune again and said it would instead rely on intelligence information to determine who should be subjected to secondary screening, according to Reuters.

"These new measures utilize real-time, threat-based intelligence along with multiple, random layers of security, both seen and unseen, to more effectively mitigate evolving terrorist threats," said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

A senior administration official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity, said the new system would require travelers who match information about terrorism suspects, such as a physical description, partial name or travel pattern, to undergo additional screening.

"So it's much more tailored to what the intel is telling us, what the threat is telling us, as opposed to stopping all individuals of a particular nationality or all individuals using a particular passport," the official said.

There had been negative reaction from some of the 14 countries who had been identified as state sponsors of terror, specifically Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Nigeria, who were angered at being on the list.

Utilizing intelligence information to determine if an individual is threatening is much more in line with what the TSA’s strategy should be anyway. It’s not very efficient or effective to screen everyone coming from certain countries, but rather it’s more important to identify folks who have a suspicious travel history or other intel that qualifies them for secondary screening. If there’s any lessons to be learned from the Christmas Day attack, it’s that better intelligence needs to be communicated among these different government agencies. I think this is a step in the right direction.