• Paris attacks expose weaknesses in Europe’s security structure

    The 13 November attacks in Paris offered a painful demonstration of Europe’s security loopholes which the terrorists exploited to their advantage. The attacks should serve as a wake-up call to Europeans that the continental security structure, built in another era, is no longer sufficient and needs to be adapted to new circumstances. Whether or not such adaptations can be made, and made in time before the terrorists decide to launch another attack, is an open question.

  • Improving police responses to mass shootings

    Before Columbine, law enforcement acted on the assumption that mass casualty incidents would involve a barricaded lone shooter who could be isolated, or a hostage situation in which the attackers would engage in negotiation before they killed more people. Thus, protocols established after the 1966 sniper attack at the University of Texas, called for first responders in the United States to set up a perimeter around the site of the shooting, gather as much information as possible, and then wait for specially trained assault teams, hostage negotiators, medics, and other specialists to arrive. “The assumption,” one expert said, “was that time was on their side.” Police forces arriving on the scene of a shooting no longer entertain this assumption.

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  • It’s time to repeal the gun industry’s exceptional legal immunity

    Coming up with effective and realistic solutions to curb gun violence is not easy. Guns pose a tricky dilemma, because they can be used to do good or bad things. They can be used to commit heinous crimes, but they can be used to protect lives as well. The challenge for lawmakers is to come up with ways to reduce the risk of criminal misuse of guns while preserving and even promoting the likelihood of guns being used in beneficial ways. Ensuring that every firearm manufacturer and dealer operates as safely and responsibly as possible should be one piece of the puzzle. A key way to ensure that gun companies have the right incentives would be to repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. Enacted in 2005, this federal law gave gun sellers a special immunity from legal responsibilities, which is not enjoyed by any other industry. Gun manufacturers and dealers should not be subject to any extraordinary forms of liability that do not apply to other products. They should not be liable, for example, merely because a firearm is a weapon that is capable of being used to do harm. But if a gun manufacturer or dealer fails to take basic, reasonable precautions in distributing products, it should be held accountable under the law just as an irresponsible company in any other business would be. With the risks of firearms in the wrong hands becoming ever more apparent, Congress should reconsider its regrettable decision to give the gun industry special immunity from legal responsibility.

  • A woman’s involvement makes San Bernardino shooting rare among mass shootings

    The shooting in San Bernardino, California marked the 355th mass shooting in the United States in fewer than as many days in 2015. As details emerge regarding the events, it is clear that these types of crimes are morphing and not abating. “Shootings involving mission-oriented females may be a new threshold which should be concerning to all of us, and the incident in San Bernardino might just be a hybrid, and a harbinger, of shootings to come,” says an expert.

  • Tashfeen Malik pledged allegiance to ISIS

    Tashfeen Malik, one of the two attackers who killed fourteen people in a San Bernardino social service center, used her smartphone to post a pledged allegiance on her Facebook page to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, ISIS leader – and officials say that timeline of the attack shows that she posted her message while driving with her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, in the black SUV in the moments after the attack. The two were killed in a shootout with the police about two hours later.

  • DHS, NYPD train on response to active shooters

    After months of coordination between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and the New York Police Department (NYPD) Counter Terrorism Division, the NYPD conducted an active shooter training exercise on 22 November. S&T says that the exercise not only tested their training and proficiency, but also allowed them to incorporate several commercial technologies that could benefit future emergency situations.

  • Effective policing depends on public trust: Report

    Public trust and confidence in the police have remained flat for several decades despite a declining crime rate in the United States, a problem that has become especially salient in the wake of recent police shootings of unarmed black men. A new report shows that policing practices focused on respectful treatment and transparent decision making are likely to be more effective than traditional punishment-based strategies in building public trust and encouraging cooperation with the police.

  • Husband and wife, identified as San Bernardino attackers, killed in shootout with police

    Police shot and killed a husband and wife, both in their late 20s, after the two killed fourteen people and injured seventeen at the Inland Regional Center, a social service center in Sam Bernardino, a working-class community of 200,000 residents about sixty miles east of Los Angeles. The two were identified as Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and his Tashfeen Malik, 27 (some reports noted that it was not clear whether or not the two had actually married). The couple had a 6-month old daughter.

  • 45% increase in death by law enforcement in U.S. between 1999 and 2013

    Between 1999 and 2013 in the United States, between 279 (in 2000) to 507 (in 2012) people were killed each year by legal intervention or law enforcement, other than by legal execution — a 45 percent increase, mostly among non-whites. In 2013 an estimated 11.3 million arrests in the United States resulted in approximately 480 deaths from legal intervention. Between 1999 and 2013 there were 5,511 deaths by legal intervention.

  • NYPD commissioner to Congress: Do not allow people on terror watch list to buy guns

    NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton the other day called on Congress today to “start getting serious” about fixing the loophole which allows individuals on the U.S. terror watch list legally to purchase firearms in the United States. Bratton said: “If Congress really wants to do something instead of just talking about something, help us out with that terrorist watch list, those thousands of people that can purchase firearms in this country. I’m more worried about them than I am about Syrian refugees.”

  • N.Y. State Police app helps citizens report suspicious activity

    The New York State Police is urging citizens to download a new digital app which allows citizens to capture and report suspicious activity with their smart phones. The app is part of the “See Something, Send Something” campaign which aims to turn willing citizens into the eyes and ears of law enforcement. For example, if a citizen notices an unattended package at a train station of an airport, they could use the app to alert law enforcement.

  • 2 dead, 7 arrested in French police raid on apartment building in search of attacks’ mastermind

    About 200 members of the special units of the French police early Wednesday morning (Paris time) swooped on the Parisian banlieue, or suburb, of Saint-Denis – where the Stade de France, one of the sites of Friday’s terrorist attacks, is located – and arrested seven people. Two people were killed. One of the dead was a young woman who blew herself up with a suicide vest. French Prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters that the operation was a result of a credible tip — in all likelihood, a police informer who resides in the neighborhood — suggesting Abdelhamid Abbaaoud, a 27-year-old Belgian of Moroccan origin, was holed up in an apartment in a residential building.

  • U.K. put special British police unit on standby in the wake of Paris attacks

    In the early hours of Saturday, following the previous evening’s terrorist attacks in Paris, the British government put a special British police unit on standby for an emergency national mobilization of officers. The move was a precautionary measure taken as the government weighed placing the United Kingdom on its highest state of terrorist alert. There are forty-three local police forces in England and Wales, and raising the terrorist threat level to critical — the highest would have triggered the dispatching of officers from some of these local forces patrol sites and neighborhood in the country’s big cities.

  • Berkeley modifies Suspicious Activity Reports guidelines

    The Berkeley City Council members said in a meeting last week that Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs), an initiative of the DHS which, through regional and national agencies, disseminates to local law enforcement information on possible terrorist threats, has the potential of criminalizing innocent people. Members of the council agreed that in order to prevent hurting innocent people, the council should adopt a Police Review Commission recommendation to modify Berkeley Police Department orders on Suspicious Activity Reporting. The modification aims to make sure that SARs can be filed “only if there is reasonable suspicion that the individual is involved in criminal conduct.”

  • Steam thermography may compete with luminol in solving crimes

    Luminol gets trotted out pretty frequently on TV crime shows, but a new technique might someday compete with the storied forensics tool as a police procedural plot device and, perhaps more importantly, as a means of solving real crimes. Researchers developed what they term “steam thermography,” which has the ability to detect blood spots in all kinds of spots — even in spots where luminol cannot.