Law Enforcement

  • Violent hate crimes, lone-wolf terrorism share characteristics

    Researchers examined the timing, locations, methods, targets, and geographic distributions of lone-actor terrorist attacks, group-based terrorist attacks, and violent hate crimes that occurred in the United States between 1992 and 2010. They found that locations where the 101 lone-actor terrorism incidents occurred shared more demographic similarities with the locations of the 46,000 violent hate crimes than with the locations of 424 group-based terrorist attacks over the time period.

  • Conference marks opening of UMass Lowell’s new Center for Terrorism and Security Studies

    Top counterterrorism and law enforcement officials and leading researchers are today (Tuesday) gathering at UMass Lowell to discuss the challenges they face in protecting the public and their work to find solutions to security threats. The event marks the opening of UMass Lowell’s new Center for Terrorism and Security Studies.

  • Updated, expanded “Crime Scene Investigation” guide now available

    Investigators and first responders can find the latest recommendations on crime scene investigations in the newly updated Crime Scene Investigation, A Guide for Law Enforcement.

  • Pentagon to review security clearance procedure, military base security

    Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel acknowledged at a news conference on Wednesday that the procedure for granting security clearances will be looked at, and probably needed fixing, telling reporters that “a lot of red flags” about Alexis’s past behavior were missed. Among the questions will be whether more personal information — even short of information on a criminal conviction — should be looked at before a security clearance is granted, and whether security clearance reviews should be conducted more often. Hagel also announced that he had ordered a broad review of procedures at military bases around the world.

  • New study shows link between rates of gun ownership and homicides

    A new study shows that U.S. states with higher estimated rates of gun ownership experience a higher number of firearms-related homicides. The study, covering thirty years (1981-2010) in all fifty states, found a “robust correlation” between estimated levels of gun ownership and actual gun homicides at the state level, even when controlling for factors typically associated with homicides. For each 1 percentage point increase in the prevalence of gun ownership, the state firearm homicide rate increases by 0.9 percent, the authors found.

  • Using math to track, predict criminals’ next move

    One way to study criminal behavior and predict a criminal’s next move is by analyzing his or her movement. Several mathematical models have addressed this in detail, in particular, the UCLA “burglary hotspot” model. Mathematicians now propose a mathematical model that analyzes criminal movement in terms of a Lévy flight, a pattern in which criminals tend to move locally as well as in large leaps to other areas. This closely replicates daily human commute in big cities.

  • U.K. newspapers complain government "conflating terrorism and journalism"

    The U.K. government, relying on the Terrorism Act 2000, has recently taken actions against several newspapers, culminating the 18 August detention at Heathrow Airport of David Miranda. Miranda is the companion of Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian’s journalist who broke the Snowden story, and the security services believed Miranda, a Brazilian, was transporting Snowden-related material with him. He was detained and questioned for nine hours.

  • Suburban Chicago police cancels anti-terrorism training course after complaints

    The police at the city of Lombard, Illinois, has cancelled a class on counterterrorism after the Chicago branch of a Muslim advocacy group complained that the Florida-based instructor and his teachings were blatantly anti-Muslim. The instructor has faced similar criticism in Florida. The course was to be taught through the North East Multi-Regional Training group, which trains Illinois police and corrections employees. The Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board said it was reviewing the course – titled “Islamic Awareness as a Counter-Terrorist Strategy” – and the materials used in it. The board said that instructor’s qualifications will also be reviewed.

  • Mathematical model informs gun policy debate

    The relationship between the legal availability of guns and the firearm-related homicide rate has been a hot topic of debate in the United States for more than three decades now. Gun-control advocates argue that unrestricted gun availability promotes the occurrence of firearm-induced homicides. Gun-rights supporters have pointed out that gun possession can protect potential victims when attacked. A new paper presents a mathematical model – admittedly, with limited data – which offers a logical, detached approach to the gun-control debate.

  • Islamic group’s plan for a 9/11 "Million Muslim March" on Washington denounced

    The American Muslim Political Action Committee (AMPAC) is organizing what it hopes would be a mass demonstration by American Muslims on 11 September in Washington, D.C. Critics called the demonstration ill-timed, if not downright offensive. Mainstream Muslim American groups describe group members as virulently anti-Semitic “truthers” who question al Qaeda’s responsibility for the 9/11 attacks. There is little chance a million people would show up for the march: AMPAC, based in Kansas City, Missouri, has just 57 supporters signed up for the 11 September event on Facebook.

  • Lawmakers, scientists question FBI’s investigation, conclusion in 2001 anthrax attacks

    Twelve years after the fall 2001 anthrax attacks, and six years after the 2007 FBI’s determination that Bruce Ivins, a top government anthrax researcher at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), was the perpetrator of the attacks (Ivins died in 2008 of apparent suicide), lawmakers and USAMRIID scientists insist that the FBI’s conclusions are not supported by scientific evidence – indeed, that some basic scientific facts make the Bureau’s conclusions untenable.

  • Federal judge: NYPD stop-and-frisk policy violates 4th, 14th Amendments (updated)

    In a scathing, 195-page decision, a federal judge repudiated one of the major pillars of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s crime-fighting strategy, finding that the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk tactics violated the constitutional rights of minorities in New York. The NYPD stopped some 4.43 million between 2004 and mid-2012, with Blacks and Hispanics accounting for 88 percent of those stopped. The NYPD has explained the disparity by saying that it mirrored the disproportionate percentage of crimes committed by young minority men. Judge Shira A. Scheindlin, using harsh language, dismissed this rationale. “This might be a valid comparison if the people stopped were criminals,” Judge Scheindlin wrote, explaining that there was significant evidence that the people being stopped were not criminals. “To the contrary, nearly 90 percent of the people stopped are released without the officer finding any basis for a summons or arrest.” Rather, Judge Scheindlin found, the city had a “policy of targeting expressly identified racial groups for stops in general.” She added: “Targeting young black and Hispanic men for stops based on the alleged criminal conduct of other young black or Hispanic men violates bedrock principles of equality.” The judge ruled that the effectiveness of “stop and frisk” was irrelevant. “Many police practices may be useful for fighting crime — preventive detention or coerced confessions, for example — but because they are unconstitutional, they cannot be used, no matter how effective,” the ruling said.

  • FBI allowed informants to commit more than 5,600 crimes in a single year

    Newly released documents show that the FBI allowed its informants to break the laws on more than 5,600 occasions in a single year. The Justice Department rules sets tight limits on when informants can engage in what the agency termed “otherwise illegal activity.” Under no circumstances can an agent authorize a violent crime, and the most serious crimes must be approved by federal prosecutors.

  • Interpol issues global alert following nine al Qaeda-linked prison breakouts

    Interpol, in a statement issued from the organization’s headquarters in Lyon, France, urged law enforcement agencies around the world to show “increased vigilance,” following prison breakouts over the past nine month in nine countries, including Iraq (22 July), Libya (27 July), and Pakistan (31 July). More than 2,500 terrorists have escaped in these nine prison breakouts.

  • FBI terrorism unit investigates animal rights group after pheasant farm attack

    An FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force has launched an investigating after an animal rights group announced on its Web site that its members cut open fencing around a and releasing more than a dozen pheasants from the aviary at Ash Grove Pheasant Farm and Orchard in Riverside, California. The incident took place 22 July.