U.S. Marshals Arrest Fugitive in Laclede County

Lonnie G. Richardson, age 50, was arrested by the U.S. Marshals Service-Midwest Violent Fugitive Task Force in Laclede County, Missouri on Monday, February 8. Richardson was charged in Wright County, Missouri with two counts of Tampering with a Judicial Officer, and 2nd Degree Terrorist Threat—both felonies under Missouri law. 

Richardson was charged after a February 4th incident in which he threatened to kill a Wright County judge, the ​sheriff and their families—prompting a multi-agency law enforcement effort to protect them. 

U.S. Marshals Service investigators tracked Richardson to a rural area near Lebanon. There, U.S. Marshals along with deputies from the Laclede County Sheriff’s Office found Richardson hiding in a small camping trailer. After a brief standoff, Richardson was arrested and taken to the Laclede County Jail pending his return to Wright County. 

The U.S. Marshals Service-Midwest Violent Fugitive Task Force in Springfield led the multiagency search for Richardson. “Richardson threatened to kill public officials and their families,” said U.S. Marshal Mark James of the Western District of Missouri, “His reckless behavior threatened to tear the fabric of our criminal justice system. If you act in this lawless way, the U.S. Marshals will find you and bring you to justice.” 

The U.S. Marshals Midwest Violent Fugitive Task Force—Springfield Division, partners with members of the Greene County Sheriff’s Office, the Christian County Sheriff’s Office, the Springfield Police Department, and the Joplin Police Department. 

The mission of the U.S. Marshals Service fugitive programs is to seek out and arrest fugitives charged with violent crimes, drug offenses, sex offenders, and other serious felonies. To accomplish this mission, the U.S. Marshals Service partners with local law enforcement agencies in 94 district offices, 85 local fugitive task forces, 8 regional task forces, as well as many foreign countries. 

Submit tips on fugitives directly and anonymously to the U.S. Marshals Service by downloading the USMS Tips app to your Apple or Android device, or online at: https://www.usmarshals.gov/tips/index.html

For more information about the U.S. Marshals Service, visit: www.usmarshals.gov

FMCSA Clearinghouse Records More Than 56,000 Truck Driver Violations in 2020

More than 56,000 drug and alcohol violations were recorded last year in a database intended to track truck drivers’ compliance history and prevent them from job-hopping in the event of a failed drug test.

The number of driver violations reported rose by roughly 10,000 over the final two months of 2020, the first full year of operation for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.

According to a new summary report, just 1,203 of the total driver violations were alcohol-related. Of those, most were for drivers who tested with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater.

Click Clearinghouse Report by Transport Topics on Scribd to see the data.

Of the 45,000 driver violators who lost their jobs due to the violations, 34,000 have not yet completed the return-to-work program — a statistic that has some in the industry concerned that those drivers may be leaving their jobs for good.

The violations overwhelmingly included drivers who tested positive for drug use, but also included those who declined to take a drug test or were suspected of cheating on a test.

“The good news is that the system is working in capturing violations by drivers and allowing employers and enforcement personnel to verify a driver’s status prior to permitting him/her [to drive],” said Duane DeBruyne, an FMCSA spokesman. “Any violation reported is a bad thing; blocking prohibited drivers from endangering themselves and the lives of the motoring public is a good thing.”

DeBruyne said the Clearinghouse is making it more difficult for prohibited drivers to circumvent the required return-to-duty process, thereby preventing them from continuing to operate large commercial motor vehicles and potentially, “endanger themselves and the lives of everyone traveling our nation’s roadways.”

Carriers, state driver licensing agencies and law enforcement officials use the Clearinghouse to check a driver’s violations.

“I believe the 56,000 drivers with violations reiterates the importance of this Clearinghouse, and shines a spotlight on a rather large loophole in the drug and alcohol testing process that has existed for many years,” said Dan Horvath, vice president of safety policy for American Trucking Associations.

Dave Osiecki, president of Scopelitis Transportation Consulting, said the return-to-work number is low. “It’s concerning, and it bears watching and tracking,” Osiecki said. “The percentage of drivers with violations who are getting evaluated, and completing the treatment process, has risen slowly over the past several months. This is a good sign, but it’s also clear that many drivers are not entering treatment, which suggests they’ve left the industry.”

Osiecki said that when FMCSA published the final Clearinghouse rule in 2016, the agency used historical industry data to provide an annual violation estimate. “FMCSA’s estimate was 53,500 drug and alcohol violations annually. Their estimate was remarkably close,” he said.

“According to our interpretation of Motor Carrier Management Information System data, there are 5,174,170 truck drivers under the authority of FMCSA,” said Norita Taylor, a spokeswoman for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. “Fifty-six thousand drivers represents 1.1% of the available driver pool.” Other trucking groups have differing estimates of the size of the driver pool.

The leading number of drug test failures — 29,500 — was for marijuana, according to the report, which summarized violations recorded since Jan. 6, 2020, when the Clearinghouse officially went into effect.

There were more than 7,940 failed tests for cocaine use, and 4,953 for amphetamines. Also included in the total were about 1,120 tests described as reasonable suspicion of attempts to cheat on a drug test, the report said.

In 2020, about 1.6 million drivers and 197,000 employers registered in the Clearinghouse. Slightly more than 67,000 of the employers registered have identified themselves as owner-operators, according to FMCSA.

During 2020, there were 136,806 full queries on the Clearinghouse, 1.4 million pre-employment queries and 2.7 million limited queries, according to the report.

Besides making pre-employment checks, employers are required by regulation to make checks on the database annually to ensure none of their employees have any drug violations.

“It’s important to note that having a drug or alcohol testing violation is not an automatic end to a driver’s career,” said ATA’s Horvath. “While there is a significant number of drivers who have not yet completed the return-to-duty testing process, that number continues to grow. With continued education about the drug and alcohol testing program, and consequences for noncompliance, we hope to see violations decrease and the number of drivers who have completed the return-to-duty process increase.”

By Eric Miller | Transport Topics https://www.ttnews.com/

Photo courtneyk/Getty Images

After a Tumultuous 2020, How Tech Can Help LE With the Challenges Ahead

The impact of 2020 was felt across the globe, by every individual, in every industry, across ​​every country. However, no profession was impacted by the events of last year in quite the same way as American law enforcement.

Between the COVID-19 pandemic, civil unrest and responding to “standard” emergencies on a daily basis, law enforcement has been forced to take on more responsibility while addressing evolving public needs and ways of communicating and responding within communities across the country.

While a challenging year, 2020 brought with it the opportunity to rethink approaches to many pressing issues. Like other professions, public safety and law enforcement can learn from the events of 2020 and re-evaluate operations, communications and interactions with each other and the public going forward to create a more connected and safer community for everyone.

Here are a few changes that will take place in 2021 that will help law enforcement respond to ongoing challenges.

MORE INFORMED FIRST RESPONSE

One of the biggest conversations of 2020 revolved around law enforcement response to mental health crises in the community. Important questions have been raised to ensure that first responders who arrive on scene have the context and training needed to deliver the appropriate response.

Having critical background information – such as if the subject is an autistic person or has a mental health condition that may impact their reaction to responders – can lead to a response that results in successful outcomes for all involved.

Innovative communities in Suffolk County, Chicago and Seattle are leveraging technology to allow residents to create safety profiles that allow the public to opt in and share personal information – such as medical history – in case of an emergency. Through innovation and rethinking public safety response, these communities and law enforcement have more real-time context and information about the situation they are walking into and how they should best approach a person in crisis.

No matter who ultimately ends up responding to these types of incidents – be it police, mental health professionals, EMTs or a combination – this critical information can help any first responder provide a well-informed, appropriate response that keeps everyone involved as safe as possible.

COLLABORATING WITH KEY STAKEHOLDERS

Police are typically first on the scene in an emergency, but in many cases other departments or agencies need to get involved quickly – whether that’s emergency management, fire or, as we have seen with COVID-19, public health. These different entities need to be on the same page when it comes to coordinating the best and fastest response possible.

Emergencies unravel quickly and can be chaotic – especially when multiple players or stakeholders are involved, so the ability to know the role every department plays in a response can save time and lead to better outcomes. By using technology to collaborate, share data and communicate effectively and in a streamlined manner, departments can better manage major crises, like the pandemic, but also be ready for daily emergencies that are shorter in duration, such as fires, medical incidents or acts of violence.

The right technology not only coordinates incident response with task management, activity status, reminders and reference resources, but also dramatically accelerates the response, allowing for those involved to return to safety quicker.

Solutions that allow law enforcement to better coordinate incident response, share real-time data and communications among multiple responder teams or departments, ensure compliance with task lists and protocols, and record all actions taken for audits and reporting will become critical to our emergency responses.

This allows law enforcement and other emergency personnel to do their jobs to their greatest ability, knowing that there is one source of data that can guide actions, support on-the-fly changes and escalate past due tasks to the appropriate personnel.

TARGETING COMMUNICATIONS TO RESIDENTS

Public safety and law enforcement are often leading the charge when it comes to communicating to residents about new protocols and guidelines around COVID-19. This can be especially challenging when living in a large city or town where some areas are more affected by the coronavirus than others. Communication to residents must be customized based on their unique population and experience with the spread of the virus.

However, despite the need to communicate and inform the public, many are getting weary of notifications and reminders about the pandemic. Up against this challenge in particular, public safety will need to get creative in how they communicate with their residents in 2021, taking both geography and channel – like phone calls, emails, apps, and text alerts – into consideration.

As public safety and law enforcement consider their go-forward strategy, officials should consider the modes and tone of various communications. For example, reminders for mask wearing, social distancing and the like could be kept to social media channels or digital signage around town while direct communications, like calls and text messages, should carry some weight of urgency and be used only for the most important information. Otherwise, residents may begin to tune out mass notifications – a potential risk to a community’s public safety.

Like many others, I’m excited to turn the page on 2020 and look forward to seeing how our communities become stronger from lessons learned. Public safety and law enforcement have always been resilient, despite the many challenges they have faced over the years. By learning from events of 2020, law enforcement can prepare for future emergencies and focus on what matters most: protecting their communities. And while 2021 may ultimately be as unpredictable as 2020, it is certain that law enforcement will be ready to adapt and serve.

By Todd Miller | Police1.com

About the author

Todd Miller is the SVP of Strategic Programs at Rave Mobile Safety. Prior to joining Rave, Todd managed the self-service consulting practice at Oracle where he was responsible for the delivery of customized software solutions for clients in North America, supporting millions of users. At Oracle he was awarded recognition as a member of Oracle’s top 10% in consulting. Todd’s previous experience includes leading consulting teams for Siebel and eDOCS in North America, Europe and Australia.

Photo by Jakayla Toney

Missouri Bill Would Ban Enforcement of Federal Gun Laws

Missouri’s GOP-led state House on Wednesday advanced a bill to ban local police officers from enforcing federal gun laws, including using federal laws to take away people’s guns.

Bill sponsor Republican Rep. Jered Taylor, of Republic, cited the possibility of new federal gun restrictions under Democratic President Joe Biden’s administration and the Democratic-led U.S. House as the reason why the bill is needed.

He said it’s state lawmakers’ job to protect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Missourians.

“We are here to defend those rights against an out-of-control federal government,” Taylor said. “And that’s exactly what this bill does.”

The legislation would apply to the enforcement of federal gun crimes that are not state gun crimes. Federal officers still would be able to enforce those laws, but Missouri law enforcement would be banned from helping.

The bill has gotten pushback from some law enforcement in the state, particularly over a now-stripped provision that would have disqualified law enforcement officers from working as Missouri cops if they served on federal taskforces related to firearm crimes. Police also would have been subject to lawsuits under the previous bill version.

House lawmakers removed those penalties Wednesday, but the measure still would subject police departments to lawsuits and $50,000 fines if they employ officers who enforce federal gun laws.

Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott in a letter to Missouri state and federal lawmakers last week called the legislation “well-intended but misguided.” He said it would hamstring law enforcement officers who often partner with federal agents over state gun crimes that face stiffer penalties under federal law.

Arnott cautioned that the measure has unintended consequences that would “severely hinder the prosecution of some of our most dangerous offenders.”

Democrats slammed the bill’s progress at a time when both St. Louis and Kansas City are struggling with a surge in violent crime.

“As violence at the highest its ever been, I implore you not to pass a bill that further emphasizes the leading tool of these crimes,” Democratic Kansas City Rep. Ashley Bland Manlove said.

The measure needs another vote of approval in the House before it can go to the Republican-led Senate for debate.

House members gave the bill initial approval in a voice vote Wednesday, but an earlier vote to amend the bill passed 107-43. That signals it likely has enough support to get final approval in the House.

 

Story by Associated Press | Molawyersmedia.com

Photo by Jay Rembert

Tesla Wins the Savings Race

Bargersville Police Department in Indiana may only employ 14 full-time officers, but they ride in style while on patrol.

Last month, the town council approved Chief Todd Bertram’s request to add two more Tesla Model 3 cars to the department’s fleet, which already boasts three of the high-end electric vehicles. Despite costing nearly $8,000 more than the popular Dodge Charger, he convinced city officials the long-term fuel and maintenance savings with Tesla was worth the upfront investment.

Bertram conducted a cost comparison between the two makes and found that, during the 16-month Tesla tenure, the department recouped almost all of the extra sticker price, and expects greater long-term savings. Even with lower prices at the pump during COVID-19, Bargersville P.D. paid out $7,580 in fuel for the Chargers and $825 in electricity costs charging the Model 3, reported the Daily Journal.

The Teslas also appear to demand less maintenance. Other than basic services like new tires, the only big expenditure came after one of the vehicles hit a deer.

“My experience with Tesla is that it is an amazing car. There is less downtime because there is virtually no maintenance,” Bertram told the council, according to the newspaper.

Conversely, Bertram anticipates some of the aging Chargers in the fleet to require substantial repairs this year, which is why he submitted the request to replace them with Model 3s.

“We hired two people and we are putting them in reserve cars, and I know that is going to be a problem. This is really just me trying to get ahead of a problem that is coming and I think you know is coming, too,” Bertram said at the meeting.

Automotive news website The Drive reports the chief is so sold on the electric vehicle, that he proclaimed in an interview last year that an exclusively Tesla fleet could save the department enough funds to pay for the hiring of more cops without cutting other areas in the budget.

Story published by American Police Beat

In October 2020, electrek published an article comparing the Tesla Model 3 against the Dodge Charter in a one-year review of cost to operate the vehicles as police cars. You can review those results by visiting  Tesla Model 3 crushes Dodge Charger in 1-year review of cost of operation as police car

Never Walk Alone

“O​fficer needs help!”

There are no phrases emanating from a police radio that evoke a more visceral response than that one. Regardless of the size of the department, the demographics of the community served or the type of jurisdiction, that phrase means an officer is fighting for their life! It may be an ambush, gun battle, foot chase or hand-to-hand combat, but to any officer who hears that call, the physiological response is the same: hearts race, minds plot the quickest route to the call, palms sweat, pupils dilate and even the least religious utter a word of prayer. But what happens when officers need a different type of help?

In 2019, the national media became acutely aware of police officer suicides and ran story after story, special after special. As quickly as their interest peaked, it waned. But the officers with problems, the officers who needed someone to talk with because of personal and/or professional issues, became unimportant to the media.

I’m a huge proponent of peer support programs; my first department launched peer support in the ’90s, modeling off the successful Secret Service and BATF peer-to-peer programs. At its zenith, the peer support program in that agency had over 200 peer members for a department of 13,000 officers. Times change and that agency now has fewer than 200 peers.

Smaller agencies can benefit from peer-to-peer programs. My current agency is a 100-person department serving a community of about 60,000 people in a major metropolitan area. When I first was appointed chief in 2012, I was approached by our police counselor, Victoria Poklop, who asked my feelings about peer programs. After some discussion, we decided to restart the long-dormant peer support program at our P.D. We began by having the officers on each shift nominate who they would feel comfortable sharing their problems with. Once we had nine members (six police officers and three sergeants) named by majority, we approached those officers and asked if they would be willing to become peer support team members. We relaunched our peer support team in early 2013.

A few departments near us began expressing interest in establishing peer teams as well, and while we assisted them, we also heard concerns from some of the smaller agencies; the concerns centered on the “beauty shop” mentality. The concern, real or imagined, is that an officer will share something with a peer supporter, who will then tell someone else, and that person will tell another, ad infinitum, until the chief finds out and takes disciplinary action. This concern led us to think of creative ways to form a peer support task force.

Task forces in law enforcement are nothing new; there were task forces formed to take down Dillinger, Bonnie and Clyde, and even Al Capone. This would be different. We looked at how we could utilize our existing Major Case Assistance Team callout framework and apply it to the peer supporters. Any way we looked at it, it was going to be a daunting challenge to ensure the right people were on the call-out list every day. Enter VJ.

Victoria met the owner of Velan Technologies, a young brilliant web developer named VJ Harikrishna, through a mutual friend. Victoria started explaining what we were trying to do, and he offered to help. Through his selfless dedication and IT wizardry, VJ met with us and demonstrated which platform could best be utilized for this web-based peer support program.

What had started as an attempt to provide a method to make peers available to officers 24-7/365 had grown into a much larger venture. WeNeverWalkAlone.org was launched on May 13, 2019, from our P.D.’s Emergency Operations Center.

The simple idea now offers:

  • An interactive listing of peer support officers, both active and retired, from a variety of local, county, state and federal agencies, available to active and retired officers and their families
  • Over 50 vetted mental health professionals who are dedicated to giving scheduling priority to LEOs and their families
  • A list of external resources from financial counsel​​ors to white papers
  • A list of peer support coordinators

Departments can join WNWA for the low cost of $2 per officer per month; WNWA is in the process of applying for grant funding in order to make the system free to any agency that wants it.​

A​nyone interested in more information on WeNeverWalkAlone.org ​can email wkushner@sbcglobal.net.​

​By ​William Kushner ​| American Police Beat

About the Author
William Kushner ​is the chief of police in the city of Des Plaines.

Justice Department Recognizes the 10th Annual Human Trafficking Prevention Month

The Department of Justice  commemorates the 10th annual National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month and declares a continued commitment to combatting human trafficking in all its forms.  The fight against human trafficking remains one of the department’s highest priorities, and the department will remain relentless in its efforts to bring traffickers to justice and seek justice for survivors.

Human trafficking is a crime that preys on some of the most vulnerable members of our society.  It is a crime of exploitation that deprives victims of their rights, freedom, and dignity.  Traffickers exploit the vulnerable through forced labor or commercial sex involving children or involving adults subjected to force, fraud, or coercion.

“The Department of Justice is unflagging in its resolve to eradicate human trafficking and pursue justice for those affected by these heinous crimes,” said Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson.

The Department of Justice is committed to continuing its victim-centered, trauma-informed approach to detecting hidden human trafficking crimes, holding perpetrators accountable, and restoring the lives of survivors, while strengthening strategic anti-trafficking partnerships.  In fiscal year 2020, the department brought 210 federal human trafficking cases against 337 defendants, and secured 309 convictions.

Already in 2021, the department secured a sentence of life imprisonment for an individual in Florida who directed, primarily through online communications and transactions, the sex trafficking of impoverished young children in the Philippines.  As a result, Filipino authorities were able to rescue six child victims from the defendant’s co-conspirator in the Philippines.  Also in 2021, the department successfully convicted a labor trafficker who used debts, threats, abuse, and assaults to compel the victim’s unpaid labor for 10 hours a day, six to seven days a week, in the defendant’s North Carolina nail salon.  The department also secured a life sentence and over $900,000 in restitution against a Texas sex trafficker who compelled women and girls to engage in commercial sex through violence, isolation, intimidation, and threats.

The department-wide approach to combating human trafficking extends beyond the prosecutions brought by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, the Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit, and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, to include interagency enforcement initiatives and strategic partnerships with global anti-trafficking allies.  These efforts increasingly utilize specialized expertise in money laundering, financial crimes, and transnational organized crime to enhance investigations and prosecutions.

The FBI’s Crimes Against Children and Human Trafficking Unit develops innovative strategies on an ongoing basis to enhance detection and investigation of hidden human trafficking crimes.  The Justice Department’s Office for Victims of Crime, as the largest federal funding source for trafficking victim services, issued over 400 grants totaling over $270 million, enabling its grantees to serve 9,854 clients.  In addition, the Office for Victims of Crime launched its Human Trafficking Capacity Building Center to assist local and tribal organizations in starting, sustaining, and expanding their anti-trafficking efforts.  The Bureau of Justice Assistance continued to fund and guide Enhanced Collaborative Model Anti-Trafficking Task Forces to strengthen victim assistance and law enforcement responses to human trafficking.  The department continues to to elevate the voices of courageous survivors, ensuring that their expertise and insights inform anti-trafficking efforts.

During this, the 10th annual National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, the Department of Justice reaffirms its commitment to combatting the heinous crime of human trafficking, holding perpetrators accountable, and seeking justice for survivors.

FBI photo of handcuffs, rope, and chain seized as evidence in a human trafficking case

National Sheriffs’ Association Offering Free PPE to Sheriffs’ Offices

​The National Sheriffs’ Association is offering all sheriff’s offices PPE masks at no cost through a partnership with Ford Motor Company.

Last year, through similar partnerships with the REFORM Alliance, Motorola, SwabTek and Under Armour, the NSA delivered more than 2.5 million masks to 48 states.

Below is a description of the masks. There is no limit to the amount of masks​​ that offices can order.

Mask description:
Inner layer of 30GSM Spunbond polypropylene
Middle Layer 25GSM melt blown polypropylene semi-permeable
Outer layer of 30GSM Spunbond polypropylene
Side Seam 40GSM Spunbond polypropylene
Nose Piece, Plastic with steel insert
Ear loops are an Elastic Fabric (No Latex)

Please go www.ppe.ford.com to order.

If you have, any questions please contact Pat Royal at patrickroyal@sheriffs.org.

Massive SolarWinds Breach Poses Risk to Law Firms, Courts as Well as Businesses

Since mid-December, attorneys who advise clients on cybersecurity matters have been busy responding to a massive breach of popular IT network-monitoring software affecting large swaths of the federal government and the Fortune 500.

Experts also warn that law firms and the courts are likely to be affected by the breach and should beef up their cybersecurity as well.

On Dec. 13, software giant SolarWinds first acknowledged that its Orion platform had been hacked earlier in 2020, leaving its clients vulnerable to data breaches as well. The following week, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo placed blame for the attack on Russia.

Since then, Glenn E. Davis, an attorney for HeplerBroom in St. Louis and leader of the firm’s HBCyberGroup, has been educating clients about the breach and ensuring they’re taking steps to protect their data.

He said Orion is widely used: SolarWinds has more than 300,000 clients, including the U.S. government and the majority of Fortune 500 companies. The company already has notified 32,000 clients who were directly affected by the breach as part of mitigation efforts.

Davis said it’s important for attorneys to understand that the breach was not just a suspected nation-state attack on the U.S. government but a threat to businesses as well.

“While the scope of the intrusion remains unclear, it is clear it goes far into the private sector,” he said.

Hackers have penetrated “virtually every U.S. agency you can think of,” including the Office of the President, the U.S. Secret Service, the Federal Reserve and NASA, he said.

Malware, or malicious software, from the attack also has surfaced in companies such as Visa, McDonalds, Microsoft and Mastercard, whose Global Operations Center is based in O’Fallon, near St. Louis.

The attack is what’s known as a supply-chain breach, Davis said. After hackers breached Orion’s system, they were able to watch how SolarWinds builds its software from the inside. They then were able to replace Orion’s source code with malware, passing the malware on to Orion  purchasers, he said.

“The hackers then collected data on the customers and observed them and saw what they were and who they were, and decided whether or not they were important to target,” he said. The hackers were next able to gain access to customers’ systems through a type of malware known as a backdoor.

Beyond affecting lawyers’ clients, the breach poses a risk to law firms themselves as well as the courts.

On Jan. 6, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts announced that the federal judiciary had suspended all national and local use of Orion in response to the breach and issued new procedures to help protect highly sensitive confidential documents.

The AO also announced it is working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on a security audit of the judiciary’s electronic filing system.

Both federal courts in Missouri have since issued orders identifying the type of documents that are considered highly sensitive. They also have outlined procedures for filing such documents and requesting removal of existing files on the electronic filing system.

Data breaches don’t affect only larger firms: Small and medium-sized firms also can be targets, Davis said. He said the breach can serve as a teachable moment for lawyers.

“The biggest lesson for lawyers is to be vigilant on our own cyber hygiene and to use this as an opportunity to review our own procedures,” he said.

Law firms should make sure their technical protections are up to date, and that they’re testing incident-response plans and scrutinizing vendors and vendor security, he said.

Alex Boyd, an associate at Polsinelli in Kansas City, practices with his firm’s technology transactions and data privacy practice group.

The Orion breach serves as a reminder that even secure environments can become compromised, he said.

Boyd recommended that law firms be on the lookout for breach notifications not only from SolarWinds, but also from their own vendors.

He also encouraged attorneys to consider purchasing cyber insurance, which provides resources for companies as they respond to a breach.

“What you don’t want is, ‘We’re impacted. Who do we even call?’” he said. “It’s kind of a ready-to-go team to assist you.”

Boyd also suggested that law firms work to harden their systems, which can include promoting use of complex passwords and multifactor authentication.

Echoing Davis, he also emphasized the importance of ensuring firm vendors are keeping client data secure.

“Ask questions about your vendors’ security procedures. Have a contract in place that requires them to implement those things, and if something does happen, they’re going to be the ones who pay for notifications,” he said.

Another good practice is to work to reduce the amount of sensitive data they’re storing and sending, particularly in email, which is especially vulnerable to hackers.

Burton Kelso, a Kansas City-based tech expert who regularly speaks on cybersecurity for lawyers, said the SolarWinds breach also raises the issue of cloud storage security.

“I know the cloud is cool and hip and easy, but maybe at the same time, it’s time to step back and find out: What’s going to be the most secure way to store data in the future?” he said.

Kelso also encouraged the use of local vendors and IT firms, pointing out they generally are more accountable and can provide more personalized support when it is needed.

By Jessica Shumaker | molawyersmedia.com

Eye for Evidence-Proof in the Print

Fingerprints play a large role in convictions. Lately, DNA evidence has been in the limelight when it comes to identifying (and eliminating) suspects and victims alike. Rightly so, DNA evidence has immeasurable value, but so does fingerprint evidence.

We all know each fingerprint is unique. Not only does each one have a pattern but they also each have other characteristics that serve as a “map” to identifying the print.

Collecting prints is not anything like it is on television. The portrayal is accurate but the execution and results are far different in real life. This being said, at crime scenes it is often easy to overlook latent fingerprints. However, it is crucial that if there are (logical) places where prints could be, you need to process that area and try to collect any prints that you can.

Commonly Overlooked Places to Find Prints

Often investigators will focus on the latent prints that are visible or obvious. However there are other surfaces that have prints such as paper, cardboard, and tape. Is it easy to lift prints on these surfaces? By no means is it ever easy. Is it worth it? Yes, it is certainly worth it. Many times these surfaces will have some of the best and most prominent fingerprints.

Processing these materials is sensitive and if you don’t know how to do it, bag it and let someone who does know process it. Many times this type of work will seem unnecessary and tedious. But going that extra mile can often make your case even tighter. Don’t settle for the visible print that is on the door of the house that was broken into. (those are often victims’ prints anyway) If something looks out of place or moved, chances are you’re right. Go with your intuition and collect those extra pieces of evidence.

Fingerprints on Paper

Surprisingly, I have found many, useable prints on paper. Can you dust those surfaces with standard fingerprint powder? Sometimes, but paper is best sprayed with Ninhydrin. Ninhydrin is a chemical that sticks to certain surfaces, it will turn purple if it happens to adhere to oils such as fingerprints. Once you find that you have prints using this method, photograph and submit them to the crime lab or an in house fingerprint analyst. The sooner the better for analyzing these prints.

Checking on paper for fingerprints is overlooked many times. However, there have been murder cases that were solved because of a latent print or palm print found on a sheet of paper.

Don’t overlook the little things, they could turn into big results.  

Story/Photo by Hilary Rodela | Officer.com