Hiding in Plain Site: Privacy for Law Enforcement

With the recent attacks on law enforcement at their own private residence combined with the online mobs that seek to destroy officers just for wearing a uniform, every law enforcement professional should take immediate action to protect their personal privacy and thus their family.

While it shouldn’t take the recent attempted murder of Officer Joseph Mensah at his home while he was off duty to wake up our profession, there are far too many that simply haven’t bulletproofed their life away from the job.

Granted, a few decades ago, a P.O. Box and a “private” home phone number was about all you needed but the Internet happened and everything changed.

Here are a few quick tips to get you started.

Internet
If you aren’t using a virtual private network wherever you get online, it’s only a matter of time that you will run into trouble with stolen identity or even worse. There are many out there but we like NordVPN. They use the same technology that the US government uses to secure classified information. It will set you back about $4 a month but with one account, you can add it to six devices. In addition to masking your identity and location online, NordVPN is based away from the EU and US jurisdictions and has no obligation to collect your personal information. They will not record, monitor, store, log or share anything that you do plus you will open a whole new world on Netflix when you can log in from around the world from any device…..anywhere.

E-Mail & Browser
Everyone loves Google and Yahoo because it is free and simple but there will never be an e-mail or browsing history that you can hide. A simple subpoena or open records request from a nefarious lawyer or activist will reveal everything. That is why we recommend ProtonMail to all of our clients. It is free and if you desire e-mail from your phone, simply download their app. ProtonMail Servers are located in Switzerland and protected by strict Swiss privacy laws. Even better is their end-to-end encryption and zero access encryption to secure emails. Simply put, not even ProtonMail can read your e-mails and they cannot be shared with third parties.

The browser you use to search the Internet is equally dangerous. Each of the known players track your every move and location and that never goes away. Duck Duck Go is encrypted, private and they block all tracking. It is also free and can be added to your phone and computer as your primary search engine.

Protecting Your Address Online
One of the most dangerous aspects today is the exposure to your private life online including your address. To solve this, Officer Privacy is the only way to go. You can get started for free but we recommend a small investment of $199 for their premium package and their professionals will remove your personal information from the top 30 people search sites that expose your home address and they will monitor it each month for just $19.99.

OfficerPrivacy.com is owned and operated by current and retired law enforcement officers and while we know cops like things for free, it is simply too risky to not contact them and see how they can help.

Take It To the Next Level
What we have mentioned above should not be an option for anyone in law enforcement and the time spent doing it is minimal but there is always more you can do and when our clients face intense scrutiny for just doing their job and cancel culture is coming after them, every one of them has told us they wished they would have done all of that and more.

We say do more now and that will take a little more time and planning. You can start over at JJ Luna’s excellent website and while you could get completely “off grid” using his resources, we recommend at a minimum using an alternative home address (where you do not actually live). Even with the help of our friends at OfficerPrivacy.com, your address will be known by creditors and that address is out there for lawyers, the media and anyone else that pays for access to that information. Mail Forwarding Services that permit you to use them as an address are the way to avoid this potential trouble. Stay away from any service that makes you list where you reside and that is why a P.O. Box and many third party services (such as UPS) won’t work. If they know where you live, there is no guarantee it won’t be found out. Most states have private services including some law firms that will give you an address to list and they will forward all mail electronically and even directly to you if needed.

For You Retired Cops
Ok, we get it. You are in law enforcement and you are thinking this can’t be done because your agency needs to know where you live. We understand but giving your home address to your employer should be private to the public and employers are bound to privacy laws from simply posting your home address while others we have spoken about are not. But if you are retired or a private citizen, this can get fun.

For instance, you can claim residency in South Dakota by staying one night in a hotel and showing them a receipt. America’s Mailbox will give you a home address and they will forward your mail anywhere you want. Once you have that hotel receipt, you can get a driver’s license and car tag in a matter of minutes (Yes, South Dakota runs their DMV different than yours). You can use your new “Badland” address when you apply for credit and for just about anything else. Of course there is the bonus of no state sales tax just in case you wanted to maximize that retirement check.

Obviously this last suggestion isn’t for everyone and ​​you should seek the advice of an accountant and if South Dakota isn’t for you, there are similar locations in every state.

Last Consideration
While we may sound like a crazy survivalist, this year has taught us one thing. Those crazy people building “bug out” vehicles and living like the “Unabomber” don’t seem so crazy in 2020…..especially if you live in Portland. Law enforcement takes pride in “officer survival” but until now, we only thought about that in terms of being “on duty.” Those days are over and if you truly believe in “officer survival” you will take heed with some of these suggestions.

By Defend the Heroes | Lawofficer.com

Defend The Heroes is a non-profit organization that exists to help defend law enforcement professionals and agencies from defamation, and the demands of so-called social “justice.” Law Officer is a proud partner of this important organization.

Privacy and Accuracy Issues Raised by Facial Recognition

​The failure rate for searches has dropped from 5% in the year 2010 to 0.2% in 2018.​ © izusek/E+/Getty Images

 

The tremendous benefits of facial recognition technology for law enforcement identification applications have brought with them unparalleled challenges. Some among the public continue to believe that every individual is being tracked and watched wherever they go, or that facial recognition has an ethnic bias. These myths are incorrect—yet their persistence can create obstacles for hardworking officers and agencies.

To further complicate matters, at the same time facial recognition experts are working hard to educate the public on how beneficial this technology is, the amount of incident-related video is rapidly growing, and local and federal law enforcement investigations are relying more and more on video as one of their key sources of evidence to build a case. Body-worn cameras, in-car video and hundreds of millions of smartphones are generating massive quantities of video that can be used as evidence for arrests and in trials. This means that a rapidly growing number of individuals who are not involved in the incidents, and not part of ongoing investigations or trials, are being recorded on video as well.

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was enacted to make U.S. government agencies’ functions more transparent. Through the FOIA, individuals, law firms, businesses and news organizations can request any information including these video recordings, from law enforcement agencies. Already resource-stretched agencies are being forced to take time away from critical responsibilities to respond to each of these requests. A significant amount of the video captured includes images of individuals not related to the investigations whose privacy must be protected. Agencies are further required to dedicate increasing amounts of time and resources to manually redact these individuals’ faces from video. Not only does this consume a tremendous amount of personnel bandwidth, it also is susceptible to errors.

Fortunately, while technology is creating more responsibilities for officers in this way, it is also providing the tools to address many of the public’s concerns about privacy and the accuracy of tracking utilities like facial recognition.

How automated redaction helps

Through a combination of artificial intelligence and machine learning, new technology is delivering solutions to ease this burden, reducing the time needed for the manual processes of uploading, storing, searching, editing, and sharing video evidence. Most important, the technology leverages the capabilities of deep learning analytics to automatically analyze video and catalog faces, thus redaction capabilities. This dramatically reduces the time, effort, and expense required for redaction services—in some cases by up to 90 percent.

Automated redaction addresses privacy concerns by ensuring that outside organizations requesting video do not see the faces of every person who happened to be captured within the scene. The video data is maintained in the evidence itself, but it does not get shared beyond the initial capture from body-worn cameras, in-car video, surveillance cameras, or phone cameras. When redacted video is played back inside a courtroom, juries and audiences are shown only the edited version with bystanders’ faces blurred beyond recognition, while the original video remains intact as evidence.

Using technology like this, agencies can streamline their video redaction responsibilities to better respond to FOIA requests quickly and efficiently.

Advanced software improves accuracy

From the moment the public became aware of the existence of facial recognition as an application, there were stories about shortfalls in accuracy. Many claimed that individuals from certain ethnic backgrounds could not be reliably identified. This spurred concerns that there could be accusations, arrests or even convictions that were incorrect based on inaccurate identification of a suspect based on facial recognition.

In reality, the technology has evolved greatly in the time since it was first introduced. Further, the level of accuracy has improved enormously in the last 10 years, according to an evaluation performed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). According to a November 2018 news story, the NIST reports that the failure rate for searches (meaning that the software failed to find the matching face residing within a database) has dropped from five percent in the year 2010 to 0.2 percent in 2018—a reduction of 96 percent.

When facial recognition software scans a face to look for a match, it is processing a number of different geometric vectors. While all software is different, most read such factors as the distance between eyes and the distance from chin to forehead. Depending on the sophistication of the software, it may be reading 50, 75 or more different factors. Typically, each analysis is performed individually, and the only data being stored on databases is the physical information contained in the photos themselves, along with the identities of the individuals in the photos.

The network of facial image databases available to and via federal and local law enforcement agencies has grown accordingly, so this level of accuracy is even more important and meaningful. The databases include mug shots, the State Department’s entire directory of visa and passport pictures, and photos from the Departments of Motor Vehicles.

As of October 2021, Americans in 47 states will be required to show either a passport or a new federally compliant Real ID driver’s license to board any domestic flight. For non-government users of the technology, databases could include opt-in customers who have provided their photos for a variety of reasons including security checkpoints, ID access bracelets, VIP club memberships, etc. All of these databases may also be used to determine the identify of an individual caught on surveillance video and suspected of a civil or criminal infraction.

Because there are so many image databases available, it is imperative for law enforcement to have absolute certainty when surveillance video of a crime is being matched up in an attempt to identify a perpetrator caught on camera. Today’s best facial recognition offerings meet that requirement.

Facial recognition has become a hot button for privacy advocates in recent years. Yet there is no doubting that the technology has exceptional application potential—so much that it will without question continue to proliferate. As the ability to redact faces becomes more efficient and the recognition technology itself becomes more accurate, some of the general public’s concerns will continue to fade away.  

Rob Thompkins, i-PRO National Sales Manager | Officer.com

Experts Identify Needs for Addressing Correctional Security Threats

A select working group of 17 correctional officials and security experts from across the country, convened by the National Institute of Justice, ranked 13 security-threat categories in order of perceived importance. More than 90​ percent​ of the experts assigned “high importance” to the problem of insufficient staffing — more than any other threat category. But the experts articulated the largest number of discrete priority needs in the category of contraband — led by needs related to illicit drugs, weapons, and cellphones. Gangs and violence together comprised another top-level problem for institutions, with gangs seen as posing a fundamental security threat by manipulating or otherwise disrupting operations, according to the working group report developed by RAND Corporation.

RAND and University of Denver researchers organized and managed the correctional security workshop, made up of institution administrators, federal agency representatives, and security professionals, as part of NIJ’s Priority Criminal Justice Needs Initiative. Key goals of the program were to identify priority needs to guide NIJ’s research agenda and to advance the national discourse on correctional security issues.

Modern security challenges in corrections environments reflect larger social trends. Inside the walls, they are manifested in many ways, including —

Overdose deaths and other substance issues from opioids.
Prison or jail gangs.
An influx of contraband cellphones to sustain inmates’ criminal activities.
Drones delivering contraband over prison walls.
Technology access needed to prepare inmates for reentry.
Cyberattack vulnerability of increasingly internet-dependent institutional systems, such as heating, air conditioning, and communications systems.

To identify priority problems, as well as associated needs or specific requirements to address those needs, researchers first asked the workshop participants to brainstorm areas of need, and then to rank 40 identified needs in terms of priority, each time taking into account both a particular need’s importance, standing alone, and the probability of success of meeting that need. (Thus, a very important need would fall into a lower priority tier if a policy solution did not appear feasible.) The needs were then grouped into five separate themes as well as three tiers, with Tier 1 reflecting highest assigned priority, and Tier 3 the lowest priority.

Significant Understaffing Is a Threat to Security

In many states, correctional agencies are experiencing chronic and severe understaffing. Officer vacancy rates in some states top 45%, according to sources cited in the RAND report. Nationwide, annual turnover in prisons and jails averages 20%, with some states hitting 53% annual turnover. Ultimately, the report said, “inadequate staffing impedes an institution’s ability to deter, prevent, and respond to security threats.”

For state correctional agencies, a lack of the resources necessary for maintaining adequate staffing levels is compounded by a lack of national staffing standards needed for agencies to make a compelling case to legislatures for additional resources. The working group thus called for research to develop models pointing to optimal staffing levels.

A point of emphasis for the working group, in the staffing area, is the critical dynamic between correctional supervisors and officers, which informs institutional culture and impacts security. Supervisors are often prevented from performing adequately because they are forced to fill in for absent officers and because they are spread too thin as they supervise officers, undermining their effectiveness. The working group identified a need for better training of supervisors to engage staff, as well as a need for research into the short- and long-term effects of supervisor shortages.

Contraband in Many Forms Is Saturating Correctional Environments

Contraband in the form of drugs, cell phones, and weapons are common in prisons and jails, the working group reported.

New Drugs, More Drugs Imperil Correctional Institutions

The epidemic of drugs behind bars is worsening with the introduction of substances that are more letha​​l and harder to detect. The working group report noted that more than half of state prisoners and two-thirds of sentenced jail inmates meet the criteria for drug dependence. Inmates spend significant time searching for drugs; drugs hinder rehabilitation; overdose deaths are on the rise; and some drugs cause dangerous reactions affecting institutional and staff security. The working group identified synthetic cannabinoids as well as opioids, including fentanyl, as the most problematic drugs currently in prisons and jails. Exposure to fentanyl is of special concern because small amounts can be lethal when inhaled or absorbed. Staff members as well as inmates are at risk of exposure.

The working group called for a number of actions and research initiatives to detect drugs in the mail, protect mail-handling staff, digitize correspondence, and identify specific drugs, among other innovations.

Cell Phones Facilitate Inmate Misconduct and Crimes

Many correctional administrators described contraband cell phones as their most pressing security concern, the report said. A threat to both institutional security and public safety, cell phones are used to plan crimes, escapes, and attacks on staff and to operate criminal enterprises. Use of contraband cell phones has become so widespread, the report noted, that the head of the Federal Communications Commission stated, “In the hands of an inmate, a cell phone is a weapon.”

One obstacle to addressing the cell phone infestation is a lack of hard facts on its dimensions — national statistics are not gathered by any official source, the working group report said. Conservatively, tens of thousands of contraband phones are collected every year, but that could represent a mere fraction of cell phones in circulation.

Electronic jamming can block cell communications, but federal regulations bar jamming by state and local agencies, and in general the practice is viewed as imprecise and indiscriminate. A more precise technology, known a “micro-jamming,” has shown promise for blocking wireless signals inside a cell while permitting transmissions as little as 20 feet outside the cell, the report said. But the cost is currently prohibitive. The working group urged that state and local agencies should be able to test jamming technology solutions.

Identified needs include development of technology to mitigate cell phone use and support of research to quantify the cell phone problem in correctional environments.

Many Contraband Weapons Are Built to Evade Detection

Contraband weapons can either be handmade by inmates or smuggled into institutions. Often made of nonferrous material — material without appreciable amounts of iron — to avoid detection, weapons held by inmates pose a direct threat to other inmates and staff. The working group called for cost-effective new technology to detect contraband weapons and block their influx.

Violent Gangs Present an Unrelenting Challenge

Overall, an estimated 13% of the inmate population belongs to “security threat groups” — the study’s term for gangs and other criminal organizations. By far the majority are members of gangs working both in the street and in institutions, the report said. Gang activity is linked to increased violence, including homicides, and gangs often control black markets and seek to manipulate correctional staff.

To better combat and neutralize the security threat groups, the working group called for development of best practices beyond existing concentration, dispersion, and isolation approaches. It also called for assessing the potential of existing systems to identify problematic communication patterns. Large volumes of recorded or written inmate communications go unanalyzed, the working group report noted.

Institutions Vulnerable to Growing Cyber Threats

As correctional institutions’ commitment to information technology (IT) systems expands, their commitment to cybersecurity has not kept up, the expert group found. IT is at the core of critical correctional operations — e.g., security systems, HVAC, communications, health and safety platforms — that in many instances are provided or maintained, or both, by outside vendors. Agencies also often maintain large and vulnerable data sets. Security breaches are increasingly common. To address cybersecurity risks, the NIJ-sponsored working group called for development of best practices to address vulnerabilities and guidance for monitoring threats posed by inmates accessing Wi-Fi operating networks in close proximity to institutions.

About This Article

The research described in this article was funded by NIJ award 2013-MU-CX-K003, awarded to the RAND Corporation (RAND). This article is based on the grantee final report, “Countering Threats to Correctional Institution Security: Identifying Innovation Needs to Address Current and Emerging Concerns” (2019), by Joe Russo, Dulani Woods, John S. Shaffer, and Brian A. Jackson. The workshop informing the grantee report and this article was convened by RAND and the University of Denver (DU) as part of NIJ’s Priority Criminal Justice Needs Initiative, a project of RAND, the Police Executive Research Forum, RTI, and DU.

 

Celebrating a Great Invention

Photo from Unbelievable-facts.com

 

July marked the birth of Nils Bohlin​, the Swedish invent​or of​ the three-point ​lap and shoulder ​seat belt that we use today. His simple invention has saved millions of lives – approximately 15,000 in the United States each year. Because of his invention, it is possible to celebrate our own birthdays.

​According to History.com, ​before 1959, only two-point lap belts were available in automobiles; for ​​the most part, the only people who regularly buckled up were race car drivers. The two-point belts strapped across the body, with a buckle placed over the abdomen, and in high-speed crashes had been known to cause serious internal injuries. 

 

In 1958, Volvo Car Corporation hired Bohlin, who had designed ejector seats for Saab fighter airplanes in the 1950s, to be the company’s first chief safety engineer. (A relative of Volvo CEO Gunnar Engelau had died in a car crash, which helped motivate the company to increase its safety measures.) Bohlin had worked with the more elaborate four-point harnesses in airplanes, and knew that system would be untenable in an automobile. In designing the new seat belt, he concentrated on providing a more effective method of protecting driver and passenger against the impact of the swift deceleration that occurred when a car crashed.

Within a year, Bohlin had developed the three-point seat belt, introduced in Volvo cars in 1959. The new belts secured both the upper and lower body; its straps joined at hip level and buckled into what Bohlin called “an immovable anchorage point” below the hip, so that they could hold the body safely in the event of a crash. According to Bohlin (as quoted by The New York Times in his 2002 obituary): “It was just a matter of finding a solution that was simple, effective and could be put on conveniently with one hand.”

In the interests of safety, Volvo made the new seat belt design available to other car manufacturers for free; it was required on all new American vehicles from 1968 onward. Since 1959, engineers have worked to enhance the three-point belt, but the basic design remains Bohlin’s. At the time of Bohlin’s death in September 2002, Volvo estimated that the seat belt had saved more than one million lives in the four decades since it was introduced. 

The Weapon Cleaning Area and Best Practices

Is your firearm cleaning area ready and prepared appropriately for you and your weapon to be effective?



If you ask any firearms instructor to list out the requirements or best practices for cleaning weapons, you’ll get a list of responses in a variety of priority. The one thing almost every firearms instructor in the world will agree on: No ammunition is permitted in your cleaning area—ever. “Accidental” discharges usually aren’t; negligent discharges are. To help avoid the unintentional chambering and discharge of any ammo, it’s simply best not to have any in the area where you clean your weapons.

Hand in hand with that control condition is the rule to always double-check that your weapon is unloaded before you start cleaning. Many dedicated cleaning spaces have a designated clearing area just outside or near the entrance. Make sure your weapon is empty before you enter your cleaning workspace. Look and feel to make sure the chamber is empty, and then do it again. No magazines inserted in semi-autos. Cylinders open on revolvers. Actions open on long guns and shotguns. Look and feel. Do it again. Yes, it can start to seem silly but the moment you take for granted that you’ve checked and all is good is when things start to go south. NEVER take an unloaded weapon for granted.

The last “universal” rule for weapons cleaning and maintenance is to always clean it after you shoot it. That said, what about weapons you don’t shoot? If you’re going to carry it for duty or self-defense, it should be cleaned monthly. There are plenty of folks who don’t follow the monthly guideline but still clean their weapons at least quarterly. If you have a weapon you don’t shoot at least quarterly and you’re planning to carry it (or do carry it) for duty or defense, you really need to re-examine your practices.

Prepping the space

If you have a dedicated space available, it makes sense to prepare it beforehand. If you know this will be the space, workbench, table, or desk used, you can increase your efficiency by making sure of a few things prior to getting that dirty weapon at hand for cleaning.

Take the appropriate steps to protect your health as it relates to chemical exposure while cleaning the weapon(s).

Ventilation is an often-overlooked concern, usually because weapons are cleaned outside or in fairly large areas such as a garage or workspace. However, if your cleaning area is in a smaller area, you need to be cognizant of the vapors, microparticles, and others that will either exist or be created by your efforts in cleaning your weapon. Having a good quality filtered air circulation system or a high volume fan venting to the outside is recommended.ID 163621874 © Alexandr Tsalko | Dreamstime.com

Have at hand and wear proper eye protection.

As you scrub, wipe or otherwise handle your weapon pieces to clean them, the fine spray of solvent, lubricant, carbon dust, etc. all get flung into the air in very unpredictable directions. You don’t want to get any of that in your eyes, so just like you wear protective eyewear on the range to shoot, wear protective eyewear to clean.

Have the proper tools for disassembly of your various weapons available and, to some extent, protect them from other use.

Quite a few gun owners have learned the lesson of using a tool that wasn’t the right one but was forced into use. They buggered up their weapon in some way, harming either function or finish. There are also plenty of gun owners who have properly equipped their workspace with necessary tools only to have those tools “borrowed” by people for other uses. Sometimes those tools just never find their way back and then, during the process of disassembly and cleaning, the wrong tool has to be substituted. Secure the right tools. Organize them. Dedicate them.

The same applies to your tools used for cleaning. From bore brushes to wipes and rods, make sure you have the correct ones for your handguns and long guns in the appropriate calibers. Know the difference between a chamber brush (for cleaning the cylinder chambers on a revolver) and a barrel brush (for cleaning barrels) and don’t confuse them. Have brass or nylon and use them appropriately. Old toothbrushes can be handy, not to mention dental picks. Your local dental office usually throws away the broken ones, but will often hold and gift them to you if you ask. Have the proper variety of wipe sizes available.

Have at hand and properly organize your solvents and lubricants.

There is a wide variety available and you need to know any risks that exist if you use them on your firearms beforehand. For instance, some solvents aren’t safe for use on polymer frames. Some products are sold to “do it all” like clean, lubricate, and protect. Others are sold as metal conditioners. While they can be used for cleaning, it’s not their purpose and they don’t necessarily perform that function efficiently. Know what you’re using and use it appropriately. Be aware of any conflicts or dangers that exist in the chemicals you have at hand. Be sure to keep them separated and used safely.

Cleaning up afterward

Remember that, as you’ve cleaned your weapons, you’ve contaminated your hands, your clothes and all of the consumables—wipes, cotton swabs, etc. Many places consider them hazardous materials (the dirty consumables). If you haven’t been properly disposing of them ​​as you work, clean off your workspace and make sure you’ve thrown them away in a disposable bag. Any rags you’ve dirtied and plan to reuse need to be washed separately in hot water with a good grease-cutting detergent. The clothes you were wearing should be handled and washed the same way you would after you wore them to the range. Before you do anything else, after you’ve cleaned up, you need to thoroughly wash your hands at least halfway up your forearms unless you were wearing long sleeves during the weapon cleaning process.

Whether you are one of those gun owners who hates cleaning their weapons after a day spent shooting or you love to care for your weapons, how you go about it matters. Proper preparation, proper tools, proper safety, and proper procedure can make it a smooth and safe process.  

By Lt. Frank Borelli (ret) | Officer.com

Governor Announces Special Session to Address Violent Crime

Today, Governor Mike Parson announced a special session beginning Monday, July 27, which will focus on addressing violent crime in Missouri.

Governor Parson was joined at the press conference by Missouri Department of Public Safety Director Sandy Karsten, Missouri State Highway Patrol Colonel Eric Olson, Lewis County Sheriff David Parrish, who currently serves as president of the Missouri Sheriffs’ Association, and several law enforcement officers.

“As Governor and a former law enforcement officer for more than 22 years, protecting our citizens and upholding the laws of our state are of utmost importance to my administration,” Governor Parson said. “We know we have a serious problem with violent crime here in Missouri that must be addressed. Violent crime has been a problem in our state long before COVID-19, and we have seen it escalate even more in recent weeks, specifically in our big cities.”

Missouri has seen rapid increases in crime rates this year, primarily in the state’s urban areas. Kansas City recently reached 101 homicides for 2020 – a 35 percent increase from 2019. In St. Louis, there have been 130 homicides so far this year compared to 99 at the same time last year.

From May to June alone, data from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department shows significant increases in reports of violent crime. In St. Louis County, aggravated assaults with a firearm are up 19 percent year-to-date.

“These are just the grim numbers, but the effects of violent crime across our state are best measured in lives – lives lost, futures cut short, and families hurting,” Governor Parson said. “All of this is unacceptable. We are better than that in Missouri, and we must hold violent criminals accountable for their actions.”

“I want to be clear that violent crime isn’t just a St. Louis or Kansas City problem,” Governor Parson continued. “It is a Missouri problem, and we cannot wait until next session to address it. It must be addressed now, which is why we are having this special session.”

The special session will focus on amending state statutes related to violent crime. Specifically, six different provisions will be considered:

Police and Public Safety Employee Residency Requirements for St. Louis – The proposal to be considered would eliminate the residency requirement for St. Louis law enforcement so long as the officer lives within an hour of the city. This proposal would also prohibit requiring any public safety employee for the city of St. Louis to be a resident of the City.

Juvenile Certification – This proposal requires the court to determine if a juvenile should be certified for trial as an adult for the offense of unlawful use of a weapon and armed criminal action.  

Witness Statement Admissibility – This proposal would allow certain statements to be admissible in court that would otherwise not be allowed under current statute.  

Witness Protection Fund – This proposal creates the Pretrial Witness Protection Fund.

Endangering the Welfare of a Child – This proposal modifies the offense of endangering the welfare of a child for a person who encourages a child to engage in any weapons offense.

Unlawful Transfer of Weapons – This proposal would increase penalty for a person who knowingly sells or delivers any firearm to a child less than 18 years without the consent of the child’s parent or guardian.

“If we are to change violent criminal acts across our state, we must work together,” Governor Parson said. “We must do our jobs. We must support our law enforcement officers, and we must start prioritizing the prevention of violent crime.”

To view the special session proclamation, click here. To view Governor Parson’s remarks from the press conference, click here.

In a statement posted on Facebook later in the day by the governor, he said, If our criminal justice system is going to work, ALL parts of it must be in sync. Law enforcement, prosecution, and sentencing.

If any of these aren’t working right or aren’t doing their job, the whole system fails. The only way we can truly make a difference, fight violent crime, and make our communities safer is by working together.

If you talk to any county or city police department, there are hundreds of unfilled law enforcement positions simply because less and less people want to work in this arena.

People need to understand the sacrifices that law enforcement officers make every day, especially with everything that’s going on in our state right now.

If there was ever a time to stand up for law enforcement, now is the time. They are the front-line response for Missourians. We must support them and give them the respect they deserve, because we cannot fix this problem without them.

If we are to change violent criminal acts across our state, we must work together, we must do our jobs, and WE MUST support our law enforcement officers.

Agency Tests Live 911 Technology to Shorten Response Time

A California police department is testing out a new system that officials say could help officers while on patrol.

According to KFSN, the Clovis Police Department is just the third agency in the country to start using ‘Live 911,’ a technology that allows officers to listen to 911 calls as they come into dispatch. ​​CPD officials say it enables officers to respond to calls more quickly by cutting out the middleman.

“Instead of waiting for dispatch to type in the details to send it to the radio operator and to come out over the radio, which sometimes can take up to two minutes, officers are able to hear the information right away,” Clovis Police Lt. Jim Munro told KFSN. “It has been a game-changer to be honest with you.”

In addition to saving precious minutes, officials say Live 911 gives officers more context about a call than they would have gotten with the old system.

“To actually hear the tone of the voice of the person calling and the officers understand this is really an emergency,” Munro said. “And to hear the little details that may not make it through to us in a timely manner.”

Officer Meredith Alexander told KFSN that the real-time awareness helps her better prepare for an incoming call. When she hears the reporting party’s address she can already start heading to the scene.

“[Dispatchers are] asking what’s going on and description is really helpful for the officers in the field to hear that and get a good grasp of what’s going on,” she said.

By Suzie Ziegler | Police 1

How to Reduce Stress During Times of Crisis

​Who is taking care of the cops when they are enduring hatred, betrayal and intense scrutiny? (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)​

 

With law enforcement blamed for society’s ills and the future of policing uncertain, officers face new traumas and total exhaustion.

An NYPD veteran said that the emotional toll on cops today is worse than after 9/11. Officers are taxed to the max, under constant media attack and experiencing hatred like never before.

After working 12-hour shifts with no days off, cops go home to teach school lessons to their kids, but only after they have decontaminated themselves and their equipment to protect loved ones from an enemy they cannot see. Spouses have been laid off and officers worry about making the mortgage. Cops have seen death from the pandemic firsthand and have lost colleagues, friends and family members to the virus.

Don’t forget the two-officer families who wrestle with long shifts, household chores and daycare issues. Don’t forget the line of duty deaths that cannot be memorialized properly.

On top of dealing with a pandemic and economic shutdown, add in the protests where bottles filled with concrete are thrown at cops, they are called pigs and murderers and are shoved and spit on. Businesses that supported officers have banned them from entering and denied the use of bathroom facilities. Officers’ wives, parents and children experience attacks of hatred from friends and strangers.

As all cops are unmercifully blamed for the actions and inactions of a few, officers struggle to explain to their young kids why people hate the police.

All cops are serving a sentence for a crime they didn’t commit.

COPS WORRY THAT BY DOING THEIR JOB THEY CAN LOSE THEIR JOB

Officers don’t worry about dying in the line of duty. If that happens, their families will be taken care of financially. Officers worry that despite performing their assigned duties by the book, they can still be sued, indicted, or fired. They fear not being able to put food on the table or a roof over their kids’ heads. Not to mention the humiliation and financial ruin of imprisonment. In this political climate, showing up for work can get you in trouble.

Officers worry about having to use force and being thrown under the bus by their agency and elected officials or fired before an investigation has commenced.

And then there is the talk of abolishing qualified immunity.

WHY DO WE NEED TO TAKE CARE OF THE COPS?

Policing during a pandemic is traumatic enough. With law enforcement blamed for society’s ills and the future of policing uncertain, officers face new traumas and total exhaustion. Throw out the term post-traumatic stress disorder because what cops are currently enduring is way beyond any stress known to mankind or a medical disorder.

Trauma takes a toll on the human physically and emotionally. The brain and memory encode traumatic events differently than normal events. Traumatic events get trapped within the body – the vagus nerve and individual organs. Physical symptoms of surviving trauma can mimic the pandemic virus: fatigue, stomach upset, muscle aches, shaking and chills, shortness of breath, headaches and congestion can be contributed to both. Officers may experience additional health issues like high blood pressure, ulcers, heart attacks and suicide ideations.

Unresolved trauma and stuffing or denying emotions can manifest as anger. Officers cannot afford, during this siege on law enforcement, to succumb to rage roaring out at the wrong moment while on duty.

WHO IS TAKING CARE OF THE COPS?

Who is taking care of the cops when they are enduring hatred, betrayal and intense scrutiny? When they are criticized and denounced for doing their jobs?

Under these dire circumstances, overcoming the stigmas officers face in asking for help and providing emotional support resources to officers will be a monumental task. But departments have a long history of failing to offer adequate emotional support to officers. Officers need more than wellness programs that do little to address their concerns. They want to know that their department’s administration will stand up for them if they use justified, reasonable and necessary force.

Officers are instructed to refrain from answering noncriminal calls and not to escalate situations (as if officers are the cause of such escalations). Officers face having their jobs reformed by people who have never policed and who have no idea what the job entails. That doesn’t constitute emotional support.

Agencies and the public need to wake up to the fact that unless emotional support is offered to officers, who continue to work under these stressful conditions, there will be mass retirements and resignations and recruitment will be impossible.

COPS HAVE TO TAKE CARE OF COPS

Reach out to a peer support team and talk about how you feel. Peer team members are trained to listen, validate and acknowledge your feelings, allowing you to fall apart and be honest with your feelings without fear of the impact on your career. Peer support team members, in most states, are covered by the same confidentiality protections as a doctor, lawyer, or clergy.

Talk to a peer team member and express your feelings in an environment of trust and support. Neutralize your emotions so they won’t come back to haunt you on duty or video. Don’t take what you are experiencing on the job home and take it out on those who love and support you.

If your agency does not have a peer team, seek out a team in your area or another city. A peer team will not turn you away.

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF AND THE OFFICER NEXT TO YOU

You have to take care of yourself and your colleagues.

Eat properly. Rest when you can. Drink water to avoid dehydration during the summer heat. Don’t self-medicate with booze or junk food. Breathe deeply often to calm your mind and your emotions and reset your nervous system.

Talk to your spouse and family. Keep the lines of communication open and honest.

Care about those you work with. Be alert for signs they are burnt out or struggling. Provide support and assistance. Help other officers maintain composure and keep calm out on the streets.

Don’t take the hatred towards law enforcement personally. Officers are being used as political pawns in a vile election year.

MAJORITY OF AMERICANS SUPPORT AND RESPECT POLICE OFFICERS

A sergeant met two of his officers for dinner at an open restaurant. An older African American couple came to their table after putting on their masks. The man placed his hands on the shoulders of the two officers and said, “I paid for your meals.”

The sergeant said, “Appreciate your act of kindness, but you don’t need to do that.”

The gentleman said, “Yes, officers, I do.” He patted their shoulders, then he and his wife left.

What helps the most, officers say, is when citizens come up and express their support and encouragement.

As psychologist Erich Fromm said, “Love is the only sane, satisfactory answer to the problems of human existence.”

Time to support our officers who perform their jobs professionally and ethically every day under conditions never before seen or experienced in law enforcement.

​​By Barbara A. Schwartz | Police 1
 
About the author

Barbara A. Schwartz is certified as a first responder peer supporter by the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation (ICISF) and the Law Enforcement Alliance for Peer Support (LEAPS). She maintains specializations in grief, injured officer support, suicide prevention, and traumatic stress injuries.

As a Police Explorer scout and reserve officer, Schwartz served in patrol and investigations. Her articles and book reviews have appeared in American Police Beat, The Thin Blue Line, Command, The Tactical Edge, Crisis Negotiator Journal, Badge & Gun, The Harris County Star, The Blues, The Shield, The Police News, PoliceOne.com and Calibre Press Newsline.

She maintains memberships in the National Tactical Officers Association (NTOA) and the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA).

Schwartz has dedicated her life to supporting the brave officers of law enforcement.

Tactics to Prevent or Survive Gunfire at a Demonstration

How do you balance protecting the rights of citizens to peacefully assemble while protecting yourselves? I would like to share some tactics I employed as a member/commander of a very active civil unrest team​ ​that can help you ensure the First Amendment rights of protesters while also making sure your officers are safe.

1. PRE-EVENT RECONNAISSANCE

When you know where the demonstration will be held, send a team through the area in advance to check for construction materials, rocks, fireworks, improvised explosive devices, a sniper’s hide, etc. By policing the area in advance you can prevent everything from mischief to mayhem.

2. CONTROL THE HIGH GROUND

If there is high ground in the area, assign at least one team to locate and occupy the most commanding position. It is best to use a sniper/observer team to choose the best spot to deploy and have them provide a low key protective overwatch with their optics. With this effective overwatch in place, you now own the high ground.

3. PLACE UNDERCOVER OFFICERS IN THE CROWD

The advantages of assigning undercover officers to infiltrate the crowd are tremendous. They would primarily be present to gather intelligence and to identify threats, leaders and provocateurs.

4. DEPLOY CAMERA TEAMS TO RECORD AND ANALYZE

Strategically place mobile camera teams to not only record significant persons and activities but also analyze members of the crowd. They will be able to identify and report little trouble so that it can be managed before it becomes big trouble.

5. HAVE SWAT ON STANDBY

A fully operational SWAT contingent should be standing by out of sight, but close, with rapid response capability. Keeping them out of sight not only prevents the “confrontational” accusation, but it gives them a tactical advantage when they have to move.

6. USE TEAM CROWD CONTROL SKILLS FOR THE DEMONSTRATION

These shared skills should be possessed by the teams working events and demonstrations. Officers should have shared skills and tactics. They should have the ability to remain calm and task-oriented in the face of agitation. These shared skills should suffice if the demonstration remains peaceful, or even if the crowd becomes aggressive.

7. CONDUCT SHOTS FIRED DRILL

The reason for having a SWAT contingent, a sniper overwatch and practicing shots fired drills is because shots being fired at demonstrations and large disturbances have happened often in the past and will most certainly happen in the future.

For example, they occurred in Los Angeles in 1965 and 1992. They happened again in Milwaukee and Detroit during the 1967 riots.

St. Petersburg had two large riots in 1996. When the shooting erupted during the second of these riots one officer – who was a Viet Nam combat vet – said it sounded like a hot LZ in Vietnam.

Then there was Dallas.

The drill should be practiced when you are training in your crowd control movements and formations. You practice the movements slowly at first and speed it up a bit with subsequent repetitions. The concept of the drill is simple. Everyone involved in a crowd control assignment must be made aware that whenever shots are fired no one needs to be told to fall out of line. They should transition to their firearm and move to cover. You just do it!

To start the drill, the instructor should shout, “Shots fired from the bell tower,” for example. The movement should be practiced so officers are used to moving efficiently to the nearest cover available without tripping over each other. Their choice of cover should be evaluated. You can even have someone recording from the bell tower so that the trainees can be shown later the point of view the sniper had on them as they moved to and arrived at cover.

Emphasize smooth over fast to build the skill and avoid injury. During these drills emphasize that when moving through a troubled area, or working a demonstration every officer should constantly be scanning and assessing.

8. DOWNED OFFICER RESCUES

Crowd control training should include downed officer rescues. Officers should have the capability of moving to a downed officer, stabilizing them and then using a one person or multiple officer lifts to extract downed officers from a hot zone, while others are providing cover.

Also, emergency transports may be practiced in squads, Bearcats, vans, or whatever conveyance is available. Your everyday first responders will be very hesitant to move into a hot zone.

Now some of you will say, “We don’t have a team.” If that is the case, you don’t need anyone else but yourself to practice the most important of these drills. That would be number seven above – the shots fired drill.

THE DALLAS INCIDENT

In closing, I would like to recognize the indomitable spirit exhibited by the Dallas PD and DART on July 7, 2016. When shots rained down on these officers they instantly directed demonstrators to safety while they put themselves in harm’s way. They formed teams at once and began moving to, treating and transporting fallen officers. This was done while other officers engaged, pursued, contained and then negotiated with the suspect. Finally, they ended the threat presented by the terrorist.

Dallas PD, PoliceOne would like to send to you our highest praise and most sincere prayers. God bless and keep you all.

This article, originally published 07/13/2016, has been updated.

By Lt. Dan Marcou | Police One

About the author
Lt. Dan Marcou is an internationally-recognized police trainer who was a highly-decorated police officer with 33 years of full-time law enforcement experience. Marcou’s awards include Police Officer of the Year, SWAT Officer of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year and Domestic Violence Officer of the Year. Upon retiring, Lt. Marcou began writing. He is a co-author of “Street Survival II, Tactics for Deadly Encounters,” which is now available. His novels, “The Calling, the Making of a Veteran Cop,” “SWAT, Blue Knights in Black Armor,” “Nobody’s Heroes” and Destiny of Heroes,” as well as his latest non-fiction offering, “Law Dogs, Great Cops in American History,” are all available at Amazon. Dan is a member of the PoliceOne Editorial Advisory Board.

Zoom Meeting to Prepare New Drivers for the Road

On July 28, 2020, First Impact will have its first ZOOM presentation!  

First Impact is a 90 – minute evidence-based traffic safety program that educates parents and new and soon-to-be teen drivers about Missouri’s Graduated Driver License law.  Agencies and safety partners who serve parents and their teens are also invited to join the presentation..

The goal of First Impact is to eliminate new driver crashes and reduce resulting injuries and fatalities, by increasing parental awareness and enforcement of Missouri’s Graduated Driver License law.  

Objectives of the program are to increase:

•        Awareness of teen driving risks

•        Understanding of Missouri’s GDL law

•        GDL monitoring and enforcement at home

•        Importance of being a positive role model

The program is delivered by trained facilitators and law enforcement officers who coach parents by presenting key facts and proven strategies to help parents lower their teens’ crash risk by utilizing the Missouri GDL law. The statewide program is available free of charge.  Funding is provided by MoDOT’s Highway Safety & Traffic Division and State Farm ​​Insurance.

Watch a brief video to learn more about First Impact ​by visiting​https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPK1JJlhtwA

You can also visit the First Impact website at firstimpact.missouri.edu  

Pre-register at:  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/first-impact-new-driver-parent-teen-education-program-on-zoom-tickets-106153447820