Morning Security Brief: False Alarms, Tweet Rights, Blocking Cell Phones, and More

By Carlton Purvis


►Detroit police announced on Monday that they would no longer dispatch officers to investigate burglar alarms unless an actual break-in is verified by an alarm company or a person at the building. Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee Jr. said 98 percent of alarms responded to are false. “As more and more police departments face limited resources and budget cuts, Godbee said the logical area of reduction appeared to be unproductive calls for service. He said false alarms are an immense drain on the department's staffing and finances,” the Detroit Free Press reports. Since 1991, more than 30 police departments in the U.S. and Canada have adopted the policy to eliminate waste and improve police service.

►On Monday, Los Angeles police said Compton rapper The Game was under investigation for a flood of phone calls that came into the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after the rapper posted the department's phone number on his twitter account. Authorities say that within seconds, every phone line was jammed, and emergency calls were delayed for three hours because of the volume of prank calls. But a legal expert from UCLA says there may not be much the county can do about it. “In the case of a celebrity tweeting the phone number of a law enforcement help line…prosecutors would have to prove the tweeter intended to jam the lines, either with a confession after the fact or with some sort of documented planning beforehand,” UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh told the L.A. Times. The Game would have had free speech protection if he identified the number as the sheriff’s office and encouraged his followers to call with criticisms, he said.  

►Linton Johnson, San Francisco subway (BART) spokesperson, said it was his idea for the city to block cell phone service in the subways last Thursday after intelligence suggested that the hacker group Anonymous would try and disrupt train service. Service to phones was blocked to try and limit the ability of protestors to organize in the subways, but the decision was widely criticized. “His idea, which was approved by the agency’s lawyers and the police department, sparked a national debate over whether there was a First Amendment right to mobile phones, and whether the Bay Area Rapid Transit had gone too far in mirroring tactics taken by regimes in the Middle East to stifle dissent,” Wired reports. Johnson said the idea came to him that morning, and after vetting by the police department and lawyers, authorities unplugged underground antennas.

►In other news, the News and Record reports another alleged death by Taser, pushing the number of death that occur after a Taser incident in the United States to more than 350. A 2009 study by Amnesty International found that 90 percent of people who died after being hit by Tasers were not armed. ⇒ The U.S. has released secret documents on the Bay of Pigs Invasion for public viewing.⇒ The Navy gets its first shipboard cyberinspection and passes with a higher score than expected. ⇒ And a C-130 and a UAV collide in Afghanistan.



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