Morning Security Brief: Hurricane Irene, Police Ambushes, Flash Mobs, and More

By Carlton Purvis

►Hurricane Irene is expected to affect 65 million people from North Carolina to Maine. In New York City the sick and elderly are already being evacuated and some coastal towns on the east coast started evacuations on Thursday. Six governors have declared a state of emergency in their states, including Virginia where a 5.6-magnitude earthquake struck earlier this week. Crisis management experts say Irene will be a once in a lifetime event with the potential to do millions of dollars in damage. On its Web site NOAA compares Irene’s potential to that of Hurricane Katrina. The Department of Homeland Security advises residents to keep up to date by monitoring resources online.

►Forty percent of police officers shot this year were killed in ambushes. “Of the 50 officers killed by gunfire this year — a 32% increase from the same time last year — at least 19 were victims of ambush or surprise attacks, according to a review of the case summaries and interviews with police officials,” USAToday reports. In many of these cases, attackers deliberately aimed for parts left unprotected by body armor one expert says.

►Local police and federal officials are teaming up to stop flash mobs before they start. The Cleveland Fusion Center now monitors Internet communication from Ashtabula to Lorain counties and all communities in between to look for activity that could signal plans for a flash mob. The monitoring team was originally organized to monitor the Web for terrorist activity, but their focus has shifted to social media. The goal is to see the messages as they go out so law enforcement isn’t caught off guard. "We're dealing with a younger age group that aren't real sophisticated. To pick up on what we are looking for is not very difficult at all," Fusion Center Director Bill Schenkelberg told WKYC.

►The UK government backed off from plans to ban the use of social networking sites during times of crisis. Prime Minister David Cameron had originally suggested a clampdown on social media sites to stop rioters from communicating and organizing, the Guardian reported. Representatives from RIM, Facebook, and Twitter were called to a meeting with home secretary Theresa May after the latest round of riots, but instead of adding restrictions, government ministers focused on how social media could aid authorities in emergencies.

►In other news, the BBC gains exclusive access to Gaddafi’s once-secure Tripoli compound and the Guardian creates an interactive timeline of twitter activity during the London riots.



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