News & Trends: Maritime Security
11/08/2007 - As the investigative arm of Congress, the Government Accountability Office audits government efforts. As the public-policy research arm of Congress, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) provides objective analysis and data. Both have been exploring homeland security issues with recently updated CRS reports investigating nuclear attacks on seaports and water infrastructure. The reports can be reached via SM Online.
News & Trends: Crime
11/07/2007 - Contending with bad breath and nervous patients, dentists and hygienists have plenty of challenges. One university is also training them to stop abuse by reporting broken jaws and suspiciously chipped teeth—signs of family violence. Because 60 percent of abuse cases involve head and neck injuries, which dental professionals are uniquely suited to identify, the University of Minnesota’s School of Dentistry and the Program Against Sexual Violence created a training program to deal with patients affected by family violence. The program discusses the dynamics of abuse, teaches dental students and professionals how to intervene in and report violence, and shows how to identify community service providers and establish office protocols.A report by the Justice Department’s Office for Victims of Crime indicates that the training “made a significant, positive impact in teaching dental professionals how to identify and report cases of abuse.” The report urges that this training be integrated into dental schools, dental hygiene programs, and dental associations. Read it on SM Online.
News & Trends: Port Security
11/07/2007 - In any tabletop exercise involving multiple authorities and jurisdictions, it’s virtually certain that some of the lessons learned involve the need for better coordination, clear lines of authority, and improved information sharing. And so it has been with Coast Guard exercises on port security, says the Government Accountability Office (GAO). According to GAO auditors, 59 percent of the 82 exercises studied raised communication issues, including problems with interoperable radio communications, failure to share information with other agencies, and difficulties in accessing necessary classified information. Almost as many exercises were plagued with resource problems, including poor facilities or equipment. Forty-one percent of the exercises raised concerns about the participants’ ability to coordinate a command and control system, for example. Part of the problem, acknowledges the GAO, is that the National Response Plan, launched in January, wasn’t in place during the exercises. That plan supercedes all existing federal interagency emergency response plans. SM Online takes you to the report.
News & Trends: Terrorism
11/07/2007 - The Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT). Green lanes. FAST (Free and Secure Trade) lanes. The Container Security Initiative. Smart containers. Automated Commercial Environment. These various cargo security programs and elements launched by the federal government may seem like a morass of overlapping parts. A new document by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) clears up much of the confusion as far as C-TPAT is concerned.
News & Trends: Intelligence
11/07/2007 - How well has the FBI aligned itself with post 9-11 priorities? The National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) says that the FBI “is making substantial progress in transforming itself into a strong domestic intelligence agency and has the will and many of the competencies required to accomplish it.” But the report makes 37 recommendations for change. Read the report.
News & Trends: Loss Prevention
11/07/2007 - Businesses concerned about workers’ compensation scams can turn to a video released by the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud. The video, just under 12 minutes long, explains to workers the harm done by fraud against workers’ compensation, health insurance, automobile insurance, and other types of insurance. SM Online shows you how to get the video.
News & Trends: Intelligence
11/07/2007 - In 601 pages of exposition, the Commission on Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction laid bare the serious problems in the U.S. intelligence community. The commission’s report is packed with recommendations on topics such as management, collection, analysis, covert action, and counterinelligence. Read the report.
News & Trends: Contingency Planning \ Disaster Management
11/07/2007 - The Department of Homeland Security has released its Interim National Preparedness Goal, which “establishes readiness priorities, targets, and metrics.” For more information go to SM Online.
News & Trends: Fire Safety
11/07/2007 - College students are many things, but cautious isn’t usually one of them. And when the emotional tinder swirling in young adults mixes with physical tinder, such as paper and cheap furniture, in population-dense dorms, the combination can be highly combustible. That may be one of the reasons why about 1,300 fires occur in U.S. college and university dormitories every year. Unfortunately, in most dorm fires, no automatic sprinkler system is there to douse the flames.As part of a U.S. Fire Administration initiative to improve fire safety in college housing, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) conducted fire experiments in abandoned dorm rooms in Arkansas. Link to NIST via SM Online to get the free DVD .
News & Trends: Academic \ Educational Programs
11/07/2007 - Surely you’ve heard of the University of Berkeley, Hamilton University, St. Regis University, and the American University of London. Or have you? In fact, these schools are suspected “diploma mills”—colleges and universities offering worthless degrees that require no work. They use familiar sounding names intended to make prospective employers mistake them for real institutions, such as the University of California at Berkeley, Hamilton College, Regis University, and the American University in London. The problem came to the fore when it was found that many government workers, including staff in the Department of Homeland Security, had these phony credentials, prompting Congress to hold a series of hearings.
News & Trends: Crime
11/07/2007 - In an expansive 160-page report written for the U.K. Home Office, which is responsible for domestic issues, Professor Martin Gill and Angela Spriggs did not find conclusive proof of CCTV’s beneficial effect on crime in town and city centers, parking areas, hospitals, and residential zones. Read the report.
News & Trends: Physical Security
11/07/2007 - Everyone agrees that certain sectors of society—energy, telecommunications, water supply—are critical infrastructures. But what about monuments and icons? Key industry buildings? Sports stadiums and other large gathering places? More and more sectors are being included under the rubric of critical infrastructure, according to a review of presidential orders and directives, federal statutes, and government reports. The various documents mentioned here are on SM Online.
News & Trends: Physical Security
11/06/2007 - Nonlethal weapons have been under the microscope since a woman was shot in the eye and killed by a pepper-spray-filled ball after the Boston Red Sox clinched the American League pennant last year. And the once-high-flying stock of Taser International plummeted back to earth at the beginning of this year when it announced that it had received an informal inquiry from the Securities and Exchange Commission about the safety of its products, which helped trigger a spate of lawsuits. The Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, an independent research body, has now released a paper concluding that “when stun technology is appropriately applied, it is relatively safe and clearly effective.” Examining the 72 cases identified by Amnesty International in which stun weapons have been associated with deaths, the authors found that “the probability of death after stun device administration to the body is from one in a thousand to one in one hundred thousand.” The report also notes that there is no federal regulatory oversight of nonlethal stun weapons, with the result that there are no widely accepted engineering standards for these weapons. The Potomac Institute, whose paper can be found via SM Online, calls for “industry-driven, government-endorsed standards.”