NEWS of the Week
on some issues of interest to the community policing and neighborhood activist across the country
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following group of articles from local newspapers and other sources constitutes but a small percentage of the information available to the community policing and neighborhood activist public. It is by no means meant to cover every possible issue of interest, nor is it meant to convey any particular point of view ...
We present this simply as a convenience to our readership ...
NOTE: To see full stories either click on the Daily links or on the URL provided below each article.
Dec 8, 2013
Police agencies add social media to crime-fighting arsenal
WARREN -- The International Association of Police Chiefs posted information on its blog last June about extremists who use social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter to “connect, communicate, and engage.”
In 2013, social media are among the most dominant forces in our culture, so the blog tells police departments how to use them to their advantage or how to counteract the way they're used by extremists.
At a seminar the organization presented in November, panelists stressed the “importance of using community policing and engaging community members and leaders both online and off- line to address online radicalization to violence,” the blog said.
Warren police and school officials experienced their own online radicalization five weeks ago after two homicides exactly one week apart — one involving the Oct. 19 shooting of Warren man TaeMarr Walker, 24, by a Warren police officer.
The second one, the Oct. 26 shooting death of Richard Rollison IV, 24, was committed by Walker's brother, TaShawn Walker, 26, police said.
And that was followed by gun violence involving TaeMarr Walker's house and searches of students at Warren G. Harding High School, followed by cancellation of that weekend's high school football game.
New NYC police commissioner Bill Bratton thinks good community relations will make stop-and-frisk work
If Bill Bratton's record in Los Angeles is any guide, New York will see little dramatic reduction in the police tactic of stop-and-frisk but improved targeting and community relations will soothe resentment.
New York's newly named police commissioner presided over a surge of stop-and-frisk while running the LA police department but softened the political impact by reaching out to black and Latino community leaders.
Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, who was elected on a promise of curbing the controversial tactic, appears to be calculating his appointee will finesse but not end it. Critics say the policy in its current form unfairly targets young minority men, an accusation which dogged the outgoing mayor, Michael Bloomberg.
Bratton, 66, who served as New York's police commissioner from 1994 to 1996 before moving to LA, repeated his support for stop-and-frisk in a briefing to reporters on Thursday, saying it should be used in correct doses, like chemotherapy.
“At a time when police and community should be so much closer together, that there should be a bond of legitimacy and trust between them, it's not the case in so many communities in this city. It's unfortunate. But it can be corrected.”
During his 2002-2009 stint in LA, he had helped bring “a police force that was literally at war with its African American community … to a position now … where there has been incredible improvement in those relationships,” he said. “That can happen and will happen here in New York City.”
Dec 7, 2013
AP WAS THERE: Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor
by The Associated Press
EDITOR'S NOTE — On Dec. 7, 1941, Eugene Burns, AP's chief of bureau in Honolulu, couldn't get out the urgent news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which drew the U.S. into World War II, because the military had already taken control of all communication lines. In Washington, AP editor William Peacock and staff got word of the attack from President Franklin D. Roosevelt's press secretary. In the language and style used by journalists of his era, including the use of a disparaging word to describe the Japanese that was in common use, Peacock dictated the details of the announcement. Seventy-two years after their original publication, the AP is making the dispatches available to its subscribers.
FLASH -- WASHINGTON
White House says Japs attack Pearl Harbor.
BULLETIN -- WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 (AP) — President Roosevelt said in a statement today that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, from the air.
The attack of the Japanese also was made on all naval and military "activities" on the island of Oahu.
The president's brief statement was read to reporters by Stephen Early, presidential secretary. No further details were given immediately.
American Merrill Newman heads for freedom, 'deported' from North Korea
(CNN) -- Merrill Newman -- the 85-year-old American detained by North Korean authorities earlier this fall -- is on a flight back to freedom after being locked up in North Korea.
The communist country "deported" the veteran of the Korean war, North Korea's state news agency KCNA reported early Saturday. It coincided with a visit by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden to South Korea, where he laid a wreath in honor of those who fell in the war that pitted North against South.
Newman's son announced that he is on his way home to the United States. Neighbors have tied yellow ribbons around spots in his neighborhood in Palo Alto, California, to welcome him.
"We are absolutely delighted to confirm that Merrill Newman is on his way home after being released by the DPRK," Jeff Newman said.
"This has been a very difficult ordeal for us as a family and particularly for him," the son said, who plans to meet Newman, when he disembarks in San Francisco.
At outreach forum, R.I. police and residents talk about need for respect
PROVIDENCE — Seventy-nine police recruits sat at attention Friday night, their spines straight and their eyes fixed straight ahead. Their ears, however, were wide open to sometimes troubling, sometimes positive, tales about community interactions with men and women in blue.
Lisa Scorpio told of her teenage son, who is black, being stopped weeks after they moved from East Providence to Providence. He was riding a skateboard only to find himself thrown against a police car, she said. She had taught her children to view police as friends.
“They don't know how to treat young men and women,” Scorpio said of municipal police officers. She was shaken, she said, to hear that police recruits spent only one day out of 22 weeks of training concentrating on diversity.
Col. Steven G. O'Donnell, superintendent of the state police, cautioned her that while one training day might be dedicated to diversity, race relations were central to every aspect of the academy.
Massachusetts gun task force chief weighing mental health privacy, public safety concerns
BOSTON — Facing a challenge in balancing mental health privacy and public safety considerations, the gun violence task force appointed by House Speaker Robert DeLeo will hold its final hearing on Dec. 13 with a report issued in the following weeks, according to its chairman.
A member of the committee said she heard gun legislation would be taken up early next year.
“I think there's some thoughtful provisions in the various legislation,” said Chairman Jack McDevitt, a Northeastern University criminal justice researcher, who declined to preview the contents of the report or the various sections that will be included.
Broadly speaking, the report will cover school safety, mental health, and gun licensure where the task force will aim to “streamline our process and strengthen it,” McDevitt told the News Service.
The group, which McDevitt said includes a diversity of opinions, has met in private with advocates on both sides of the gun access debate, mental health practitioners and researchers, school officials and police chiefs from rural, suburban and urban areas.
Unique Greenfield program uses St. Bernard dogs to comfort police, firefighters
GREENFIELD – For Rosie and Clarence the comfort dogs, there is no longer anywhere to hide. Their celebrity moment is coming Dec.10, when the Animal Medical Center fetes the Greenfield police dogs along with Barbara Walters at its annual Top Dog Gala in New York City.
They will be celebrated as the first dogs in the nation officially dedicated to comforting first responders – like police, firefighters and other emergency workers – who are hurting from the trauma of their jobs. It's doubtful that fame will go to the dogs' heads.
Rosie and Clarence are already hard-pressed to hide, since they are St. Bernards, the size of small pack animals. The 4-year-old Rosie tips the scale at 140 pounds. Clarence, named after the late Clarence Clemons of the E Street Band, is half Rosie's age and weighs 160.
On Friday, the dogs were the star attractions at the Federal Street School's monthly all-school meeting. When their owners, Greenfield police Lt. William Gordon and Sgt. Laura Gordon, brought the dogs out on stage, a buzz went through the crowd of kindergarten-to-3rd-graders seated on the auditorium floor.
“Their job is to make people feel better when they're in a scary situation,” Lt. Gordon explained in introducing the St. Bernards. “Other police dogs are not as furry and cuddly. These dogs, all they do is love people.”
Dec 6, 2013
Former LAPD chief William Bratton picked as NYPD's top cop again
NEW YORK — William Bratton, whose tenure as New York City police commissioner in the 1990s was marked by a steep decline in crime and clashes with then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, has been chosen to lead the nation's largest police force again.
Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio announced the appointment Thursday, saying Bratton is a “proven crime-fighter” who knows how to keep the city safe.
Bratton is being named to lead the NYPD as it tries to maintain a historic drop in crime and an extensive counterterrorism program, even as its tactics have come under increased scrutiny.
Bratton, who has also led the Boston and Los Angeles police departments, will succeed Raymond Kelly, the NYPD's longest-serving commissioner. He is arguably the most important administration appointment for de Blasio, a Democrat who takes office Jan. 1.
“Together, we are going to preserve and deepen the historic gains we've made in public safety — gains Bill Bratton helped make possible,” de Blasio said in a statement. “We will do it by rejecting the false choice between keeping New Yorkers safe and protecting their civil rights. This is an administration that will do both.”
Bratton said his first duty will be “to bring police and community together. ... It must be done fairly, compassionately and consistently.”
Bratton, known for his outsized personality and fondness for the limelight, was police commissioner under Giuliani, a Republican, from 1994 to 1996. He emphasized the broken-windows theory of police work: that criminals who commit small crimes, such as vandalism, also commit more serious crimes.
Can William Bratton turn around the Big Apple again?
He garnered national attention for a dramatic drop in crime while he was New York's police commissioner in the 1990s, then helped turn around L.A.'s Police Department. Now he's back at the NYPD.
Under fire for its controversial stop-and-frisk policy — which a federal judge has declared racially discriminatory and a violation of the 4th and 14th amendments — New York City has turned to a familiar face to lead the nation's largest police force: William J. Bratton.
Bratton garnered national attention for a dramatic drop in crime while he was New York's police commissioner in the 1990s. But his subsequent tenure as chief of the Los Angeles Police Department cemented his reputation as a reformer. Though brash and blunt — arrogant, some called him — Bratton managed to both cut crime and significantly improve the LAPD's relations with African American and Latino communities after decades of mistrust.
That latter skill — reducing crime while respecting civil rights — is just what New York Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio says he needs. We'll be watching to see if Bratton can manage another turnaround.
When Bratton arrived in Los Angeles in 2002, the Police Department was in turmoil. After the Rampart scandal, it was under a federal consent decree designed to root out and prevent officer corruption, as well as to address citizens' complaints about police abuse. Although previous chiefs had talked about community policing, Bratton made it the bedrock of the department. In addition to emphasizing statistics, mapping and "predictive policing," he sought to improve race relations by reaching out to critics of the department, hiring a more diverse force and training recruits to respect the communities they served.
Bratton didn't shy away from aggressive policing. He declared gang members "domestic terrorists" and flooded neighborhoods with officers, using graffiti, trespassing, truancy and curfew laws to clear out gangsters — a tactic tried before with temporary success. But he also demanded accountability and restraint by officers. He sent them to work with community leaders and gang interventionists to mediate disputes and create opportunities for gangbangers to exit the criminal life.
As temperatures drop, police turn attention to the homeless
SEATTLE -- Seattle police are hitting the streets to keep alleys and abandoned areas safe, but the effort is more about helping the homeless than about stopping crime.
Seattle shelters fill up quickly when the temperatures drop, so a special kind of police patrol is now working to help homeless men and women who've been left out in the cold.
Out on patrol with a paddy wagon of sorts in tow, people would be forgiven for assuming the officers were getting ready to make a bust or mass arrest.
Instead, they're out looking for people in need of a little warmth, and the paddy wagon is actually the "warm weather welcome wagon."
Officer Chad McLaughlin and Sgt. Paul Gracy are part of the department's Community Policing Division, and they go out every night to help the homeless get away from the freezing pavement.
"What we're truly trying to do here is reach out to those folks who may have not gotten the word that it's going to get really cold," Gracy said.
The Changing Face of New Haven Crime
For the past 20 years, crime in New Haven has been a consistent problem, but Mayor John DeStefano says the kind of crime they're facing has changed.
“Twenty years ago, a lot of it came from hierarchical, organized drug gangs dealing with crack," said DeStefano. "Now, it's almost more casual it seems. It tends to be over boy-girl stuff, respect stuff. We've seen issues out of these clubs now."
DeStefano said people tend to resort to violence more quickly than they would have 20 years ago, and now their weapon of choice is usually a handgun.
“Unfortunately, it affects largely the African American community; it's largely male," DeStefano said. "You see that it typically involves the re-entry population. People come back."
The way New Haven has dealt with crime has also changed. In the '90s, New Haven relied heavily on its partnerships with the federal government to rid the city of gangs, but after 9/11, those federal resources diminished.
Then in 2007, the state had to step in after two New Haven police officers were arrested for stealing what they thought was drug money.
Dec 5, 2013
NSA reportedly collects 5 billion cell phone location records a day
The NSA collects nearly 5 billion records a day on the locations of cell phones overseas to create a huge database that stores information from hundreds of millions of devices, including those belonging to some Americans abroad, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.
Documents provided to the Post by NSA leaker Edward Snowden detail how this database is able to track people worldwide and map out their relationships with others.
The NSA inadvertently gathers U.S. location records, along with the billions of other records it collects by tapping into worldwide mobile network cables, the Post reported.
The database and projects designed to analyze it have created a mass surveillance tool for the NSA, allowing it to monitor individuals in a way never seen before.
NSA analysts can look at the data and track an individual's movements throughout the world. They can then map out the person's relationships with others and expose previously unknown correspondence.
The agency collects the large amount of cell phone data in order to find out who is interacting with targets the agency is already tracking, even though most of the records collected are not relevant to national security.
The number of Americans who are tracked as part of the data collection overseas is unclear from the Snowden documents, and a senior intelligence official told the Post it is “awkward for us to try to provide any specific numbers.”
Orders for mistletoe pour in after Oregon girl told she can't sell them, but can beg for money at city park
It appears the Oregon girl who was told she could not sell mistletoe in a public park, but could beg for money to pay for her braces, will be able to pay for dental work...and then some.
Hundreds of mistletoe orders have poured in after reports of 11-year-old Madison Root being told by a security guard that she cannot sell the item at a public park, but she could, if she wanted to, beg for money, KATU.com reported.
Root, who was selling the classic Christmas staple to earn enough money to pay for her new braces, also received $1,000 from a local entrepreneur as "seed money" for her mistletoe operations.
She was with her father at the time next to the Skidmore Fountain in downtown Portland, where the city holds a weekly market. A security guard told her that she had to stop selling due to a city ordinance that bans such activity in a park "except as expressly permitted under the terms of a lease, concession or permit," KATU.com reported.
The guard then told Madison that she could sell her mistletoe outside the boundaries of the park where the fountain and the market are located, away from the crowds, or she could simply ask for donations to cover the cost of her braces.
"I don't want to beg! I would rather work for something than beg," Madison told KATU. "It's crazy. People can get money for pot. But I can't get money for braces. I'm working for this! They're just sitting down on their butts all day asking for pot."
3-D printed plastic guns: a public safety risk?
TUCSON - Congress is poised to extend a federal law that requires all guns to be detectable by metal screening machines.
The 25-year-old gun law is set to expire next Monday and the Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted to extend the law. The Senate will likely vote on Monday.
Critics say the problem is that the law on the books doesn't take into account plastic guns, which have become more of a reality because of the advancements in 3-D printers.
The technologically-advanced printers can print anything you can think up. That has some worried that plastic guns could easily find their way into the wrong hands.
"If people can make these in their home, you don't know who has what," said Jocelyn Strauss, of Moms Demand Action, a local group that urges common sense gun legislation.
"You can't do background checks on 3-D printers and so if someone has a 3-D printer it doesn't matter if they are a felon or deemed unable to possess firearms due to whatever mental issues that they have," Strauss said.
Detroit company builds drones for public safety use; City eyed as hub for unmanned aircraft
DETROIT, MI - Jon Rimanelli said he believes unmanned aircraft is the next big thing in aviation, and he sees no reason why Detroit, with its engineering and manufacturing capacity, can't play a major role in the burgeoning sector.
Rimanelli and his staff of six at Detroit Aircraft Corporation (DAC) rent two hangars at the nearly vacant Coleman Young Municipal Airport, where they build drones designed to fly reconnaissance missions for law enforcement and first responders, or to deliver packages for large companies such as UPS or FedEx. The latter use is big news this week with Amazon.com announcing it hopes to deliver packages with drones by 2015.
“This is a product we hope to have for sale within the next three months,” Rimanelli said, gesturing to one of the unmanned aircraft he has in a small workshop at the airport. “It's a question of getting the design right and then offering them for sale, because everybody's out there selling these things for forty- or sixty-thousand dollars a unit. We want to deliver it for under ten (thousand dollars).”
The near-term focus of DAC is on aiding law enforcement and first responders.
The aircraft Rimanelli and his staff “will basically allow law enforcement, or neighborhood watch organizations, to deploy these things on demand. We could provide an aviation unit basically for every law enforcement agency on the ground at a very low cost.”
DAC is talking to Wayne County and Macomb County about possible uses, he said. “Essentially they're just waiting for us to finish our design,” he added.
Although the Internet advertises drones selling for as low as $150, Rimanelli brushed those off as “hobby grade.”
This 5-foot tall, 300-pound ‘R2-D2' security robot could be the future of public safety
Tomorrow a Silicon Valley startup named Knightscope will unveil the K5, a 5-foot tall, 300-pound robot that just might take away the traditional security guard job in America.
And, perhaps, prevent the next Sandy Hook or Boston Marathon bombing.
The K5 is an autonomous security robot with 360-degree high-definition vision, laser-based 3D mapping technology so it knows where it is, radiation, chemical, and biological agent detectors, night vision, and thermal imaging capabilities to detect the warm bodies of puny humans like you and me.
It can detect dangerous individuals via facial recognition technology and behavior analysis, and can notify the police automatically when it senses a problem.
“Sandy Hook was part of the motivation behind this … and also the Boston Marathon bombings,” a company spokesman told me today. “Our co-founder, Stacey Stevens, in a former law enforcement officer.”
The battery-powered bot uses radar and lidar (laser-based targeting) to map its environment and identify objects. It will follow pre-programmed routes, tracing its way through a defined security area, but also has some autonomy to deviate based on what is senses. And while it calls up images of Robocop — or at least R2-D2 — it is not at all weaponized.
Dec 4, 2013
Newtown school shooting 911 calls to be released Wednesday
Some audio recordings of 911 calls from the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting will be released Wednesday afternoon.
The calls, made to Newtown, Connecticut, police, are scheduled to be made available to the media on CDs at 2 p.m. ET.
The release of the recordings will be administered by the attorneys for the Town of Newtown at their offices in Danbury.
Calls to the state police in Litchfield are not a part of this group of recordings.
The Associated Press had challenged authorities' refusal to release the 911 tapes.
Last week, Connecticut Superior Court Judge Eliot Prescott upheld the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission's ruling to release calls related to the December 14, 2012 shooting. A state attorney had tried to block the release to shield the victims' families.
The massacre at Sandy Hook left 26 people dead, including 20 children, making it the second-deadliest shooting in U.S. history.
SCPD Commits to Improving Latino Community Policing
Agreement with the Justice Department comes five years after the killing of Marcelo Lucero.
The Suffolk County Police Department has committed to "significant changes in how it engages the Latino community" under a tentative settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday.
The Justice Department began an investigation of the department in 2009 following the killing of Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorian immigrant who was attacked by a group of teenagers in Patchogue in November 2008.
That investigation "focused on discriminatory policing allegations, including claims that SCPD discouraged Latino victims from filing complaints and cooperating with the police and failed to investigate crimes and hate-crime incidents involving Latinos," the Justice Department said in a statement.
Under the settlement, which must be approved by the county legislature, the police department is required to "to ensure that it polices equitably, respectfully, and free of unlawful bias."
The agreement also calls for enhanced training and investigation of allegations of hate crimes and bias incidents, better access to police services for those with limited English proficiency and strengthened outreach by the police department in Latino communities.
Frederick police call for community feedback to aid next strategic plan
Frederick police are seeking the public's help, not to solve a crime, but to identify ways in which the department can improve in the next five years.
The Frederick Police Department distributed a survey to city residents and business owners to determine the community's perception of the agency — a first step of many in crafting a new five-year strategic plan.
Those in the community have until 4 p.m. Friday to fill out the one-page online survey and offer feedback.
Gauging the public's feelings toward the department is the first step in a strategic planning process that will guide police efforts for the next five years, Deputy Chief Capt. Pat Grossman said.
The areas of focus going forward may include staffing levels, technology, policing tactics and other key aspects of the agency.
Staffing is always a concern, Grossman said, and the department needs to look at ways in which growing and advancing will allot more sworn personnel.
Task Force Will be Created to Review Officer-Involved Shootings
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors will begin appointing people to the task force Tuesday.
In the wake of the fatal shooting of 13-year-old Andy Lopez by a sheriff's deputy, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Tuesday will begin appointing a Community and Law Enforcement Task Force that will consider recommending a process for an independent citizen's review of officer-involved shootings.
The 21-member task force's options include recommending a citizen review board, a police review/citizen oversight review board, a police review/citizen's appeal board or an independent citizen auditor.
In Sonoma County, a Grand Jury currently reviews the Sonoma County District Attorney's report on its investigation of officer-involved shootings. That report decides whether there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was committed.
The Task Force also could retain the Grand Jury review process.
Sheriff's Deputy Erick Gelhaus shot Lopez seven times within 10 seconds as the teen walked along Moorland Avenue in Santa Rosa with an airsoft BB gun that resembled an AK-47 rifle on Oct. 22.
According to Santa Rosa police who are investigating the fatal shooting, Gelhaus said he ordered Lopez to drop the gun, then shot him as the barrel of the BB gun rose as Lopez turned toward him.
Dec 3, 2013
New details on California grandfather held hostage in North Korea
The bizarre and baffling tale of an elderly Palo Alto man who's been detained by North Korea for more than a month grew even more mysterious Saturday as new details emerged about his role during the Korean War secretly training anti-communist guerrillas fighting behind enemy lines.
New revelations that 85-year-old Merrill Edward Newman had served in a once-top-secret U.S. Army unit nicknamed the “White Tigers'' explains why the North Koreans detained the retired corporate finance executive last month as Newman was about to leave with a fellow Palo Alto traveler after a 10-day visit.
Since the North Koreans believe that the war with South Korea and the United States technically never ended because no peace treaty was ever signed, Newman is now essentially a “prisoner of war” in a conflict that took place six decades ago.
Many of the revelations also shed light on the videotaped “apology'' that Newman gave his captors Nov. 9, when he purportedly admitted committing crimes during the war as well as “hostile acts'' against the state during last month's visit. Many details are contained in a lengthy new Reuters News report and U.S. Army documents that were unclassified in the early 1990s.
In the rambling “confession,” which the North Koreans released Friday, Newman ostensibly accepts responsibility for helping a guerrilla group called the Kuwol Partisan Regiment — which was under the command of the U.S. Army's 8240th Unit — attack and kill North Korean soldiers as civil war was raging throughout the peninsula. But he does not mention the group by name.
How to keep your car, belongings secure this holiday season
It happened in seconds.
The man wearing black warm-up pants, black gloves and a black hoodie casually approached the white car in a strip-mall parking lot, smashed the passenger window with a punch tool, grabbed a package off the seat and strolled away.
He made little noise, his moves were precise, and he did not look out of place in the Woodland Hills shopping area on the south side of Victory Boulevard at Owensmouth Avenue. The half a dozen cops on scene made no attempt to collar him.
The thief was actually LAPD Senior Lead Officer Sam Sabra, and he had just made an important point: If you want to stay happy this holiday season, keep your car secure while shopping.
That was the message of the LAPD's “Lock It, Hide It, Keep It,” an anti-auto burglary program first rolled out in the east San Fernando Valley in 2010 and now implemented citywide.
“It's the holiday shopping season, and too many cars will get burglarized,” said City Councilman Bob Blumenfield, who organized the demonstration with police officers from the LAPD's Topanga Community Police Station. “Every one of us needs to take the steps we can take to have a safe holiday season.”
Area police have an “app” for that
WHITMAN — Whitman Police Chief Scott Benton has reached thousands with posts through Facebook and Twitter – and now, there's a new “app” for his department.
The department's “MyPD” cell phone application went live last week – and Benton said officers have already received crime tips through the smart phone application.
“The detectives, they get the tip, they're going to act on it first,” Benton said Monday.
Whitman is now one of several area police departments, including Brockton, Stoughton, Taunton, Norton, Wareham, Milton and Braintree, using the “MyPD” application.
With a swipe and tap, app users can submit crime tips, access a list of department phone numbers, learn more about sex offenders and wanted persons in their area, and read the latest tweets from their police department. They can also commend an officer who has done an exceptional job.
Stoughton police were among the first in the region to roll out the application more than a year ago, said Stoughton Deputy Police Chief Robert Devine.
Dec 2, 2013
ICE, industry warn public of holiday scams
WASHINGTON — A group of federal partners at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) teamed with industry and nonprofit organizations to warn consumers today to be wary of holiday shopping scams designed to dupe them into buying counterfeit products.
Federal agencies will be conducting increased operations during the holiday season targeting the importation and distribution of counterfeit and pirated products. Enforcement operations will be conducted by special agents, officers and import specialists from ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), and the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Office of Criminal Investigations (FDA OCI). This year, the federal government is teaming with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) and the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) to help get the word out to consumers about the dangers these products pose.
During the weeks leading up to the end of the year, the market is flooded with counterfeit products being sold at stores, on street corners, and online, not only ripping the consumer off and providing shoddy products, but also putting their personal financial information at risk. The most popular counterfeit products seized each year include headphones, sports jerseys, personal care products, shoes, toys, luxury goods, cell phones and electronic accessories.
Once it is determined that the items are counterfeit, federal officials will seize the merchandise. But in many instances, the damage to the consumer and the economy has already been done.
From the FBI
NICS Turns 15 -- Stats Show Success of FBI's Gun Background Check System
Fifteen years ago, on November 30, 1998, the FBI flipped the switch on the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, a provision of the 1993 Brady Act that requires background checks on individuals purchasing firearms or receiving them through some other means.
The goal at the time was to disqualify any transfers of firearms to ineligible individuals while at the same time ensuring timely transactions for eligible individuals. Today, as the FBI-run background check system marks its anniversary, successes are seen daily and in real-time on both fronts.
Since its inception, the NICS has processed more than 177 million background checks requested by gun sellers, or federal firearms licensees (FFLs). On its busiest days, the system processes more than 10,000 automated checks an hour across 94 million records in FBI criminal databases, including the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), the Interstate Identification Index (III), and the NICS index of 11 million individuals who fall into certain categories that prohibit them from receiving firearms (see sidebar). Nine out of 10 NICS determinations are instantaneous, so FFLs know immediately whether to proceed with transactions or deny them. To date, NICS queries of criminal databases have resulted in 1,065,090 denials, with 88,479 in 2012 alone.
“The statistics for denials can stand on their own with regards to how well the system works in keeping firearms out of the hands of those who shouldn't have them,” said Steve Fischer, a spokesman for NICS, which is run by the Bureau's Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division in West Virginia.
The most common reasons for denials are prior criminal convictions, domestic violence, drug history, and fugitive status
From the Department of Homeland Security
Stay Safe While Shopping Online on Cyber Monday
On Monday, millions of Americans will log on to their computers, tablets or smartphones in search of discounts and deals as part of Cyber Monday. Online retailers from across the country now participate in Cyber Monday. Unfortunately, so do cyber criminals and hackers, who are seeking to exploit unwary shoppers for their credit card and financial information.
With the increasing threat of cyber scams and other online shopping fraud, it is important for everyone to practice safe online behavior on Cyber Monday, throughout the holidays, and every day.
Here are some simple cybersecurity tips can help protect your personal information and transactions on Cyber Monday and throughout the holiday season:
Connect with care
Be cautious online
Pay attention to website URLs
Set strong passwords
Don't believe everything you see
Use a credit card
Keep a record of your order
Check your statements