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  • November 12, 2019 3:19 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Security Magazine

    Security can take multiple forms. There’s physical security, cybersecurity, and of course, security as it relates to workplace safety.

    That last one is of paramount importance from both a moral standpoint and a business standpoint. It’s unethical to knowingly put employee and/or client lives on the line. Negligence can cost organizations a pretty penny in court, and especially in the wake of the mass shootings that have occurred in current and former places of employment this year, workplace violence is an issue that can’t be taken lightly.

    Security leaders know this. They know training employees on how to respond to an active shooter is important. And at the same time, they also know they need to take proactive steps to ensure employees never have to use that training.

    Modern technology can help, using continuous evaluation to go beyond the pre-hire background check and make leaders aware of behaviors that are cause for concern.

    This approach is built upon the fact that disengaged employees are grown, not hired. In other words, the superstar applicant who gets the job won’t necessarily be the exact same person after their first week, month, or year with the company. That’s simply because no one can predict the life events that may occur over time, nor how each individual will cope with the particularly challenging ones.

    What leaders can predict are the behavioral outcomes associated with certain signs of stress – someone who is irritable, argumentative, withdrawn, depressed, etc. These signs can be picked up by continuous evaluation, then be used to spur business leaders into interventional action so adverse outcomes are never realized.

    Permission for continuous evaluation can be incorporated into the employee onboarding process to enable ongoing checks for risky activities that employees may be engaging in outside of work. This comes in handy in situations where an employee is arrested for a misdemeanor or minor felony that employers won’t be alerted to unless an employee tells them.

    A transportation company recently saw the benefits of such ongoing discovery. When they continuously monitored 10,000 of their drivers, they uncovered nine new convictions and 10 new arrests in just the first 30 days – including cases of 2nd degree kidnapping, assault, aggravated battery, domestic violence and driving under the influence, to which they were unaware.  

    When focused specifically on preventing a workplace shooting, cases like these are especially relevant. In multiple instances, domestic violence has been a precursor to more aggressive, tragic, public attacks.

    There are other warning signs, too, some of which can only come from the observations of others. That’s why some continuous evaluation platforms allow for individuals to – with or without anonymity – report suspicious activities they see or hear about at work, like someone being verbally or physically abusive to a coworker or client. These contributions create a more holistic view of an employee’s behavior and help leaders better determine whether someone poses a serious threat to the business and the individuals it serves.

    In certain cases (e.g., serious crime), termination may be the only appropriate outcome. That’s why the best continuous evaluation platforms integrate leadership across Human Resources and Legal.

    But in instances where discovery occurs early, actions can be taken to course correct behavior– as would be the case if an employee with no related criminal history starts to randomly act out. This is where leaders can encourage HR to step in, having them engage that employee and initiate a conversation about what has prompted their change in behavior. If applicable, they can also make suggestions regarding how to improve it.

    Before stress-induced, disgruntled behaviors turn in to potentially life-threatening acts of workplace violence, HR has the ability to intervene if they can discover risk early. For example, an employee about whom coworkers have expressed concern may explain to HR that they’re struggling with their workload or are having a difficult time working with a particular coworker. Both of these issues are directly within HR’s purview, and can potentially be solved by having a supervisor take some responsibility off their plate, or by bringing both individuals in to discuss more efficient interactions.

    HR can even intervene if the issues stem from problems at home. Many companies have employee-assistance programs and referral resources that can help individuals who are struggling with their finances or overall health and wellness.

    In thinking about how security leaders can ensure businesses are a safe space for productivity and professionalism, the alarming trend of workplace shootings have primed leaders to automatically host active shooter response training. Security leaders need to know that this is just the start. The best approach to active-shooter prevention takes things one step further, into the realm of continuous evaluation, early discovery and, as a result, timely intervention

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  • November 12, 2019 3:13 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Computer Weekly

    Brits over the age of 30 tend to be more likely to adopt best practice when it comes to cyber security than their younger colleagues, even though the under-30s tend to be more anxious about security matters, according to a study conducted by NTT’s cyber unit.

    The study, which also looked into the attitudes of people in multiple other countries, was conducted as part of NTT’s Risk:Value report 2019, and scored across 17 criteria. In the UK, over-30s scored higher in terms of security best practice than the under-30s. When compared with people in the other countries studied, which included Brazil, France, Hong Kong and the US, people in the UK tended to score higher regardless of age.

    The study cannot be read as an indictment of the habits of millennials (those born between approximately 1980 and 1995) because the oldest millennials are now approaching the age of 40. However, its findings do clearly show that just because people have grown up as digital natives and are aware of the risks of life online, it does not necessarily mean they are paragons of virtue when it comes to security.

    Indeed, suggested NTT, employees who have spent longer in the workplace gaining knowledge and skills – what it termed “digital DNA” – have a clear advantage over their younger colleagues.

    “It’s clear from our research that a multigenerational workforce leads to very different attitudes to cyber security. This is a challenge when organisations need to engage across all age groups, from the oldest employee to the youngest,” said NTT Security’s vice-president of consulting for the UK and Ireland, Azeem Aleem.

    “With technology constantly evolving and workers wanting to bring in and use their own devices, apps and tools, business leaders must ensure that security is an enabler and not a barrier to a productive workplace.

    “Our advice for managing security within a multigenerational workforce is to set expectations with young people and make security awareness training mandatory. Then execute this training to test your defences, with all company employees involved in simulation exercises,” said Aleem.

    “Finally, teamwork is key. The corporate security team is not one person, but the whole company, so cultural change is important to get right.”

    The research revealed that under-30s expected to be more productive, flexible and agile at work using their own tools and devices, but half thought that responsibility for security rested solely on the shoulders of the IT department – 6% higher than older age groups.

    One anonymised interviewee, a 28-year old working in the finance sector, commented: “I don’t think I care anymore. There is so much stuff out there now, what with Cambridge Analytica. It is all out there, I accept that at some point someone might try to defraud me and impersonate me and I will deal with it when it happens, I suppose.”

    Young risk takers

    The report seemed to show younger workers were more ready to take risks – 52% said they’d consider paying a ransomware demand, compared with 26% of over-30s. But 58% believed their employers did not have the right in-house skills or resources to cope with the number of security threats, compared with just 26% of older adults.

    Younger people also tended to dramatically underestimate the amount of time it would take to recover from a cyber security breach, and were less likely than their older colleagues to believe cyber should be a regular item on the boardroom agenda.

    However, younger people did consider the internet of things (IoT) as a greater security risk than the over-30s.

    Adam Joinson, professor of information systems at the University of Bath – who specialises in the intersection of IT and human behaviour – said that if the report made anything clear, it was that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to security.

    “The insights from the NTT study demonstrate that treating all employees as posing the same risk, or having the same skills, is problematic for organisations. We do need to be careful not to assume that the under-30s simply don’t care so much about cyber security. While this may be true in some cases, in others it is more likely that existing security policies and practices don’t meet their expectations about ‘stuff just working’,” he said.

    “If we want to harness the fantastic creativity and energy of younger workers, we need to think about security as something that enables their work, not something that blocks them from achieving their tasks. This is likely to mean security practitioners having to fundamentally rethink the way security policies operate, and find ways to improve the fit between security and the tasks employees are required to undertake as part of their core work,” added Joinson.

    To this end, NTT has produced a checklist of six best practice tips to reinforce security in a multigenerational workforce. These are to:

    1. Make security culture inclusive of all age groups and supported by age-diverse “champions”.
    2. Listen to the views of younger employees on cyber.
    3. Enable agile and flexible workplaces that help younger people buy into the desired security culture.
    4. Make security leaders approachable to everyone in the business.
    5. Support learning programmes, mentoring and even external support in areas where skills shortages are most acute.
    6. Educate, possibly even through tactics such as gamification.

    See Original Post

  • November 12, 2019 3:08 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Security Management

    The scope of security’s responsibility within organizations continues to broaden, and increasingly it includes such areas as risk management, business continuity, and cybersecurity.

    That’s one finding of joint research from Security Management and Resolver, research which was the subject of a webinar earlier this month moderated by ASIS IT Security Council Chair Jess Sieben, CPP, CISSP. Sieben, who also is corporate security product manager at Resolver, was joined by his colleagues Ryan Thiessen and Anaud Ganpaul on Using Data to Allocate Your Security Resources, which is available for free on-demand by registering.

    Looking at security budgets, the study showed that while the typical budget for cybersecurity is seeing larger increases, both cyber and physical security budgets are on the rise: Physical Security Budge up 56% and Cybersecurity Budget up 78%.

    Ganpaul cites this a positive development: “This is good news as one of the concerns we’ve been hearing is that the budget for the cybersecurity team can starve that physical security budget. But the data shows that they are continuing to fund both at the levels that they require.”

    While still more than 50 percent, the study indicated that the budget allocation for staff was falling while the budget allocated to equipment and software rose.

    The survey also examined the relative number and import of the incidents with which the security team dealt with in the previous year. These incidents led to an average loss of $3.5 million per company in the study. They survey, and webinar, wrap up by examining the tools companies used to track incidents and mitigate future risk.

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  • November 12, 2019 3:00 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Security Management

    If you look closely, you’ll start noticing it everywhere: the long, brightly-lit walkway with well-maintained vegetation along the sides, the line of stone benches running along the perimeter of a building in a popular tourist area, or the Instagram-worthy sculptures and architectural elements thoughtfully placed throughout an urban park.

    These carefully constructed public spaces have components designed to delight and enhance the experience of the people who use them—but they also employ natural security techniques honed over decades to subtly create a safer space for all.

    This approach, known as crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED), was first introduced in the 1970s and has steadily gained popularity since. Today, CPTED is a common component of physical security and architectural design—and for good reason. Urban areas are constantly evolving to support the influx of city dwellers; more than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas today, and that number is expected to increase, according to the United Nations. That growth, combined with the recent increase in soft target threats such as vehicle attacks and mass shootings, makes security in densely populated areas crucial.

    However, the challenges faced by security practitioners to harden public spaces are numerous—the cost, the difficulty of retrofitting an existing area with new physical security components, and the implications that come with an increased visible security presence. This is where CPTED is especially useful, says Mark Schreiber, CPP, principal consultant of Safeguards Consulting, Inc., who is involved in ASIS standards development and multiple councils.

    “CPTED is a whole other set of tools where we could apply security design to facilities but, instead of applying technology or a specific hardware, CPTED addresses overall facility design itself,” Schreiber says. “It’s important for security design aspects to be teaming up with other types of design—with landscape, civil, and structural engineering and physical security technology. We’re changing the physical environment that a human goes through and influencing the human’s behavior through those designs themselves, whether it’s outdoors or indoors, because that environment influences behavior naturally. People know when they feel safe, and a criminal knows where they’re more likely to get away with a crime because of the environment.”

    While the basic principles of CPTED outlined in the 1970s remain the same today, they have become more nuanced—the approach is a careful balance of physical security, architecture, psychology, and perception. Successful implementation of CPTED components in public areas requires equal input between the landscape architects twho are designing a layout and the security principles needed to build a safe environment.

    But for landscape architects, security is just one component of a larger plan. They also need to consider accessibility, aesthetics, municipal requirements, and resiliency—all of which need to be incorporated into one solution. While security and urban design often have differing—and, at times, clashing—approaches to how public spaces should be protected, the final result, when done well, is a seamless experience that leaves visitors feeling at ease.

    “There are these fantastic themes of visitor use and experience, as well as public safety,” says Jill Cavanaugh, a partner at Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners (BBB) in Washington, D.C.—a city full of national landmarks and tourist attractions.

    “We always keep in the forefront of our mind that dichotomy and our obligation to ensure that when visitors leave these landmarks that they’re not taking away a sense of foreboding—you want them to feel safe and protected, but you don’t want to have that experience diminish their overall enjoyment of these landmarks,” says Cavanaugh.

    Designing a Mall for the People

    Cavanaugh and the architects at BBB have plenty of experience designing for some of the United States’ most stringent security requirements—following 9/11, they were tasked with increasing the safety of several national landmarks, including Smithsonian Institution museums, many of which line the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

    “Because of the nature of the public spaces, monuments, and important buildings within the city, they all became vulnerable in so many ways, and there was a big need for them to be protected,” explains Hany Hassan, partner and director of BBB’s Washington, D.C., office. “We developed a comprehensive plan for the entire Mall with the intention to provide necessary security while being mindful of the quality, aesthetics, and historic nature of those buildings. We had to do it in a way that wouldn’t compromise the Mall’s symbolic nature of openness, freedom, and accessibility.”

    While security in the design was a top priority due to the buildings’ locations and symbolic importance, the architects had to keep other design aspects in mind.

    “Our approach has to be dynamic enough to accommodate the things that oftentimes we can’t control,” Cavanaugh says. “The buildings in which we work are in dense urban areas, so we don’t have the luxury of a setback. How do you appropriately harden a building physically in a way that honors the aspects of the building that make it significant? We really maintain what makes the building special from a historic or aesthetic point of view, but [we] incorporate measures that are often invisible but do include the appropriate amount of structural resilience and electronic intrusion resistance.”

    Scott Archer, a senior associate at BBB, tells Security Management that urban plans often incorporate a layered security approach, which is both more effective and less noticeable, ensuring that organizations are not relying on a single line of defense to stop all threats.

    “The new visitor pavilion we designed for the Washington Monument isn’t designed to protect against a vehicle ramming, because that’s being protected against elsewhere,” says Archer. “This layered approach not only helps the user feel safe while still navigating those spaces with ease, but also allows the security apparatus to actually defend against things in a more discreet way. You can’t make it completely transparent in the way that it’s designed because you don’t want others to know what level of threat it’s designed to. It’s about the balance between allowing people to feel safe knowing that they’re protected without describing the level of protection.”

    The results of BBB’s approach can be seen along the Mall today—but only to the careful observer. That marble ledge that’s the perfect place to sit while waiting in line to enter a museum also serves as a retaining wall and a barrier. The eye-catching sculpture that marks the entrance to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History is reinforced to act as a bollard. A facility’s intricate wooden entryway may house a magnetometer. And there are many design components that meet strict federal security requirements and are almost impossible to detect—a slight slope of the sidewalk, unimposing vegetation, or a carefully placed trash can far from a building’s entrance.

    “One of the best compliments we have received on this kind of work is that people didn’t even notice that there is perimeter security,” Hassan says. “When we do any of these projects, it’s not an exercise of flexing our muscles in designing an elaborate system—we want it to be nearly invisible.”

    Internationally, though, the design approach might be less subtle. Cavanaugh, who leads many U.S. State Department projects overseas, explains that sometimes a facility’s security features should be showcased, not hidden.

    “On these campuses, we always have perimeter security that looks like perimeter security, so that there’s a definite visual message to any visitor, whether friendly or unfriendly, that this is a protected U.S. military installation, even though it’s a diplomatic presence,” Cavanaugh says. “It’s important to emphasize security as a visual element but also have that diplomatic layer of encouraging visitors whose only interface with the United States might be through that post.”

    A Team Approach

    As CPTED best practices have become more widely understood throughout many industries, it is easier to work together to make design decisions among a multidisciplinary group, Schreiber notes.

    “The great thing about CPTED is that it’s not a big lift—it’s relatively simple to implement because there’s not a lot of friction with the design process when you have trained professionals in the group,” Schreiber says. “Ultimately, it requires a team approach, proper education, and experience to implement CPTED. Common CPTED training programs educate a wide variety of people—security engineers and consultants, managers, architects, law enforcement professionals, and city planners. What it comes down to is that the principles are applicable to many different physical environments, including the built environment, and whoever is influencing that environment can use it in that case.”

    Cavanaugh agrees, noting that the interactions between architects and security professionals often have a healthy tension to them that can result in innovative solutions that will satisfy everyone.

    For example, Cavanaugh says: “If you have a challenge where you need a certain perimeter distance for a vehicle, there are many different ways you could work with the landscape to accomplish the same security objective. Those are some of the most fruitful dialogues because security professionals might perceive the solution to be a wall or fence, but there are other ways to address the issue and how to resolve it.”

    Schreiber notes that ASIS is working with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to develop internationally agreed upon guidelines for CPTED best practices.

    “We have made significant progress in making this standard into something that can be practically applied to any organization, including main CPTED principles and guidance that can be implemented,” Schreiber says.

    Evolving with the Industry

    Hassan says that the changes in physical security technology and the threats facilities face influence how the architects incorporate security into their designs. The evolution of x-ray and other screening technology, for example, allows architects to incorporate those security measures into the facility more seamlessly for clients seeking to create a more welcoming environment, he adds.

    “The equipment is no longer as unsightly or intrusive, but more importantly we can now make the building more inviting when you enter, as opposed to being confronted with equipment when you step in the door,” Hassan says.

    The constantly changing threat landscape is a challenge, especially when designing for a historic building that can’t be completely revamped to address new security concerns, he notes.

    “What we hear from our clients is to design to the threat, but that’s always evolving,” Hassan says. “As much as we are trying to improve the systems and equipment we use, at the same time others trying to do harm are coming up with new ideas and ways to surpass that. It’s a constant challenge and competition between everybody to be able to protect ourselves from anyone trying to do any harm.”

    This is where resiliency in a building’s design is especially important.

    “When we’re designing places, whether it’s an urban landscape or a building, often these are giant monetary and time investments, so they usually aren’t temporary,” Archer explains. “Think about the longevity of an embassy overseas—that should ideally last for more than 100 years, but then the threat will be completely different. How we design in flexibility is really important, and we do that not just for security but for all types of issues within the building. We try to think about our master plans and our urban design as an exhibition of how this can come together in a way that makes sense for today and lays the landscape for how it might change over time without having to restart every 50 years.”

    When it comes to resiliency, the architects take a holistic view about the mark they will make on structures that have existed for hundreds of years and, hopefully, will continue to serve the public for years to come.

    “Solving security in design is one-dimensional, and when the threat changes it becomes antiquated,” Cavanaugh says. “If it’s solving more than one problem, though—if we’re layering in an infrastructure upgrade, bringing the building out of the flood plain by raising it 30 inches, and also accomplishing a vehicular barrier and incorporating accessibility—all of these things make design more resilient to both time and purpose. That’s where we find the most enjoyment: a multidimensional design that solves more than one problem in a way that’s sensible but also intuitive and will be more enduring in the way that people use it in the years to come.”

    A Bird’s Eye View of Washington, D.C.

    The Washington Monument—the striking obelisk-like structure perched on top of a hill overlooking the National Mall in Washington, D.C.—is one of the United States’ most distinct landmarks, but it was closed in 2016 for structural repairs and only reopened last month. The architects at Beyer Blinder Belle Architects and Planners (BBB) were tasked with building a new structure at the base of the monument to screen visitors before they ascend to the top of the tower.

    The architects had a vision of an open, welcoming pavilion with glass walls and ceilings that would not hinder the 360-degree view from the monument. Melding this approach with the stringent security standards required for federal landmarks, though, made it one of the most challenging projects the firm has worked on, says Hany Hassan, partner and director of BBB’s Washington, D.C. office.

    “We wanted to design the entrance in a way that reflects what the monument symbolizes, which is openness, freedom, and safety, and wanted people to be able to enter in a dignified way,” Hassan explains. “We went through a very arduous design process to develop multiple plans. In order to create that sense of dignity, we designed and developed a glass pavilion that is transparent, so you can actually see through it when you enter and look up towards the monument, so you’re never disconnected from that experience.”

    BBB partner Jill Cavanaugh explains that the message the structure sends is intended to foster both accessibility and an understanding of the pavilion’s main purpose: security.

    “The National Park Service wanted something that would convey that you are entering a screening facility, so in some ways it had to look purposeful while also incorporating discreet elements that the public doesn’t necessarily need to know,” Cavanaugh says. “Ultimately, we adopted a design that deliberately used glass so that it had a lighter touch that allowed people inside the security queue to look up and see the top of the monument.”

    The architects acknowledged the challenges that came with designing a glass building to meet ballistic and blast requirements.

    “We really put a lot of effort into the design to ensure that it was technically adequate, but we always go back to that visitor experience so we ensured that there’s daylight, there are views toward the Washington Monument and the monuments around you, while you’re up in that particular area waiting to get into the building,” Cavanaugh says.

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  • November 12, 2019 2:55 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Help Net Security

    The number of phishing attacks continued to rise into the autumn of 2019, according to APWG.

    The total number of phishing sites detected in July through September 2019 was 266,387. This was up 46 percent from the 182,465 seen in the second quarter of 2019, and almost double the 138,328 seen in Q4 2018.

    “This is the worst period for phishing that the APWG has seen in three years, since the fourth quarter of 2016,” said Greg Aaron, APWG Senior Research Fellow and President of Illumintel.

    In addition to the increase in phishing volume, the number of brands that were attacked by phishers in Q3 was also up notably. APWG contributor MarkMonitor saw attacks against more than 400 different brands (companies) per month in Q3, versus an average of 313 per month in Q2.

    Stefanie Wood Ellis, Anti-Fraud Product & Marketing Manager at MarkMonitor, noted: “The top targeted industries are largely consistent with previous quarters. Webmail and SaaS sites remained the biggest targets of phishing.”

    Meanwhile, “Business e-mail compromise” or BEC scams remained highly damaging. These attacks target employees who have access to company finances or valued data assets, usually by sending them email from fake or compromised email accounts (a spear phishing attack).

    According to APWG contributing member Agari, 40 percent of BEC attacks use a domain name registered by a scammer. These domains are often variations of a trusted, existing company name, meant to fool unwary victims. In the third quarter, attacks involving wire transfers from victims were for an average of $52,325.

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  • November 12, 2019 2:47 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from BBC News

    Firefighters battled the flames for more than 10 hours, extinguishing them by Thursday afternoon. No injuries have been reported so far.

    The wooden castle, built 500 years ago, was almost completely destroyed during World War Two.

    The current structure is a reconstruction.

    The castle served as a campus for Okinawa's largest public university until the 1970s, and has been a popular tourist attraction since.

    Razed to the ground

    The fire started just before 02:40 local time on Thursday (17:40 GMT Wednesday). It is still unclear what might have triggered it. 

    More than 100 firefighters were called to the scene, but one police officer said fire fighters struggled to contain the fire due to strong winds.

    "The many wooden structures and the [recently reapplied] lacquer may have also had an effect," the unidentified officer told the Asahi Shimbun newspaper.

    The fire was eventually put out at around 13:30, but all seven key buildings of the castle were burnt down.

    Shuri Castle, which was was once the seat of the Ryukyu dynasty, sits on top of a hill overlooking the city of Naha - Okinawa's capital - and is surrounded by curved stone walls.

    One resident said the castle was seen as "god-like".

    "To us, the Shuri Castle is a god-like existence," 84-year-old Toyoko Miyazato told the Asahi Shimbun. "I am so sad I don't know what to say."

    The city will now "do everything in [its] power" to deal with the fire and its aftermath, its Mayor Mikiko Shiroma told public broadcaster NHK.  

    According to Okinawa's tourism site, the castle burned down three times during the Ryukyu Dynasty and was again destroyed in World War Two during the Battle of Okinawa.

    Until Thursday's incident it was the largest wooden building in Okinawa.

    The castle had been scheduled as a stop on the 2020 Tokyo Olympic torch relay route. 

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  • November 12, 2019 2:41 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from the New York Times

    Anticipating a surge in racist and hate-fueled attacks during the 2020 race, officials are speaking more frankly about politically motivated violence.

    As a group of prominent black pastors listened, the top federal prosecutor in northern Ohio, Justin E. Herdman, spoke recently at Mount Zion church about the prospect that a gunman could target one of their congregations.

    The subtext was clear. Mr. Herdman is among a group of federal law enforcement officials who have begun speaking more forthrightly about fighting domestic terrorism from the front lines. They want to reassure a skeptical public that the Justice Department is forcefully combating racist and politically motivated violence in the Trump era, amid their own mounting concerns about a possible surge in attacks sparked by the 2020 election.

    “When I sit in church,” Mr. Herdman told the pastors, “I have one eye on what’s going on at the altar, and I have got one eye on the entrance to the sanctuary.”

    “Mm-hmm,” the pastors responded in unison.

    The community relations effort is the most visible of several aggressive steps by federal prosecutors and F.B.I. agents to combat domestic terrorism. The bureau has about 850 open investigations across the United States. Prosecutors have backed rewriting the laws on domestic terrorism. And in northern Ohio, Mr. Herdman has encouraged his investigators to use wiretaps, one of their most intrusive tools, in such cases. 

    Their efforts show how federal law enforcement officials are fighting domestic terrorism and its underlying ideologies, including white nationalism and neo-Nazism, as they navigate not only demands to do more to stop high-profile mass shootings but also limits on their power, like First Amendment protections for hate speech.

    At the church in Oakwood Village, a middle-class suburb southeast of Cleveland, Mr. Herdman was joined by the area’s top F.B.I. agent, Eric B. Smith, who expressed concern that the bitter divisions that have colored the nation’s political discourse will only worsen in an election year and could stoke more violence.

    “One of the great concerns for us in the upcoming year is this domestic terrorism threat,” Mr. Smith said. “People are simply conducting acts of terror because it’s their side.”

    Mr. Herdman, a career prosecutor and former intelligence officer in the United States Navy Reserve, gained attention recently for his performance at a news conference announcing charges against a white nationalist suspected of threatening the Jewish Community Center of Youngstown, about 60 miles from Cleveland. 

    Investigators discovered an AR-15 military-style assault rifle, World War II-era Nazi propaganda and a Hitler Youth knife in the basement of the suspect, 20-year-old James P. Reardon of New Middletown.

    Evoking recent mass shootings, Mr. Herdman denounced Mr. Reardon and his toxic views, describing Nazism and racial superiority as failed ideologies.

    “Threatening to kill Jewish people, gunning down innocent Latinos on a weekend shopping trip, planning and plotting to perpetrate murders in the name of a nonsense racial theory, sitting to pray with God-fearing people who you execute moments later — those actions don’t make you soldiers, they make you criminals,” Mr. Herdman said.

    His words resonated. Letters, phone calls and emails poured in. “Thank you for so accurately describing the limits of fanaticism,” wrote Larry Schwarz, who is Jewish and lives in Hatboro, Pa. “I have never heard the case made so eloquently and so cogently.”

    Mr. Herdman explained in an interview why he was compelled to speak out. “I wanted to lay down the marker,” he said. “I couldn’t let it go unsaid what the position of our office is.”

    Mr. Reardon’s case is one of dozens that Mr. Herdman’s office has pursued in recent months. The F.B.I.’s Cleveland field office, which has a dedicated domestic terrorism squad, plans to add more investigators soon.

    Mr. Herdman has encouraged his investigators to work aggressively, including using wiretaps to thwart domestic terrorists. Investigators must clear a high bar to start a wiretap; it requires the approval of a federal judge, and prosecutors must show that less invasive methods have failed or likely would. 

    Mr. Herdman’s office has charged others with making threats against federal law enforcement officers and against Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York and a frequent target of conservative criticism.

    Those arrests came after a man opened fire in August in a nightclub on the other side of the state, in Dayton, gunning down nine people and wounding 19. The gunman possibly embraced troubling beliefs, including anti-government, racist and misogynist views, according to a law enforcement official.

    Civil liberty and Muslim advocacy groups have accused the government of being slow to recognize the deadly threat as investigators focused heavily on Islamic terrorists.

    “For too long, the F.B.I. was myopically targeting Muslims as potential terrorists,” said Faiza Patel, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University Law School. “It is now feeling pressure from Congress and the public to address white nationalist violence, so we are seeing a wave of investigations and prosecutions.”

    Around the country, federal law enforcement officials have vocally taken on domestic terrorism. Thomas T. Cullen, the top prosecutor in the Western District of Virginia and a Trump appointee, has moved aggressively to convict white supremacists who break the law.

    He prosecuted James Fields Jr., the avowed white supremacist from Ohio who steered his Dodge Challenger into a crowd of protesters near a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, killing a young woman and injuring dozens. As Mr. Fields was sentenced in June to life in prison, Mr. Cullen said his attack was “motivated by this deep-seated racial animus.”

    Mr. Cullen has targeted local members of a Southern California-based violent white supremacist group, the Rise Above Movement. Two regions of growing concern are the West Coast and the states around the Great Lakes, where the F.B.I. has seen more arrests than in other parts of the country. 

    Other prosecutors in Virginia as well as in Florida and Los Angeles have also targeted white supremacists.

    Agents have also ramped up activity against members of Atomwaffen, one of the most violent extremist groups in the country, arresting suspected members on gun charges and asking a local judge to seize the weapons of one in the Seattle area because he was a risk to the public.

    The group, which has dozens of members across the country, wants to start a race war in the United States, according to the F.B.I. The bureau is also concerned about an Atomwaffen offshoot, Feuerkrieg Division.

    Federal prosecutors have backed a domestic terrorism bill that they say could aid in investigations, but the effort has stalled at the White House, a Justice Department official said.

    Any legislation also would probably face stiff resistance from civil rights activists over its First Amendment implications. An existing federal statute defines domestic terrorism roughly as people trying to use political violence to intimidate others but carries no penalties.

    The F.B.I. made 107 domestic terrorism-related arrests in the fiscal year that ended in September, a total roughly consistent with recent years. 

    “Certainly, the most lethality in terms of terrorist attacks over the recent years here in the homeland has been on the domestic terrorism side,” Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director, told lawmakers last month. Just days after his testimony, the F.B.I. charged a white supremacist in Colorado with plotting to blow up a synagogue.

    Though he and other senior law enforcement officials have spoken out about the rise of hate crimes and political violence, including Attorney General William P. Barr, who condemned both in a July speech on combating anti-Semitism, they stand out somewhat in terms of how the politics of fighting domestic terrorism have played out in Washington.

    President Trump has stoked race-based fears and praised “both sides” after the deadly Charlottesville attack. He also continues to lend credibility to white nationalists and anti-Muslim bigots by amplifying suspect accounts on Twitter, according to an investigation by The New York Times.

    But after years of prodding, the Department of Homeland Security finally affirmed in September that domestic terrorism was a national security threat while earlier this year, the F.B.I. established a domestic terrorism-hate crimes fusion cell.

    The Justice Department should also craft and make public a strategy to combat white nationalist violence, Ms. Patel said, adding that the government does not necessarily need new laws to fight domestic terrorism, just new priorities.

    In Ohio, Mr. Herdman expects extremism to persist. “Just based on the trend line, I don’t see where it goes down,” he said.

    He has prosecuted cases associated with a mixed bag of ideologies, including anarchists, people obsessed with mass killings and sovereign citizens, who view government as illegitimate. 

    The F.B.I. late last year arrested Damon M. Joseph, a white supremacist-turned-aspiring-jihadist who was planning to attack a synagogue in the Toledo area. The arrest came weeks after the mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue that killed 11 worshipers, an attack that Mr. Joseph had praised.

    That same week, agents arrested a Toledo couple, Elizabeth Lecron and Vincent Armstrong, both 23, on charges of planning to blow up a bar there. Investigators said Ms. Lecron consumed Nazi literature and was infatuated with mass killers, posting photographs and comments on social media glorifying the Columbine school shooters, who killed 13 and wounded 21 in Littleton, Colo., in 1999, and the man convicted in the killing of nine black worshipers at a church in Charleston, S.C., in 2015.

    In a journal, Mr. Armstrong wrote: “I have a vision. A vision to kill. To hunt the unwilling.”

    Ms. Lecron pleaded guilty in August to providing material support to terrorists, a crime frequently charged in international terrorism cases — but not domestic ones. Mr. Armstrong also pleaded guilty to his role in the thwarted attack.

    At the church, Mr. Herdman, who has given the same sober talk to Muslim and Jewish religious leaders, offered a reminder about why the Justice Department was founded after the Civil War: to fight the Ku Klux Klan, whose members have historically terrorized black people and targeted churches.

    “We’re here for you,” he told the pastors.

    See Original Post
  • November 12, 2019 2:33 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from City Lab

    For high schoolers in Parkland, Florida, going back to class after the shootings at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in February 2018 meant being on display. The name of their town had become shorthand for a tragedy; their trauma had become fodder for a nation trying to make sense of—and move past, and regulate around—yet another school shooting, which left 17 classmates dead.

    Also on display were the contents of their book bags: Over spring break, the school established a rule that students wear clear plastic backpacks instead of conventional ones.

    See-through book bags are a school-violence-deterrence tactic that dates back decades. But the MSD teens rebelled against the gear. They told journalists that they hated the beach-ball smell, the uniformity, and the fact that their private belongings—from tampons to medication—were now public. Students turned their bags into stages for protest: They exhibited Spongebob memes (“ravioli ravioli give us the gun controli”), snarky notes (“so when are our clear school uniforms coming in??”), and makeshift prisoner ID badges in them.

    AJ Cardenas, then a 19-year-old freshman at Florida State University, created an Instagram account dedicated to sharing photos of backpacks mocking the trend. By soliciting submissions from MSD students, the account—still up at @msdcamo2—became a home for “clear backpack clapbacks.” (Cardenas was never a student at MSD, he says, but knew several people affected by the violence.) “This is not effective: It’s a poor solution, it’s a waste of time and money, and it does not make the students feel secure,” he says. “It feels like the students have had their freedom taken away from them.”

    But more than a year later, clear backpacks—like the fears of random violence that they embody—haven’t gone anywhere. Along with active-shooter drills, metal detectors, and visitor’s badges, the transparent accessories are now familiar elements in the security theater that laces the American public education experience.

    Thenumber of schools that require clear backpacks isn’t known; school security experts say it’s small. But the market appears to be expanding: Such bags are also increasingly mandatory music festival gear, paired with flower crowns and glitter. Transit commuters, stadium-goers, and patrons of everything from comedy marathons to folk concerts are urged to lug them around. There’s an emerging industry of security-optimized packs and bags; several brands have capitalized on the trend.

    But what, if anything, do these PVC-scented reminders of The Worst That Could Happen accomplish to improve public safety?

    In 1998, a year before the two shooters at Littleton, Colorado’s Columbine High School left 13 dead, fears of school violence in America were on the rise. In December 1997, a 14-year-old high school freshman in West Paducah, Kentucky, took a pistol out of his backpack and opened fire, killing three classmates and injuring several more. That mass shooting was just one in a string of high-profile incidents that had parents and school administrators on edge. In the fall of 1998, President Bill Clinton convened a special White House conference on school safety.

    Amid this unease, some schools took pre-emptive action. In June, after “recent and numerous school shootings that occurred throughout America,” Alexandria, Louisiana’s Rapides Parish school district decided to institute a see-through and mesh bag policy for the coming school year. “Clear book bags,” Sarah Crook wrote in Alexandria’s Town Talk newspaper. “Here to stay or gone for good?”

    See-through personal accessories were originally about fashion, not safety. Clutches made of lucite plastic emerged in the late 1940s and ‘50s, becoming a glam trend popular among movie stars and Miami Beach vacationers. In the 1990s, the Hollywood Reporter claimed, rave culture had appropriated and democratized plastic totes. Clear bags became obligatory at music festivals like Ultra, as organizers cracked down on the drug-hiding. But in the mass-shooting era, clear bags emerged with a different mission: to help school districts see into their students’ lives.

    In Alexandria, the clear backpack rule sent “parents and students into a tail-spin,” the local paper reported. Area businesses rushed to stock their shelves with them; students prepared to part with the regular backpacks their parents had already bought. Two weeks before the start of the school year, the board reversed the decision, first saying they’d let each school decide their own policy, and then putting off the decision entirely until the 1999-2000 school year. By 1999, Town Talk wrote that clear backpacks were “one of the hottest items to hit stores,” according to then-Target executive Brad McPherson. (Target, which now carries clear backpacks emblazoned with college mascots, declined to comment for this article.)

    Rapides Parish was hardly the only school debating backpacks and security in the pre-Columbine era. Earlier that decade, some schools had banned backpacks altogether. Grayson, Kentucky’s East Carter High instituted a backpack freeze after a 1993 shooting that killed a teacher, a policy that, as Isabel Fattal wrote in The Atlantic, warped students’ perceptions of what high school was like for years to come. When Nicole Martin, who graduated from East Carter in 2001, had a daughter of her own, she told Fattal she couldn’t believe her school allowed her to carry a backpack at all.

    But the Columbine massacre in April 1999 dramatically raised the stakes on school security. The shooters wore trench coats, so some schools banned them; the shooters carried some of thedeadly firearms used in the attack in backpacks and duffel bags, so schools got rid of them, or enforced strict plastic backpack policies.

    Decades later, trench coats are back, but school shootings remain a core American anxiety: The number of violent incidents in schools hit a new high in 2018. That same year—19 years after after Columbine, six years after the shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school—Parkland’s Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School joined several other schools across the country in instituting clear or mesh backpack policies.

    Other schools have followed. In October, a day after a weapon was found on a high school student in Douglas, Arizona, parents and students in the district were alerted that backpacks would be banned altogether. After a school board meeting, the policy was changed—the only backpacks and bags allowed moving forward would be either clear or measuring smaller than a hand. “Any item that does not meet approved criteria shall be confiscated and returned at the end of the day,” read a Facebook post by the school.

    Seeing the growing market potential for see-though gear, Bobby Lin launched The Smarty Co., a heavy-duty clear backpack company, in 2017. Since then, the former Apple engineer has seen business double each year, as more school districts—especially in Southern states like Texas, Florida, Alabama, and Georgia—turn to the company to fill bulk orders, or to offer backpacks to students who don’t have the means to buy them themselves.

    “In 2018, I think it was more of a shock factor for a lot of students. But now that they see, oh wow, it’s cool—they’re asking their parents for our brand,” he says. “This year I think that a lot of more schools are warming up to the idea.”

    The company doesn’t just supply backpacks; it sells gym bags and lunch bags, and is planning on launching a line of clear purses. The market ranges from correctional officers (who have to carry clear gear on the job) to gym rats (some gyms won’t allow you to put your duffel of equipment on the floor unless it’s in a clear casing) to costume designers (honestly, they just want to be able to see their needles better). After a shooting at California’s annual Gilroy Garlic Festival this summer, transparent picnic bags and totes were nearly all you could see at San Francisco music festivals.

    Browsing through Amazon’s clear backpack options, you’ll see dozens of other brands offering similar “stadium approved” gear. “For School, Security, Sporting Events,” they often suggest. Herschel Supply Co., a popular backpack retailer, sells a line of clear plastic models for $50 to $75, and also a clear fanny pack. Urban Outfitters, Target, Walmart, and even Victoria’s Secret sell see-through models.

    “From our projections, next year more and more schools and stadiums and public events will start to require them as well,” Lin says. More people are carrying them preemptively, he says, to ease security hassles. Even where they’re not mandated—like at San Francisco’s NBA arena, the Chase Center—“there are people who still wear them because they can just breeze right through security; the personnel don’t have to rummage through their bag.”

    At first, the mandates may seem inconvenient, Lin says. Then, you get used to them. “You say, hey, here’s the framework, let’s work within it,” he says. “And then why not have the one that matches your lifestyle or personality?”

    That’s also how transparent backpacks are advertised on Vera Bradley’s website: “Three school- and stadium-ready pieces that meet the regulations, but still have all the pops of personality you’d expect from us.” If you have to live in constant low-level fear,you might as well do so in style.

    Beyond their aesthetic qualities, clear plastic can be a challenging material for a heavy-duty bag: Based on a survey of online ratings from shoppers, many backpack buyers complain about their flimsiness.“These things suck,” one parent wrote on Reddit. “You’re lucky if your kid can even get thru one semester with this junk. Last year I had to buy 2 and now another.”

    And some students do not seem to have warmed to the products. After Texas’ Cypress Fairbanks School District instituted a clear backpack rule last year, it released an FAQ. No, colored backpacks weren’t allowed. Yes, non-transparent athletic bags and instrument cases are allowed, but only if they’re stored immediately upon arriving at school. And no, the policy didn’t constitute a privacy violation. “We understand the concern regarding the privacy of certain items contained within backpacks. Students will be permitted to carry such items in a small makeup pouch or purse within the backpack.”

    Not all students were satisfied. Conor Fulbright, a student at the high school, started a petition addressed to the district’s superintendent, Mark Henry. While it is much appreciated that the Cy-Fair Administration has been making an effort to protect our children … A clear backpack policy will do nothing but simply increase the risk of another tragedy,” he wrote. “The root of a vast majority of these events is bullying. Exposing the personal items of students will increase bullying, and will inevitably increase the risk of a shooter.” He notes that the policies are easily thwartable, and suggests just enforcing a size limit instead.

    Gun safety experts tend to be similarly skeptical of backpack rules. “I wouldn’t go so far as to say they’re useless,” says Michael Dorn, the executive director of the school safety nonprofit Safe Havens International. He’s heard some principals sing the praises of clear backpacks: Once, a child brought a turtle to school, and the principal was able to intervene quickly. “But generally speaking, it’s very easy to conceal weapons in them.”

    Pistols and knives can be hidden in transparent bags just as easily as tampons can, he says: Inside tennis shoes, or wrapped up in T-shirts. Musicians could cram a larger gun into a music case, and football players could stuff them in gym bags. “In our experience, most of the students figure out the limitations of them,” says Dorn, whose organization has consulted over 8,000 K-12 schools on safety policies. “They’re not that hard to defeat in relation to the inconvenience they cause.”

    He says some schools he advised told him they adoptedclear backpack policiesonly to later drop or loosen them “because they found it was not very effective.” He can’t recall ever advising a client to institute the requirements. “It could help a little bit to speed up screening, but you’d have to do the same things you’d have to do with or without clear bags,” says Dorn. “You have to look inside to see if anything contains a firearm.”

    Even back in the pre-Columbine 1990s, kids were raising these concerns. “A clear backpack cannot tell you if a child is meditating something illegal or hurtful, such as bringing a gun to school with the intent to use it,” wrote Patrick Richardson and Norisha Kirts, members of the Town Talk’s Youth Council. “[I]f someone is intent on bringing a weapon to school, they will. Just as plain as that.”

    Lin wouldn’t comment on whether or not he thinks they’re effective—there isn’t enough data to say either way, he says.

    But the hope among schools that pursue such measures is that, like instituting mandatory visitor screening and metal detectors, forcing people to carry clear bags is a gentle-but-persistent means of discouraging malicious activity. If it’s even a little bit harder to walk into school with a weapon—or with alcohol, which spurs a lot of the more minor stadium altercations, Dorn says—some violence could be quelled.

    Backpacks might also have a kind placebo effect that helps ease student anxieties about their classmates: By insisting no one has anything to hide, they could show students just how little there is to fear. Basically, in a nation with 393 million civilian-owned firearms, a clear-backpack rule is better than doing nothing, schools say.

    “We understand that no single measure is the answer, but that a layered approach will help in the prevention, identification/intervention and response to potential school threats,” Cypress-Fairbanks Superintendent Henry told CityLab in a statement.

    Regardless of their effectiveness, Dorn has a more fundamental objection to these security policies: They address a problem that has long been overstated. School shootings may be framed as an epidemic, but only 1.2 percent of homicides are committed at school. Fears of mass shootings and the increasingly aggressive counter-measures they inspire affect far more people than violence itself, he says. Programs like active-shooter drills have made recruiting teachers more difficult, and could be inflicting psychological trauma on students.

    In this atmosphere, clear backpacks might even be making things worse, Dorn says.“It can be very counterproductive to present to people an image of security that is not realistic,” he says. If it fails, the institution is seen as incompetent, and trust in the systems of protection is lost.

    “There is a place for physical security, no question about it. However, the human elements—the behavioral training and threat assessment and self-harm assessment processes, etc—those are by far the most reliable,” he says. “What we often see is the more [schools] go for simple solutions—like metal detectors or putting a cop in every school, arming teachers, clear book bags—the less they’re doing the things that are the most important.”

    Fulbright, who says only a few hundred people signed his petition when he first posted it last spring, was surprised to see the signatures had now surpassed 10,000. But he’s not surprised that others share his clear-backpack hatred. “I’ve personally gone through seven of them. They snap and they tear,” he says. “They’re completely useless and they just make my life harder.”

    Though the Cypress-Fairbanks superintendent says the bags’ intent is to curb gun violence, “I also think there’s another—not necessarily secret, but another reason,” he added, “to reduce the amount of vaping and drugs and whatnot in school.” (It doesn’t stop that, either.)

    At Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, students’ frustration has been heeded. When students returned to the classroom in September last year, the clear backpack policy was gone. In its place: metal detectors.

    See Original Post

  • November 12, 2019 1:05 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Security Security Services USA

    The holiday season is here and with it comes the hustle and bustle of the shopping season. Crowded stores and increased traffic can bring out the rudeness in anyone but is even more reason to pause and try to reinforce the holiday sentiment of good cheer by being kind and helpful to others. In this spirit, as you begin your holiday wrapping, Securitas would like to offer a few holiday safety tips.

    There are many seemingly insignificant steps we can take to protect ourselves and help ensure the safety of those around us at work, at home and while on the road. Taking a few precautions will help ensure a merry and joyous holiday with friends and family.

    Safety in the Festive Workplace

    Although they will vary by work location, some practical guidelines can help ensure the safety of all. Refrain from obstructing or obscuring fire extinguishers, fire alarms, and emergency or directional signage with holiday decorations. This can create an unnecessary risk for coworkers, clients, and visitors. End of the year office parties are another area for additional attention. These events can pose additional hazards and consideration must be given to everything from food served—to guard against allergic reactions—to the consumption of alcohol. The latter is one of the top concerns for most managers. Ensuring that coworkers either have a designated driver or a cab ride home can help prevent a tragedy. Additionally, drinking responsibly will also protect you and your coworkers from embarrassing situations that could reflect negatively on you and possibly lead to termination. Even though it is a social setting, make sure you are following all company rules and policies.

    Safety in the Holiday Home

    A home fire is a frightening event, and the danger of having one increases during the holidays. An average of 210 structure fires occur each year from Christmas trees alone. Both natural and artificial trees pose potential hazards. Dryness of a natural tree and the certification of an artificial tree. Tree placement, types of lights used, and using a timer or remembering to turn off tree lights when going to bed or leaving the house can all reduce the risk of a tree fire. Do not plug multiple extension cords into one outlet. This can overload the circuit and cause a fire risk. There are additional home safety concerns during the holidays. The FBI reports that approximately 400,000 home burglaries occur between the months of November and December. Pay attention to what you throw away. Empty computer and television boxes may draw the attention of would-be thieves. Packages under the tree can also look appealing and make easy targets when viewed through the window. Finally, use caution when posting to social media if you spend the holidays away from home. Drawing attention to the fact that your house is unoccupied can make it a target. A common-sense approach will help protect you and your family.

    Our Values, Our Gift

    Embracing tolerance and safety in your personal and professional spaces can help spread joy during the holidays. Practice giving the gifts of tolerance and safety to everyone throughout the year. We encourage our employees, clients and the public to adopt and promote these behaviors. Securitas USA believes this can be done by practicing our corporate values of Integrity, Vigilance, and Helpfulness. Our values are our gift. In this spirit, we wish you and your family a joyous and safe holiday season.

    Safety on the Road

    During the holiday season the combination of weather, the time of year, and normal driving risk factors result in an increase in accidents. One common hazard is distracted driving. This can range from talking on the phone to texting, looking for a parking spot, trying to find a store, or watching the GPS. Any time driving is not the primary focus, the chance of being involved in an accident increases. Let nonessential tasks wait until the car is parked or ask a passenger to assist with those that can’t. Holiday stress can also lead to dangerous driving. People are often in a hurry, trying to beat the rush, or finish last minute shopping. This can compel them to speed or take unnecessary risks. The pressure and stress of the holidays are shared by many, making this a good time to pay extra attention to your driving and be aware of the drivers around you.

    Bad weather also increases driving accidents. Allow sufficient travel time when driving in harsh weather conditions. Planning and patience could be the best approach to driving in inclement weather. Maintain a safe following distance to give yourself much needed reaction time. Other helpful strategies include using the time and pacing three seconds rule. Do this by identifying a fixed point down the road— such as a speed limit sign or overpass. When the car in front of you reaches that point, begin counting. If the car you are driving reaches that same location before you reach the specified number, you are following too close. The three seconds rule is recommended in clear, daytime weather driving. However, for night driving, heavy traffic, or inclement weather you should follow the six seconds rule. This increases the amount of reaction time with the car in front of you. If the weather is extremely poor and you lack a clear line of sight, increase the distance to nine seconds. This will provide some of the longest times and distances to react, in the event the car you are following makes a sudden change of speed or direction.

    For more information on this and other security related topics, visit the Securitas Safety Awareness Knowledge Center at:

  • October 31, 2019 2:44 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Newsweek

    The Getty fire in California is burning the fringes of the Getty Center property, but an official told Newsweek the museum wasn't concerned about its priceless works of art being damaged by the flames. The architecture and the landscaping were designed with fire prevention in mind.

    "This is one of the safest places for art," Lisa Lapin, vice president of communications for the Getty Trust told Newsweek. "Walls and rooftops are stone or metal so embers aren't going to get in."

    Around 1:30 a.m. PDT on Monday morning, a brush fire ignited along the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles near the Getty Center, a campus that includes the Getty museum, conservation and research institutes and foundation. Within hours, the fire grew to over 500 acres, at least five homes were damaged and officials ordered mandatory evacuations.

    The Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) officials credited the fire's rapid spreading to high winds, an issue that threatened large portions of the state. On Sunday, the National Weather Service (NWS) issued another round of red flag warnings and fire weather watches for California counties, including Los Angeles. Low humidity coupled with high Santa Ana winds and dry vegetation is a prime situation for wildfires to spark and spread.

    "It's a dangerous season right now," Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas said during a press conference. "Santa Ana winds pick up historically in September and last through April. We have not had any significant rainfall for a period of time. So, that's why we're very, very concerned about these weather conditions."

    Aptly dubbed the Getty fire due to its proximity to the Getty Center, which houses a collection of masterpieces by artists such as Vincent Van Gogh, Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn and Leonardo da Vinci, Lapin told Newsweek that by 8:30 a.m., the fire was on the fringes of the property. This didn't cause concern for the art, though, as the center was built to withstand the threat of fire.

    "That was one of the incentives of the architect," Lapin said. "Some of [the design] was for the aesthetic and some of it was for fire prevention."

    The buildings are made of stone and metal, two fire-retardant materials, there's extensive open space around the structures to slow or stop the fire, and the landscaping is well irrigated through the on-site water tanks to prevent embers from sparking. The Getty Center can also seal off the ventilation system to prevent smoke from reaching the collection, which is kept secure inside double walls.

    To prevent loss of human life, mandatory evacuations were ordered for more than 10,000 structures and other residents were cautioned to prepare to leave at a moment's notice. While residents left the area, more than 600 firefighters worked to save people's homes and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti applauded their heroic efforts.

    Terrazas noted it wasn't the first fire his crew has had to deal with this season, either. California experienced its deadliest and most destructive wildfires in 2017 and 2018 and so far, in 2019, there have been 5,819 fire incidents and more than 162,000 acres burned, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).

    Along with ground personnel, the LAFD, in conjunction with other agencies, deployed a number of air tankers and helicopters, including assigning some to the Getty Center. Lapin said they were doing "drop after drop" of water and fire retardant. She credited crews for being "amazing," and said they were "taking very good care of us."

    While Lapin was confident the Getty Center would be "just fine," she said the organization was concerned about their neighbors, who don't have the advantage of being on the top of a hill.

    "We feel terrible there's going to be a loss of homes," Lapin said. "It's really tragic."

    See Original Post

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