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Archive for the ‘public safety’ Category

School Shooters: History, Current Theoretical and Empirical Findings, and Strategies for Prevention

April 23, 2014 Comments off

School Shooters: History, Current Theoretical and Empirical Findings, and Strategies for Prevention
Source: Sage Open

Situations involving active shooters in schools have increased in recent years. We define an “active shooter incident” as an occurrence where one or more individuals participate in an ongoing, random, or systematic shooting spree with the objective of multiple or mass murders. Attempts to build a profile of active school shooters have been unsuccessful to date, although there is some evidence to suggest that mental instability, social isolation, a self-perception of catastrophic loss, and access to weapons play a role in the identification of the shooter in a school shooting incident. This article details theories and after-the-fact findings of investigations on previous school shooters, and we offer an application of Levin and Madfis’s Five Stage Sequential Model to Adam Lanza, the perpetrator of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December, 2012. Prevention strategies, suggestions for positive school climates, school security for the physical plants, and threat assessments are discussed, and implications for future research are offered.

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UNODC — Global Study on Homicide 2013 (released 4/10/14)

April 18, 2014 Comments off

Global Study on Homicide 2013
Source: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
From press release (PDF):

Almost half a million people (437,000) across the world lost their lives in 2012 as a result of intentional homicide, according to a new study by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Launching the Global Study on Homicide 2013 in London today, Jean-Luc Lemahieu, Director for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs, said: “Too many lives are being tragically cut short, too many families and communities left shattered. There is an urgent need to understand how violent crime is plaguing countries around the world, particularly affecting young men but also taking a heavy toll on women.”

Globally, some 80 per cent of homicide victims a nd 95 per cent of perpetrato rs are men. Almost 15 per cent of all homicides stem from domestic violence (63,600). However, the overwhelming majority – almost 70 per cent – of domestic violence fatalities are women (43,600). “Home can be the most dangerous place for a woman,” said Mr . Lemahieu. “It is particularly heart-breaking when those who should be protecting their loved ones are the very people responsible for their murder.”

Over half of all homicide victims are under 30 years of age, with children under the age of 15 accounting for just over 8 per cent of all homicides (36,000), the Study highlighted.

CRS — Assistance to Firefighters Program: Distribution of Fire Grant Funding

April 17, 2014 Comments off

Assistance to Firefighters Program: Distribution of Fire Grant Funding (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

The Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program, also known as fire grants or the FIRE Act grant program, was established by Title XVII of the FY2001 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 106-398). Currently administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the program provides federal grants directly to local fire departments and unaffiliated Emergency Medical Services (EMS) organizations to help address a variety of equipment, training, and other firefighter-related and EMS needs. A related program is the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Firefighters (SAFER) program, which provides grants for hiring, recruiting, and retaining firefighters.

The fire grant program is now in its 14th year. The Fire Act statute was reauthorized in 2012 (Title XVIII of P.L. 112-239) and provides new guidelines on how fire grant money should be distributed. There is no set geographical formula for the distribution of fire grants—fire departments throughout the nation apply, and award decisions are made by a peer panel based on the merits of the application and the needs of the community. However, the law does require that fire grants be distributed to a diverse mix of fire departments, with respect to type of department (paid, volunteer, or combination), geographic location, and type of community served (e.g., urban, suburban, or rural).

New: Residential Building Electrical Fires (2009-2011)

April 15, 2014 Comments off

New: Residential Building Electrical Fires (2009-2011) (PDF)
Source: U.S. Fire Administration

Findings from this report:

  • An estimated 25,900 residential building electrical fires were reported to fire departments within the United States each year. These fires caused an estimated 280 deaths, 1,125 injuries and $1.1 billion in property loss.
  • Residential building electrical fires resulted in greater dollar loss per fire than residential building nonelectrical fires.
  • In 79 percent of residential building electrical fires, the fire spread beyond the object where the fire started.
  • The leading items most often first ignited in residential building electrical fires were electrical wire/cable insulation (30 percent) and structural member or framing (19 percent).

Social Media and Police Leadership: Lessons From Boston

April 14, 2014 Comments off

Social Media and Police Leadership: Lessons From Boston (PDF)
Source: National Institute of Justice

The Boston Police Department (BPD) has long embraced both community policing and the use of social media. The department put its experience to good and highly visible use in April 2013 during the dramatic, rapidly developing investigation that followed the deadly explosion of two bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. BPD successfully used Twitter to keep the public informed about the status of the investigation, to calm nerves and request assistance, to correct mistaken information reported by the press, and to ask for public restraint in the tweeting of information from police scanners. This demonstrated the level of trust and interaction that a department and a community can attain online. In the aftermath of the investigation, BPD was “applauded for leading an honest conversation with the public during a time of crisis in a way that no police department has done before.”

Secretary of Energy Advisory Board — Task Force Report on FracFocus 2.0 (March 28, 2014)

April 11, 2014 Comments off

Secretary of Energy Advisory Board — Task Force Report on FracFocus 2.0 (March 28, 2014) (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Energy (Energy Advisory Board)

This report presents the findings and recommendations for the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB) Task Force on FracFocus. This Task Force report builds upon and extends the 2011 SEAB Subcommittee report on the environmental impacts of unconventional gas production.

The Task Force believes that the FracFocus experience to date demonstrates the ease of disclosure of chemicals added to fracturing fluid for companies, the value of this disclosure for the public, and the importance of public confidence in the quality and accessibility of the FracFocus chemical registry data. It has accomplished a good deal and shows the capacity to make improvements at modest additional cost. FracFocus has greatly improved public disclosure quickly and with a significant degree of uniformity.

The Task Force recommends a number of actions that will further improve the effectiveness of the FracFocus disclosure of chemical additives and improve transparency for regulators, operating companies, and the public. Recommendations are made for improving the accuracy and completeness of registry submissions. In addition, the Task Force believes that an independent audit to assess the accuracy and compliance of the process will be useful for all stakeholders.

Reducing Firearm-Related Injuries and Deaths in the United States: Executive Summary of a Policy Position Paper From the American College of Physicians

April 10, 2014 Comments off

Reducing Firearm-Related Injuries and Deaths in the United States: Executive Summary of a Policy Position Paper From the American College of Physicians
Source: Annals of Internal Medicine

Firearm violence is not only a criminal justice issue but also a public health threat. A comprehensive, multifaceted approach is necessary to reduce the burden of firearm-related injuries and deaths on individuals, families, communities, and society in general. Strategies to reduce firearm violence will need to address culture, substance use and mental health, firearm safety, and reasonable regulation, consistent with the Second Amendment, to keep firearms out of the hands of persons who intend to use them to harm themselves and others, as well as measures to reduce mass casualties associated with certain types of firearms.

As an organization representing physicians who have first-hand experience with the devastating impact firearm-related injuries and deaths have on the health of their patients, the ACP has a responsibility to participate in efforts to mitigate these needless tragedies. Because patients trust their physicians to advise them on issues that affect their health, physicians can help to educate the public on the risks of firearms and the need for firearm safety through their encounters with their patients. This Executive Summary provides a synopsis of the full position paper, which is available in Appendix 1.

Facts for Features: 2014 Hurricane Season Begins

April 10, 2014 Comments off

Facts for Features: 2014 Hurricane Season Begins
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

The North Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1 and lasts through Nov. 30. The U.S. Census Bureau produces timely local statistics that are critical to emergency planning, preparedness and recovery efforts. The growth in population of coastal areas illustrates the importance of emergency planning and preparedness for areas that are more susceptible to inclement weather conditions. The Census Bureau’s rich, local economic and demographic statistics from the American Community Survey gives communities a detailed look at neighborhood-level statistics for real-time emergency planning for the nation’s growing coastal population.

Emergency planners and community leaders can better assess the needs of coastal populations using Census Bureau statistics. This edition of Facts for Features highlights the number of people living in areas that could be most affected by these dramatic acts of nature.

State Fire Death Rates and Relative Risk

April 9, 2014 Comments off

State Fire Death Rates and Relative Risk
Source: U.S. Fire Administration

The fire problem varies from region to region in the United States. This often is a result of climate, poverty, education, demographics, and other causal factors. Perhaps the most useful way to assess fire fatalities across groups is to determine the relative risk of dying in a fire. Relative risk compares the per capita rate for a particular group (e.g., Pennsylvania) to the overall per capita rate (i.e., the general population). The result is a measure of how likely a group is to be affected. For the general population, the relative risk is set at 1.

In addition to the District of Columbia, the states with the highest relative risk in 2010 included West Virginia, Alabama and Mississippi. The populace of West Virginia was 3.3 times more likely to die in a fire than the general population; however, people living in Oregon, Massachusetts and Arizona were 50 percent less likely to die in a fire than the population as a whole. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia had a relative risk higher than that of the general population. Three states, Iowa, Washington and New Mexico, had a relative risk comparable to that of the general population.

Relative risk was not computed for HI, ME, ND, VT and WY due to small numbers of fire deaths which are subject to variability.

Residential Building Garage Fires (2009-2011)

April 2, 2014 Comments off

Residential Building Garage Fires (2009-2011) (PDF)
Source: U.S. Fire Administration

An estimated 6,600 residential building garage fires were reported to United States fire departments each year and caused an estimated 30 deaths, 400 injuries and $457 million in property loss.

Findings from this report:

  • Residential building garage fires are considered part of the residential fire problem and comprised about 2 percent of all residential building fires.
  • Fires originating in residential building garages tend to be larger and spread farther than fires that start in other areas of a residence.
  • Of residential building garage fires, 93 percent occurred in one- and two-family residential buildings.
  • The leading causes of residential building garage fires were “electrical malfunction” (16 percent); “other unintentional, careless” action (15 percent); and “open flame” (11 percent).
  • Residential building garage fires occurred most often in the colder months of January and December (at 10 percent each). Additionally, residential building garage fires also peaked in July at 10 percent.
  • Electrical arcing was the most common heat source in residential building garage fires (17 percent).

CRS — The First Responder Network (FirstNet) and Next-Generation Communications for Public Safety: Issues for Congress

March 26, 2014 Comments off

The First Responder Network (FirstNet) and Next-Generation Communications for Public Safety: Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Since September 11, 2001, when communications failures contributed to the tragedies of the day, Congress has passed several laws intended to create a nationwide emergency communications capability. Yet the United States has continued to strive for a solution that assures seamless communications among first responders and emergency personnel at the scene of a major disaster. To address this problem, Congress included provisions in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-96) for planning, building, and managing a new, nationwide, broadband network for public safety communications (FirstNet), and assigned additional radio frequency spectrum to accommodate the new network. In addition, the act has designated federal appropriations of over $7 billion for the network and other public safety needs. These funds will be provided through new revenue from the auction of spectrum licenses. These and other public safety and spectrum provisions of the act appear in Title VI, known as the Public Safety and Spectrum Act, or Spectrum Act.

FICEMS Releases Collaborative Action Plan to Further Support EMS Nationwide

March 25, 2014 Comments off

FICEMS Releases Collaborative Action Plan to Further Support EMS Nationwide
Source: Federal Interagency Committee on EMS

In an effort to further coordinate federal efforts in emergency medical services (EMS), the members of the Federal Interagency Committee on EMS (FICEMS) reached consensus on a strategic plan that maps action steps for federal support of optimal emergency medical services systems nationwide.

FICEMS members recently approved and released the five-year plan at their biannual meeting in Washington D.C. Developed through a collaborative process and funded by three different departments, the plan provides a framework to synchronize interagency efforts and strengthen EMS practices, principles and strategies throughout the United States. During the meeting, members collaborated on the new vision and mission statement, which provide an anchor for the strategic goals and objectives in the plan.

Use of Social Media Networks and Mobile Phone Applications for Reporting Suspicious and Criminal Activities on Mass Transit

March 24, 2014 Comments off

Use of Social Media Networks and Mobile Phone Applications for Reporting Suspicious and Criminal Activities on Mass Transit
Source: Naval Postgraduate School

From the thesis abstract: “The threat of terrorism remains in the forefront daily, and public transportation systems remain a preferred target for terrorist attacks. Mass transit customers have long served as the ‘eyes and ears’ of the public transportation environment. In support of the Department of Homeland Security’s See It Say It campaign, mass transit customers contribute to this effort by reporting suspicious and criminal activities on subways and buses. The use of social media networks and mobile phone applications by mass transit law enforcement is slowly evolving as a tool for reporting suspicious and criminal activities on subways and buses. By reviewing the data and current use of social media networks and smartphone applications such as by mass transit law enforcement agencies, this thesis demonstrates that citizens want to play a role in assisting law enforcement in solving crimes. Mass transit law enforcement agencies can leverage community involvement and reduce crime by providing customers with an anonymous means for reporting suspicious and criminal activities. However, whether the use of social media networks and smartphone applications have resulted in an increase in reporting suspicious and criminal activities and a reduction in crime is unresolved, warranting future study in this area.”

CRS — The First Responder Network and Next-Generation Communications for Public Safety: Issues for Congress

March 13, 2014 Comments off

The First Responder Network and Next-Generation Communications for Public Safety: Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Montana State IT Services Division

Since September 11, 2001, when communications failures contributed to the tragedies of the day, Congress has passed several laws intended to create a nationwide emergency communications capability. Yet the United States has continued to strive for a solution that assures seamless communications among first responders and emergency personnel at the scene of a major disaster. To address this problem, Congress included provisions in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-96) for planning, building, and managing a new, nationwide, broadband network for public safety communications, and assigned additional spectrum to accommodate the new network. In addition, the act has designated federal appropriations of over $7 billion for the network and other public safety needs. These funds will be provided through new revenue from the auction of spectrum licenses. The cost of construction of a nationwide network for public safety is estimated by experts to be in the tens of billions of dollars over the long term, with similarly large sums needed for maintenance and operation. In expectation that public-private partnerships to build the new network will reduce costs to the public sector, the law has provided requirements and guidelines for shared use.

New From the GAO

March 11, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Report and Testimonies
Source: Government Accountability Office

Report

1. Nuclear Safety: Countries’ Regulatory Bodies Have Made Changes in Response to the Fukushima Daiichi Accident.  GAO-14-109, March 6.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-109
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/661463.pdf

Testimonies

1. Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Request: U.S. Government Accountability Office, by Gene L. Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States, before the Subcommittee on Legislative Branch, Senate Committee on Appropriations.  GAO-14-429T, March 11.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-429T
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/661548.pdf

2. Federal Rulemaking: Regulatory Review Processes Could Be Enhanced, by Michelle Sager, director,  strategic issues, before the Subcommittee on the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Federal Programs and the Federal Workforce, Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.  GAO-14-423T, March 11.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-423T
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/661539.pdf

CRS — United States Fire Administration: An Overview

March 11, 2014 Comments off

United States Fire Administration: An Overview (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via University of North Texas Digital Library)

The United States Fire Administration (USFA)—which includes the National Fire Academy (NFA)—is currently housed within the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The objective of the USFA is to significantly reduce the nation’s loss of life from fire, while also achieving a reduction in property loss and non-fatal injury due to fire.

The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013 (P.L. 113-6) funded USFA at $43.942 million. Additionally, the United States Fire Administration and Training budget account was subject to a 5.0% sequestration cut, putting the FY2013 level for USFA at $41.726 million.

The FY2014 budget proposal requested $41.306 million for USFA. Of the requested total appropriation, $12.267 million would be allocated to the National Fire Academy, $11.205 million to National Fire Programs, and $17.834 million to National Emergency Training Center (NETC) Management, Operations and Support. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 (P.L. 113-76), signed into law on January 17, 2014, funds USFA at $44 million.

U.S. Fire Administration — Emergency Vehicle Safety Initiative

March 10, 2014 Comments off

Emergency Vehicle Safety Initiative (PDF)
Source: U.S. Fire Administration

Since the release of our publication “Emergency Vehicle Safety Initiative (2004),” we have worked with many fire service organizations and the law enforcement community to increase emergency responder safety in this area. Our latest study report, “Emergency Vehicle Safety Initiative (2014),” consolidates the results of this work and provides best practices and recommendations for safer emergency vehicle and roadway incident response.

Topics covered include:

  • Common crash causes and crash prevention.
  • The impact of vehicle design and maintenance on safety.
  • Internal and external factors for improving response-related safety.
  • Regulating emergency vehicle response and roadway scene safety.
  • Roadway incident scene safety.

GA Gov. Deal: Report will play a key role in future winter storm response

March 6, 2014 Comments off

Deal: Report will play a key role in future winter storm response
Source: Georgia Office of the Governor

Gov. Nathan Deal today received the internal review and action plan he ordered from state agency heads involved in emergency response during the winter storm of Jan. 26-30.

“Our state experienced two severe winter storms in two weeks, events that tested the resilience and preparedness of all Georgians,” Deal said. “Following the first storm, I implemented immediate action items as well as initiated an internal review by state agency heads. The action items paid off. Our state for the second storm was more informed and prepared through the cellphones alerts, emails to school superintendents and consultations with local meteorologists. The safety of our citizens is of the utmost importance, and this report will play a key role in shaping the way our state government agencies prepare for and prevent dangerous winter weather situations.”

State agency heads from the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Defense and the Department of Transportation met to examine the events of the winter storm, which was found to be an extremely unusual circumstance based on data from the National Weather Service.

The report includes short- and long-term solutions, some of which have already been successfully implemented.

Hybrid Targeted Violence: Challenging Conventional “Active Shooter” Response Strategies

March 5, 2014 Comments off

Hybrid Targeted Violence: Challenging Conventional “Active Shooter” Response Strategies
Source: Homeland Security Affairs

Hybrid Targeted Violence (HTV) is defined as an intentional use of force to cause physical injury or death to a specifically identified population using multifaceted conventional weapons and tactics. This article introduces the HTV concept to challenge first responders to prepare for violent “hybrid” multi-threat incidents. These incidents may involve conventional weapons, the use of fire as a weapon, chemical weapons, and/or improvised explosives. Attacks of this nature defy conventional thinking about the role of police, fire, and emergency medical professionals. HTV events demand cooperative strategies to efficiently neutralize complex threats that are beyond the capacity of a single first responder discipline. Recent and historical HTV incidents are identified to reinforce the compelling need for a paradigm shift in thinking that goes beyond conventional “active shooter” scenarios that do not advance “Whole Community” interdependent response strategies.

Issa, Grassley Report on FDA Employee Monitoring Finds Agency Still Lacks Adequate Whistleblower Protections

February 26, 2014 Comments off

Issa, Grassley Report on FDA Employee Monitoring Finds Agency Still Lacks Adequate Whistleblower Protections
Source: U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

oday, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, released a joint report on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s highly-invasive surveillance program that monitored employees who contacted Congress and the media with concerns about FDA’s medical device approval process.

In April 2010, the FDA initiated a surveillance program of unprecedented scope to monitor employees in the Center for Devices and Radiological Health. The program allowed FDA managers to read communications between FDA employees and Congress, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC), and their personal attorneys. The Joint Committee report, entitled “Limitless Surveillance at the FDA: Protecting the Rights of Federal Whistleblowers,” found the FDA acted without regard for employees’ whistleblower rights, which protect their communications to Congress and OSC. The joint report also found that FDA conducted the program without adequate guidelines in place and made no effort to limit the scope of the program to exclude protected communications.

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