COPS publishes security guidelines for major special events
In the pre-9/11 environment, law enforcement’s involvement in planning for the safety and security of public events focused on crowd control, disorderly conduct, vandalism, traffic management, and, in some cases, escorts and protection for VIPs. Law enforcement also had to plan for the political demonstrations that sometimes occurred outside at the locations of public events. After 9/11, these issues are still important, but law enforcement also must address new challenges, including possible acts of terrorism and natural disasters.
To help law enforcement agencies respond to these challenges, the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) has published Planning and Managing Security for Major Special Events: Guidelines for Law Enforcement and a companion CD?ROM that contains a training curriculum.
The guidelines note that law enforcement must consider several factors that ensure public safety and at the same time allow the event to be enjoyable and well attended. First, agencies should establish effective, but temporary, organizational arrangements, management structures, and methods of communication. Communication is especially critical because a well-coordinated communications system will enable the various entities to talk to each other. The system, however, must be accompanied by a communications plan that keeps everyone in the loop, from the preplanning stage through the postevent activities.
Training specific to event security is also critical. Law enforcement personnel must be prepared to handle a broad array of situations, ranging from a violent protest to an ordinary incident such as drunkenness, in addition to the many details involved when providing security at an event. They also must consider how security measures, including street closings or searches, would affect the event, yet respect individuals’ constitutional rights such as freedom of speech or freedom of assembly. Finally, while ensuring the safety of the public event, agencies must ensure that the rest of their jurisdiction is not short-changed by law enforcement services.
Another important factor is that agencies must think about planning for the security of major special events from a community policing perspective that involves problem solving and partnership building. Local law enforcement agencies that practice community policing will have in place open communication and partnerships with community organizations and citizens for identifying possible problems and creating a climate of safety long before a major public event occurs.
A training program for safety at public events
This CD?ROM contains lesson plans, slides, and reference materials for a 14-module training program that will guide State and local law enforcement administrators in planning and managing security for major special events in their communities. The CD?ROM includes the publication Planning and Managing Security for Major Special Events: Guidelines for Law Enforcement.
Safety and security at major public events
In response to the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2004, the COPS Office and the Institute for Law and Justice submitted a report to Congress on best practices developed by law enforcement for securing special public events of national or regional importance. This report is the first comprehensive source of information covering all aspects of preevent planning, security needs during an event, and postevent activities.
Grants expand ICAC task forces to all 50 States
In September 2007, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) awarded more than $3 million to 13 State and local law enforcement agencies to support the development of task forces to combat Internet crimes against children. As a result of these new grants, which were made under the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force program, all 50 States will have an ICAC task force, creating a seamless network of 59 task forces nationwide. New ICAC grantees include law enforcement agencies in Alaska, California, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, and West Virginia. In fiscal year 2007, OJJDP awarded approximately $17 million to fund ICAC task forces, including the new task forces.
In fiscal year 2007 alone, ICAC investigations led to more than 2,350 arrests and nearly 10,500 forensic examinations. Nationwide, from October 1, 2006, to August 31, 2007, ICAC task forces received more than 18,000 complaints of technology-facilitated child sexual exploitation, which includes the possession, distribution, and creation of child pornography as well as attempts by individuals to lure children and travel to meet them for sexual encounters. Investigations initiated from complaints led to more than 4,700 case referrals to non-ICAC law enforcement agencies and training for more than 25,000 law enforcement officers and prosecutors.
NamUs will help identify missing and unidentified persons
Tens of thousands of people vanish under suspicious circumstances each year, and as many as 100,000 persons are missing in the United States each day. At the same time, medical examiners and coroners’ offices struggle to identify the human remains that law enforcement officers bring them.
The field is a step closer to being able to match descriptions of missing persons with descriptions of unidentified human remains more easily and quickly since July 2007, when the Office of Justice Programs’ National Institute of Justice (NIJ) launched a major effort called the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs).
NamUs consists of two databases: (1) records of unidentified decedents and (2) reports of missing persons. Medical examiners and coroners are now entering data about human remains in the unidentified decedents database. To ensure the integrity of the database, only medical examiners and coroners can enter data. Anyone (including the general public) can search the database, although access to different levels of information varies. The missing persons database is in development.
NIJ plans to have enough information in the two databases by 2009 so they can be linked. Eventually, searches of the system will result in matches that will help law enforcement, medical examiners and coroners, victim advocates, and the general public bring closure to cases involving missing persons.
The NamUs Web site provides resources on State clearinghouses of missing persons, locations of medical examiners and coroners, and legislation.
OJP schedules CART training for 2008
Child Abduction Response Teams (CARTs) respond quickly to incidents of missing and abducted children. The teams include regional law enforcement investigators, forensic experts, AMBER (America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response) Alert coordinators, search and rescue professionals, policymakers, crime intelligence analysts, victim service providers, and other interagency resources. CARTs can be used for all missing children’s cases and can be deployed as part of an AMBER Alert, or when a child is abducted or missing but the abduction/disappearance does not meet the AMBER Alert criteria. CARTs can also be used to recover runaway children if they are younger than 18 years old and are in danger.
Established by members of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Orlando Regional Operations Center in early 2005, the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) launched the national CART Initiative in November 2005. The national initiative is funded through the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP); presently, there are 95 teams throughout the country. Each region develops its CART program to best suit its demographic and geographic needs. The regional CART training calls for a review of agencies’ existing policies and practices and how interagency and regional cooperation on missing and abducted children’s cases can be improved. OJJDP held nine CART trainings in 2007. At present, five CART trainings are scheduled for 2008.
More information about the trainings is available at http://www.amber-net.org/.
Motor vehicle title system announced
The Bureau of Justice Assistance and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Major Theft Unit have partnered with other organizations in law enforcement and consumer protection to make the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) a reality, with all 50 States participating.
NMVTIS provides an electronic means to verify and exchange titling, brand, and theft data among motor vehicle administrators, law enforcement officials, prospective purchasers, and insurance carriers. It allows State titling agencies to verify the validity of ownership documents before they issue new titles and also checks to see if vehicles are reported stolen; if so, the States will not issue the new titles.
Before NMVTIS, a thief could steal a car, take it over the State line, and obtain a valid title by presenting fraudulent ownership documents. Alternatively, a thief could steal a car, switch the vehicle identification number plate with a plate from a junked car, and obtain a valid title for the stolen car. These activities were possible because States had no immediate, reliable way to validate the information on the ownership documents before issuing the new title. These techniques, which exploit the fact that State title information systems are not connected to one another, pave the way for major crimes that can have an impact on a State, a region, or the Nation.
Visit the NMVTIS Web site to learn more.
SMART Office hosts national tribal symposium on sex offender management and accountability
On November 30, 2007, the Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART) Office hosted the first National Tribal Symposium on Sex Offender Management and Accountability. More than 400 tribal leaders, criminal justice professionals, and social service professionals from around the country attended the meeting, held at Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico.
The SMART Office is responsible for administering, in all registry jurisdictions, the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) provisions of title 1 of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (Walsh Act). The Department of Justice published the interim rules regarding retroactive application of the Walsh Act in the Federal Registry on February 28, 2007; the public comment period ended April 30, 2007. On May 17, 2007, the proposed National Guidelines for Sex Offender Registration and Notification were released, with the public comment period ending on August 1, 2007. The SMART Office received more than 200 comments on issues including the retroactive application of SORNA, juvenile sex offender registration, listing of sex offender information on the public registry, and implementing SORNA in Indian Country. The SMART Office is now preparing the final edition of the national guidelines.
All registration jurisdictions must implement the minimum SORNA standards by July 27, 2009. SORNA allows jurisdictions to request up to two 1-year extensions of the deadline. Jurisdictions that need technical assistance or have general questions about SORNA can send an e-mail to the SMART Office at GetSMART@usdoj.gov. Additional information about the SMART Office or SORNA can be found at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/smart.
New emergency responder technologies showcased at critical incident conference
The Office of Justice Programs, in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense, held its ninth annual Technologies for Critical Incident Preparedness Conference and Exposition on November 6–8, 2007, in San Francisco, California.
The conference attracted 1,500 attendees, featured 150 exhibits, and brought together key leaders and decisionmakers. It offered responders, business and industry, academia, and Federal, State, tribal, and local stakeholders a unique forum in which to network, exchange ideas, and collaboratively address their needs for critical incident technology and preparedness and to find solutions to meet those needs.
The conference included general sessions on the National Bombing Prevention Program, preparedness, response to natural disasters, and transportation security. It featured breakout sessions on technologies such as personal protection equipment, school safety and security systems, and cyber forensics. Technology demonstrations were available for conference attendees, as well as hands-on training on “Incident Commander” and “Advanced Use of Force” systems.
More information is available at http://www.nlectc.org/training/nijconf2007.html.
Innovations in rescuing abducted children highlighted at AMBER Alert conference
The fifth National AMBER Alert Conference convened on November 13, 2007, in Denver, Colorado. Attendees participated in workshops on all aspects of AMBER (America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response) Alert plans and heard about best practices for issuing an AMBER Alert, relevant technology, and tools for investigating missing and abducted children’s cases. Participants also learned about factors that might motivate child abductors as well as the impact of abductions on victims.
Featured speakers included Elizabeth Smart, who at age 14 was abducted from her home in Salt Lake City, Utah, and was missing for 9 months before being found about 18 miles from her home; Cybele K. Daley, Acting Assistant Attorney General; Troy Eid, U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado; David Fisher, Chief of the Criminal Investigations Division, Denver Police Department; and Trevor Wetterling, brother of Jacob Wetterling (who was abducted as a child) and coauthor of What About Me? Coping With the Abduction of a Brother or Sister.
The AMBER Alert program began in Texas in 1996 when Dallas-Fort Worth broadcasters teamed up with local police to develop an early warning system to help find abducted children. The system was created in memory of 9-year-old Amber Hagerman of Arlington, Texas, who was abducted while riding her bicycle and later found murdered.
AMBER Alerts are emergency messages broadcast when a law enforcement agency determines that a child has been abducted and is in imminent danger. The broadcasts include information about the child and the abductor, including physical descriptions and information about the abductor’s vehicle, which could lead to the child’s recovery.
More information is available at http://www.amberalert.gov.
New tribal grants policy announced
In response to input from tribal leaders, OJP instituted a new tribal grants policy on September 20, 2007, for fiscal year 2008 that includes the following:
- Sending e-mail notices about grant solicitations
to all OJP stakeholder listservs, including
the tribal listserv.
- Providing links to all tribal grant awards on the Tribal Justice and Safety in Indian
Country Web site.
- Specifying that tribes are eligible for all OJP grants unless OJP is directed otherwise.
If tribes are not eligible for a particular grant, OJP will explain why that is the case.
- Establishing a 60-day application period, barring exigent circumstances, for all tribal-only grant programs.