‘Active shooter' training boosts public safety
After all of the controversy over gun control measures in the wake of December's mass shooting at a school in Newtown, Conn., relatively little attention was paid to the Obama administration's nationwide effort this week to make our schools safer.
Elko's first responders enacted an “active shooter” scenario Monday on the Great Basin College campus. It was part of a nationwide effort following a White House directive to implement FBI-based “best practices” in handling such dire situations.
Pat Anderson, director of environmental health, safety and security at GBC, coordinated the drill along with Elko police Capt. Will Lehmann.
It was a case of students working with law enforcement to improve their own safety.
It was also a major undertaking, but one that will pay off in preparedness. A planned and coordinated response is the best tool we have to deal with the unthinkable.
“You don't need negotiators, you don't have time for SWAT teams, you need to get in there as fast as possible and stop the killing,” the FBI's Chris Combs told The Associated Press.
A near tragedy Tuesday at a Georgia school was proof of that.
Monday's exercise will enable local first responders to do their jobs better, but the new initiative goes even further.
“The FBI is making available its behavioral analysts to consult with local police agencies concerned that someone in their community might be planning a shooting,” the AP reported.
The federal agency is also offering extra manpower to interview witnesses, collect evidence and manage mass-shooting crime scenes. To be sure it is all done legally, President Barack Obama signed legislation formalizing the agency's authority to assist in this type of investigation.
A crazed killer doesn't need to cross a state line to generate a federal case. Mass shootings impact the entire country, whether they happen faraway or nearby. When large numbers of innocent lives are senselessly wasted, a small part inside each of us dies too.
We commend the college and students for working with our first responders to make the scenario more realistic and educational, enabling them to hone what are sure to be valuable skills.
Now, our greatest hope is that they will never need to use them.
Seminar to address growing problem
by CHRIS OLWELL
PANAMA CITY — Dear lucky winner, we are pleased to inform you that you have won a huge sum of cash in a lottery you never entered in a country you've never visited.
Ever wondered who responds to those emails? They're so obviously scams, right?
But people want to believe it, said Investigator Paul Vecker with the Bay County Sheriff's Office. Vecker investigates scams and frauds.
“All they become is a big loser, and that's the tragedy,” Vecker said.
In the past few months, Bay County residents have fallen victim to scams and lost tens of thousands of dollars, Vecker said. In an effort to keep Bay Countians from falling victim to such scams, Vecker, who investigates frauds and scams, and Investigator Craig Romans, who investigates financial crimes, will lead an identity theft seminar Thursday.
“We have been working tirelessly at efforts to educate community to avoid getting ripped off,” he said.
United States citizens lost $50 billion — that is billion with a b — to scam artists overseas last year, Vecker said. That's compared to around $100 million a year in the late 90s, Vecker said.
“It's getting worse every day, and that is the concern that we in law enforcement have,” he said.
In the vast majority of these cases, the money the victims send to bail their grandson out of a Hungarian jail or as a down payment on a car for sale on Craigslist end up in the hands of people in foreign countries. Once it's gone, there's no way Vecker can ever get it back.
“Over 90 percent of the time the people who commit these scams, you can't even locate them,” Vecker said.
Older people are generally more susceptible to these scams, Vecker said. Someone who has worked hard their whole life and built a solid credit rating, in many cases, would sooner send a check for a couple hundred bucks to someone who claims they haven't paid an electric bill than actually verify they owe the money because they want to protect their credit score.
“The elderly in our country are the big target of these scams,” he said. “It's becoming a big problem; as the population of this country gets older, we expect an increase” in frauds and scams.
Vecker and Romans wrote the book on scam prevention, literally. “Scams and Scammers: The Great American Ripoff,” which Vecker and Romans co-authored, will be released soon, Vecker said.
But Thursday the investigators will be sharing what they know about the various frauds and scams they've encountered, the most common targets and victims, the scope of the problem and the steps people can take to minimize their risk of becoming a victim in a free seminar at First Baptist Church.
The seminar will last about 60 to 90 minutes and Romans will take questions from attendees afterwards. The seminar is free of charge and open to the public.
WANT TO GO?
- What: BCSO seminar on identity theft, scams and scammers
- Where: First Baptist Church, 640 Harrison Ave., Panama City
- When: Thursday at 6 p.m.
- Cost: Free and open to the public
From the Department of Homeland Security
Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign and National Network of Partners Collaborate to Raise Awareness of Cybersecurity
Our daily life, economic vitality, and national security depend on cyberspace. While increased connectivity has led to significant transformations and advances across our country – and around the world – it also has increased the risks to privacy and security. Everyone has a unique role to play in cybersecurity—whether it's protecting small businesses from fraud, teaching students about cybersecurity ethics, or just thinking twice before clicking on a hyperlink. The Department's Stop.Think.Connect. TM campaign relies on its National Network of partners to spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of staying safe online.
The National Network comprises approximately 30 non-profit organizations, including D.A.R.E., Boys & Girls Clubs of America, 4-H, InfraGard, and the National Association of Counties. Some of these partners have joined the campaign in recent months, helping us reach more Americans to inform them about their personal role in addressing cybersecurity risks.
Recent new partners include:
Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA)
Center for Internet Security (CIS)
Connect2Compete, an organization dedicated to expanding access to technology and training
Connect Safely, a non-profit organization that provides social media and mobile media safety tips
Government Technology Services (GTS) Coalition
High Technology Crime Investigation Association (HTCIA)
Hungry Hungry Hackers (H3), an applied research security community at Georgia Tech
International Council for Small Business (ICSB)
Fraud.org, a project of the National Consumers League
National Elementary Honor Society
National Junior Honor Society
National Honor Society
Women in Homeland Security
Stop.Think.Connect.™ is a national public awareness effort to guide the nation to a higher level of Internet safety and security by educating and empowering the American public to be more vigilant about practicing safe online habits. The campaign encourages Americans to view Internet safety and security as a shared responsibility at home, in the workplace, and in our communities. Through these partnerships with the National Network, the Stop.Think.Connect.™ campaign gains a greater understanding of the cybersecurity issues and trends, and is able to develop helpful tips and resources specific to the organizations and their members.
For a complete list of Stop.Think.Connect. National Network partners, or for more information on how an organization can join, visit www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect .