It’s that time of the year again! People are dressing up in all sorts of costumes and it becomes difficult to determine who is out for a fun, harmless time and who is out planning on taking tricks a little too far. With so many people roaming the streets, safety becomes a major concern. The following tips can help you and your children stay safe this Halloween:
1. Travel in Groups - There is safety in numbers. Avoid trick-or-treating alone and have a trusted adult accompany any children.
2. Inspect Candy - Carefully examine the candy to make sure that it has not been tampered with. Do not eat any candy that is unwrapped or looks like it has been unwrapped. Make sure to also remove any candy small enough to be a choking hazard for young children.More...
The summer is coming to an end and it is that time of the year to send your children back to school. You expect school to be a loving place where children can make new friends, learn new things, and feel as safe as they do at home. While this is the case for most, there are some important safety tips that parents and children should review before the school year starts.
Just a few tips:
1. Do not write your child’s name on their backpack or clothing. This allows strangers to call your child by name, creating a more likely scenario for your child to approach them.
2. Have your child walk to the bus stop with a friend if possible. If your child must walk alone, stress the importance of not talking to strangers.
3. Make sure to come to a complete stop in your vehicle if a bus is stopped and kids are exiting. Vehicles on both sides of the street must stop!More...
September 11th, 2001 taught American law enforcement just how critical information sharing and analysis is to preventing and responding to crime.
As a result of this awareness, The U.S. Department of Justice developed the National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan (the Plan). The Plan provides a path to “improving the collection and analysis of information to create valuable and actionable intelligence products.’ (National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan, Version 2.0, Oct 2013).
For over 10 years, the Plan has provided law enforcement with assistance on internal business processes to improve access to intelligence data. From this effort, significant strides have been made in the collection, analysis and sharing of criminal intelligence (intelligence-led policing) across all law enforcement communities. More...
In the United States today, trust in government at the state and local levels is at an all-time low. In fact, a recent study by the Pew Research center reveals that a staggering 80 percent of citizens “never trust” the government.
Unfortunately, this public distrust seems to be trickling down from the government and spreading to other agencies – especially police departments.
Though there is not a clear explanation for why the public feels this way, certain events provide clarity. Six police officers in Wilmington, Delaware, were questioning a suspect in a local neighborhood when shots fired on the group, wounding a state trooper. Despite multiple witnesses, not a single person came forward – and the gunman still walks the streets. More...
Too many people look the other way when it comes to reporting suspicious activity – the undisputed Elephant in the Room. This phenomenon of watching and avoiding, coined the ‘bystander effect’ by psychologists, has led to a staggering number of unreported crimes. But what if these observations were shared, rather than disregarded?
In our tech-savvy society, this question isn’t too far-fetched. If you have a Smartphone, you have access to one of the most powerful reporting tools in the world – and now, with the help of Mobile Apps, it’s not just limited to dialing 911.
Numerous software developers across the United States have not only recognized the benefits of using modern technology to report crimes, but have provided the public with convenient ways to do so. sci-Shot, the newest of these Community Watch Mobile Apps, strives to revolutionize public safety efforts by creating a network of connected citizens who choose to report suspicious activity rather than ignore it.
When people witness an incident that is not imminently threatening but suspicious nonetheless, they are faced with one major question: To call 911, or not to call? A recent study by the Bureau of Justice illustrates that many people – including witnesses of violent crimes – elect to not contact law enforcement due to fear of reprisal or reluctance to become too deeply involved.
sci-Shot, a Community Watch Mobile App, helps to alleviate these fears by providing the public with a convenient tool to get involved, to the extent desired, in reporting suspicious conduct. sci-Shot is committed to providing its Users with a trusted and impartial alternative to traditional report lines. It allows a caring public to express concerns anonymously, with little effort, and no repercussions. sci-Shot Users do nothing more than download the App, Upload a picture or video, and tag the Media – sci-Shot will take it from there, getting the report in the right hands.
Non-emergency report hotlines have been available to the public for years. From the abandoned car to neighborhood vandalism, government and law enforcement have sought methods to ensure that the public’s observations of the seemingly hazardous, harmful or illegal are reported and acted upon. While these hotlines and their web-based (as well as emerging Mobile App) counterparts have had some success, they have yet to develop a mass audience of devoted Users – and a majority of incidents go unreported.
Today’s citizens are eager to participate in our collective public safety, but need the right tool to do so. The sheer volume of hotlines across government agencies, cities and states is unwieldy and most citizens are confused as to which line to use for what purpose. These hotlines also fail to attract the new mobile generation of citizens that communicate through ‘sharing’ on social networks. Then, there is the issue of trust and intimidation. How many of today’s hotlines are truly anonymous? How certain are any of us that an inaccurate ‘tip’ will not result in consequences?
The fear of crime has consistently ranked among the top fears of Americans in national and local polls – in 2013, for example, 55% of the public regarded crime as an “extremely serious” problem. Though law enforcement tirelessly fights to stop and maintain crime, recent events have shifted their focus to finding ways to effectively prevent it.
This past Memorial Day weekend was marked by a standoff between police officers and about 200 people “who seemed hell-bent on creating trouble” at Fort Lauderdale beach. After discovering the incident through social media, baton-wielding police officers took to the streets and had to “aggressively” corral young people away from the beach.
Public Safety Stewards are continuously implementing new technologies to prevent, reduce, and investigate criminal activity. Before technology began playing a role in ongoing investigations, criminals had little reason to worry after committing a crime. However, technological advancements have come so far that law enforcement can now use data to predict when and where certain incidents will occur. The technology available to law enforcement is always changing. See a few of the latest tools highlighted below:
Every year, thousands of people gather to attend events such as concerts and marathons in public venues. While these events typically offer increased security measures, the number of attendees greatly outweighs the number of Public Safety Stewards. Unfortunately, in the past couple of years, we have seen a sharp increase in incidents occurring at large public events.
Security Guard Trampled: A security guard at the Ultra Music Festival was sent to the hospital in critical condition this past March when the crowd broke through a fence and forced their way onto the property. Miami’s homicide unit continues to search for witnesses in hopes that they can identify and locate members of the mob who were responsible for causing the incident.
Criminals can often run, but thanks to the emergence of social media and technology, they cannot hide. Surveillance cameras not only provide an image of the suspects, but they present indisputable evidence to corroborate eyewitness testimonies. Oftentimes, the videos or still images extracted from surveillance cameras are shared on social media, resulting in tips and additional information used to identify and locate suspects.
The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department recognizes the importance of the evidence provided by surveillance cameras, which is why they recently partnered with PublicEngines, a cloud-based solution that facilitates crime analysis, to increase the video footage available in surrounding areas. The main initiative of their partnership is to gain access to commercial and residential security cameras quickly and effectively. Community involvement is essential to making this happen. Citizens can register their cameras through CrimeReports.com and agree to share basic information. The information and camera footage will remain anonymous, and law enforcement must still request access to the footage. However, Public Safety Stewards will be able to view the location of the cameras in order to contact camera owners in the event of an incident in the area. More...
Social Media provides an invaluable source of information to law enforcement for crime prevention and criminal investigations. It permits a real-time dialogue with the public and has been instrumental in apprehending fugitives, identifying associated suspects, and linking individuals to criminal activity. Despite its many successes, though, Social Media is not a complete solution. More public-private partnerships are needed.
Gorenberg Murdered: March marked the seventh anniversary of a tragic murder that remains unsolved. Randi Gorenberg was shot and killed on her way home from the mall near Jog Road, Florida. Randi’s mother and detectives continue to seek answers in hopes of identifying the victim’s shooter. They continue to ask the public for information that may lead to an arrest.
Eyewitness accounts are a critical component in helping Public Safety Stewards identify and capture suspects, but eyewitness testimonies have been losing credibility over the past few years. The Associated Press reports that decades of studies have shown eyewitness testimonies are only accurate about half the time.
The inaccuracies are generally not intentionally caused by eyewitnesses; however, certain incidents can change the eyewitness’ perception of what occurred, or result in a blurred memory. For example, a man had been sentenced to death for raping and murdering a little girl in Maryland. While no physical or circumstantial evidence was present, five witnesses placed him at or near the crime scene. DNA evidence later helped establish the man’s innocence, and he was fully exonerated.More...
As we enter a new era of technology, methods of policing are constantly evolving. In the past, Public Safety Stewards were forced to react to a crime that had already been committed to aide in matters of public safety. Presently, emerging technologies and data mining have created an opportunity for a proactive approach to prevent crime from happening in the first place.
The LAPD Pacific Division is analyzing sets of data to identify which areas are most likely to attract crime to participate in a new trend of “Predictive Policing” . The department’s focus is not to increase the number of arrests in these areas, but to eliminate criminal activity before it can even occur.More...
The entire month of April is dedicated to National Distracted Driver Awareness Month and for good reason. Distracted Driving not only puts the driver at risk, but places passengers, other drivers, and innocent bystanders in harm’s way. While texting and driving has become one of the most common and dangerous distractions nationwide, other notable distractions include driving while drowsy, adjusting music, reading, using a GPS, eating and drinking, and talking on the phone.
To help grasp the seriousness of this growing concern, here are some key statistics provided by the Official US Government Website for Distracted Driving:
- Sending or receiving a text takes a driver's eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent-at 55 mph-of driving the length of an entire football field, blind.
- Engaging in visual-manual subtasks (such as reaching for a phone, dialing and texting) associated with the use of hand-held phones and other portable devices increased the risk of getting into a crash by three times.
Crimes occur everyday and without the assistance of an attentive and caring public, would often go unreported and unresolved. Yet, this needed assistance runs counter to what our public safety stewards want and expect from its citizens if the help results in confrontation and places the citizen in harm’s way.
In South Florida, corporate headquarters to sci-Shot’s Community Watch Mobile App, four separate instances highlight the need to protect citizens without limiting their engagement and willingness to participate in issues of public safety.
People are often hesitant to call 911 when they witness an unusual or suspicious incident. While an incident may not be clearly illegal, it may raise suspicion. This creates a grey area in which witnesses question whether or not they should call the police.
Man Carrying Purse: In early February, a suspicious man was seen walking behind a home in Oak Lane, Florida carrying a woman’s purse. A witness, suspecting something unusual, contacted the police. When the deputy arrived at the scene, he discovered that other property was missing from the home. The suspect later admitted to stealing the purse, and is now charged with burglary and larceny. More...
The FBI reported 1,214,462 violent crimes in 2012. That’s just reported violent crimes. A study by the Bureau of Justice estimates that nearly 3.4 million violent crimes go unreported a year. According to the same study, the majority of crimes that go unreported are due to the victim or witnesses being afraid of reprisal. Is it possible, too, that people are not always certain what should be reported, to whom it should be reported, and when to report it?
Given the scope of hotlines and online systems that allow for anonymous reporting, there still remains a need for a nationwide reporting mechanism that encourages reporting of all threatening matters, suspicious or criminal, confidentially and without fear.
So far, we have come across a few apps that do a good job of allowing users to report crime so we made a comparison chart to showcase the features of each.