Safety Tips for the Holiday Season

by Anita Setnor Byer, Founder - sci-Shot12/5/2014
gifts for the holidays

The Holiday Season is here, and with it, comes great expectations.  Expressions of good-will,  love and support for family and friends will dominate our thoughts and actions.  So, to make certain that we enjoy the Holidays as we expect to, without incident, let’s all remember some basics about staying safe.  

Shopping: Stores will be crowded and distractions abundant, So, remember the following before venturing out:

  • When shopping with a young child, consider submitting a picture or video of your child to any number of the Public Safety and Security Apps that provide a free resource to record your child’s look and dress prior to heading out. These Apps are used by subscribed law enforcement and mall security professionals to quickly access and distribute news about your child to a number of sources.  

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Are Your Children Safe?

by Anita Setnor Byer, Founder - sci-Shot8/13/2014
school bus and boy

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!

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Technology Deterring Crime

by Anita Setnor Byer, Founder - sci-Shot5/21/2014
globe and keyboard

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:

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Protecting Public Venues

by Anita Setnor Byer, Founder - sci-Shot5/14/2014
officer on phone

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.

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Partnership Brings Increased Surveillance

by Anita Setnor Byer, Founder - sci-Shot5/7/2014
video surveillance camera

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.

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Still Seeking Answers

by Anita Setnor Byer, Founder - sci-Shot4/30/2014
police car and police tape

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.

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Validating Eyewitness Testimonies

by Anita Setnor Byer, Founder - sci-Shot4/23/2014
cop and eyewitness

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.

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New Approach To Policing

by Anita Setnor Byer, Founder - sci-Shot4/16/2014
cop car and siren

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.

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Defamation When Reporting Suspicious Behavior

by Anita Setnor Byer, Founder - sci-Shot2/19/2014
frustrated business man

The Supreme Court recently gave airline employees ‘breathing space’ to report potential threats to security officials without fear of civil liability for a few inaptly chosen words. According to the Court, airline employees reporting suspicious behavior “should not face financial ruin if, in the heat of a potential threat, they fail to choose their words with exacting care.”

In reversing a pilot’s $1.2 million defamation verdict, the Court sought to encourage employees to report suspicious activities in a manner that is consistent with the Transportation Security Administration’s ‘when in doubt, report’ policy.

sci-Shot agrees that the public should not hesitate to provide potentially valuable information about threatening or suspicious behavior to those who may need it. This is why we have taken steps to protect sci-Shot users who share their pictures and video of seemingly hazardous, harmful, or illegal incidents.

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Cameras on Police Officers

by Anita Setnor Byer, Founder - sci-Shot1/29/2014
police officer pulling someone over

Our social movement app counts on a caring public to confidentially communicate their public safety concerns to peers and the stewards of public safety, and we’re not the only ones utilizing photo and video evidence to record or capture incidents. There is a growing trend of putting lapel cameras on police officers. This movement has obvious pros, but what about the cons?

Privacy and Constitutional Rights: As mentioned in a previous article, there are strict laws about recording an individual without consent. So would this mean that each time an officer is entering someone’s home or any private property, they have to receive consent from the property owner? What happens if an officer forgets to turn off the camera and captures incriminating evidence? Are the images captured from these cameras considered public record?

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Know Your Rights

by Anita Setnor Byer, Founder - sci-Shot1/22/2014
woman taking a photo

Our public safety social movement app permits a caring public to confidentially communicate their public safety concerns by taking photos and videos of the seemingly hazardous, harmful, or illegal incidents they witness each day. Because we’re counting on you to take photos and videos we wanted to make sure you know your rights as a photographer/videographer. According to the American Civil Liberties Union: 

  • You can photograph or record anything that is in plain sight when you are in public spaces
  • When you are on private property, your right to photograph or videotape is up to the property owner. If you disregard the property owner’s rules you can be arrested for trespassing if you do not comply
  • The right to photograph/videotape does not give you a right to disregard any other laws
  • You cannot take photos or video of someone in private. For example, you cannot take photos or video of someone in their home because that is considered private. You cannot take photos or video of someone in a public restroom because that is considered a private space.

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