How States Are Changing the Face of Emergency Management

How States Are Changing the Face of Emergency Management

 

Every disaster or emergency presents a challenge to emergency managers – what resources to commit, who is needed to respond, when to pull what levers for support, where to put people, and how to recover. Lessons from past events inform how we respond to future emergencies but are only part of the equation. As emergency managers, we need to look at innovative methods, technologies, and tools to prepare for disasters and make our communities more resilient. It takes a village, and our roles are unique in that we work every day to pull that village together.

Part of how emergency managers innovate and improve is through networking, identifying best practices, and working with our counterparts across the country to learn from one another. The National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) is one organization and gathering that allows emergency managers to do just that. Meeting annually, the group allows members to come together and examine recent disaster response and recovery operations and talk about the ways we are preparing for the next one. The same is true of public information officers in emergency management. From July 17-18, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region III office in Philadelphia is hosting the annual NEMA PIO Meeting to share skillsets, identify new opportunities for growth in the field of public information, and develop new practices to take back to our jurisdictions for the next emergency.

In preparation for this meeting, FEMA asked our state counterparts in emergency management to answer a simple question: How is your state changing emergency management? By pulling together these responses, our hope is to show the progress we are making and the change in focus across the nation on emergency preparedness. Not only looking at what went right in an emergency, but what we are doing before the next one to prepare our communities. Whether it’s unique websites, school curriculum programs, or a focus on exercises and training (to name a few), every day new things are being done to help prepare for tomorrow’s emergency. One disaster can affect a community forever, and our job has never been more important, but we continue to make strides in how well we can respond. Our communities, families, and nation depend on it.

And with that, we are proud to share how FEMA and our state partners are changing emergency management.

 

Everett Teen Sentenced 22 Years for School Shooting Plot

Everett Teen Sentenced 22 Years for School Shooting Plot

 

The 19-year-old was storing a rifle in his bedroom along with plans for a mass shooting at his high school in his personal notebook.

A 19-year old teenager from Everett, Wash., was convicted of planning a high school shooting and sentenced to 22.5 years in prison.

Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Bruce Weiss sentenced Joshua O’Connor on Thursday, after a three-hour court hearing on Feb. 12, reports HeraldNet.

It was O’Connor’s grandmother, Catherine Katsel O’Connor, who called 911 out of concern for her grandson and the safety of others.

“To me, ma’am, you are a hero,” the judge told her.

In Feb. 2018, she found a spiral notebook in his room full of plans for a massacre. He was also hiding a rifle in his guitar case.

“I’ve been thinking a lot. I need to make this shooting/bombing at Kamiak infamous,” the judge read from the notebook. “I need to get the biggest fatality number I possibly can. I NEED to make this count.”

His initial target was going to be at Kamiak High School, where he previously attended and was suspended twice. Then he decided to flip a coin to see if he would shoot Kamiak or his then-current school, ACES, an alternative high school.

“The results: I’m coming for you Ace’s,” he wrote. “(Expletive) Kamiak you (expletives) got lucky. I hope someone follows in my footsteps and gets you dumb (expletives). I can’t wait to (expletive) up Ace’s! April is gonna be a blast.”

Police also seized grenades and other evidence that proved O’Connor carried out an armed robbery at a local minimart last year.

O’Connor’s plan for the massacre was to plant pressure-cooker bombs under the bleachers, zip-tie door handles and “mow kids down in the hallway and gym,” according to his journal.

He chose a day in late April of last year to align with the Columbine High School shooting.

As his final act, O’Connor planned to kill himself or die in a shootout with the police. He even hand-wrote his will.

O’Connor was also accused of attempting to plan a second school shooting from behind bars this past year.

An inmate told police that O’Connor tried to recruit him to bomb Kamiak and shoot up another high school in May 2018. The inmate claimed to have been beaten in jail because word was leaked that he told an attorney about the scheme.

O’Connor allegedly recruited another inmate, Travis Hammons, to carry out the beating. Hammons was charged with first-degree assault and is awaiting trial.

The teen’s defense team argued that his past has left him stunted and immature. His mother was untreated for an undiagnosed mental illness and he suffered physical abuse.

They asked for a sentence of 12 years in prison, but the judge believed O’Connor was aware of the consequences of his action and that he spent months plotting out the details.

“This was not the work or the brain of a youth with low impulse control,” Weiss said. “It was a plan, premeditated and contemplated. It was not an impulsive act.”

O’Connor wrote in a statement to the court that he feels remorse and embarrassment for his disturbing thoughts. He says at the time he was suicidal and abusing drugs and alcohol.

Over the last year, he says he has matured, turned to religion and is preparing to take college courses.

 

Johns Hopkins Faculty Members Oppose Private School Police Force

Johns Hopkins Faculty Members Oppose Private School Police Force

 

More than 60 Johns Hopkins University faculty members are attempting to stop the school from creating its own private police force.

They have signed an open letter in opposition to the proposed state legislation that would authorize this change, report The Baltimore Sun.

In the letter, members wrote that armed police officers could pose an increased safety risk and “inevitably amplify the climate of fear and justify their roles by citing stops, arrests and detainments.”

Concerns for the nonwhite population in Baltimore were also voiced in the letter.

“Black and brown students and Baltimoreans are already disproportionately targeted,” they wrote. “Private police on campus are likely to exacerbate racial profiling, with even more dangers and potentially fatal consequences.”

johns hopkins university

Johns Hopkins released to The Brew these updated statistics of aggravated assaults and street robbery that took place in and around the Homewood and East Baltimore campuses between 2014 and the end of 2018.

A poll by the Student Government Association showed 75 percent of JHU undergraduates are against the legislation.

Students, faculty and residents of West Baltimore congregated this week to protest, chanting, “No justice, no peace, no private police.”

If the bill is passed, JHU would join several Baltimore schools that have their own police forces, including Morgan State University, Coppin State University, the University of Baltimore and the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

Currently, there is a group of armed off-duty Baltimore police officers and sheriff’s deputies that the university pays to patrol near its campuses. The plan would be to convert those officers into its own police force of around 100 officers.

Karen Lancaster, a spokeswoman for JHU, responded to the letter by stating, “We believe strongly that university police departments can and do make a meaningful contribution to public safety in Baltimore, and we at Johns Hopkins want to do our part.”

According to the school, it needs its own police force as Baltimore has seen an increase in violent crime (see charts from the Baltimore Brew).

Last year, the group Students Against Private Police rallied in opposition to the plan. The push for a new police force failed the first time around, however, Lancaster says the response to Senate Bill 793 has been “positive.”

While several members support creating a private police force, most of Baltimore’s legislators in the General Assembly say they remain undecided.

About the Author

Katie Malafronte

Contact: 

Katie Malafronte is Campus Safety’s Web Editor. She graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 2017 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies and a minor in Writing & Rhetoric. Katie has been CS’s Web Editor since 2018.

Broward County Schools May Install Experimental AI Surveillance System

Broward County Schools May Install Experimental AI Surveillance System

 

Broward County school district has announced it will be unveiling an experimental artificial-intelligence (AI) system to keep students under surveillance.

The camera-software system from Avigilon will allow security officials to track students based on their appearance, reports the Washington Post.

One year ago tomorrow, a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School left 17 students and staff dead. Broward County has been under scrutiny for its security since the shooting, especially after a report released last month called out many flaws.

School administrators say the 145-camera system will be installed around the perimeters of the schools that they have flagged “at highest risk.” This is on top of 10,000 cameras that are currently installed across the county’s schools.

Guards will be able to pull up video everywhere a particular student has been recorded on campus with the click of a button.

According to a survey from the National Center for Education Statistics, surveillance cameras have expanded from nearly 20 percent of all public schools in 1999 – the year of the Columbine shooting – to over 80 percent as of 2015. However, in 2016, Campus Safety magazine found that more than nine in ten K-12 campuses have adopted video surveillance.

The new system does not come without questions and concerns from students, parents and teachers.

Kimberly Krawczky, a teacher who was present during the shooting last year, voiced her concerns about the system’s accuracy, invasiveness and effectiveness. She is not convinced AI could understand a campus as well as a human.

“How is this computer going to make a decision on what’s the right and wrong thing in a school with over 3,000 kids?” she said. “We have cameras now every two feet, but you can’t get a machine to do everything a human can do. You can’t automate the school. What are we turning these schools into?”

Some technology and civil liberties experts argue that the camera software has no proven track record for preventing school violence, an increasing issue in schools across the country.

Avigilon, which was bought by Motorola Solutions for $1 billion last year, says its algorithm allows risky behavior to be spotted with superhuman speed and precision.

Elizabeth Laird, current senior fellow at the Center for Democracy & Technology, however, says the system has not had much public testing for validity or long-term impact.

Because the system is so new and still considered “experimental,” there are factors that remain unclear, like how its data and performance will be regulated, measured and tested for flaws.

She fears the system will diminish an environment where students feel they can express themselves freely and think independently.

“We’re seeing that the uses of AI and technology like this are coming with unintended consequences, things the education sector has not experienced before, that may endanger the students it intends to protect,” she said.

Avigilon’s technology does not use facial-recognition software, and Laird fears that students could be wrongfully identified as dangerous based solely on what they wear or where they walk.

This component, however, could be what sets the system apart from other surveillance technology. An individual can be tracked as long as their body is on camera, not necessarily their face.

If the AI system is approved, Broward County will spend more than $600,000 in federal and local funds to install it in the high school campuses.

Kenneth Preston, a Broward high school senior who has criticized the district’s spending in the past, fears the surveillance will be used to target individuals.

“Maybe Johnny isn’t performing exceedingly well, so let’s track him to see why. And you don’t even have to sit by those cameras to watch him. It’s a system that can be abused and will be abused.”

Broward County schools have not yet been given the green light to install the system. Whether the Avigilon contract wins final approval from county leaders in the coming weeks or not, there is no denying that the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School tragedy has spurred schools across the country to take a closer look at their security and make student safety a priority.

About the Author

Katie Malafronte

Contact: 

Katie Malafronte is Campus Safety’s Web Editor. She graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 2017 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies and a minor in Writing & Rhetoric. Katie has been CS’s Web Editor since 2018.

4 Colorado School Districts Receive $2.8 Million for School Security

4 Colorado School Districts Receive $2.8 Million for School Security

 

The Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management has given four western Colorado school districts $2.8 million in grant funding for safety and security upgrades.

Each school district has different projects in the works to improve its school security.

Palisade High School, located in District 51, plans to build a new security office, replace 209 outdated security cameras and then install 50 new security cameras, according to Director of Safety Tim Leon.

It will also be purchasing school radios and build security vestibules at East and West Middle Schools.

“We’re happy because now we can move forward with creating a safer school environment, which is part of the plan of hardening our school,” said Leon. “We’ll continue to look for other grant funding to help with more safety and security measures.”

In Delta County, the money will be used to install new interior and exterior door locks at every school, according to Jim Ventrello, a local business manager. The current locks in the district can only be locked from the outside with a key.

“If there’s an issue in the hallway, the door has to be pre-locked or the teacher has to go out in the hallway with a key, and depending on the situation, you may not want to be in the hallway,” said Ventrello.

With the new locks, doors will be able to be locked from the inside as well as locked simultaneously from a control panel in the main office.

“It’s a lot of work to change all of those locks but we’re really excited,” he said.

About the Author

Katie Malafronte

Contact: 

Katie Malafronte is Campus Safety’s Web Editor. She graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 2017 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies and a minor in Writing & Rhetoric. Katie has been CS’s Web Editor since 2018.

So Many In Las Vegas, There’s a Website: lasvegasbankrobbers.com

So Many In Las Vegas, There’s a Website: lasvegasbankrobbers.com

There’s so many bank robberies in Las Vegas, there’s a website dedicated to solving these crimes.  How many of this criminal acts could turn into a hostage situation?  PROACTIVE BLUEPRINT could be used in any one of these criminal acts in the event of a hostage situation or barricaded suspect.

 

 

Contact us for more information about PROACTIVE BLUEPRINT for your facility.

www.proactiveblueprint.net

Trump nominates a top FEMA official to lead the agency

President Donald Trump has nominated a senior Federal Emergency Management Agency official to lead the agency, following director Brock Long’s resignation earlier this week.

Jeffrey Byard is currently FEMA’s associate administrator for the Office of Response and Recovery, the “senior-most executive over disaster response, recovery, logistics, and field operations,” according to a statement from the White House Press Office. A Marine veteran, he joined the agency in September 2017, per ProPublica, in the midst of the agency’s response to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Byard previously held a similar role in his home state of Alabama at the state’s Emergency Management Agency, according to the White House statement. He led state operations efforts during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and Hurricane Gustav in 2010 and the 2011 “super outbreak” of tornadoes in the state.

In an interview with NPR in September, Byard called for greater cohesion between the private sector and federal emergency relief efforts.

“The effort is going to be stabilization of safety and security; food, water and sheltering; health and medical; energy, such as power and fuel; communications; transportation; and hazardous waste,” he said. “To do that, that is an industry-led effort. We are now incorporating that industry-led effort into publicly led emergency management.”

When asked if he thought the private sector should step up more, he replied, “No, I think they step in all the time. What we want to do is enable them to get back to what they do on a sunny day.”

National Politics

PROACTIVE BLUEPRINT Headquarters Moves to Las Vegas

PROACTIVE BLUEPRINT is pleased to announce that we have moved our company headquarters to Las Vegas, Nevada.  We are excited to move to a new location and are looking forward to providing our emergency management solution to the businesses of Las Vegas and continue our services throughout the United States.

PROACTIVE BLUEPRINT was expertly designed by former military special operations veterans for the use during crisis management situations to rapidly plan and coordinate efforts needed to minimize loss of life and property.

PROACTIVE BLUEPRINT provides an added level of comfort to students, faculty, business owners, venues, and parents alike, in the event of a crisis that requires assistance from emergency services.  Our Aerial Reference Guide (ARG) can be used to quickly assign assembly areas for students and faculty to meet up when it is safe to exit the crisis area.  Students, faculty, employees, and business owners can also use detailed floor plans to relay important information to responding emergency personnel.  Emergency response personnel can use PROACTIVE BLUEPRINT, to quickly and effectively coordinate response efforts where they are needed most.  Tactical teams can access PROACTIVE BLUEPRINT both inside and outside of a building, which can greatly aide in their efforts in planning a quick and safe high risk entry.

We would really like the opportunity to talk with you more about our company and options for implementing PROACTIVE BLUEPRINT into your facility to assist first responders in the event of an emergency.

Please feel free to visit our website, www.proactiveblueprint.net for more information or email us at contact@sabersecuritytraining.com.

Ways PROACTIVE BLUEPRINT Can Be Used During A Crisis

Public Associations:
In today’s society, emergency management situations such as active shooter, fire, natural disasters and search and rescue operations occur with in a variety of locations such as churches, shopping malls, civic centers, schools, government facilities, offices and social areas. PROACTIVE BLUEPRINT provides emergency services, both government and civilian, with a modernized emergency management solution to enhance their planning and coordination activities when many of these incidents occur. PROACTIVE BLUEPRINT puts this vital information into the hands of emergency response professionals when they need it most.

Schools:
PROACTIVE BLUEPRINT provides an added level of comfort to students, faculty and parents alike, in the event of a crisis that requires assistance from emergency services. Our Aerial Reference Guide (ARG) can be used to quickly assign assembly areas for students and faculty to meet up when it is safe to exit the crisis area. Students and faculty can also use detailed floor plans to relay important information to responding emergency personnel. Emergency response personnel can use PROACTIVE BLUEPRINT to quickly and effectively coordinate response efforts where they are needed most. Tactical teams can access PROACTIVE BLUEPRINT both inside and outside of a building, which can greatly aide in their efforts in planning a quick and safe high risk entry.

Cultural Institutions:
With the increased number of civil unrest incidents occurring throughout the United States, emergency services now more than ever require the ability to quickly plan and coordinate crowd control operations and maintain peace throughout public establishments.

Government:
PROACTIVE BLUEPRINT provides a modernized emergency management solutions to be used by government authorities to quickly respond to and assess many incidents at government facilities to include city hall, courthouses and child/family services. PROACTIVE BLUEPRINT can provide law enforcement and tactical teams detailed plans of buildings within their jurisdiction which will greatly aide in their efforts during many emergency incidents. Tactical response teams will have the ability to view a crisis area from a safe distance and plan efficient breaching methods before encountering a barricaded door.

Housing Authorities:
PROACTIVE BLUEPRINT offers detailed aerial imagery of each blueprinted location which greatly enhances both urban planning projects and incident response situations and coordination operations. Emergency coordinators can use PROACTIVE BLUEPRINT’s Ariel Reference Guide (ARG) to quickly assign search and crime scene cordon areas.

Hospitals/Medical Facilities:
Not only can PROACTIVE BLUEPRINT be used to assist emergency services during an on-site incident but PROACTIVE BLUEPRINT’s Aerial Reference Guide (ARG) and MEDEVAC survey, will provide a priceless coordination solution when a medical facility is used as a crisis command post for a far greater local disaster.

Tell us your thoughts and ideas on ways PROACTIVE BLUEPRINT can be used during emergency management scenarios.