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Entries in security (50)

Saturday
May042013

Security Measures Heightened at Kentucky Derby After Boston Bombing

MARK ABRAHAM/AFP/GettyImages(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) -- Reworked security plans have been implemented at a number of upcoming sporting events, including Saturday's Kentucky Derby, in hopes of minimizing the risks of an attack similar to that of the Boston Marathon bombing.

"After Boston, these big events cannot even begin to roll the dice and say, 'Maybe we can skip here or there,'" Good Morning America sports contributor Christine Brennan said. "They've got to go all in and be as strong with their security as they have ever been."

As spectators arrive at Churchill Downs for the famed Kentucky Derby on Saturday, they will have to leave their coolers, cans, and glass bottles behind. While Derby fans' trademark hats are still permissible, snapping photos at the race will only be allowed if the camera doesn't have a detachable lens.

Despite the heightened security measures, it is still possible for individuals to evade stricter rules.

According to an arrest report, a 44-year-old man was able to sneak into Millionaires' Row at Churchill Downs without a ticket on Thursday. He then allegedly sat at a table and threatened to shoot people.

He was later taken into custody. Authorities did not find a weapon on the man.

The Kentucky Derby is not the only event where authorities plan to be vigilant. In preparation for the NBA Playoffs, the league told ABC News in a prepared statement that safety was always a priority.

"We regularly practice a wide range of state of the art security measures in all of our arenas," the NBA said.

Meanwhile, at the Long Island Marathon, authorities will have radiation detectors and police explosives-sniffing dog unit along the course of the race to identify any potential threats.

Only runners will be permitted at the starting line area, only clear bags distributed by the race's organizers will be permitted in bag check, and spectators won't be allowed to bring any bags into the finish line area, according to the marathon's website.

Following the Boston Marathon attacks on April 15, Lou Marcini, director of the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Miss., told ABC News that security at large sporting events "is very difficult to ensure."

"If I go to a marathon tomorrow, are we going to be completely secure? The answer is probably not," Marciani said. "We'll do the best we can."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar052013

TSA to Allow Pocket Knives on Planes

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- As the nation braces for potentially extended airport security lines because of the federal budget sequester, the Travel Security Administration (TSA) has announced they will allow small pocket knives and certain sporting goods on planes for the first time in more than a decade.

TSA Administrator John Pistole announced the change Tuesday at an aviation security conference in New York.

Starting April 25, passengers flying on U.S. flights will be allowed to carry small pocket knives — blades less than 6-centimeters, up to two golf clubs, ski poles, as well as sporting sticks used for hockey, lacrosse and billiards. Baseball bats will remain on the no-fly list, though wiffle-ball bats and souvenir baseball bats (less than 24-inches long) will be allowed.

“These are popular items we see regularly,” agency spokesman David Castelveter told Bloomberg News. “They don’t present a risk to transportation security.”

The move comes following a recommendation by a TSA working group that such items are not a security threat. The move will conform to international rules that currently allow the small knives and sporting goods.

“Frankly, I don’t want TSA agents to be delayed by these,” Pistole told the audience. Adding that TSA screeners at Los Angeles International Airport in the last three months of 2012, seized 47 of the small knives per day.

The Flight Attendants Union Coalition, which represents the 90,000 flight attendants on carriers nationwide, blasted the announcement calling it “poor and shortsighted.”

“Continued prohibition of these items is an integral layer in making our aviation system secure and must remain in place,” the statement said. “As the last line of defense in the cabin and key aviation partners, we believe that these proposed changes will further endanger the lives of all Flight Attendants and the passengers we work so hard to keep safe and secure.”

Razor blades and box-cutters, like those used by the 9/11 terrorists, will still be banned.

“There is just too much emotion involved with those,” Pistole said at the conference.

The Transportation Security Administration announced last week they would be reducing ”frontline workforce,” those who screen passengers prior to accessing a flight gate, and thereby lead to increased passenger wait times at airport security checkpoints.

The cuts come from a freeze of airport security screeners hiring and cutbacks on overtime, due to sequestration.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan112013

Texas Dad Arrested, Accused of Causing Security Panic at School

Collin County Jail(DALLAS) -- A Texas dad terrified his child’s elementary school when he decided to conduct a “rogue” security drill to see how the school would respond in the event of an emergency, according to the school district.

Ron Miller, 44, entered the office of the Celina Elementary School at 7:50 a.m. on Wednesday, according to police, where he “conducted  his own drill to test the school’s response to an active shooter situation.”

“Although Miller did not display a weapon, the statements and actions of Miller were aggressive and created panic and fear among the school’s staff,” the Celina Police Department said in a news release.

Police rushed to the school. Miller was arrested later in the day.

Celina Independent School District superintendent Donny O’Dell sent a letter to parents on Thursday saying that the school did not believe at any time that the students were “in harm’s way,” but, as a precaution, a police officer was positioned at each of the district’s campuses for the rest of the day.

“We have always had a security plan in place that involved our police officials,” O’Dell wrote. “However, because of recent events we have ramped-up our security efforts on all campuses.”

O’Dell may have been referring to the Dec. 14 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where police say Adam Lanza, 20, went on a rampage that left 20 children and six adults dead in the school. Many schools across the country have increased security since the massacre.

Miller was arrested and charged with terroristic threat, which is a third degree felony. He is being held on a $75,000 bond.

 

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct082012

Newark Airport TSA Get Low Marks on Internal Report

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEWARK, N.J.) -- If you've ever showed up at an airport security checkpoint with more than the allowed amount of liquid -- three ounces in any one container -- still in your carry on bag or make-up case, you're not alone.

And if you've managed to get through that checkpoint without having those liquids confiscated, you're not the exception.

An internal Transportation Security Administration report accessed by New Jersey's Star-Ledger newspaper found that at Newark Liberty International airport, agents take appropriate action on prohibited items in only a quarter of all cases.

And it's worse news when it comes to pat-downs: The report found agents properly executing standard pat-downs of passengers only 16.7 percent of the time. When it came to informing passengers of their right to opt out of a full-body scan in favor of a pat-down, the agents did not inform passengers even once.

The newspaper said the report was dated June 8 and was titled PACE Airport Evaluation. It was compiled by "an undercover team of Transportation Security Administration employees from other airports who were asked to observe screeners at work at Newark Liberty."

PACE is an acronym for Presence, Advisements, Communication and Execution. Observers who participate are TSA agents from other airports.

But it's not all bad news for EWR's TSA agents. The agents were observed removing prohibited items during physical searches and exhibiting good listening skills 100 percent of the time.

The TSA did not immediately respond to an ABC News request for comment.

The report comes to light on the heels of an ABC News investigation on TSA theft. ABC News reported in September that a convicted TSA security officer says he was part of a "culture" of indifference that allowed corrupt employees to prey on passengers' luggage and personal belongings with impunity, thanks to lax oversight and tip-offs from TSA colleagues.

"It was very commonplace, very," said Pythias Brown, a former TSA officer at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey who admits he stole more than $800,000 worth of items from luggage and security checkpoints over a four-year period.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct042012

Senator Calls for TSA Theft Fixes After ABC News Report

Win McNamee/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Reacting to an ABC News investigation into theft by Transportation Security Administration officers, Senator Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., Thursday called on the agency to do random sting operations on its employees "to test whether TSA agents are acting in a trustworthy manner to protect passenger property."

Schumer's request came in a letter to TSA head John Pistole and also proposed that the TSA randomly screen its employees at the end of the workday.

"Most TSA agents are very good, hard-working and conscientious, but there are a few bad apples that spoil the bunch," Schumer told ABC News Thursday. "We have to find them."

Last week an ABC News investigation revealed that 381 TSA officers have been fired since the TSA was formed a decade ago for allegedly stealing from passengers. As part of the investigation, ABC News tracked an iPad that was purposefully left behind at an airport security checkpoint to the home of a TSA agent who was later fired for the alleged theft.

Another former TSA employee, Pythias Brown, served three years in prison for theft and said he stole approximately $800,000 worth of cash and merchandise from travelers before he was caught.

"It was very commonplace, very," Brown told ABC News. "It was very convenient to steal … [TSA agents] didn't think it was okay, but they did it and said, 'I don't care. They ain't paying me. They're treating me wrong.' But when people started seeing they could profit off of it, then it became massive."

In response to ABC News' original report, the TSA provided a statement that said it has a "zero tolerance" policy towards theft and that the number of officers fired "represents less than one-half of one percent of officers that have been employed" by the TSA.

The agency has conducted internal sting operations in the past after allegations of wrongdoing and has caught some officers red-handed, according to court documents.

The TSA Office of Inspection and the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General conducted a joint undercover operation at the Kona International Airport in Hawaii on March 11, 2011 "in response to numerous allegations that KOA Lead Transportation Security Officer ... Dawn Nikole Keka, was suspected of stealing cash from Japanese travelers passing through her security lane," a criminal complaint said.

An undercover special agent of Japanese heritage placed 13 $100 U.S. bills in an orange wallet, and then placed the wallet in a Hello Kitty backpack and went through Keka's checkpoint screening.

Immediately upon leaving the checkpoint, the undercover special agent examined the contents of the backpack and discovered she was $200 short, the documents said. Another special agent asked Keka to empty her pockets and she produced two $100 bills. The agents matched the serial numbers of the two bills to ones the undercover special agent had placed in the backpack.

Keka ended up pleading guilty to one count of theft and was sentenced to two months in prison.

Schumer told ABC News that such operations should not just be conducted in response to reported wrongdoing, but randomly to keep all TSA agents honest.

"The TSA has a huge job, but when it comes to the security and safety of people's valuables, which they entrust to the TSA when they put them on the conveyor belt and go through the inspection, [TSA officials] have to be very, very careful and very, very vigilant," Schumer said. "Thus far they haven't done enough and could be doing more."

In response to Schumer's letter, the TSA told ABC News in a statement that "ensuring the safety of travelers through a professional workforce is of the highest priority for the TSA."

"TSA takes allegations of misconduct seriously and will take appropriate corrective action as warranted," the statement said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct012012

Thieves Cracking Security Codes to Get Into Cars

ABC(CHICAGO) -- Just after 1 o'clock one August night, a man calmly walked up to a locked car parked on a downtown Chicago street and within seconds -- without a key, without any force -- was sitting in the passenger's seat. If you witnessed it, you wouldn't think anything of it. It was just a man getting into his car.

Except it wasn't his car. It was someone else's, but the man had easily broken in and could now steal whatever he wanted. Thieves, it seems, have figured out a way to unlock cars equipped with security systems, all without so much as breaking a window or even jimmying a lock. While they are not actually stealing automobiles yet, they are able to steal belongings found inside locked cars.

That car in Chicago belongs to Michael Shin, who thought he was losing his mind when his sedan was robbed. Shin, after all, had locked the car, but now his belongings had been stolen with no sign of forced entry.

"I kept thinking, 'How did they gain access to my car if nothing was broken?'" he told ABC's Chicago station WLS-TV.

Fortunately for Shin, the answer was right there on his home security video, so he got to see how the robber had done it.

"He walks past my car, the dome light comes on and he kind of stops in his tracks and walks right into the car," Shin told WLS. "It's mind-boggling how smart they are to build some sort of a device or an app or something that allows them to steal easily."

It wasn't only Shin's car that was robbed -- his neighbors' were, too. Wireless signal experts think some car thieves have cracked security codes, so they are able to send the same unlock signal that an owner's key transmitter uses.

"It's quite possible that they already decrypted the code, they actually have the key of the car, so they can open it any time they want," Xang Xiu, a professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology, told WLS.

That is what Chicago police believe too.

"We believe that this code-grabbing technology was utilized and we are looking into it and investigating," the Chicago Police Department's Andrew Schoeff told WLS.

The technology that keyless entry systems use has become much more complicated since 2010 and now changes the codes on a regular basis, but for systems that were built before then, it's a different story. And that has left locksmiths like Bill Plasky feeling dumbfounded at how thieves are now exploiting outdated systems to open cars like Shin's.

"Honestly," said Plasky, "I've never seen anything like that."

 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug272012

Convention Security: Charlotte Police in Tampa to Watch

Tom Pennington/Getty Images(TAMPA, Fla.) -- The Democratic National Convention in Charlotte is only a week away and because it follows the Republican National Convention so closely, Charlotte police are in Tampa this week observing and training.

Charlotte Police Chief Rodney Monroe told ABC News that he and 10 officers made the trip to the Republican convention to get a preview of the landscape of a national convention.

“We just wanted to come down and take a look at operations and just kind of get a feel for things and pretty much just get a head-start on it,” Monroe said.

The police departments have been sharing plans for months because the conventions come back-to-back. Charlotte police wanted to observe Tampa’s security perimeter around the convention center.

On Monday, Monroe visited and walked with Tampa police at a protest that began in Perry Harvey Sr. Park and ended with a march through downtown Tampa. With Tropical Storm Isaac passing in the Gulf of Mexico, police said the march drew about 300 people.

Charlotte is a more compact city, but Monroe said there will be greater security issues with the White House in town.

“When you’re hosting the convention with the sitting president, there are different challenges, there are specific protocols that go along with handling the president of the United States,” Monroe said.

Tampa police chief Jane Castor said she didn’t know if coordination was typical between cities hosting conventions but after knowing each other, they decided it could only help to communicate efforts.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Aug042012

'Master Key' Suspected in Rash of Toyota Tacoma Thefts

ABC News(SANTA BARBARA, Calif.) -- A rash of thefts targeting Toyota Tacoma trucks has Santa Barbara, Calif., cops suspecting that a ring of thieves has a "master key" that can open and turn on any Tacoma truck.

Police were first alerted to the Tacoma scams two weeks ago when a Santa Barbara man reported that a car he had just bought in a private sale had been stolen during the night. When he called the police to report the theft, a subsequent investigation revealed that the plates on the truck had been stolen in Bakersfield, Santa Barbara Police Lt. Paul McCaffrey said.

McCaffrey said that since the incident, three more Tacoma trucks have been swiped in Santa Barbara.

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A Santa Barbara police department press release stated that the department suspects the thieves possess a "master key" that could unlock any Toyota Tacoma.

"I don't know how this particular person got this key, but I do know that someone moderately sophisticated could create [and duplicate] keys that could open a wide range of vehicles," McCaffrey said.

McCaffrey said that the security of a car largely depends on the security of the ignition. Modern cars have keys that contain a computer chip that would need to match the ignition in order to start the car, he said.

Moe Durand, a specialist in Toyota product communications, confirmed that cars have immobilizers, designed to prevent the car from being stolen, but there are ways to circumvent the immobilizer code. However, immobilizers are a relatively new technology and only began appearing around 2005.

Durand does not buy into the "master key" theory. " One key cannot access multiple vehicles," he said. "That would be impossible."

The Tacoma thieves have also stolen plates to put on stolen cars.

McCaffrey says that few people immediately realize their license plates have been stolen, so it doesn't get reported quickly. So a stolen car can have what appears to be legitimate license plates, causing the stolen car itself to appear legitimate.

It doesn't always work. Police pulled over a man driving a Toyota Tacoma for a minor equipment evaluation a few days ago and discovered that his license plates didn't match his vehicle, McCaffrey said. The man, who provided a Los Angeles address, was detained after police found the truck had been reported as stolen earlier that night.

McCaffrey said he did not know what role the suspect may have in the alleged ring, and he did add that another Tacoma was reported stolen after the man was taken into custody.

"I'm sure when you get caught red-handed, you don't want to play yourself as a mastermind … But is he involved in this? I think he's part of something bigger than himself," the lieutenant said.

Despite the arrest, Santa Barbara cops have warned Tacoma owners to take extra precautions with their vehicles, parking them in garages or equipping them with steering wheel locks and alarms, and to check their license plates frequently.

The cops are also warning buyers of Toyota Tacoma trucks to "exercise caution," especially if the truck is sold below market value and the seller requires cash payments.

"We want word to get out at least in our community that we're looking for you," McCaffrey said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr262012

Bin Laden Anniversary Triggers Law Enforcement Surge

MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- While U.S. officials say publicly there is no specific threat of a terror attack, behind the scenes law enforcement officials tell ABC News there are plans for a major security surge at airports and transportation hubs in advance of next week's anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death.

The precautions are based on intelligence reports that al Qaeda is determined to avenge the death of bin Laden, killed by Navy SEALs last May, with a focus on aviation targets.

Of greatest concern to U.S. officials is al Qaeda's Yemeni affiliate, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and its master bombmaker, Ibrahim al-Asiri, who has survived repeated U.S. efforts to kill him.

It was al-Asiri, according to U.S. officials, who designed the so-called "underwear bomb" worn by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to bring down Northwest flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day 2009. Abdulmutallab got the bomb past airport security but failed to detonate it successfully aboard the plane.

Officials say al-Asiri also designed the bombs hidden in printers that were shipped from Yemen to Chicago. The bombs were intercepted in Dubai and the U.K. after they'd been placed aboard cargo planes.

In a joint intelligence bulletin issued overnight, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security said the Yemen group "intends to advance plots along multiple fronts, including renewed efforts to target Western aviation."

"It doesn't take a great number of people to do the kind of attack that we had on September 11," said Richard Clarke, an ABC News consultant and former White House counterterrorism official. "That was less than two dozen people and it's clear that they have that number available in places like Yemen today."

Threats of a revenge attack have been monitored by the U.S. ever since last year's raid on bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Among the papers found in his home were repeated references to the importance of attacks timed to coincide with anniversaries.

Said Clarke, "I think the major issue for al Qaeda is to do something, to prove that they're still alive, to do some fairly major event or series of attacks that prove that they're not down, they're not out."

As a result, American law enforcement and White House officials say travelers at airports in the U.S. and Europe should expect to see enhanced security over the next several days.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr242012

Ex-TSA Head: Stop Searching for Knives

John Moore/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Transportation Security Administration has become a necessary inconvenience for most travelers as the list of prohibited items has increased and the lines for screenings continue to serpentine through many airport departure halls. But former TSA administrator Kip Hawley says the system is broken and it doesn't have to be this way.

Hawley, who ran the TSA from 2005 to 2009, insists that to do a better job of preventing terrorist attacks, more TSA officers should roam the airport, asking questions and watching shady characters, instead of screening passengers at checkpoints. He says the frustrating security checkpoints that alienate passengers and do little to stop Al Qaeda need to be streamlined.

"We cannot protect every passenger on every plane, train and automobile," Hawley told ABC News. "We have so jammed up the system with rules, and the public is just fed up."

Hawley recommends that airlines stop charging extra to check bags because it encourages more carry-ons and advocates that the TSA no longer look for weapons that cannot penetrate the cockpit door.

"Blades, sharp objects, tools, all those things should be removed from the prohibited items list," Hawley told ABC News. "Carry a big knife, carry five knives. What are you going to do with a knife or five knives? You are not going to take over the plane....The focus should be explosives and toxins -- things that can kill a lot of people very fast before security measures can stop someone from making that attack."

He argues that since 9/11, objects that cannot kill a lot of people in a short period of time are no longer a significant threat. He says allowing screeners to concentrate on detonators and bomb parts instead of small weapons would make flying safer and the screening process more convenient.

"The captain is not going to open up the door. The captain is not going to surrender the cockpit and the passengers are not going to sit by and let the guy stand there with a knife," Hawley said. "I mean, you have to think of it as risk management. What is the risk that somebody is going stand up there with a knife to somebody -- a child, a flight attendant -- the risk that they're going do that and then take over the plane? And do we put people through these long security lines, fishing through their bags, two million people a day, just to prevent the eventuality that somebody might get killed? That's a tradeoff."

Hawley is also in favor of allowing people to bring liquids on planes. He says the TSA is sitting on technology that screens liquids for explosives because it would slow down security lines.

"All you would have to do is set up a separate lane and say, 'People who want to bring bottles, go through these lanes,'" he said. "We have that technology, and I would argue, let's roll it out."

In response to Hawley's interview with ABC News, the TSA said it respects the work he did for the administration and that it is continually trying to improve the security system.

"TSA is focused on providing the most effective security in the most efficient manner, while ensuring the freedom of movement of people and goods," the agency said in a statement. "The agency is moving away from one-size-fits-all screening to progress toward improving both security and the passenger experience."

Hawley believes the key to an effective and efficient airport security system is making sure the public and security services are on the same page.

"The system overall started off as a regulatory system of writing rules and enforcing rules, and that is the heart of the problem because al Qaeda knows those rules," he said. "If we removed that patdown, allowed liquids, radically cut back on the prohibited items list, I think the public would get back with TSA and support TSA."

While Hawley believes the TSA's focus needs to be reevaluated, he strongly disagrees with a small but loud group of Libertarians who are calling for it to be eliminated. He says if the TSA did not exist the result would be catastrophic.

"They'll blow the planes up. They'll blow them up by the dozens," Hawley said. "I can literally say that there are between 12 and 18 specific, real, credible plots every day when I was at TSA."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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