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Entries in Security (9)

Thursday
Aug232012

Police Spend $50 Million in Taxpayer Funds for Convention Security 

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Armored trucks. Digital Sandbox software upgrades. EOD X-ray machines.

If it sounds like a techie's dream come true, think again: These gadgets are all part of a slew of new gear for police in Tampa, Fla., and Charlotte, N.C. -- courtesy of Congress -- as they ramp up security detail ahead of their political conventions.

Nearly 50,000 people are expected to descend on Tampa for the Republican National Convention, and 35,000 in Charlotte for its Democratic National Convention. The events are so big and politically charged that the Department of Homeland Security declared them "national special security events," handing over major security reins to the U.S. Secret Service.

For local police, Congress gave each city a $50 million grant to spend on boosted security measures that would make any tech fan jealous.

In Tampa, more than half of the grant was used on personnel costs, according to documents released by the city of Tampa. That included housing, food and transportation for the estimated 3,000 out-of-town officers who are coming to help from more than 60 different state agencies, including the Florida National Guard.

In order for all the officers to act like a united force, they'll need to dress like one: That's why Tampa spent $534,600 on new police uniforms, according to city documents.

"From a strategic perspective, it makes sense," said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. "It magnifies the number of officers on the street ... [to create] a perception of overwhelming force."

The khaki-colored uniforms have an American flag on one shoulder with the particular department patch on the other, Buckhorn said. They also have the officer type printed across the chest -- like "sheriff," "police" or "trooper" -- and out-of-town officers will get to keep them after the four-day Republican convention wraps.

Also on the list of purchases in Tampa: $2.3 million for closed-circuit cameras; $5.9 million in upgraded police radios and multichargers; and more than $790,000 for a fleet of new vehicles, including an armored truck, about 200 Kona Race Light 7005 aluminum bicycles and several Bobcat utility vehicles.

In Charlotte, the city is also doubling down on its federal security grant.

One of its big-ticket expenses was a new central command center at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, because a "single space large enough to hold such operations does not exist at CMPD Headquarters," according to documents released by the department.

The more-than-$1.7 million renovation project turned three adjacent conference rooms into one giant space, adding new plumbing, electrical work, video monitors and furniture along the way. The center will help coordinate between local police and the approximately 3,400 out-of-town officers who are helping at the three-day Democratic convention.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg police also bought a high-tech EOD x-ray machine, which boasts a price tag of $64,325. The portable machine will allow a squad of trained explosives officers to check questionable boxes at the convention for a "quick and safe response to unattended packages," according to the department.

Like in Tampa, the Charlotte police force is not complete without its vehicles. The city used more than $146,000 of its grant for new wheels -- including brand new Chevrolet Tahoes, Ford F-250s and leased Harley-Davidson police motorcycles. It also purchased more than $303,500 worth of bikes for its mobile units.

Charlotte police wouldn't go into detail about numbers, but police department spokesman Robert Tufano emphasized its "tremendous" planning and coordination will play a big role in security plans.

"The goal of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is to develop a seamless security plan that will ensure a safe environment for the community, dignitaries and event participants," he said.

The Republican National Convention will be held Aug. 27 to 30 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, and the Democratic National Convention will take place Sept. 4 to 6 at the Time Warner Cable Arena and Bank of America Stadium.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug162012

Eleven Chicago Cops Sue City, Accusing Rahm Emanuel of Discrimination

Scott Olson/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is named in a federal lawsuit from 11 of the city’s police officers, alleging that the mayor unlawfully removed them from his security detail when he took office in 2011.

The officers, all of white or Hispanic descent, claim Emanuel, who was elected mayor in 2011, replaced senior members of his security detail with volunteers who contributed to the mayor’s campaign. They also allege that African-American officers with less seniority were given preferential treatment by being kept on Emanuel’s team.

Comments regarding the lawsuit were not granted to ABC News from either the city of Chicago or the mayoral office of Rahm Emanuel.

Jonathan R. Ksiazek and Edward M. Fox, the attorneys representing the 11 officers suing the city told ABC News that the demotion was all political. Though they could not confirm, the attorneys insist, "several of the officers who replaced our clients had connections with Emanuel or volunteered on his campaign.”

The lawsuit contends that security detail transfers violated Chicago’s Shakman decree that prohibits firings, demotions, transfers or other punishment of government employees stemming from political motivation.

“Under Shakman decree,” Fox says, “our clients have protected position. They cannot be fired or demoted for political reasons.”

The plaintiffs are suing the City of Chicago and Brian Thompson, the commander of the security detail who is responsible for demoting the tenured officers.

Ksiazek tells ABC News that Thompson worked as one of two commanders under the previous mayor, Richard Daley. “Shortly after Emanuel was sworn in, he made Thompson full commander of the security specialist unit 542 and the other guy was demoted.”

The attorney’s suggest that Thompson mustered up “Emanuel’s favor in some fashion in order to maintain his job.”

Though Ksiazek and Fox would not give details, they suggested, "Cmdr. Thompson made a comment prior to demotion of their clients," and they insinuate that the comment could have been skewed as a racial jab furthering the plaintiff’s claim that the demotions could have been racially motivated.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Mayor Richard Daley, Rahm Emanuel’s predecessor, who served as mayor from 1989 until 2011, interviewed the 11 officers for promotions to security specialist before they were assigned to the security detail. Those suing Emanuel expected that their promotions would stick once Daley left office; however, that was not necessarily the case.

During Emanuel’s transition into the mayoral seat, the 11 promoted officers who were transferred out of their positions were replaced by officers who were reportedly not required to follow the same formal application process that they had to undergo in order to receive their respective ranks.

“Our clients had to go through a series of interviews and a normal application process,” say the attorneys.

“From our understanding, the members that Emanuel replaced for the security detail did not have any formal application process.”

Those involved in the suit claim that the transfers from the mayor’s security detail resulted in a demotion of title as well as a reduction of pay and benefits. In response, the plaintiffs are seeking unspecified monetary damages and reversal of the job transfers.

All, except for one retired officer, want their jobs back, according to Fox. He explains that if city officials aren’t willing to give them their titles back, the officers are at least entitled to the pay that they received before being taken off the mayor’s security detail. “They want the job that they are entitled to.” Fox continues, “They are good jobs and they are the jobs that they wanted, there is no reason why they shouldn’t have them.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul262012

Romney Practices Personal Diplomacy Over Olympics Security Comment

Oli Scarff/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Emerging from 10 Downing Street this afternoon, presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney spoke of his high-level meetings on this first full day of his overseas tour.  The trip has become a rite of passage for presidential candidates.

While in London, Romney is hoping for his own ‘Olympic’ moment reminding American voters of his history leading the Salt Lake City games in 2002.  His campaign recognizes the power of the photo-op with his trip timed to coincide with the London games, but inherent in these overseas trips are political risks with the international press trained on a candidate’s every word.

In an interview Wednesday with NBC News, Romney was asked if the London games look ready to his “experienced eye.”

Romney answered, “You know it’s hard to know just how well it...will turn out.  There are a few things that were disconcerting.” Romney said.  “The stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials, that obviously is not something which is encouraging.”

Today, after Romney’s meeting with Britain Prime Minister David Cameron, the former Massachusetts governor was asked if he was still concerned and whether he spoke of those concerns during his meeting with Cameron.

“My experience as an Olympic organizer is that there are always a few very small things that end up going not quite right in the first day. Those get ironed out and then when the games themselves begin, and the athletes take over, all the mistakes the organizing committee...and I made a few...all of those are overwhelmed by the many things that the athletes carry out that capture the spirit of the games.” Romney said.

Romney added, “I don’t know any Olympics that’s ever been able to be run without any mistakes whatsoever.  But they’re small, and I was encouraged to see that something that could have represented a real challenge, which is immigration and customs officers on duty, that is something that’s been resolved and people are all pulling together.”

Before Romney’s meeting with the prime minister, Cameron addressed Romney’s criticism with the press. “You’re going to see beyond a doubt that Britain can deliver,” Cameron said.

Britain’s Prime Minster adding that London is, “one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world.” In what many some members of the international press considered a swipe, Cameron added, “Of course it’s easier if you hold an Olympic games in the middle of nowhere.”  He did not say whether he was speaking of Salt Lake City.

Outside 10 Downing Street, Romney said, “We talked about the great progress that has been made in organizing the games.”  Romney adding, “Last night I had the occasion to watch a report on the Olympic torch being carried across Great Britain… the symbolism for a torch that represents hope...was heartening to me.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb162012

Rick Santorum Campaign Formally Requests Secret Service Protection

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(FARGO, N.D.) -- The Santorum campaign has formally requested Secret Service protection, a campaign aide confirmed to ABC News.

A campaign lawyer sent the Department of Homeland Security a letter Wednesday, but the aide told ABC News the candidate was not immediately informed.

That explains why, on Wednesday evening when Santorum appeared on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight, he said the campaign had not reached out.

“I think the person, who when I was asked that question, misunderstood what I was saying,” Santorum said, referring to a question from ABC News on the topic Tuesday in Idaho. “I said that we are having discussions within the campaign about whether to do that. But no, we don’t have any Secret Service protection and this is just something because of some events that have happened, you know, we are just having the discussion internally about whether this is something we want to do or not.”

The aide stressed Santorum was not lying and the plan was to brief the candidate after his campaign event in Fargo, N.D. There were more than 1,500 people crammed into a hotel ballroom and Santorum got a very enthusiastic reception while he pitched himself to voters who caucus on Super Tuesday.

Tuesday night in Boise, Idaho, Santorum said, “For the sake of my family…we have to consider [Secret Service protection], so we are in that discussion right now.”

The aide added that Santorum is resisting getting Secret Service protection and would prefer not to have it.

Protocol for a candidate to receive protection is that the campaign must first make a formal request with the Department of Homeland Security -- unless there is a specific threat -- then the request goes to Senate leadership and the Senate Sergeant at Arms, who reviews the request and makes a decision whether to offer the protection or not.

Mitt Romney received Secret Service protection two weeks ago. Santorum currently employs private security.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan232012

Rand Paul in Pat-Down Standoff With TSA in Nashville

ABC News(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul told his communications director Monday morning he was being detained by TSA at the Nashville airport.

The Twitter account associated with Paul staffer Moira Bagley, @moirabagley, tweeted around 10 a.m., ET, “Just got a call from @senrandpaul. He’s currently being detained by TSA in Nashville.”

A TSA spokesman disputed that Paul was ever “detained.” But he was not granted access to the secure area of the airport. The TSA version of events is that Paul was not detained, but triggered an alarm during routine airport screening and refused to complete the screening process (pat-down) in order to resolve the issue.  Paul was escorted out of the screening area by local law enforcement.

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“When an irregularity is found during the TSA screening process, it must be resolved prior to allowing a passenger to proceed to the secure area of the airport,” according to an official statement released by TSA. “Passengers who refuse to complete the screening process cannot be granted access to the secure area in order to ensure the safety of others traveling.”

Paul’s office confirmed he set off an airport security full-body scanner “on a glitch,” according to a spokesman. The Paul staffer said TSA agents would not let Paul walk back through the body scanner and were demanding a full body pat-down.

The Paul spokesman said his office called TSA administrator John Pistole about the incident.

The issue of pat-downs has been an important one to Paul, the son of libertarian-leaning Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, who is extremely critical of the procedures. Sen. Paul brought this issue up at a hearing earlier this year.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec262011

Who Pays for Rick Perry’s Security? Texans

ABC News(AUSTIN, Texas) -- Rick Perry’s security costs have risen since he entered the presidential campaign in August, costing Texas taxpayers as much as $400,000 a month, according to a report by the Texas Tribune.

An examination of Texas public safety department records found that the agency spent more than $1.4 million on out-of-state trips between September to mid-December, including more than $397,000 between Sept. 5 and Sept. 28 this year.

According to the Texas Tribune, this amount included “$161,786 for airfare, $8,140 for baggage fees, $50,648.84 for food, $6,442.24 for fuel, $112,111.81 for lodging, $54,356.65 for rentals, $2,990.26 for parking and $1,238.57 in an unspecified “other” category.”

In 2011, the Texas public safety department spent $1.1 million for the entire fiscal year on out-of-state security costs.

The Texas Tribune noted that George W. Bush amassed a hefty tab for Texas taxpayers when he ran for president in 2000 while he sat as the governor of Texas. The state spent at least $400,000 per month in the first quarter of the year when he ran for president in 2000, and Texas taxpayers paid $3.9 million for his security costs between January 1999 and March 2000 when Secret Service took over security detail.

Perry is the only candidate, other than President Obama, whose security is funded by taxpayers.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May162011

Obama Administration Unveils Strategy for International Cybersecurity

John Foxx/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration's first-of-its-kind “International Strategy For Cyberspace” details the White House's vision for a secure Internet and calls for tougher global standards for cybersecurity, but while long on goals, the strategy falls short on specifics.

The cyberspace envisioned by the administration is defined broadly by four characteristics: open to innovation, interoperable the world over, secure enough to earn people’s trust, and reliable enough to support their work. To realize this future the strategy calls for enhanced diplomacy, defense and development.

“The United States will work internationally to promote an open, interoperable, secure and reliable information and communications infrastructure that supports international trade and commerce, strengthens international security, and fosters free expression and innovation,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at a White House event Monday afternoon to launch the new strategy.
 
“To achieve that goal we will build and sustain an environment in which norms of responsible behavior guide states’ actions, sustain partnerships, and support the rule of law in cyberspace,” she said.

The strategy released Monday articulates for the first time the principles that guide the government’s cybersecurity efforts.

“This is a strategy that goes beyond any single department or agency. It is not an implementation plan for a particular program or a particular part of government. It is about the principles that unite our nation, the vision that unites our policy and the priorities that unite our government,” Assistant to the President for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security John Brennan said.

The administration envisions an international coalition to heighten global defenses against cyber attacks and protect Internet freedoms. The strategy calls for international cybersecurity standards and emphasizes consequences for "hostile acts in cyberspace."

The wide scope of the strategy was evident in the range of speakers at Monday’s event.  Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn and White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt also spoke at the event.
 
The State, Defense, Homeland Security, Commerce and Justice Departments will all participate in shaping the strategy going forward. According to Brennan, in six months the White House will assess the agencies' progress at meeting the policy goals outlined in the plan.

Last week the administration sent Congress the first-ever cybersecurity legislative proposal, and on Monday Brennan reiterated that the administration is eager to work with Congress to enact a cybersecurity bill.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Mar202011

Rare Photo: Sitting in Makeshift Tent, Obama Briefed on Libya

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil) -- The White House has allowed a rare glimpse into the security trappings around the president.

An official photo, taken and issued by the White House, captured President Obama sitting inside a blue security tent -- called a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) -- erected inside his Brazilian hotel suite Sunday as he was briefed by phone on the situation unfolding in Libya.

The president, participating in a secure conference call, was joined on the phone by AFRICOM Commander Gen. Carter Ham, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, and Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough.

Pictured beside him in the tent are National Security Advisor Tom Donilon and White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec242010

White House Convenes 'Inter-Agency' Call on Holiday Threats

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The White House convened an inter-agency conference call Friday to review the steps taken to respond to holiday threats this season. It was one year ago that Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to explode a powdery substance aboard a Northwest flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.

The president was not on the coordination call Friday, led by counterterrorism and homeland security adviser John Brennan.  On the call was Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano, Director of National Intelligence Clapper, FBI Director Mueller, NCTC Director Leiter, Deputy Director of the CIA Morrell, National Security Staff traveling with the President in Hawaii, in addition to other representatives from the counterterrorism community.

In a briefing at the White House before the president departed for his Hawaiian holiday, the administration said that they do not see a specific and credible threat this holiday season.

“As far as something specific and credible, we don't see that,” Brennan said Wednesday. “There is a constant stream of reporting throughout the course of the year about al Qaeda's plans.  So sometimes we have that strategic warning.  We're not going to wait for a tactical warning.  We're going to be poised every day to respond.”

Brennan said he is “absolutely confident” that the “deficiencies” that were identified in the system after the after-action review of the Abdulmutallab incident have been addressed.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







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