Safety Tips for the 4th of July Holiday

Should you trust free WIFI?
The fourth of July is a peak travel week at airports, hotels, train stations, and rental car companies. Most of them offer free WIFI—but should you trust it? Cyber criminals are hoping you do, because it can be the back door to your data. Personal information, credit cards, airline, and hotel loyalty programs are information they would love to get their hands on.

We try so hard to look for free WIFI, that our cell phones, laptops, and smart devices have become a huge security risk. Last year, half a billion travelers had their personal information compromised world-wide. From passports, credit cards, and hotels to frequent flyer information, fake signals can be setup by criminals looking to steal your personal information.

It’s very difficult to know if free WIFI is legitimate
Someone wanting to steal your information could label the WIFI “free airport” or “free coffee shop,” for example. And one simple click can give hackers access to everything on your phone. Even if you stay off WIFI, you could still be at risk. Hackers are now targeting public USB charging stations with viruses that steal your computer data and intercept your cell phone signal. So, what should you do?

Seven Tips to Avoid Public WIFI Traps:
1) Stay off networks you don’t know!
2) Avoid public charging stations and instead carry a personal rechargeable battery
3) Shred your used airline tickets and luggage tags
4) Shred your hotel key instead of returning it to the front desk (they don’t need it back)
5) Look for signs at airports and double check the free WIFI they offer. If you are not sure, ask an employee. Same with hotels – look for the instructions in your room and if you are unsure, ask the front counter representative.
6) Regarding ATM safety – get money directly from your bank or an airport or even cash back from a grocery store. Avoid the ones casually on the street which can be easily hacked.
7) Use a credit card when traveling versus a debit card. You don’t want someone to have easy access into your bank account.

Personal data has never been more at risk. A hacker can setup a table anywhere and lure you into their trap. Especially if you have kids. It’s even more tempting to use public WIFI, so the best thing to do is use the tips above to keep your information safe. Better to be safe than sorry.

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Police Officers and Social Media

Have you heard the news recently about 72 police officers in Philadelphia who have been placed on administrative leave over allegations that they made offensive racist comments on their social media posts?

There was an investigation after a database site called The Plain View Project ousted them to the public. This watchdog group compiled screenshots of the posts and shared them online. According to the media, the database site contains more than 5,000 Facebook posts from 3,500 current or former police officers from eight police jurisdictions across the country. These posts contain racist, misogynist, and violent comments.

Officers are entitled to due process just like any other citizen. But when the integrity of an Officer is compromised, the entire department that the Officer is associated with is then compromised. People start to question their intentions, and any kind of negative posts not only undermine public trust and confidence in law enforcement, but hostility begins to build up as well.

All law enforcement officers should undergo some type of anti-racism training, social media training, mental illness training, and Autism/ASD training. It is critical that they learn how to work with those who have learning disabilities without regard to their ethnicity, gender, or religious affiliation.

When it comes to social media posts, Police Officers are especially vulnerable and really need to think before posting anything online. They risk putting themselves and their family members safety at risk.

Let’s hope this will all get figured out soon. We absolutely need and value our police officers, and it already seems like there is a shortage of them on the streets. We wouldn’t want them to be taken off the job during a time of increased violence in our country.

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Search and Seizure

In the United States, we are entitled to certain freedoms. Freedom to come and go as we please, freedom to eat what we want, go where we want, so on and so forth. But when it comes to the government, there are limits to certain privacies. For example, when a search warrant is justified, police officers are allowed to search YOU, your home, car, boat, office, or other personal property in order to look for evidence of a crime. It offers the question, what rules do LEOs have to follow when it comes to search and seizure? Because after all – search and seizure laws of the Fourth Amendment are all about privacy.

A few notes:
• A search or seizure is reasonable if the police have a warrant from a judge based on probable cause.
• Certain intrusions are more severe than others, and each type of search or seizure must meet certain requirements to be deemed reasonable.
• There is no expectation of privacy when an item or location is in plain view. If an Officer pulls over a person driving a car, and notices a weapon on the floor, there’s been no search under the Fourth Amendment. It’s not a reasonable location that bears privacy with respect to the gun, because it was in plain sight.

In general, search and seizure laws are pretty straight forward. They are necessary for police officers to protect and serve our community. But that doesn’t mean it should be misused. The Constitution was made to protect the people, so if anyone believes they have been the victim of unreasonable search and seizure, they should contact an experienced civil rights attorney to discuss their options.

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German Shepherds and K-9 Units

German Shepherds. Considered to be one of the best workers around the globe, this breed is canine royalty. They are also one of the most beautiful, confident, and smartest dogs around. They are highly trainable, so their ability to learn commands is one of their greatest attributes. Always willing to put their life on the line for their family or their fellow Police Officers, German Shepherds are the preferred dog for law enforcement and military units world-wide.

First-Rate Choice for Law Enforcement Safety
German Shepherds are not only utilized as Police Dogs, but also vastly recognized as service dogs. Their loyalty and commitment make them a first-rate choice for law enforcement safety, because they always put the needs and well-being of the Officer and their loved ones first.

What is a K-9 Unit?
K-9 units are a specialized group of law enforcement officers. Not only do they perform their usual duties as Officers, but they are also responsible for using service dogs to perform the responsibilities of a police officer.

The care and training of their canine partner to enforce the law and apprehend criminals, doesn’t end when they leave work. The dog is the police officer’s partner at home too. That means that when they get home, their family is also prepared to take care of the dog and make sure he/she is cared for even when the family goes on vacation.

Specialized Tasks:
• Detect illegal substances, chemicals, and explosives
• Identify individuals who were in contact with illegal substances
• Track and rescue kidnapped or missing persons
• Locate buried or submerged bodies or human parts

Fun Facts:
• German Shepherds were originally created to herd sheep
• They didn’t start becoming popular until the 1900s

It certainly makes us feel better knowing these strong, yet gentle creatures are on our side, and working for the good and safety of the good guys.

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Popular Technology Raising Red Flags

Protecting the Safety of the United States
Used by police departments around the country, facial recognition software that is offered in real time, is a valuable crime fighting technology with law enforcement. In fact, it is a key element in order to get information early — not only for officer safety, but public safety as well.

Surveillance cameras help identify people by their facial features and record people on busy streets. It’s incredibly helpful to LEOs when they are looking for a criminal. But it goes beyond that. This is about protecting the safety of the people of the United States. Terrorists are constantly trying to get into this country. They change their identities, grow beards, wear eye glasses, and wear hats to try and conceal themselves. With facial recognition technology, they would be caught right away. The cameras would see past the beard and hat and would be able to immediately pickup the eyes, length of the nose, jaw bones, etc. Without this, we will be left counting on people to recognize them on the street. Thinking logically, Is that really going to happen?

Privacy Concerns
San Francisco, California is officially banning city agencies, including the police from using facial recognition technology. They are the first city in the nation to take this step. But it isn’t going without controversy. For one thing, the technology is not full proof. Critics say it tends to mis-identify women and people of color, which is a serious privacy and security concern. Oakland and San Jose, California are considering similar measures as well. But do every day people really want this to go away? It seems this might be the first step towards what could very well be a national policy.

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PFC Closed on Memorial Day

Privacy for Cops will be closed on Memorial Day. In honor of the veterans who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces, and who selflessly gave of themselves to protect our freedom, we remember you.

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Robocalls and the “One-Ring” Scam

As most of you probably know, robocalls are hitting our phone lines more than ever. And may of them are scammers trying to steal our money and personal information. Between Medicare scams and IRS imposters, to now robocalls, our privacy feels like its under attack.

If you receive a call and they ask you to press a number to get yourself off their call list, just hang up. DON’T ENGAGE! If you get an email that asks for your personal information, don’t reply. Delete it or put it in your spam email box.

Fraud Prevention Tips:
• Don’t answer. If you don’t recognize the number, and it’s a legitimate caller, they can leave a message.
• Hang up on illegal robocalls.
• Use a call blocking app or ask your carrier if they have call blocking service
• Ask a tech-savvy family member or friend for help navigating this process
• Report unwanted calls to the Federal Trade Commission at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov

Finally, a warning about the “one-ring” scam. That’s when you get a phone call from a number you don’t know. The call stops after only one ring, because the scammer is hoping you will call back. It’s really an international number and will appear as a charge on your phone bill, but the money is going straight to the scammers pocket.

Be smart, trust your gut, and don’t give scammers the satisfaction of engaging. Until the government can figure out a way to stop this mess, protect your privacy using the tips mentioned above.

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Ten tips to help keep your child safe online

The internet has a lot of positive ways for kids and teens to learn. And when it comes to parenting, there isn’t a book to show us how to navigate every step. With school shootings on the rise, vaping flavors that mimic candy, and online predators, privacy concerns are lurking. Xbox and PlayStation games online make it easy for not only kids to communicate with each other, but adult pedophiles as well. For these reasons, it is extremely important to take proper online safety precautions!

Ten tips to help keep your kids safe online:

1. Look at your kids’ cell phone. Be an informed parent and make sure you can get into the device (fingerprint, password) and do random checks. You also need to know that there are spoofing apps that can hide other apps so make sure you know what you should be looking for.

2. NEVER reveal personal information and NEVER give away passwords or share them with friends.

3. Always log off your computer. Otherwise you are taking the risk that a hacker can access your information.

4. Talk and educate your kid on how to stay safe on their devices. Let them know what to do if they are approached by someone online or if they see something that is inappropriate.

5. Follow your kids online. Know their social media accounts (Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, etc.)

6. At night, take your kids devices out of their rooms or turn off the wifi. Many issues with online safety occur while parents think their kids are sleeping.

7. Remind your kids that ANYTHING that is placed online can’t be taken back. Even when they think they have removed something or deleted it, it still exists.
8. Research before you buy! Look at the security settings that are available on any device you plan to buy before you make the purchase.

9. Establish rules and guidelines. What websites and apps can your kid use? Talk about the consequences if a rule is broken in advance, so that your kid knows the expectations.

10. Educate yourself! There are many resources out there, but here are a few recommended sites: netsmartz.org; revisor.mn.gov; cybertipline.com

To help protect the online privacy of kids, the FTC enforces the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which requires websites and online services to get consent from parents before they can collect personal information from kids under age 13. It might seem like a lot of work, but if you educate yourself on the dangers, and implement the safety tips noted above, you are taking critical steps to ensuring the safety of your kids digital footprint.

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Off-Duty Officer Ambushed at Home

Can you imagine being at home with your family, peacefully enjoying the day, only to be ambushed by open gunfire outside your home? Idaho Police Officer Josh Rigney was off-duty and at home with his family when a man drove by his house and opened fired. His family was not injured, but Rigney was shot twice while interchanging gunfire with the unidentified man and was later treated at a nearby hospital, where his reported to survive.

According to a neighbor of Rigney’s, the unidentified man was said to be looking through the windows of the neighbor who lives only houses away from Rigney. The neighbor saw him and questioned him about this. Reportedly, the man asked the neighbor where the “tribal cop” lived. The neighbor said she wasn’t sure, but pointed next door to where a tribal patrol car was parked in front of an apartment complex.

The suspect, later identified as Daniel Cook, Jr., fled the scene as Officer Rigney’s wife called 911. The suspect was eventually located, caught in a brief shootout with three on-duty police officers, was hit multiple times, and later died. Thankfully, no other officers were injured during the exchange. A motive for why the suspect was looking for the Officer is unknown at this time. And an investigation is ongoing.

Reminds us of the importance to keep our online personal information safe. Run an online search of yourself and see what you can find. If anything pops up, be proactive and either hire a service who can help you remove your information or try to remove it yourself. It will be a daunting task, but well worth it to protect your information, making it harder for thugs to find you and your family.

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Where Does an SRO Stand?

It’s a sad fact that in our nation virtually every school from elementary all the way through college now must have at least one SRO (School Resource Officer) on duty at all times. These SROs are on-duty police officers who like any other have sworn to serve and protect. In most states, they are not employed by the school or the school board. Yet it seems that despite this fact an SRO with the Warren, OH police department was escorted from the elementary school in which he was working.

The Reason
It seems that after warning the Principal of the school numerous warnings for parking in a marked handicap space, the SRO (an LEO with the Warren, OH PD) issued the Principal a citation. Following this, the principal of the school ordered the school’s business manager and head of security to escort the LEO from the campus.
According to Michael Currington, Warren PD union representative, the officer did, in fact, issue the principal several warnings. Keep in mind that marked handicap spaces no matter where are covered under ADA laws, including on school property. Thus, no matter how you look at it, the law states that a citation will be issued, and the vehicle towed if the owner is not present in most states. Citations do vary from one state to the next, ranging from around $250 to as much as $1,000 or more.

Part of the problem may be in the way accessible parking space violations tend to be treated as pretty low on the priority totem. Perhaps the Principal felt that as the “head” of the school they were “above” the law or that because they had no one at the school in need of a marked spot, it didn’t matter. The reality is that Warren PD Officer Adam Chinchic was doing his job as prescribed under numerous federal and state laws designed specifically to protect the handicap.

Instead of being recognized for his diligence in protecting the disabled and enforcing the laws, the Chinchic instead had to endure the embarrassment of being “escorted” from the campus like a common criminal. To make matters worse (if that’s possible), Office Chinchic had to miss a lunch date with one of the little girls at the school.

Who’s in the Right Here?
When you get right down to it, all law enforcement officers are sworn to uphold the law period. No one is above the law, not the officer, not the principal, no one. It is apparent that the officer went above and beyond his duty by taking the time to issue a number of warnings before issuing the citation. At issue, the idea that a school principal feels first that he has the authority to order a law enforcement officer from a public school, second that business manager and head of security went along with it, and third that the same principal feels that he has the authority to park in an accessible parking space. The other issue here is that our educators are supposed to be teaching our children to respect the law. However, when a school principal tries to set himself above the law, it shows our children that it is okay to break the law. The story needs to be followed to see whether or not the Chinchic’s commanders will back him up and whether or not the principal will be made to pay the citation.

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