Having Antivirus Software Isn’t Enough – It Needs to be Current

Picture this, you’re sitting at home on the computer working on a report, and a window pops up with a reminder that there is a software update available. Without a thought, you click the “not now” or “remind me later” button and carry on. You say to yourself, “I’ll get to it later!” The problem is that you never seem to get back to it.

It’s so easy to keep putting updates off, but while some can wait for others need to be taken care of as soon as they pop up. If you skip updates to your antivirus and anti-spyware software, you leave a wealth of private information open to hackers. This could include:

• Your personal files (like that report you’re working on)
• Your address, phone numbers, social security numbers
• Your driver’s license numbers, credit card numbers,
• Your banking information
• Anything that could make it easier for a criminal to steal your identity

More Than Your Antivirus/Antispyware Software
But keeping your antivirus and antispyware software needs to be kept up to date. For example, recently the credit reporting company Equifax suffered a massive data breach that left personal information such as that listed above for approximately 143 million people open to hackers. The hackers made use of web application Equifax was using that had a known vulnerability to access the data.

A fix had been published that would have eliminated the possibility of this particular hack being successful and obtaining so much data. However, for whatever reason, the update was not installed. Talk about a hard way to learn your lesson, but at least the rest of us can learn a lot from their mistake. No matter what type of software you have on your computer when an update comes out, you should probably install it.

Software Makes You Vulnerable
A large percentage of the worst malware attacks are successful only because they can breach vulnerabilities in the most commonly used software such as browsers and operating systems. Because of this, software developers are continually working to improve their products by eliminating these vulnerabilities and make it harder for hackers to find their way in. With this in mind, it should be easy to see why, when that next update window pops up; you should hit to “Do It Now” button rather than “I’ll Never Remember to Do It Button.”

There is more to most software updates than security fixes; many contain new features or updates to existing features. Each update is designed to enhance overall user experience by removing outdated features, and in some cases speeding up overall operation by reducing the load placed on the system.

Along with this, you should also:
• Keep your security software up to date
• Set updates to automatic on all software that has this setting
• Set reminders for to check for updates on those that don’t
• Verify the authenticity of any software before you download it
• Change your passwords frequently
• State up to date on the latest threats to make sure your computer is adequately protected

Keeping your computer and everything is safe from hackers is your job, and it should be your priority. By protecting your data, you are adding yet another layer of protection for your entire family.

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Budget Cuts, Funding Shortages, Police Officers, and Safety

One of the most significant issues facing every level of law enforcement today is an extreme lack of funding. Current budget cuts continue to affect not only law enforcement officers but also every citizen of the United States as it becomes more and more difficult for police officers to do their job.

You Might be Surprised Where the Budget Cuts Hit

Most LEOs have seen firsthand at what happens when the money starts disappearing. Imagine having an officer responding to an “officer down” call and the transmission drops out of his cruiser due to “budget cuts.”  Police departments across the nation face situations like this every day as their officers wonder if their cruiser will stay running through to the end of their shift. How many times can a cruiser leave the officer stranded, before someone is injured or worse?

Retention is becoming one of the most significant issues facing many departments is attrition. More seasons officers than ever before are leaving the force to enter the private security sector or for many other careers. They leave because the risks associated with their jobs continue to increase and the budget cuts continue to prevent them from receiving well-earned pay raises.

The same applies to being able to recruit new officers. When it can take up to 10 years for the average officer to earn what a 25-year-old college graduate with a degree in electrical engineering can earn straight out of school, it’s easy to see why recruiting and keeping good officers is becoming more difficult with every round of budget cuts.

 A Lack of Protection

With a lack of available funding also comes a department’s inability to provide their officers with many of the latest technological advances available. This lack of equipment can place officers in dangerous situations that could easily have been avoided. A lack of investigative equipment can also have a dramatic impact on a police department’s ability to solve crimes, which in turn can lead to criminals being able to walk free instead of being convicted and sentenced.

Imagine having to explain to an officer’s widow why his armored vest was not new enough to offer enough protection. What do you tell an officer’s spouse when they are wounded or taken by surprise because they have to go into a situation without backup? These are the situations law enforcement officers and their family’s face every day of the year, yet budgets continue to be slashed.

Day after day our men and women in blue face life and death situations, often ill-equipped, under-supported, and under-trained to take on the role of “Protect and Serve.” The one thing you can count on is that no one is the business of law enforcement for the money. They do so as a way of giving back to the community, to make those who live in them safer, and to continue reducing crime. It is for these reasons that organizations like the National Police Support Fund and the National Police Association continue to fight for better funding.

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Challenges Faced by Law Enforcement Today

In a report released by the Heritage Foundation, there are positive indications that many of our leaders are starting to take note of the pressure and danger our police officers must face on a daily basis. A group including retired LEOs, police advocates and lawyers met in 2017 to discuss the current situation. This meeting resulted in the publication of ” Policing in America: Lessons from the Past, Opportunities for the Future.”

A False Narrative
Police across the country have been getting a lot of attention for incidences involving minorities and “marginalized” people. While no doubt, much of it is well-deserved, the report noted that perhaps it was time that law enforcement “re-branded” itself. In other words, while the inevitable rough spots are going to occur, law enforcement needs to work to re-establish their reputation as being the “good guys” so when something does happen, it is not an immediate black-eye on the rest of law enforcement.

Another issue LEOs are dealing with is the constant litany of claims of racism that seem to never quite add up. The problem with the majority of reports claiming systemic racism fail to take into account that the number of minorities involved in contact with the police tends to go up in areas where the number of crimes being reported is highest in minority communities.

Money Plays Its Role
Leaders of the law enforcement community understand something that most political leaders and economic development leaders seem to have no comprehension of. They fail to realize that in order for their communities to grow, they need to be able to offer interested parties a safe community to build their businesses in and for their employees to live in. When political leaders bow to the pressure from anti-police activists to cut law enforcement budgets, doing so will have a direct impact on everyone’s quality of life and the health of every community.

No Credit Given
There is an old adage that goes, “When we do good, no one remembers. But, when we do bad, no one forgets.” Never has this been truer than in the world of law enforcement. Rather than looking at the many things police officers are doing that are successfully reducing crime such as “stop and frisk” reducing the number of guns on the street, all the activists see, is police officers violating a person’s civil liberties. This despite the fact an LEO must follow very strict guidelines in order to “stop and frisk.” Even though overall crime rates in the U.S. are steadily declining, law enforcement still doesn’t get any credit for their hard work and dedication.

The Need for More Technology
Sufficient funding to invest in new technologies and science to help predict and solve crime could help reduce repeat offenders and put the guilty where they belong. New technologies could help improve how physical evidence is processed.

Bring in the Feds
Many of those in attendance also stated their wish that the Department of Justice stop being such a political organization and become more involved in helping law enforcement succeed all the way down to the cop on the beat. In doing so, perhaps more attention and money might become available for training and equipment.

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Have You Stopped to Think About the No Guns Policy at Disney?

To the casual guest at Disney, whether or not they have a strict no-gun policy probably never crosses their minds. Who thinks about taking a gun with them into the “World’s Happiest Place?” Well, if you are a cop, the chances are good that the thought has crossed you more than once. This doesn’t matter to the powers-that-be at Disney as their policy states that no-one, including off-duty police offers, is permitted to carry any type of firearm, even if it is a concealed weapon or so it seems. However, you are not likely to find this information anywhere on the company’s website. Yet, despite this, with a little research, you can find reports regarding off-duty officers being asked to secure their weapons in their vehicle or simply to leave the premises. Even their security guards are unarmed; some will even tell you that it is against company policy for “anyone” to carry a firearm on the premises and that includes off-duty LEOs.

A Huge Terrorist Target
When you stop to look at the thousands of people gathered together within the confines of Disney on any given day, it is easy to see what a juicy target this makes for crazies and terrorists. When you have this type of crowd, a single crazed person could kill, wound, and maim large numbers of people on their own with a suicide bomb or even an automatic weapon.

In recent news Islamic terrorists continue to talk about killing as many Americans as they can, including children. A terrorist attack on Disney that results in the death of many children would shake our country to its core. Yet, what Disney is saying, is that an off-duty cop who is sworn to protect, is not permitted to carry a concealed weapon to protect themselves, their families, and the lives of many others in the park should something like this go down.

Lackluster Security at Best
If you take a trip to Disney, one of the first things you can’t help but notice (especially as a law enforcement officer), is the poor quality of the company’s security force. To start with, most gather around the entrance gates with only a minimal number patrolling the park. Then, the rest look a lot like what you might expect from a private security firm, old, out of shape, and not up to the job.

In other words, if something major happened such as a terrorist attack or a crazed-shooter, the average security guard at Disney would certainly not be up to the task. To add more to this, you are not likely to spot off-duty, undercover, or plain clothed LEOs or security personnel. As a professional LEO, you should be able to detect at least some of these within the park.

You could be packing or carrying 10 pounds of C4 strapped around your waist or in your backpack and chances are no one at the gate would catch it. The reason, most of the guards, give only a cursory glance at bags and people. You could have an Uzi under your coat or in your backpack and go on your terroristic merry way; chances are no one would be there to stop you. Perhaps it’s time Disney changed their rules and improved their security teams to the point where they can carry a concealed or even an open sight weapon along with letting off-duty LEOs do the same. It could prevent the loss of many lives at some point in the future.

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Calling Law Enforcement on Black People Offers LEO Teaching Moments

Over the course of the last few months, the number of 911 calls from white people calling to report “suspicious” or unwelcome activities by African-Americans has reached epidemic levels. From Oregon state representative Janelle Bynum was campaigning in her own district, to the two men waiting in a Starbucks, moving a lawn in Ohio, and swimming in a public swimming pool in South Carolina, racism seems to be once again rearing its ugly head in the United States.

Outrage is Not Just for the Victims
To be sure, these 911 calls and subsequent responses by members of law enforcement are creating serious outrage among African-Americans all over the country. But at the same time, these frivolous calls are tying up police officers for no other reason than the person being reported is not white. This means the officers are wasting valuable time that could be put to much better use.

While the majority of those making the calls have been found to be white, there are a few calls in which the race of the caller has not been identified. Yet, what really needs to happen first is that dispatchers need more training in how to gather the right information from the person calling in. This includes determining the circumstances surrounding the call and the intent of the person making it. This type of training will help the dispatcher to better determine if the call is an actual emergency or if it is merely a case of a biased complaint.

Officers Need Training Too
Along with training dispatchers to better recognize the situation and relay the appropriate information to the officer being sent to the scene, police officers need training as well. In this particular case, it means learning to recognize the situation, how to react to it, and the best way to deal with each type of situation.

Consider this situation: a group of African-American customers was standing outside of a Chili’s restaurant talking among themselves having just eaten a meal. It was after closing time, and one member of the group commented on the poor service and cold food that had received before they left. The incident was caught on a cellphone video and showed the officers talking to the group.

One officer stated, ” They called me here to prevent an altercation with you guys.” One of the group of men asked, “Why? Why? Because we’re black people in Abbeville  it’s an altercation?” Another member of the group asked, “What did we do? All we did is pay and leave.” Voice levels started to increase, but the officer managed to keep calm and work with the group. Eventually, they left, and no arrests were made.

Later Chili’s did put out a statement to the effect that they were sorry about what happened. In Abbeville, this incident has resulted in one major policy change. It states that before a business can contact the police to remove a someone from the premises, they must first ask the person to leave. Officers here are being trained in techniques they can use to defuse such situations when no crime has been committed. This is what it is going to take for the foreseeable future as racism in this country seems to be on the rise once again in large part due to the actions of our current administration. The hard work falls on the officer at street level to try and eradicate prejudice and maintain peace and civility.

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Biometrics Might Help Stop Criminals But Is It Constitutional?

Biometric science and technology continue to advance at an exponential rate. Thanks to this technology, law enforcement is finding new ways to put it to work cutting down on crime. In some instances, it could make it possible for law enforcement officers to solve cold cases. Despite these apparent advantages, many still feel as though the use of this technology could be a violation of a person’s civil rights and may be a violation of the constitution.

Finger Print Readers Are Only the Beginning
Among the most significant advances in the field of biometrics are facial recognition and fingerprint scanners. These technologies are used to secure a wide range of secured devices such as cell phones, tablets, even computers. Upon arrest, officers like to be able to search any electronic devices the alleged perpetrator might have. However, there is some concern that the use of this technology could be considered a violation of the individual’s 4th and 5th Amendment rights.

This issue has been before the courts, in 2016 a federal judge ruled that officers could compel a suspect to use their fingerprint to unlock their iPhone. But, one year later, another federal judge reversed this decision. Stating that he did not believe the situation warranted a suspect being forced to unlock their devices via biometrics so that officers could search them for evidence.

Moving on up to the latest in digital CCTV cameras and facial recognition software, the images, and video captured today can go way beyond just recognizing a person’s face. They can help with walking gait and voice recognition and create a picture accurate enough for “iris only” recognition.

In the Media
While many believe that since this type of technology is already in place adding to the toolbox of law enforcement officers is merely an extension of something we are all used to using. Many believe that making it available to law enforcement officers will make their cities safer.

The ACLU along with other critics, feel that the use of facial recognition software will make it possible for LE to track innocent people anywhere they go. At the same time, it would be possible for LE to follow a “person of interest” without having to obtain a warrant. At the same time, LE could monitor a person’s purchases (i.e., guns, ammunition, even fertilizer) and enter this information into a database which would then cause them to be added to the “person of interest” list.

Being on this list could then lead to a completely innocent person being tracked in the event of a crime being committed, even if the person in question had absolutely nothing to do with the crime in question. Critics believe that actions such as these could constitute a violation of that person’s 4th and 5th Amendment rights.

Finally, everyone seems to agree that the use of biometric devices can be of great help in helping law enforcement to deal with things like domestic terrorism. The final answer will be one that manages to achieve an acceptable balance between a person’s right their privacy and individual freedoms and the ability of biometrics to help make things a little safer for everyone.

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Four Trends in Law Enforcement to Watch in 2018

These trends are likely to continue having a significant impact at all levels of law enforcement including local, state, and federal. Here we present four trends that are most likely to affect law enforcement in 2018.

Domestic Terrorism
The number of incidences of domestic terrorism is expected to continue increasing leading to significant challenges at all levels of law enforcement. Incidents such as these are occurring in every state, forcing all sizes of law enforcement agencies to refocus their energies and work to modify their more traditional training techniques to better fit in with being able to combat domestic terrorism. This training should include recognizing “potential indicators” that an attack is imminent, understanding how the process of “radicalization” works, and an improvement in cooperation between all levels of law enforcement.

The Upswing in Vehicle Attacks
It is thought that in the very near future, vehicle attacks on crowds by bombing, suicide bombing, and simply driving into them, is going to the weapon of choice by terrorists. According to a report issued by the Transportation Security Administration, during the years 2014 through 2017, there were 17 known vehicle terror attacks in cities like New York, London, Paris, Barcelona, and Edmonton. These were all attacks using a vehicle to ram into crowds resulting in 173 deaths and approximately 667 injuries. The number of attacks is only likely to continue increasing in 2018.

The Continued Emergence of Long-Range Shooter Attacks
The ability to use long-range shooter or sniper type activities to injure and kill multiple people in large crowds such as happened in New York and Las Vegas has proven to be all too successful. The Las Vegas attack alone was responsible for 58 deaths and approximately 851 injured. With such large gatherings the norm across the nation, the number of these attacks are expected to continue growing. Law enforcement officers are now being trained to scan and search for such possibilities as far as 1,000 yards out along with enhanced training in how to recognize potential problem areas in the perimeter and how to identify assailants with ill-intent. At the same time, many law enforcement departments are now creating their own neutralization teams complete with marksmen (snipers) trained to take out shooters and other potential assailants.

Increased Public and Private Assessment of Police Behavior
The more active law enforcement officers become involved in doing their jobs, the more they are likely to come under scrutiny by literally everyone from the city mayor to the federal government and from the press to the man on the street. The current trend towards independent investigation is expected to continue as many police departments continue to struggle with their public image in the continuing environment of LEO related shooting deaths continues.

These are just a few of the significant trends that are likely to be growing problems for law enforcement officers in 2018 and the foreseeable future as the nation continues to demand more and better protection, but at the same time always expects officers to behave appropriately when they are on duty. The job of law enforcement will continue to be more challenging each year, especially with recruiting numbers falling at drastic rates in most areas of the country.

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Take a Look at What Chevy has Done to the 2018 Tahoe Police Pursuit Vehicle

For those who wonder what the next generation Police Pursuit Vehicle (PPV) might look like, you have to take a good look at what Chevy has added in terms of safety features. These features are designed to “protect the protectors” who spend countless hours out on the open road.

The Centerpiece
While many of today’s luxury cars have things like automatic braking, forward collision alert, lane departure warning, a safety alert driver’s seat, and more. Chevrolet claims that adding these features along with power adjustable pedals as part of the Enhanced Driver Assist Package is the first of its kind designed specifically for a pursuit-rated vehicle.

Going a little further, it should be noted that low-speed forward collision warning with automatic braking has never been seen in a pursuit-rated vehicle before. The system is designed to detect a potential front-end collision and apply the brakes automatically to help reduce the severity of the impact.

Keeping You Alerted
Inside the average pursuit, vehicle is a maze of lights, radios, laptops, radar, cellphones, radios, and host of other alerts go off constantly. If the only alert you received from one of the multitude of driver assist modules, it would simply disappear in the cacophony of other alerts going off. This would put you in danger of an accident that might otherwise have been avoided.

Chevrolet’s research and development team went to work on this problem and they came up with a very interesting solution to the problem. The 2018 Chevy Tahoe Police Pursuit Vehicle features a vibrating driver’s seat. Before you get the wrong idea, the premise is simple when one of the driver assist sensors goes off, it causes bottom seat cushion to vibrate in pulses. This tactile response to the alerts will also make it easier for an officer to pick out this alert from the many others going on inside their cruiser.

More to be Said
According to Ed Peper, US Vice President of Fleet when talking about the new safety features, ” We want to protect our protectors and help them get home safely at the end of every shift. The safety technologies we are introducing on the Tahoe PPV may serve as a second set of eyes.”

Of course, the 2018 Tahoe still comes equipped with the standard array of safety features. These include full Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free operation, making it much easier to stay in contact via text and call. The electronic stability controls are designed to help keep the Tahoe level during high speed cornering such as you might see one or two of in your career (per week that is!).

Then there is the rear vision camera with rear park assist and steering wheel controls. These fun features make it so much easier to parallel park and avoid obstacles while you are backing up. No matter how you look at, the 2018 Chevy Tahoe PPV is going to help keep our brothers and sisters much safer out there on roads that are becoming more dangerous every day.

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Proactive Policing Gains in Popularity

While it might seem (depending on which news service you follow) that the majority of Americans are not happy with the idea of proactive policing, a survey completed in the summer of 2018 by the National Police Association offered some surprising results. In fact, the numbers show that the majority of the public supports the idea of proactive policing because it has been proven to reduce the number of victims and the number of people committing crimes.

What the Survey Showed
One of the items those who participated in the survey stated, was that they believe that all the negative publicity and media attacks on law enforcement agencies and their officers has had a negative impact. The problem is that many officers have become reluctant to step in and stop crimes like murders and robberies before they occur.

The survey also found that many officers are now afraid to perform tasks such as wrestling a suspect to the ground, stopping them by using their nightstick, of the use of any other type of force to stop a crime for fear of being sued. Worse yet, they fear being charged with “police brutality,” which can carry heavy penalties such as fines, loss of job, and imprisonment. Most of those surveyed stated they support the rights of law enforcement officers to use reasonable force to halt a crime in progress, apprehend as suspect, or to defend themselves in the event they are subjected to a physical attack.

It should come as no surprise that over 90% of those who responded to the survey completely reject the ridiculous demands by a number of the most radical “anti-police” groups that police officers no longer be allowed to carry guns.

More Important Findings from the Survey
Most of those surveyed believe that law enforcement officers should be permitted to work with immigration agents to help deport dangerous illegal and legal immigrants. Something that does not always happen, resulting in a much higher level of crimes being committed in this county by illegal aliens.

More than 80% of those surveyed say they do not agree with the many politicians in Washington D.C. who would give murderers, rapists, and burglars who have been convicted the right to vote. Instead, they categorically oppose the idea that convicted criminals be given the right to vote. This right has been taken from every convicted felon for decades.

Many say that schools should be responsible for teaching their students to respect police officers and how to behave in the event they are stopped by a police officer for any reason. They also stated that they would prefer to see a larger police presence in their neighborhood with the ability to stop and question suspicious people rather than having to wait until a crime has actually been committed before stepping in.

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A Brief Reminder About Social Media Protocols You Should be Following

Social media has become a significant part of just about everyone’s life. People post an incredible amount of personal information including pictures of themselves and their families with abandon. It’s incredible how much information is out there floating around the web. While this might be okay for the average citizen, when it comes to being a police officer, you just can’t afford to be this casual with your personal information or that of your family. Keep in mind that no one is trying to tell you not to have social media accounts, what we are trying to say to you is that you need to be very careful what you post.

About the Things You Post
According to the First Amendment, you have the right to say anything you want. Yet when you are a police officer, you may find it to your advantage to be very careful in what you post and choose to repost. There have been a number of instances in recent history where an officer has been given disciplinary action over something they have posted online.
Often this happens when an officer posts an off-color comment that could perhaps be considered as some form of harassment. You never know who might be monitoring your Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter account. What might not offend you, might cause a serious problem with your boss. Even if he doesn’t see it firsthand, you can almost count on it getting back to him quickly.

Never Talk Business
Under no circumstances should you ever mention or discuss an ongoing case on any form of social media. Not only can discussing a case in such a public forum result in some form of disciplinary action being taken but doing so can jeopardize the case. You might think posting pictures of a recent traffic stop, an accident, or a suspect wouldn’t be a big deal. But if any of the parties in the photos file a complaint, it could result in a lawsuit, disciplinary action, and possibly the loss of your job.

Keep Your Private Information Private
One last crucial tip, one that applies to not only you as a police officer, but the rest of your family as well. Keep the amount of private information displayed on any and all social media accounts to a minimum. You might be surprised at how easy it is for a suspect to use your social media accounts to track you and your family to your home.

You have little to no control over the security levels of each of the different social media sites and even less of an idea of how the companies involved provide security for your personal information. Your safety and that of your family depends on how seriously each member of your family takes the threat of social media.

Simply put, if you must use social media, you need to pay very, very close attention to what you and every member of your family posts on every form of social media they use.

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