Happy Holidays from the Public Safety Assistance Foundation!

We hope your holidays will be filled with joy and laughter through the New Year!

Our office will be closed on the following days, so that our staff can spend time with their loved ones:

Friday, December 24, 2021
Monday, December 27, 2021
Friday, December 31, 2021
Monday, January 3, 2022

We appreciate your patience during this time and we will respond to your email inquiries upon our return.

Wishing you a wonderful holiday season!

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How to Keep Holiday Gatherings SAFE!

This holiday season is not like last year – thank goodness! This year, we all have masks. We have access to a COVID vaccination. We have access to a COVID booster. And we have data that proves that these are our best tools to protect ourselves and our family members from getting sick with COVID-19.


Up your mask game! Doctors and health professionals are recommending that we trade in our cloth masks for a higher level N95 or KN95 mask. Especially if you are spending time in crowded areas such as airports, trains, or concerts to name a few.

Ventilation is key! Consider investing in an air purifier. If you can’t, try and hold your family events outdoors. Or at the very least open your windows to keep the air flow circulating throughout your home.

Rapid At-Home COVID Tests. They are easy to use and sold in pharmacies and grocery stores. The cost range is $10.00-$30.00 and you can get the results in about 15 minutes.

In the end, be upfront with your family members and friends about what they can expect at your home or event. Be firm, polite, and direct. This way, people can make their own informed decisions, because you’ve been as transparent as possible.

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TikTok Hand Signal Leads to Teens Safety

A 16-year-old girl learned a hand gesture on the social media platform TikTok and was able to use the signal to get help. With any signal, you would have to be able to interpret what that signal means, or at least be with someone who does. You might not know that someone is trying to communicate with you or what a specific type of hand gesture means. But, in this case, law enforcement officers say it saved this teens life!

Here’s the back story …

On November 8, 2021, a teenage girl was sitting in a car looking out the window – next to her alleged kidnapper. Can you imagine the horror she must have been feeling at that time?! She couldn’t scream for help. She couldn’t open her door. She couldn’t wave her arms. Nothing.

But, what she could do to try and alert others that she was in danger (without alerting her abductor)—was use one hand to flash a signal toward the window. She did it hoping that someone, anyone, would know what it meant. She opened her hand, tucked her thumb in, bent the remaining four fingers down, and then repeated it over and over again. Is this American Sign Language you might ask? No. It’s a gesture that she learned on TikTok, thanks to the philanthropic organization called the Canadian Women’s Foundation.

The hand signal worked!

A passing motorist noticed the girl flashing hand signs and knew exactly what it meant. The motorist called 911, followed the abductors car, and kept authorities up-to-date by phone. Deputies were able to pull the vehicle over and box it in, so that it could not go anywhere. Thank goodness, it led to the rescue of the teen girl and the arrest of her abductor, James H. Brick, age 61.

Here is a YouTube demonstration of how to do the signal. Please share it with the women and girls in your life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFLZEQFIm7k

Now that the hand signal is more well-known, the hope is that it continues to spread universally. It is now being shared by partner organizations around the world: https://canadianwomen.org/signal-for-help/

You never know when it could save your life or the life of a loved one.

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Counterfeit Cargo

Did you know that millions of cargo items are inspected before they are allowed to be sold to the public? And that more often than not, knock off items are making their way into the United States? With Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals popping up, this is prime target for counterfeiters to strike!

Thankfully, we have Custom and Border Patrol Agents who use intel to intercept items BEFORE they can enter the market. Some containers hide fake goods. These are items that are cheaply made and designed to look authentic. Sometimes they are even dangerous.

To make sure they are legitimate and safe, Special Agents go through cargo containers one at a time. They are finding toxic levels of led and chemicals in toys, unsafe Christmas lights that can easily burst into flames, cell phones, handbags, jewelry, and so much more. In fact, children’s clothing (tested for led) and dolls are a big safety problem. Knock off dolls many times test positive for a high level of Phthalates (a substance used to make plastics soft and flexible). These items are cheaply made and designed to look authentic, but they are counterfeit.

What is the money funding?
Buying counterfeit items funds terrorism, human trafficking, and criminal organizations.

Why shouldn’t you buy counterfeit goods?
• They’re not safe!
• Criminals are breaking the law by importing and selling these goods.
• Identity Fraud can come into play.

What can you do about this?
• Buy from reputable stores and websites
• When you shop online, make sure the company has a real address and phone number
• If the price is too good to be true, that’s a red flag. Be smarter than the criminals.

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Thank a Veteran Today!

To all the members of our military, past and present, in every branch of service – we salute you and thank you for your service and sacrifice!

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Halloween Amidst COVID

Everyone is eager to get back to some good old fashioned Halloween fun! Health experts seem to have given families the green light to trick or treat, but not without offering important tips to help keep your family safe.

One of the biggest concerns is the risk we all face by unvaccinated children. COVID cases seem to be down nationwide, but according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a quarter of new COVID cases are still among school-aged kids.

Trick-or-Treating Tips:

• Keep groups small and only spend time around friends that you know are vaccinated.
• Good hand hygiene. Have plenty of hand sanitizer and wipes on hand.
• Social distance. Many people have forgotten to do this. The rule is still 6ft apart.
• Inspect your child’s candy before they eat it.
• Add reflective tape or have a flashlight available when walking.

Handing out Candy
Limit your exposure and wear a mask. Also, consider handing out individual bags of candy instead of a communal basket. And be sure to wash your hands often.
In the end, have fun! Trick-or-treating is back in stride so be safe out there.

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Fraudsters are getting savvy. Beware of the latest scams!

Every day, more and more people are falling victim to online scams. Fraudsters are posing as banks, shopping centers, UPS stores, Amazon, and countless others. They are savvy and will reach out to you online via social media, email, phone calls, and text messaging impersonating themselves as fraud departments.


• Don’t engage. Scammers want you to reply. They want you to click the links. They want you to ask questions. Don’t give them the satisfaction.

• Don’t click on any links unless you know for certain that it is a legitimate source. When in doubt, just delete it, block the source, and move on with your day.

• Don’t ever give out your personal information online. If a site or email is asking for your date of birth, photo, or address for example, don’t engage

• Don’t pay anyone with gift cards. If someone is asking you to go to the store and buy gift cards, don’t do it. Come on – that’s a straight scam!

• Beware of requests to download appx to “fix issues.” That could be a scam too.

• Don’t change your password just because you receive a request to do so. If you receive a one-time passcode that you didn’t initiate, it’s a scam.

Arm yourself with information, so you don’t fall victim.

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Public Records

Public records. They are available online and anyone can access them.

What is a public record?

A public record is any document that is made or received in connection with the public business of any state agency. They are created by the federal and local government. That means that voting information, government salaries, court documents, police records, criminal records, photographs, and yes, even email, may all be considered to be a public record.

Even media articles are public information. If a story is written about you in a newspaper, magazine, online department story, or even a social media profile, it’s public. Other examples of public records include, property tax accessor files, motor vehicle records, and business licenses. And in most cases all are unremovable. These sites are not obligated in any way to take down your information. So, whether you are looking for your own public records or records for a family member, it’s likely searchable on the web.

There are two ways public records are accessible online:

  1. Some agencies post information on their government websites, thereby making it freely available.
  2. Some government agencies and courts sell their public files to commercial data compilers and information brokers. They in turn make them available on a fee basis, either by means of the web or special networks.

What can be done to prevent making public records that contain personal information available online?

Unfortunately, not much. The public policy reasons for making public records available promote accountability. Limit what you post online and regularly search for yourself online to see what you can find. If you find your information listed, there are businesses that can assist you with online removal, but if they claim that they can remove “public records,” it’s not likely true.

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The Fourth Amendment

Search and Seizure

The Fourth Amendment was written to protect people from unreasonable intrusion by the government in the form of law enforcement officers into their homes, business, vehicles, or other property. This includes law enforcement officers stopping people walking on the street or driving their cars and being arrested, or searching their homes or businesses.

What is Protected by the Fourth Amendment?
The Fourth Amendment, which covers search and seizure offers protections under criminal law to:

• A police officer’s physical arrest or “seizure” of a citizen via a stop or arrest.
• Law enforcement searches of items and places to which a citizen has a reasonable expectation of privacy, including their person, purses, wallets, clothes, house, hotel room, apartment, vehicle, place of business, and many others.

There are a number of times when the Fourth Amendment can be used to provide constitutional protection to an individual, including:

• When a person is stopped by an officer for questioning while walking down the street.
• When a person is pulled over for a minor traffic violation and the officer decides to inspect the contents of the trunk.
• When a person is placed under arrest
• When a law enforcement officer enters a person’s home or place of business and places them under arrest.
• When a law enforcement officer confiscates a person’s personal property or vehicle and places it under their control.

Is it ever okay for a police officer to violate a citizen’s rights?

Of course not. A police officer must have:
• A valid search warrant issued by a judge
• A valid arrest warrant issued by the courts or
• Believe he or she has “probable cause” based on the possibility the individual has committed a crime.

If the above conditions are not met, it is highly likely that the law enforcement officer will be found to have violated the citizen’s rights. Should this happen, the odds are good that any evidence that is collected at this time will be deemed by the courts to be inadmissible in a court. This might be great for the person who has been accused of a crime and may even be enough to have the case dismissed. However, it can be a major disaster for the officer and the law enforcement agency who has worked hard to bring the case to court in hopes of a conviction that might keep a true criminal off the streets.

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Do you know how to spot a spoof social media account?

Be careful which social media accounts you follow, because the person on the other end may not be who you think they are! Imposters are getting more and more savvy, and creating knock off pages claiming to be legit brands, influencers, or maybe even one of your friends. But, once you click, they get your personal information and even connect with your followers.

We’ve all been tempted. You see an offer for a discount or a giveaway. They appear to come from brands that we are familiar with, such as Nike, Gap, Adidas, Sephora, Ulta, Amazon, and more. But these accounts are fake – and so are the giveaways.

Imposters are spoofing accounts and claiming to be a business or in many cases, an individual that you know. The imposter then contacts a person, says they won a contest, and that in order to get the prize, they needed to go to a web page and input certain information. Experts say that’s the scam! Crooks take pictures from the real page (because its easy to copy and paste a logo), and then they create a site that looks almost identical.

Actions you can take to stay safe online and avoid being ripped off!

  • Pay attention to the URL. If it looks foggy or has an extra letter or symbol added to it, it’s likely an imposter page claiming to be the real thing.
  • Before accepting a friend request or responding to a direct message, compare connections. Who are their friends?
  • Check to see that you’re not already to connected to someone who starts following you (or wants to follow you).
  • Looks at posts from the friend request. Are they recent?
  • If it’s a popular brand or a celebrity, look for a blue checkmark. That means that they have been certified by the social media site.
  • If you spot a fake account, report it to the site immediately.
  • If you do fall victim to a social media scam, contact your bank immediately and try to stop payment or freeze the account.
  • Report it to the FBI. If you act quickly, there is a good chance you can get your money back.

What are imposters looking for?

They want your personal information. They want to steal your identity, your phone number, your credit cards, and any information that they can use.

Reports from the FBI say that people have lost hundreds of millions of dollars to imposter social media scams. Be vigilant, educate yourself, and protect your information.

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