Articles on Public Safety

Disturbing messages and vague threats on social media are spiking nationwide after the shooting at Michigan's Oxford High School that left four dead and seven seriously injured, reports the Washington Post. At least 60 schools in Michigan closed this month after the Oxford shooting, as did districts in Ohio and Pennsylvania. In a “challenge” last week that swept the social network TikTok, students promoted school shootings supposedly planned for Dec. 17 — for many, the last day of class before winter break. Schools from Washington, D.C., to California closed for the day or added police. More than 150 threats surfaced nationwide in the week after Oxford, said criminologist

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Flying has become so dangerous for crew members due to attacks by violent passengers that airline unions are asking for government help in bringing civility back to the skies. Mandatory self-defense training, an industrywide "no-fly list" for disruptive passengers, and the end of to-go cups for alcohol are the changes airline crews want so they can stop being afraid to go to work, Axios reports. This year saw a sharp increase in bad behavior among airline passengers. The Federal Aviation Administration reported 5,664 unruly passenger incidents and 4,072 "mask-related incidents" through Dec. 14. "It is a much more difficult work environment for a flight attendant than it was two years ago," said Alaska Airlines senior vice president Diana...

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Los Angeles wallows in the drama of live-broadcast police chases. Dozens of times a year, a desperado takes off in a stolen or getaway vehicle, trailed by a line of flashing lights and sirens and, overhead, a squadron of television station helicopters, reports the Washington Post. Airborne videographers zoom in tight at each intersection, as viewers hold their breath at the chance of a violent crash. The copter cameras swoop in as vehicles roll to a stop, out of gas or limping on tires flattened by spikes thrown by police. Los Angeles has all the trappings to make police chases grand events — eight-lane highways, a flat cityscape, a culture of cars. "The freeway basically touches almost everyone's...

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Public safety officials fear the nation's 911 centers will continue to languish in the analog era, after Democrats slashed proposed funding for a digital makeover in their social spending bill, Axios reports. The potentially life-saving ability for people to send texts, pictures or videos to 911 centers, and for centers to share data seamlessly with each other, remains out of reach for many of the 6,000 centers. The House Energy & Commerce Committee advanced a proposal that would have spent $10 billion on next-generation 911 centers in September, but that funding was reduced to $470 million for deployment in the final House version of the Build Back Better Act. A report to Congress on next-generation 911 from 2018...

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An SUV drove through the barricades of a Milwaukee suburb's parade on Sunday, killing five people and injuring 40 more, the Associated Press reports. One woman shown in a video yelled "Oh my God!" over and over as a young dancing group was struck by the vehicle. A father described going “from one crumpled body to the other” looking for his daughter. The “Dancing Grannies” club was also there and were among those hit. The Waukesha police took a suspect into custody. He was identified as Da rrell Brooks, 39, who has two open criminal cases in Milwaukee County. On Nov. 5, he was is charged with resisting or obstructing an officer, reckless homicide, disorderly conduct, bail jumping...

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Resisting calls for an independent review of what led to the deaths and injuries at the Astroworld music festival, Houston-area officials chose instead to rely on city and county agencies to review security, fire and other safety plans at the county-owned park where the festival was held, the Associated Press reports . Dozens of lawsuits have been filed already over injuries and deaths at the festival founded and headlined by rap superstar Travis Scott.

Harris County's chief executive, County Judge Lina Hidalgo, had proposed a third-party investigation of the planning and execution of the festival, where the entertainment continued during a prolonged crowd surge that killed 10 people and injured hundreds. But other members of the county's governing...

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Closing arguments are set for Monday in the murder trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, the 18-year-old charged in the shootings in Kenosha, Wi., during a summer 2020 protest. Rittenhouse's lawyers rested their case on Thursday after 2 1/2 days of testimony featuring the defendant's tearful claims of self-defense when he shot three men, two fatally, the Associated Press reports . In a case that has stirred debate over vigilantism, gun rights, and the violence that occurred during protests over police violence, the trial was at times a stormy contest in which the state's own witnesses appeared to support Rittenhouse's self-defense claims.

A prosecutor told Judge James Kraus that the state plans to ask the judge...

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Emergency plans for the Astroworld music festival did not include protocols for dangerous crowd surges like the one that unfolded during a rush to see Travis Scott, which left eight people dead and injured hundreds of others, reports the Associated Press. The concert area in Houston where a crush of fans pressed forward during the rapper’s Friday performance remains largely in place as authorities continue a criminal investigation. More than 20 lawsuits have already been filed, accusing organizers of failing to take simple crowd-control steps or staff properly. Houston police, along with the fire department, played a key role in safety measures at the show that drew 50,000 people. The union head...

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Concert organizers and Houston officials knew the crowd at a festival planned by Travis Scott, a favorite local rapper turned megastar, could be difficult to control. That's what happened two years ago when Scott held another Astroworld Festival. For months, they braced themselves, adding dozens more officers from the Houston Police Department and more private security hired by Live Nation, the concert organizer. Houston police chief Troy Finner, who knows Scott personally, visited Scott in his trailer before his show on Friday and conveyed concerns about the energy in the crowd, the New York Times reports. Energy had been building for months among fans who were drawn to see Scott because of that atmosphere and by the...

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Wisconsin prosecutors trying to convict Kyle Rittenhouse of murder have been painting him as an inexperienced teenager who misrepresented his age and medical training to other armed civilians on the night he shot three men during a protest against police brutality last year. Prosecutor Thomas Binger has drawn out testimony in Rittenhouse’s trial from several witnesses, including two military veterans, saying the Illinois teen appeared inexperienced, that he falsely claimed that he was old enough to possess a gun and that he was a certified medic when he was just a lifeguard. One former federal prosecutor not involved in the case said Binger is trying to show jurors that Rittenhouse didn’t know what he was doing and that...

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The U.S. Capitol Police have requested the support of the National Guard on Saturday if events get violent at a rally of demonstrators supporting those arrested in the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, the Washington Post reports. Leading up to the Jan. 6 riot, the Army initially pushed to reject the Washington, D.C., government's request for National Guard presence ahead of that rally. The National Guard was unable to send troops immediately when needed that day, wasting time during a riot where hundreds ransacked the building and forced the evacuation of lawmakers in the worst attack on the Capitol since the War of 1812.

The perimeter fence around the Capitol is being re-installed. The fencing was...

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Last month, a Mobile, Al., resident posted a video on Nextdoor, a social media app that advertises itself as a place for neighbors to connect. The clip, from a home security camera, showed a man—"Race- black Age- teenager or early 20s"—taking a leaf blower from the poster's property. "Let's set up a sting and I will have my AK-47 ready for the next one," a neighbor responded. Mobile residents discussed other suspicious activity on Nextdoor and similar apps. Some posters used barely coded racist language, others mentioned obtaining pistol permits in response to petty thefts or suggested firing warning shots at potential troublemakers, The Markup reports. Neighbors have always peered out their windows at each other. New...

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A federal judge temporarily blocked some authorities from enforcing a key part of the Florida's controversial "anti-riot" bill. The measure was a centerpiece of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' legislative agenda as well as his reelection bid. It had been heavily criticized as a way for police to crack down on racial justice and anti-police brutality demonstrations, reports Politico. The new law is being challenged by a handful of left-leaning organizations, including the NAACP and Dream Defenders, who argue it chills their free speech and right to protest. The legislation increases penalties for already illegal acts like battery committed during a "riot," creates new felonies related to violent protests and allows those arrested while rioting to be held without...

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The operator of a limousine company was spared prison time for a 2018 crash that killed 20 people when catastrophic brake failure sent a stretch limo full of birthday revelers hurtling down a hill in upstate New York , the Associated Press reports. Loved ones of the dead criticized Nauman Hussain, 31, as he sat at the defense table during a hearing held in a high school gymnasium to provide for social distancing among the many relatives, friends and media members attending. Hussain, who operated Prestige Limousine, had originally been charged with 20 counts each of criminally negligent homicide and second-degree manslaughter in the deadliest U.S. transportation disaster in a decade.

Under an agreement for Hussain to...

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As Southwest Flight 700 was landing at San Diego International Airport in May, Vyvianna Quinonez did what passengers are repeatedly told not to do: She pulled down her tray table and unbuckled her seat belt, prosecutors say. After a flight attendant reminded Quinonez to stow away her tray table, buckle her seat belt and wear her mask properly, Quinonez became defiant, said a federal complaint filed this week. She allegedly pushed the flight attendant, grabbed her hair and repeatedly punched her in the face. The flight attendant was taken to the hospital. Three of her teeth were chipped, including two that had to be replaced by crowns. Her left eye was bruised and swollen, and a cut under her eye...

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