Dangerous Cities: The Top 100

Dangerous cities list in America

Recently Alarms.org released their Top 100 Most Dangerous Cities in America list. There were some surprising results and conclusions from this list. Most notably for the State of California is that no city made the list until Number 20.

Income Equality is to Blame

With recent school and mass shootings in the news, one might believe that a contributor to this rash of gun violence might be lax gun laws. However, that’s not the conclusion of this study.

According to Alarms.org, “Where there is a high poverty rate, and little opportunity to earn a decent wage, we find high homicide rates and a prevalence of other types of violent crime.”

The Results

East St. Louis, Illinois was the number one city on this list with 4,888 violent crimes per 100,000 people. The St. Louis suburb has been crime-ridden for decades and, unfortunately, is no stranger to this list.

The remaining cities in the Top 10 include:

  • Darby Borough, Pennsylvania,
  • Opa Locka, Florida,
  • Florida City, Florida,
  • Flint, Michigan,
  • Detroit, Michigan,
  • Saginaw City, Michigan,
  • College Park, Georgia,
  • Prichard, Alabama,
  • West Memphis, Arkansas.

Dangerous Cities In California

The first California metro are to make the Dangerous Cities list comes in at number 20. It is Oakland with 1,734 violent crimes per 100,000 residents.

Number 44 is Emeryville located close to Oakland. It has 1,411 violent crimes per 100,000. Stockton ranks 57with 1,337 and the last California city on this list is Compton at number 79 with 1,195.

Though Compton is just south of Los Angeles, it is worth noting that LA does not appear on this list. Nor does any other suburb of the city.

The Bottom Line

Gun Control advocates will argue that there are not enough strict gun laws on the books right now, which is why we keep seeing incidents of gun violence. But these results do show us something different.

Each of dangerous cities is a poor socio-economic area. That fact has something to do with the amount of gun violence happening within their borders.

Are you looking for solutions to protect your property and employees? Call American Security Force today at 877-722-8585 to learn how we can develop a security plan that fits your needs.

School Shooting: Texas School is the Latest

school shooting in Florida underscores need for security

A school shooting at Santa Fe High School near Houston, Texas has resulted in eight students and two teachers dead and 13 wounded.

Another Deadly School Shooting

17-year-old student Dimitrios Pagourtzis is the suspected shooter. Before school on May 18, he entered his parents’ bedroom and took a shotgun and pistol from the closet, reports SacBee.com.

Dressed in a trench coat, he opened fire on his peers in the art room of his high school shortly after the start of class. NYTimes.com states that his plan was to kill some of his fellow students and then turn the gun on himself. But he chose not to commit suicide.

According to CNN.com, after his arrest Pagourtzis told authorities that he targeted people he didn’t like. He also mentioned that he allowed those he did like to live so that they would tell his story.

A Victim of Bullying

While the motive is not clear, the father of the alleged shooter, Antonios Pagourtzis, commented in an interview that he believes his son was under a lot of pressure. He guessed that something traumatic may have happened that lead to the incident, such as being bullied.

Red Flag Laws

In the wake of the incident, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a supporter of gun rights, is considering “Red Flag” laws for the state. Reuters.com reports it’s a move to keep guns out of the hands of those a judge has already determined to be a danger to themselves.

Abbott formed a panel made up of members from the Texas State Rifle Association and the pro-gun-control Texas Gun Sense. The group discussed mental health issues in schools, safe gun storage in homes and the red flag options.

The Bottom Line

Some districts have adopted security measures after last February’s deadly incident in Parkland, Florida. But not all schools have, nor has there been a nationwide initiative to harden these soft targets.

Physical security personnel and practices need to be put into place at every school in our country to ensure that another school shooting doesn’t happen.

Do you want to protect your workplace and employees? American Security Force can help. Call us today at 855-722-8585 for a security assessment.

School Security: Measures Continue to be Adopted

school security measures are growing across the country

Questions about school security are being asked again after a shooting at a Palmdale, California school last week.

LATimes.com reports that an argument between two 14-year-old students at Highland High School escalated, leaving one shot in the arm. That student is expected to recover. Sheriff’s Deputies responded to the call in significant numbers around 7:05 am and cleared the school.

The fourteen-year-old shooter has been charged with attempted murder.

School Security Measures Continue

Since the Parkland, Florida school shooting in February, districts around the country have been taking steps to make their schools safer. Here is what some districts are doing.

     Armed Teachers in Georgia Schools

In April, Laurens County Schools agreed to train teacher volunteers on how to safely carry guns on school grounds. Now, three more Georgia districts are set to vote on similar steps this month.

     New Threat Alert Phone App Being Used

The system is called In Force, and it ties the administration in schools to police dispatchers and cruisers through the app. Use of the system when there is an active shooter situation can reduce notification times to as little as 12 seconds!

According to SecurityInfoWatch.com, In Force is in use in 60 communities in Massachusetts and has a presence in another 13 or 14 states.

     Internal Security Force in Sarasota

Last month, the Sarasota County School board decided to create its own security department. This was a major shift away from a previous program that used law enforcement officers.

    PA School Safety Plans in Executive Session

A bill in the Pennsylvania legislature would allow school safety plans to be discussed away from the public, in Executive Session. The measure is meant to help school officials who struggle to come up with security procedures for students. It also gives them the opportunity to create plans without continued public scrutiny.

The Bottom Line

While districts are moving toward making their schools safer, the Highland High School shooting illustrates that we still have work to do before all of our schools are safe.

Are you looking for ways to keep your property and employees safe? Call American Security Force at 855-722-8585 to see how we can develop a customized plan to fit your security needs.

Violent Crime Stats for California from 2017

violent crime stats for the first half of 2017

FBI.gov recently released violent crime statistics for the first half of 2017. They show a slight increase in the numbers for both the State of California and the City of Los Angeles.

Violent Crime Definition

The data compares violent crime stats from January to June for the years 2016 and 2017. For this report, the FBI defines a violent crime as an incident of murder, non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery or aggravated assault.

California

In the first half of 2016, there were 79,215 violent crimes committed. That number includes 531 murders, 3,884 cases of rape, 17,674 robberies and 28,563 aggravated assaults.

During January to June 2017 the numbers were slightly higher.   There were 20 more murders across the state, the number of rapes increased to 4,227 and the robbery cases grew to 18,274. Only the incidents of aggravated assault dropped. In the first half of 2017 there were 27,810. Another way to look at it is that in 2016 aggravated assaults accounted for 56.39% of all violent crimes. In 2017 it was 54.68%, a 1.71% drop.

See a comparison of the two years below:

  • January to June                         2016                      2017
    • Murder                                    531                            551
    • Rape                                         3,884                       4,227
    • Robbery                                   17,674                      18,274
    • Aggravated Assault               28,563                     27,810
    • Total Violent Crimes            50,652                      50,862

Los Angeles

In California’s largest city, we experienced an increase in violent crime, as well. In fact, the trends seen at the state level match what was experienced in Los Angles.

The occurrences of murder, rape and robbery all increased in 2017. But the number of aggravated assaults dropped by 33, or from 35.9% to 35.43%.

  • January to June                        2016                       2017
    • Murder                                   135                            138
    • Rape                                        1,176                         1,212
    • Robbery                                  4,943                        5,165
    • Aggravated Assault              7,958                         7,925
    • Total Violent Crimes            22,170                      22,365

The percentage of violent crimes in LA compared to the city’s population was .55% in 2016 and .56% in 2017. For the sake of comparison, the next largest city, San Diego, saw violent crime percentages at .19% in 2016 and .18% a year later.

The Bottom Line

With violent crime figures continuing to rise, it only makes sense to take steps to secure your business, your employees and your loved ones. Call American Security Force at 877-722-8585 and find out how we can secure those things you care most about.

Large Event Security: Measures Being Adopted

Large event security is tightening up

There’s no doubt that the violent, modern world is impacting large event security.

One of the saddest results of active shooter and terror incidents is how it has impacted the experience at large events. Concerts, sporting events and rallies concentrate people together. Because of that, stadiums and arenas have become attractive, soft sites. It’s the job of security professionals to harden these targets, and tightly control who and what enters these venues.

The days when fans could simply bring in bags and walk freely through the gates are long gone.

Notre Dame Tightens Security

SecurityInfoWatch.com reports that the University of Notre Dame is taking steps to increase security at large events with a new policy that only allows clear bags into the events. This will give security personnel the opportunity to see what patrons are bringing into the venue with them.

The measure goes into effect September 1 for the football season opener when the Fighting Irish will play Michigan.

The policy allows for small handheld bags, about the size of a person’s hand. There are strict size restrictions for larger bags, though. Another exception to the rule will be approved medical equipment. These items will be inspected at the gate. Also allowed are seat cushions and cameras or binoculars that are not in a case. Blankets are permitted but will be searched at the time of entry.

The list of banned items includes briefcases, backpacks, camera or binocular cases, computer bags coolers, diaper bags, fanny packs, any type of luggage and purses larger than a clutch bag.

Best Practices for Large Event Security

The adoption of clear bags at venues is actually considered a “Best Practice” by the Command, Control and Interoperability Center for Advanced Data Analysis (CCICADA).

In its report, Best Practices in Anti-Terrorism Security for Sporting and Entertainment Venues Resource Guide, the CCICADA suggests, “Bags brought in by patrons warrant detailed screening and the risk associated with bags may be mitigated by providing clear plastic bags and by implementing bag size restrictions.” These are items that the new Notre Dame policy addresses.

The Bottom Line

The American public has watched in horror since 2001 as active shooter and terror attacks have come to our homeland. Our citizens have been brave and continued on with their lives. But the harsh reality that these attacks could happen anywhere, at any time, makes it a necessity to take steps to increase large event security.

Are you looking to add more security to protect your employees and your property? Call American Security Force today at 855-722-8585 to see how we can help.

Police Killings: Is There a War on Cops?

police killings are on the rise in 2018

The number of police killings is up this year and on track to reach a record high.

Unfortunately, two more police officers were killed by gunfire last week bringing the total for 2018 to 22. That is a disturbing number when you consider that the total for 2017 was 35. Making it worse, we are just starting the second quarter of the year.

If this trend continues, we could see more than 80 cops killed.

Shot for No Apparent Reason

Last week the two sheriffs deputies were killed in Trenton, Florida while sitting in a restaurant. Officials claim that it appears to have been an ambush. The shooting suspect walked up to the building and shot the two through a window around 3pm on Thursday April 19. When law enforcement arrived they found the suspect deceased at the scene.

Police Killings: Is It a War on Cops?

Is there some type of organized war against members of law enforcement? An ambush such as the one in Trenton certainly leads people to wonder if that might be the case.

Lending credence to this idea is the fact that members of the MS-13 gang have been instructed to “take out a cop.” NYPost.com reports that a credible informant told New York area tipped police off that the gang wanted to make “a statement” by killing a cop in the Hempstead, Long Island area.

According to the DailyCaller.com, police in the area have been cracking down on the gang too hard so it was “…time to take the streets back and take out a cop like we do in El Salvador.”

The Bottom Line

According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, the number of law enforcement officers shot to death has fluctuated considerably in the last five years.

  • 2017 – 46
  • 2016 – 64
  • 2015 – 41
  • 2014 – 48
  • 2013 – 32

But the current trend in 2018 raises concerns that police slayings this year could reach a new high. We feel a kinship with law enforcement officers and support them for the dangerous job they do every day.

If you have questions about protecting your property or employees call American Security Force today at 855-722-8585.

School Safety Measures After Parkland

school safety measures after Parkland

Since the Parkland, Florida school shooting in February that resulted in 17 students killed by a former student, it seems like lawmakers and education officials are beginning to take school safety measures to make them more secure.

In response to the tragedy, the Florida legislature passed a bill that would raise the minimum age for purchasing a firearm to 21-years-old. Governor Rick Scott signed the bill into law on March 9.

Congress and President Trump also moved quickly with the signing of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018. The law restores funding for school safety grants. It will supply $75 million in matching grant money for school safety infrastructure, training and technology.

Florida and the federal government are not alone in creating new school safety measures. Here is a sample of some of the changes that are being implemented around the country.

School Safety Measures

Ohio

At the end of February, the Ohio House introduced a bill that would standardize the qualifications for school resource officers. SecurityInfoWatch.com explains that the bill requires officers to have a minimum of 40 hours of training and standardizes the qualifications and the exact duties of a resource officer.

Also in Ohio, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District has implemented a new video surveillance system. The district is the second largest in the state and because of its size, it will require over 5100 cameras. They are meant to be a deterrent to vandalism and violence.

To ensure that there is never a lapse in video coverage due to failing equipment, the automated system that was installed continually checks the camera streams to ensure they are working properly. 

Illinois

A Chicago area school hired three additional security guards. Glenbrook High Schools District 225 planned to have those officers work after school when students are on the grounds participating in athletics and other programs. ChicagoTribune.com reports that the officers will protect buildings and screen people as they come and go from the campus.

Michigan

Democrats in Michigan’s State Senate introduced a number of bills intended to increase school safety. According to SecuriotyInfoWatch.com, the new laws if passed would place more controls on guns. The bills also allot a $100 million investment on school resource officers and provide for additional safety and security measures.

Texas

A Texas school district has chosen to physically fortify their buildings. The Cleveland Independent School District, located just outside of Houston, is installing doorstoppers in every classroom in the district. The barricades are meant to keep an active shooter from entering. In tests, doors equipped with the devices have withstood numerous shots from handguns and rifles.

The Bottom Line

Prior to the Parkland shooting, there seemed to be a reluctant acceptance of school shootings. No organization or legislative body took the lead on this issue, so nothing ever happened to keep these tragedies from happening.

Since Parkland, though, there seems to be new energy toward school safety. If there is anything good that could come from this tragedy, perhaps it is this new dedication to securing our schools.

If you have questions about protecting your property and employees, call American Security Force today at 855-722-8585.

Security Technology Enhances Services

security technology is changing the industry

Security technology is growing at an incredible rate. Gone are the days of a lone security guard with a flashlight patrolling a perimeter and recording observations in a logbook. Today, technology has been widely adopted by the industry.  It improves performance, speeds up reporting and enhances capabilities.

Below are three such technologies that are impacting the industry.

Smartphone Apps

There seem to be smartphone apps for everything today.  That includes security. Apps touch on just about every aspect of the industry.  Consider these two.

     EVERBRIDGE

Everbridge is a location-based alerting system.  It provides real-time monitoring and situational awareness. The Everbridge Event Management Platform helps communications to be quicker and more effective.  It does this by coordinating the command center with security personnel in the field through its smartphone app.

     GUARDTRACK

At American Security Force, our guards use a proprietary smartphone app called GuardTrack. The app allows officers to record an event from wherever they might be. Managers and clients can also see that data in real time.

GuardTrack also allows for live video streaming. That feature gives those in a command position a better idea of what is actually transpiring. The video can also be recorded for documentation purposes.

Video Surveillance

Perhaps the most dynamic area of security technology today is video surveillance. Video has exploded since it moved from analog cameras and recording on tape to digital and IP-based systems.

Modern video systems record in full-color HD and are capable of connecting with cameras through Wi-Fi. These features were considered impossible just 10 years ago.

But perhaps the most intriguing part of today’s video surveillance systems is their pairing with artificial intelligence (AI). SecurityInfoWatch.com reports that advanced algorithms can extract data from what the video system “sees.” The AI can be trained to perform functions and because it is “intelligent,” it will improve over time.

Audio

Audio is also emerging as a new security technology. New audio platforms are handling everything from sounding alarms to verifying gunshot sounds. Some can even detect growing aggression in individuals.

According to SecurityInfoWatch.com, advanced audio provides indicators that show an event is in progress.  These systems can also help verify that the event is real. In some cases, it can be more effective than video.  It can pick up what might be out of the visual range of a camera. This type of verification can save time and money if the emergency ends up being a false alarm.

Audio adds an additional layer to detection and prevention.

Security Technology: The Bottom Line

As technology continues to advance, the security industry will benefit from it. New, valuable tools will help security professionals protect property and keep our clients safe.

If you want to learn more about how security technology can keep your business and employees from harm, call American Security Force at 855-722-8585.

YouTube Shooting: Another Case of Workplace Violence

YouTube shooting is more workplace violence

A 39-year-old YouTube creator became frustrated over recent changes by the service. That anger resulted in Tuesday’s YouTube shooting.

The Details

ABCNews.go.com reports that Nasim Najafi Aghdam was a content creator on YouTube. She made money from the videos she posted there. Recently, the video service changed its filters and the number of Aghdam’s viewers dropped.

Aghdam grew angry and blamed YouTube for censoring her content and not paying her for her videos. Rather than take the changes in stride, though, left San Diego, driving north to Mountain View, California, the home of YouTube.

Sometime during the morning of Tuesday April 3 Aghdam visited a gun range and then left for the video channel’s headquarters. She parked behind another business and accessed the YouTube building through the parking garage. That’s when she opened fire, wounding four people.

Aghdam then shot and killed herself.

Police Talked with Her Before the YouTube Shooting

Ironically, police talked with Aghdam just eleven hours before the shooting. CNN reports that Mountain View police found her sleeping in her car around 1:40am early Tuesday morning. She was parked about 30 miles from the YouTube headquarters.

Police discovered she had been reported missing by her family after they ran her license plate. While checking up on her, they found Aghdam to be “calm and cooperative.”

The Bottom Line

The YouTube shooting is another example of workplace violence. This one just happened to be a higher profile target. But it proves the point yet again that businesses need to conduct security audits and improve those areas that are vulnerable.

We live in an angry world and it doesn’t look like these types of events will end anytime soon.

If you want to take steps to protect your employees and your business, call American Security Force today at 855-722-8585. We can develop a detailed security plan that addresses your needs.

Suspicious Packages: What To Do

suspicious packages represent danger to us all

Residents in Austin, Texas are concerned that suspicious packages could be hiding bombs around their city.

For three weeks, a serial bomber in that city terrorized citizens. FoxNews.com reports that six different explosions resulted in the deaths of two people. On March 21 the bomber blew himself up after being chased by police.

Now the identity of the bomber has been revealed: 23-year-old Mark Anthony Conditt. But law enforcement and residents are still concerned about the possibility f other explosive devices that haven’t been found yet.

What To Do With Suspicious Packages

While the likelihood of finding a package with a bomb inside is remote, the Austin Bomber illustrates that it is possible. So what can citizens do to protect themselves from these types of incidents?

The first thing you can do is to be vigilant. Pay attention to your surroundings. If you see suspicious packages or parcels that appear out of place, do not approach. Instead, move away to a safe area and call 911 to report it.

It’s important that you do not call while you are near the package. If there is an explosive device inside, your phone’s RF signal could possibly set it off.

You should also keep other people away from the package and if possible, evacuate the area. Don’t activate any switches or fire alarms in the vicinity of the package, either. If there is a device, it could be wired to those and activating them could cause the bomb to explode.

What To Do After An Explosion

If there is an explosion and you are inside a building and can leave safely, do so. You should also direct those around you to leave, as well. Keep everyone calm and speak in a confident voice. You don’t want others to panic.

If you can’t leave, then assume there is another device. Stay away from windows and find a sturdy table and take cover under it. If possible, call 911 and follow their instructions. While you are in the building, do not light matches. There could be a gas leak and an open flame could cause another explosion.

If you need to go down to the first floor, take the stair. Don’t try to use the elevators.

The Bottom Line

In today’s dangerous world of active shooters and serial bombers, knowledge can save lives. Understanding how to proceed when suspicious packages are found or what to do after an explosion, can be what ensures your survival and of those around you.

If you have questions about protecting your property or employees, call American Security Force at 855-722-8585.