One of the Ferguson Protesters Was Arrested for Something Called a "Sidewalk Use Violation." What's That?

Categories: Public Safety

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Jana Jackson
Protesters march down Main Street downtown Tuesday night.
Until the very end, Tuesday night's demonstration in Dallas against the grand jury's decision in the Ferguson case was uneventful. Marchers congregated at Dallas Police Department headquarters in the Cedars then walked through downtown to protest the grand jury's decision not to indict Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson for killing unarmed teenager Mike Brown.

"Tonight I'm somewhat numb, but I'm also saddened," Michael Bowie Jr., new senior pastor of St. Luke Community United Methodist Church in Dallas told The Dallas Morning News at the protest. "First it was Trayvon [Martin], now it's Michael Brown. And it's sad that killing of black males is justified and legal."

At about 9:15 p.m., however, as the protest wound down, a small group stopped traffic on Interstate 35E near downtown, shutting down the freeway until police came to clear the roadway, which was reopened by about 11 p.m..

No one was injured, but KXAS reported that many protesters were almost struck by motorists before the freeway was shut down.



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If You Have a Security Camera, You Should Change Your Default Password. Now.

Categories: Public Safety

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Insecam.com Screenshot
There are 40 more pages of Dallas-based cameras.
Insecam is a super-creepy Moscow-based website that is currently streaming footage from 73,000 unsecured IP cameras. The site says it's doing it to promote security -- it is able to access the cameras because their owners never changed their default password -- but clearly has revenue-generating ads.

There are feeds from every state, multiple foreign countries and, as you can see from pages 408 to 449 of the United States section, 243 from Dallas.

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Dallas Councilman Tennell Atkins Helped His Son Launch an Unlicensed Private Security Company

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Patrick Michels
Dallas City Councilman Tennell Atkins
During a seven-year law enforcement career as a Dallas County deputy constable and Dallas City marshal, Tyler Atkins says he protected the public from fake security guards.

"I used to take people to jail who used to run security companies without a license," he says.

But for the past several months, it appears that Atkins, the 32-year-old son of Dallas City Council member Tennell Atkins, was doing just that. His company, Dallas Shield Inc., has been providing security guards for University General Hospital in Oak Cliff for the past several months, despite lacking the proper license from the Texas Department of Public Safety's Private Security Bureau. The company has applied for a license, but its application is listed as "incomplete" by DPS. According to the department, companies with incomplete licenses cannot legally operate.

Under state law, operating a security company without a license is a class A misdemeanor, which carries a maximum one year in jail and a $4,000 fine.

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Few of Dallas' Cops Live in the City, and Chief Brown Says They Should Know More about It

Categories: Public Safety

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Can Turkyilmaz
Police Chief David Brown asked the community to help him create programs to teach officers the history of Dallas.
At the latest town hall meeting held by District Attorney Craig Watkins, Dallas Police Chief David Brown, speaking to a primarily black crowd, said a program to educate young officers about the police department's history with the city was in the works. He seemed to think it was badly needed.

"I'm a fourth-generation Dallasite," Brown said, "so I know a lot about Dallas that I just don't believe our young cops that patrol your neighborhoods know. Many cops don't know anything about Santos Rodriguez, even though everybody from Dallas knows about Santos Rodriguez."

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According to the Deep Web, ISIS May Be Encouraging Really Lame Attacks in Texas

Categories: Public Safety

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Wiki Commons User Hazmat2 via the U.S. State Department
The kind of stuff that makes it on ISIS forums, apparently.
Vocativ, a website that claims to publish "news from the deep web," has a post up showing pipe-bomb making instructions and suggested targets, including several tourist sites in Texas.

The bombs are all standard, Anarchist Cookbook-style stuff. The forums discuss using powdered chlorine as a chemical element in the bombs, but, frankly, bleach isn't nearly as intimidating as having an AK-47 waved in your face while ordering a burrito, so I think we'll manage.

See also: NRA Calls Texas Open Carry Protests "Downright Weird" and "Just Not Neighborly"

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The Game "Fugitive" Probably Won't Kill Your Children, Despite What You Read in the Media

Categories: Public Safety

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Library of Congress
Your great-grandparents playing in the street as kids. They were probably playing tag.
Kids chase each other. They have probably have chased each other since man could walk upright on two legs. Maybe it's some sort of Darwinian survival-of-the-fittest struggle. However you look at it, kids have always chased and ran away from each other.

A game of tag recently ended very badly for one girl in Fort Worth. Ashlee Aguilera, 15, was playing a variation called fugitive with her friends on Friday night when she was struck by a car. She is in the intensive care unit in a Fort Worth hospital.

It was a terrible accent and an obvious sign -- another one -- that today's youths are a reckless band of death cultists who will throw their lives away at the drop of a hat unless parents wake up.

Or so you'd think if you read the recent column in the Dallas Morning News that breathlessly warned clueless parents about their kids' peril.

"'Fugitive' is a dangerous game that landed Fort Worth teen in ICU," the paper proclaims. The column makes fugitive sound like some new crazy kid fad, like the latest way teens are getting high off cleaning supplies.

I played played fugitive several times growing up in North Texas, so allow me to explain it to you: It's an extended game of tag. And between sneaking booze from your liquor cabinet, attending pill parties or playing football, your kids could do a lot worse.

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Dallas Police's Final, Fatal Encounter with a Schizophrenic

Categories: Public Safety

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Google Maps
The 200 block of Glencairn Drive, the site of the latest shooting between Dallas cops and a mentally ill man.

UPDATED OCTOBER 6, 2014: Jason Harrison's Father Sues Dallas and the Police Officers Who Killed His Son

ORIGINAL POST: To neighbors and family, it was obvious that Jason Harrison was mentally ill, even if the legal system kept treating him like someone who wasn't. The last time his mother called for the cops to come to their home in Oak Cliff was this past Saturday afternoon. He seemed agitated, standing in the street, according to a neighbor, and something that looked like it might be a weapon was in his pocket. "We could see the handle of it sticking out," the neighbor told Unfair Park. It was a screwdriver. Harrison's mother called 911 and asked for a speciality team to come and take her son to Parkland hospital.

Instead, at some point after the cops arrived, neighbors say, they heard three gunshots. The Dallas Police Department blog published a post on Saturday saying that Harrison "made an aggressive act towards one of the officers with the screwdriver," and so both officers fired, killing him. He was 38.

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Right to Remain Silent: Is Dallas' New Police Shooting Guideline Good Policy or Double Standard?

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On October 14, Bobby Bennett was scooting across a cul-de-sac in an office chair in front of two advancing Dallas police officers. He held a knife, but he stood flat-footed, his arms at his sides, a safe distance from the cops. Seconds later, Officer Cardan Spencer inexplicably opened fire. Bennett doubled over, hit in the gut.

Bennett, a press release later claimed, was "acting violent." An aggravated assault charge followed.

The release of footage from a home surveillance camera completely contradicted the official story, which was apparently based on the recollection of Spencer's partner, Officer Christopher Watson. Shortly after the shooting, he claimed Bennett moved on them, knife raised.

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West, Texas Blast Was Caused By an Arsonist, Electrical Short or Golf Cart, Officials Say

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NBC 5
State Fire Marshal Chris Connealy at this afternoon's press conference.
The Morning News broke the news this morning that officials had narrowed the cause of last month's deadly West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion to one of three things: a golf cart, an electrical short, or criminal activity. That wasn't terribly narrow, but there was a press conference scheduled this afternoon, so we thought investigators might be more specific.

They didn't.

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In the Wake of Kaufman Slayings, Dallas County Prosecutors Encouraged to Ammo Up

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@KenKatlthoffNBC5
First Assistant DA Heath Harris speaking to reporters about increased security measures at his office.
The murder this weekend of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, two months after assistant DA Mark Hasse was gunned down in broad daylight, has Texas prosecutors on high alert.

The Associated Press reports today that district attorneys throughout the state are taking extra precautions as they head back to work after the Easter weekend. In Houston, Harris County DA Mike Anderson and his family now have round-the-clock security and is looking at how to beef up security at the office.

District Attorney Craig Watkins does not yet have a personal body guard, at least not so far as we can tell. At a press conference today, first assistant DA Heath Harris provided few specifics about efforts to protect Watkins and his staff, citing security concerns.

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