Southern California Public School System’s Increase Security

Several schools in Southern California have been victims of mass school shootings in recent years. In 2014 the University of California Santa Barbara a student killed six and injured 14 before taking his own life. Similar incidents occurred at Los Angeles High school in 2012 and Gardena High school in 2011. Apart from government efforts to improve gun laws several public school system’s have taken it upon themselves to adjust safety precautions.

 

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Gardena High school has experienced this frightful event two times, once in 2002 and the other in 2011. Gardena High math teacher, Mrs. Anagu has seen how this affected the school’s security over time. “We have cameras in classrooms and hallways which I pull student’s attention to. I like students to know we are being watched. Drop down drills and lockdowns are also enforced if there are police activities around school.” said Anagu.

The staff and faculty have made it a priority to be extra attentive of students and the classroom environments they provide. “I am now very careful to keep classroom conversations focused on classwork and the curriculum, no side bars. I am also mindful of awkward behaviors of students or anybody in the classroom.” said Anagu.

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Another math teacher who was working at the time of both shootings recalls the events and the lasting impact they left. Due to privacy reasons and school regulations regarding the press, he asked to be anonymous. “I’ve been a teacher here for more than 15 years and recently we have been instructed to stand by our classroom doors during passing periods in order to report any suspicious activity” he said. Unfortunately after reaching out the Los Angeles Unified School District’s media relations never responded.

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Courtesy of csba.org

According to csba.org there have been 59 K-12 school shootings in California since the year 1992, resulting in a total of 56 casualties. Out of those 59 shootings 12 are reported to have occurred before or after school on school grounds. Unfortunately it is difficult to prevent these types of occurrences, which is why many schools encourage teachers to invest time in their students. “Could someone had done something or said something to have stopped these incidents in time? The depths of my thoughts concerning the waste of human life can never be put into words” said Anagu.

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Warren High School located in Downey has never experienced this national tragedy but has been faced with threats in the past. “Last year we had a student threaten to bring a gun to school and commit an act of violence. The young man posted a message on his social media that caught the school’s attention. Students and parents were advised immediately and the school was equipped with police officers the very next day ready to arrest the student” said Spanish teacher Jay Waldren.

The Press Telegram reported the ninth grade student posted “theres gonna be a shooting” on his Instagram account. The student also claimed this would occur on March 20th of 2015. Students from the school quickly noticed the post and shared it with classmates. Nicole Romero is one of many students from Warren High School who saw this post. “This is something that you think will never happen to you, I heard about this post and told my mom she was so scared she didn’t send me to school that day. I am kind of glad the school administrators here are really nosy and on top of things. I guess since you never know what can happen they just want to make sure we are careful” said junior Nicole Romero.

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Bianca Favela is a student who has since then graduated but attended the school at the time this threat was made. “I actually didn’t go to school that day because I was scared something was going to happen. I read in the news that this threat was supposed to be a joke but I don’t know why anyone would joke about this especially when people have actually lost loved ones in school shootings” said Bianca Favela.

According to the Press Telegram’s report the Downey Police released the student that same day pending legal proceedings at a juvenile courthouse in the area. Police found the student’s remarks were intended as a joke. Public relations coordinator for the Downey Unified School District, Ashley Greaney explained how facilities is in charge of facilities. Nothing major was done as a direct response to this specific incident,  additional security was imposed due to a general need.

Schools such as Gardena High School and others have taken the measures necessary to provide a safe learning environment. This change in their security has been a result of criminal offenses on campus or recent increase in violent school crimes in society. There are different kinds of security measures used in America’s public schools, two mentioned previously are security cameras and communication between parents, teachers and students.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics the percentage of school’s that used one or more security cameras in the years 2013-14 was 75 percent whereas 2009-10 where it was 61 percent. Also the amount of schools that had an anonymous threat reporting system and electronic notification system in case of emergencies was significantly higher as well. Other safety practices implemented in 2013-14 was control of access to school buildings and requiring staff to wear badges or picture IDs. The restriction of cell phone use during school hours was also one that more schools began to push.

Last October we saw president Obama overcome by grief and shaken up by the Umpqua Community College shooting in Roseburg, Oregon. After this specific incident Obama took time to address the nation. “Each time this happens, I am going to say we are going to have to do something about it. And we are going to have to change our laws.” said President Obama. Unfortunately mass shootings specifically in public schools has been a recurrent crime over the past few years.

According to a report by CNN’s Stephen Collinson, Obama has made over 15 addresses regarding mass shootings during his time in office. This type of crime has made headlines many times but the public has yet to see a direct response. Collinson wrote, “Obama gave no details of a new push to get gun laws and legislation requiring more comprehensive background checks through Congress. And it appears unlikely he will be successful in forging any type of gun legislation before he leaves the White House in January 2017.”

There has been much debate on the amount of security that should be allowed at our public schools in light of this national tragedy. Suggestions that have been mentioned include arming teachers, placed armed guards in every school building, locking down the school with bullet-proof glass and training faculty and staff on what to do during an attack.

The Post Star reports on the need for a balanced approach when dealing with school security especially in a time when school budgets are tight. This report also stresses the idea that most school were not designed with security in mind much less a system that is specific for attacks. Advancing security was not the only response by the public school systems. Many schools now come equipped with a counseling center specifically for when tragedies like this occur. For more information on this issue theiacp.org offers a guide for preventing and responding to school violence.

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Here’s $1million, Now Unlock This Phone

According to Fox News, FBI director James Comey is giving us the latest on the San Bernardino attacker’s phone. Unlike updates on your phone this update required a $1 million fee. It seems the FBI paid $1 million for technology that would unlock the San Bernardino attacker’s iPhone 5C.

Gunman Syed Farook was the former owner of the phone which has had Apple in a debate with the FBI due to it’s encryption regulations. This Thursday the FBI director made this announcement at a “moderate discussion” in London. Fox News claims Comey used phrases such as “a lot” or “more than I will make in the remainder of this job” when asked how much was spent to unlock the phone.

Fox News fact checked these statements and learned that the director stands to earn about $1.34 million during his remaining time in office. Although the director admitted this is not the preferred route he wished to take in uncovering the crime this purchase was well worth it. Justice Department officials are still unsure if the FBI will reveal the tools used to unlock Syed Farook’s phone.

Charges Are Dropped From 2012 Platform Fire

Back in 2012 three people were killed in an oil platform fire that happened off the Louisiana coast. Four years later a federal judge has decided to throw out a majority of criminal charges against companies and employees. However some  serious charges connected to the fire do remain.

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(Courtesy of Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

The platform where the fire broke out belonged to Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations LLC. Grand Isle Shipyards and Wood Group PSN are two companies that did work on the platform and are having charges dropped. ABC News reports that these charges did involve some sort of safety and inspection requirement. Although these charges are being dropped the two companies are still  being charged for involuntary manslaughter.

All defendants are being charged with Clean Water Act Violations as well. In 2013 a report was released which concluded the blast derived from a variety of safety lapses. The criminal case is set to appear before  Judge Jane Triche Milazzo on  January 17.

Barack Obama- White House: Analysis

On November 20, 2014 president Barack Obama addressed the Nation in Cross Hall of the White House. The president took this time to give a speech on the U.S. Immigration Policy and inform Americans of what is currently taking place to redress the issue.

The Immigration Issue

Claim 1: “For more than 200 years, our tradition of welcoming immigrants from around the world has given us a tremendous advantage over other nations.”

U.S. News and World Report found that although this country was built and settled by immigrants, there is little indication that the U.S had a welcoming reaction to immigrants. A perfect example of this were slaves, people who were immigrants against their will, taken from their homelands to serve others.

According to U.S. News this country was also known for enlisting immigrants to “test out living in the unconquered West,” which sounds less like an invitation and more like employment.

Claim 2: “Today, we have more agents and technology deployed to secure our southern border than at any time in our history.”

A report by dhs.gov titled “Border Security in the 21st Century” confirms this statement with a breakdown of the $3.5 million budget spent on border patrol as of 2014.

This report claims a total 20,833 agents working to secure borders, approximately 18,127 of those agents belong to the southern border whereas only 8,619 managed that same border in the year 2000.

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Courtesy of U.S. News

Since the year 2000 the amount of fence covered by border patrol has increased from 77 miles to 700 miles in 2014. About 11,863 underground sensors and 8 unmanned Aerial systems have been added since 2000. Also over the course of 4 years more than 50 aircrafts and vessels have been added to secure the borders of the U.S. This is just a few of the countless upgrades that have been made over the years.

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Courtesy of dhs.gov

Claim 3: “And over the past six years, illegal border crossings have been cut by more than half.”

According to the Washington Post the nation’s population of illegal immigrants has dropped by 1 million since 2007. Factcheck.org also claims southwest border apprehensions are down by 32 percent since 2008.

These claims cannot be proven exactly due to the lack of statistics but the U.S. Customs and Border Protection has found the amount of border apprehensions has decreased by about half in the past five years, so it seems President Obama may have exaggerated a bit.

Claim 4: “Although this summer, there was a brief spike in unaccompanied children being apprehended at our border, the number of such children is now actually lower than it’s been in nearly two years.”

Newsbusters.org reaffirms the truth behind the spike in unaccompanied children apprehended at the border however this spike was not “brief.” The number of unaccompanied children has been on a rise since 2011, that year about 16,000 children were caught crossing the border alone. Border Patrol reported more than 24,000 children in 2012 and more than 38,800 in 2013.

The International Business Times also reported about 68,541 children were apprehended in 2014,  the year this speech was given.

Claim 5: “Overall, the number of people trying to cross our border illegally is at its lowest level since the 1970s.”

Politifact.com claims this statement is half true because the statistics of people who failed and succeeded in crossing the border is not maintained by the federal government, the exact numbers are unavailable.

However research from Border Patrol Data proves Obama’s numbers to be pretty accurate. About 420,000 illegal immigrants were arrested at the border in 2013; 1972 was the last time it was lower than that.

Politifact.com also points out that this comparison is unfair seeing that the immigration situation now is much different than that of the 1970s, when attempts to cross the border were much easier.

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Furthermore this source explains the conflict with Obama taking credit for the numbers since the trend occurred before he took office and is also dependent on economic conditions.

The Proposed Bill

Claim 5: “Meanwhile, I worked with Congress on a comprehensive fix, and last year, 68 Democrats, Republicans, and independents came together to pass a bipartisan bill in the Senate…But for a year and a half now, Republican leaders in the House have refused to allow that simple vote.”

According to the International Business Times in April 2013 the Senate passed a bipartisan proposal that would increase border patrol, permit more work related immigration and provide a clear way to citizenship for the undocumented who have already been living in the U.S for some time. The bill however was declined in the House of Representatives when Republican House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor claimed this a form of “amnesty” by Obama.

Outcomes

Claim 8: “That’s why, over the past six years, deportations of criminals are up 80 percent.”

According to Factcheck.org an independent analysis of deportation data found that the majority of these removals were individuals “whose most serious conviction was an immigration or traffic violation.” The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) shows that the number of people deported for crimes other than immigration or traffic violations has actually decreased.

To be fair Obama is telling the truth about the increase of criminal deportations however most are not serious crimes as he has made it out to be.
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Claim 9: “Our history and the facts show that immigrants are a net plus for our economy and our society.”

This was one of Obama’s final claim  which gained a lot of attention and may in fact be true. The New York Times Magazine wrote an article in which they discuss the few “undeniable” negative effects of Immigration as well as the large  positive impact on both the economy  and society.

The Social Security Administration declare that undocumented worker contribute $15 billion a year to Social Security by means of payroll taxes.

Undocumented workers have also contributed  to 10 percent of the $2.7 trillion Social Security Trust Fund over the past few years. Another statistic from this article states that undocumented workers have increased legal workers’ pay by up to 10 percent between the years 1990 and 2007.

Overall Obama’s speech claims are mostly true when examined on the surface. As you dig deeper into the facts and statistics one will find that these claims may not be in the correct context or are a tad exaggerated. However unlike other politicians it seems there is some basic research and preparation that has gone into his speech beforehand.

Don’t Forget Your Bomb on the School Bus

A report from npr.org describes an explosive material left on a school bus in Loudoun County, Virginia. Now we all know kid’s forget lunches, jackets and even backpacks on school buses but not the CIA, they forget something more important than homework. According to the agency and sheriff’s office, this occurred after a training exercise with local law enforcement.

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Courtesy of Wikipedia.org (not actual bus)

And if you thought it couldn’t get any worse think again. The sheriff’s office stated that the bus transported students to a high school and two elementary schools for two days before the material was found during a “routine maintenance check”. The school district claims this particular bus made eight runs carrying 26 students for 145 miles. The schools visited were Rock Ridge High School, Buffalo Trail Elementary School, and Pinebrook Elementary School.

Now for the question everyone is wondering, how did this happen? This dangerous blunder occurred during a regular joint exercise to train explosive sniffing dogs. This exercise took place at Briar Woods High School during the students’ spring break. An official statement by the sheriff’s office was released explaining the whole incident. To summarize, during the outside portion of the training this material was hidden in the engine compartment of a bus that’s when a piece somehow fell off the material therefore when they retrieved the explosive they unknowingly left behind that portion. And finally to ease everyone’s mind a bit this material was described as “stable” and “benign” and the sheriff’s office reassured parents students were not in danger.