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Canine Evidence

- The Supreme Court ruled in Florida v. Harris that drug- or bomb-detection dogs can give police probable cause to search private property if they alert officers to potential illegal activities and are properly trained.

Officer Oversight

- The Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Protective Service, which contracts approximately 13,500 security officers at federal facilities, was found to lack oversight procedures in training officers for active-shooter scenarios and x-ray scanner usage in a report by the GAO.

Data Breaches

- In 2012, federal agencies reported 22,156 data breaches, an increase of 111 percent from 2009. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that while most federal agencies have policies for responding to a data breach, all of those policies are different. The GAO made 23 recommendations to update and standardize federal agency response.

Religious Discrimination

- A federal court has awarded a former security officer more than $50,000 in back wages and attorney’s fees after he was fired for refusing to shave his beard as requested by his employer. The officer kept his beard closely cropped but maintained that the beard was part of his religious observance. The court found that the company’s request was religious discrimination.

Staffing

-  After Idaho brought a lawsuit over excessive violence at the Idaho Correctional Center, Corrections Corporation of American (CCA) agreed to maintain adequate security staff. A federal court has ruled that there is still “a persistent failure to fill required mandatory positions, along with a pattern of CCA staff falsifying records to make it appear that all posts were filled.” CCA must now submit to an independent monitor and report regularly to the court. The court also established a fine of $100 for every hour that a mandatory post is vacant after a grace period of 12 hours.

Medical Identity Theft

- Medical identity theft occurs when personal information is used by unauthorized individuals to obtain medical care, buy drugs, or submit fake billings to Medicare or insurance companies. A new survey from the Ponemon Institute and the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance looks at the scope of the problem. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Tips also provides tips on protecting your medical identity.

Employment

- In a recent court case, an employer was found liable for a car accident caused by an employee because the employee was required to use her personal vehicle for work-related trips. 

Corporate Reputation Protection

- The Reputation Institute, which focuses on helping organizations build and secure their reputations, annually compiles a list of the top 100 most reputable companies in the world based on a range of criteria. Check out the 2013 Global RepTrak Study to see which businesses made the cut.

Retaliation

- Federal courts have issued two recent opinions on the retaliation provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act. These provisions protect whistleblowers who report wrongdoing to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In one case, the court ruled that the provisions do not apply outside the United States. The other decision found that employees can be covered by the provision even if they are terminated before reporting to the SEC.

Homeland Security Spending

- A Government Accountability Office report details a variety of Department of Homeland Security programs that fight transnational crime by bolstering the security capacity of partner nations. DHS spent $451 million on these programs in 2012, but the GAO says the department must establish clearer priorities and better ways to track whether program spending was directed in ways that were optimal for furthering those priorities.

Whistleblowers

- A New Jersey jury has awarded a lab technician more than $2 million after he was terminated over a whistleblower complaint. The technician had complained to senior managers about insufficient blood bank staffing and procedures. Issues such as failure to have skilled technicians on staff violated state law. After the technician complained, he was subjected to unfair discipline and was then fired.  

NSA Surveillance

- A federal judge has ordered the White House to declassify all of the legal opinions issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court after May 2011 that relate to Section 215 of the Patriot Act. In a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the judge noted that the disclosures made by Edward Snowden require greater transparency and that disclosure of the opinions is necessary for an informed debate on the issue of government surveillance and privacy.  

Border Security

- A border patrol agent violated the Fourth Amendment when he answered a suspect’s phone and impersonated the suspect, even though the suspect had given the agent permission to search the phone.  
 




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