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by CSO Contributor

Industry, Agencies Unprepared to Prevent or Respond to Chemical Disaster; NYC Crime Rate Still Falling; British Police to Sign Up Special IT Constables; SARS Still Troubles Toronto and Reaches N.C.

Jun 10, 20033 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

Industry, Agencies Unprepared to Prevent or Respond to Chemical Disaster

A story in The Charlotte Observer reports that a state-by-state analysis from the nonprofit, nonpartisan Trust for America’s Health says a significant majority of labs don’t have the equipment or skills to identify a broad range of potential chemical weapons. For example, only two states have the capacity to test for cyanide, although it is commercially available or found naturally in 41 states. Meanwhile, experts say, security at commercial chemical plants remains poor. More legislation is afoot in Congress but again is slowed by disagreement. NYC Crime Rate Still FallingNew York Times, Mayor Michael Bloombergs administration says the credit should go to a series of highly selective crime-fighting initiatives that has won significant victories in the streets. Operation Impact, for example, redeployed 800 police officers into 61 crime pockets around the city. Operation Spotlight targets a small group of chronic misdemeanor offenders who commit a disproportionate share of crimes and sends them to a special court for stricter sentencing. According to the Times Bloomberg has been able to keep the crime rate shrinking by keeping the key Giuliani-era crime fighting program, Compstat, a system that uses data to measure where crime is most persistent. But the Bloomberg team has taken Compstat even further, using the statistics to sharpen its crime-fighting focus beyond merely making more arrests.

Statistics show that crime in New York City has continued to decrease, despite peoples fears that a tight budget, antiterrorism expenses and the departure of a famously tough mayor would mean crime would be on the rise. According to a story in todays

British Police to Sign Up Special IT, the plan comes amid renewed calls from police, industry and the Crown Prosecution Service to give police stronger powers to seize evidence from computer criminals, and to increase maximum sentences for basic hacking offenses. Officials believe that special constables could be one answer to the problem of limited police resources. Prosecutions are often hindered by poor evidence of computer crime.

The British government will ask IT professionals to join the police force as special constables to help police track down hackers and virus writers, if plans for a new national computer crime strategy being considered in Whitehall get the go-ahead. According to

SARS Still Troubles Toronto and Reaches N.C.Toronto Star today, a new potential cluster of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) came to light as officials in the United States confirmed a man in North Carolina who visited Toronto has SARS. Evidence the disease is spreading, along with confirmation of exported cases, are two key criteria for a World Health Organization travel advisory. The SARS outbreak has hurt the city’s economy and damaged Canada’s international reputation as a vacation destination. Last week, the federal government announced $17.5 million in funding to promote Toronto and Canada as safe tourist destinations in the wake of the disease. The Raleigh News & Observer also reports today about the confirmed case of SARS in a man who recently returned from visiting a sick relative in a Toronto hospital. He is the eighth person in the United States to have a bona fide case of the respiratory illness, officials said yesterday. According to The News & Observer, the man was considered a probable case last week. He is being isolated at home, and his family is under quarantine, as are employees of a doctor’s office who came in contact with him when he arrived for his appointment.

According to a story in the