News Round Up

May 2021 – Top News in the Security and Risk Industry and Grants

June 10, 2021 | 4 min read
Top News in the Security and Risk Industry May 2020

There’s a lot going on in the world of physical risk and vulnerability; it’s nearly impossible to keep up with the latest news and developments. We’ll keep you informed with the best content to keep your organization safe and secure. Check out the top news and headlines from the past month.

Mask Or No Mask? Confusion Persists As Businesses Decide On Policies

From NPR: Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Michigan has been at the center of the mask-wearing debate, and it intensified after hundreds of residents flooded the Michigan State Capitol to protest the governor's stay-at-home orders and mask mandates. Today the decision to wear or not wear a mask is seen in Michigan by many as a political statement. While state regulators are planning to update COVID-19 workplace regulations to be consistent with guidance from the CDC, Michigan businesses are still required to have employees wear masks regardless of their vaccination status. The mixed messages at the state and federal level have put some businesses in the “unfortunate position of being the mask police," say local business owners.

Our take: Masks have become a hot button issue over the last year, but the fact of the matter is, establishments need to enforce state mask mandates at their places of business if required, or they’ll face legal consequences. For those businesses, it’s not a political issue. This is safety and compliance with the law. Mandates will begin to be lifted as the number of infections and deaths reduce. It is a matter of time and patience.

California transit worker kills 9, extending U.S. mass shooting epidemic

From Reuters: A California transit employee killed nine co-workers before taking his own life on Wednesday May 26, the latest in a spate of deadly U.S. mass shootings, prompting the state's governor to ask: "What the hell is wrong with us?" The United States saw at least 200 mass shootings in the first 132 days of this year, according to a report by the Gun Violence Archive, a non-profit research group.

Our take: The epidemic of mass shootings shows no sign of slowing down, unfortunately, and it’s fueled by the mental health issues of the pandemic. COVID-19 and the isolation of lockdown has worsened mental health in the U.S., and as people start gathering in public places again, we need to step in and help those with mental health problems before even more incidents occur.

U.S. announces new security directives for pipelines after hack

From Reuters: The Department of Homeland Security issued a new security directive for pipeline owners and operators on Thursday after a hack of the Colonial Pipeline disrupted fuel supplies in the southeastern United States for days this month.

Our take: We’re always taken aback when our critical infrastructure is at risk, but often the utilities we rely on most – electricity, water, or gas — aren’t in compliance with the latest security standards. We’re glad to see DHS raising standards for pipeline owners so we don’t experience another hack.

Former San Antonio law firm employee pleads guilty to stealing around $1.7 million

From Security Magazine: A former bookkeeper and financial manager for a San Antonio private law firm, Shelton & Valadez, admitted to stealing approximately $1,696,996 from the law firm’s account. The woman, who worked for the law firm between August 2011 and February 2020, pled guilty to three counts of wire fraud and one count of bank fraud. Her duties included issuing business credit cards to employees and closing those business credit card accounts when an employee separated from the firm. She admitted that from 2012 to 2020, she used three office credit cards assigned to employees or former employees to make non-firm related purchases totaling over $1.2 million. She also stole an estimated $417,000 by fraudulently withdrawing from the firm’s operating bank account about 200 times during a two-year period beginning in January 2018. She disguised those withdrawals in the firm’s ledger as vendor payments.

Our take: It’s often the threats you’re not prepared for that cost your business the most. While most businesses think of theft as something that comes from outside an organization, insider threats, like the bookkeeper in the story above, can do much more damage over a longer period of time than a simple smash and grab. We want to trust our employees, but when your security is assessed, make sure you’re also looking at the possibility of theft from the inside of your organization.

May Top Security Grants

Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS): The COPS Office School Violence Prevention Program (SVPP) provides funding directly to states, units of local government, Indian tribes, and their public agencies to improve security at schools and on school grounds in the recipient’s jurisdiction through evidence-based school safety programs. Applications due: June 14

Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) Elder Abuse program: The OVC FY 2021 Transforming America's Response to Elder Abuse: Enhanced Multidisciplinary Teams (E-MDTs) for Older Victims of Financial Exploitation and Abuse program seeks applications to support the development and/or enhancement of multidisciplinary teams and to strengthen the capacity of E-MDTs to better identify and respond to cases of elder abuse and more comprehensively serve and support victims of financial exploitation. Applications due: June 14

Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) Advancing the Use of Technology to Assist Victims of Crime: Through this solicitation, OVC seeks to provide funding to organizations that demonstrate innovative strategies to create, expand, or enhance the use of technology in innovative ways to interact directly with crime victims and/or to provide information, referrals, crisis assistance, and longer-term help. Applications due: June 28, 2021

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