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From Friend To Predator | News, Sports, Jobs Jamestown Post Journal
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From Friend To Predator | News, Sports, Jobs Jamestown Post Journal
A mother’s worst nightmare had its beginnings with innocent casual late-night conversations at a north county establishment. During these talks, she and a niece would become acquainted with Dustin Post. On a number of nights, the group would “just hang out … and joke.”
That relationship, however, grew into days and months to include more individuals, specifically a young daughter. “Me and my kids started inviting him to different parks to play basketball and go swimming,” she said. “So we started talking about being a couple and getting together. I trusted him.”
Post, 25, is now one of the most notorious and disturbing criminals in recent years from Chautauqua County. The former Fredonia and Silver Creek resident has already pleaded guilty to production and possession of child pornography. On those charges alone, he faces a 25- to 50-year sentence in prison.
Additionally, in late May, county District Attorney Jason Schmidt unsealed a 24-count indictment against Post that included 11 separate crimes of predatory sexual assault against a child, nine separate crimes of first-degree criminal sexual act, and first-degree rape.
According to Schmidt, the crimes described are alleged to have been committed against multiple children who ranged in ages of one to 12 in northern Chautauqua County. They span the period between September 2015 and August 2019.
“Where there is evidence of a crime, my office will fight for the victims of those crimes,” Schmidt said in a press conference on May 26 in Mayville. “No segment of our community is more precious to us and more vulnerable to those who prey on the weak than children. We as a society are responsible for protecting our children who, often times, are defenseless and are most at risk of being abused.”
Post, according to this mother who is not being identified by The Post-Journal and OBSERVER, appeared to thrive on building relationships of those with connections to young females. In this case, he offered an invitation to the woman to have her daughter attend a birthday party that would be hosted at a family residence.
“I didn’t think nothing of it,” said the mom, who came forward with the hopes of sharing her story so other parents and families could be aware of how those who prey on the young do so with evil blatant disregard. “My daughter was OK going. She was comfortable.”
It was at this alleged party the incident occurred.
One week later, a frantic mother and one of her friends happened to find inappropriate photos on a phone. The mom addressed the incident with her young daughter immediately.
Reluctantly, the girl who is under age 10, informed her mother of the sordid details that included being assaulted while being blindfolded and videotaped. “I was in shock in at that point, so I started bawling,” the mother said.
Their next step was one of the most important: reaching out to law enforcement. “(The daughter) told the State Police what happened in detail,” the mom said. “I identified (Post) in the trooper car on the computer.”
A young girl’s admission and courage may have been a huge break in this dastardly case. Tracy Brunecz, first assistant county district attorney, noted the pain and stigma that comes with these incidents.
“Sexual assaults perpetrated against children are amongst the least reported crimes and the most difficult cases to prosecute because of the pain and trauma that the victims and their families endure — before, during and after the legal process,” she said. “However, these cases are also amongst the most rewarding to prosecute because, despite that pain and trauma, you see these same victims and families gather strength and eventual healing because they had the courage to speak out and confront their perpetrator.”
But no matter how brave, the victim has been scarred. She and her mother are currently going through trauma counseling and being assisted by the Child Advocacy Program of Chautauqua County, which assists in abuse cases with youth.
“She understood (Post) was going away for life,” the mother said. “All she said was she never wants to see him again. … Even now when she tries to block it out … she says she doesn’t want to talk. She’s trying to forget.”
It is a horrific reality for this mother and child as well as others who have been victimized by Post. For now, however, this mom knows how important it was for her daughter came forward.
“I will be by her side every step of the way. She is the bravest little girl I know,” she said. “I am so proud of her for what she has done. … She still is as strong as ever.”
As for Post, he will find out his prison term during sentencing in federal court that is set for Oct. 1.
Gregory Bacon of the OBSERVER and The Post-Journal contributed to this story.
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Cybersecurity expertise is in high demand. Faced with threats like phishing, ransomware and data breaches, businesses need information security staff on their teams to help protect their networks from attacks.
While the intention to build and improve cybersecurity teams is there, recent research demonstrates how businesses often make mistakes when hiring, leading to difficulties recruiting and retaining IT security staff.
The number of unfilled vacancies doesn’t just make it harder for businesses to keep networks secure – it also has an impact on the people already working on cybersecurity teams, who are expected to do everything necessary to maintain network security, but with just a fraction of the required personnel.
SEE: A winning strategy for cybersecurity (ZDNet special report)
That’s leading to burnout, making it much harder for people to do their jobs at a time when a growing need to secure remote workers is adding to their workload. In some cases, burnout means people could walk away from the industry altogether when their skills are needed most.
So why are organisations struggling to fill vacancies when there’s a workforce available, at a time when hiring cybersecurity staff is arguably more important than ever before? Because businesses often don’t understand what they’re looking for, leading to mistakes when trying to hire.
Job adverts outside of cybersecurity come with requirements for the role, including experience and qualifications. Human resources departments are taking those templates and applying them to information security, which often doesn’t follow the same stringent requirements for qualifications.
It’s possible to be highly qualified and highly experienced in cybersecurity without formal qualifications, yet many businesses attempting to hire security staff see qualifications and certifications as a requirement.
Alyssa Miller, a business information security officer and public speaker on cybersecurity, has done extensive research into hiring practices in the industry, as well as presenting a TED talk on the issue. She says almost three-quarters of entry-level job vacancies she looked at ask for a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification, something which takes years of training, costs money to take an exam – and isn’t realistic for someone looking for their first job in the industry.
“Of the supposed entry-level job descriptions that I looked at, 71% of them call for a CISSP. That’s not entry-level, because you have to have five years of experience to get a CISSP,” says Miller.
In some cases, companies are advertising to fill internship positions – something that in usual circumstances allows people to learn on-the-job while also helping the company. However, even when it comes to advertising for internships in cybersecurity, there are adverts that require an applicant has five years of working in the field. People with years of professional experience are being asked to take jobs for little or even no pay.
“If you have five years of experience in cybersecurity, you’re not an intern anymore, you’re an advanced professional at that point – do you think you’re going to get a five-year veteran in cybersecurity for intern pay? No, of course not,” says Miller.
SEE: The cybersecurity jobs crisis is getting worse, and companies are making basic mistakes with hiring
Cybersecurity involves a particular set of skills, which people have put in time and effort to learn. The nature of the industry means that, when it comes to skilling up, many information security professionals have ended up in the career path because of a keen interest in cybersecurity – and some are self-taught, showcasing the aptitude required to succeed, even if they don’t have any specific certifications.
That can be confusing for human resources departments, which are used to viewing and hiring applicants based on the candidate having certain qualifications that information security people might not have. Someone could have years of experience in the industry, but if HR doesn’t see what they perceive as the correct qualifications, their application could be discarded, despite the hands-on experience.
Cybersecurity, in short, is following the same pattern as other careers in computing and technology before it. “We went through all of that with software engineering 10 years ago and now cybersecurity is right at that point,” says Adam Enbar, CEO and co-founder of Flatiron School, which teaches on-campus and online bootcamps in software engineering, data science and cybersecurity.
“You have employers who are hiring but they don’t really know what they’re hiring for, and they don’t even know what to look for.”
This doesn’t just come down to expecting experienced professionals to work for little or nothing – some businesses simply have unrealistic expectations around what’s required for the job. In addition to requiring certifications, it isn’t uncommon to see job adverts asking for lengthy experience in disciplines that have only existed for a few years.
“Job descriptions have got to get better. They need to be focused on the right things – they can’t be asking for 10 years of Kubernetes experience when Kubernetes has only existed for six years. There are plenty of examples of those job descriptions out there that do silly things like that,” says Miller.
Then there’s the issue of timing. Some companies will go on major hiring sprees in the aftermath of a major cybersecurity incident, or because they fear becoming the next victim of a massive data breach, ransomware campaign or other cyberattack. In this scenario, the hiring companies want instant results from cybersecurity professionals with years of experience in a security operations centre (SOC).
“Most postings are written for people with five to 10 years of experience. This happens because employers often begin to invest and dedicate time to hiring cybersecurity professionals when they’re facing a crisis – at which point, you don’t want someone with minimal experience, you need someone with experience to come and clean up very fast,” says Christine Izuakor, founder and CEO of Cyber Pop-up, a company that provides on-demand cybersecurity services, and a cybersecurity instructor for Udacity.
A strategy that would be better than attempting to panic-hire cybersecurity personnel following an incident would be to have them on staff to begin with – people who know the company well and can help protect incidents from occuring in the first place, or can react in the right way if something goes wrong.
“The solution is for organisations to be more proactive in finding these individuals to build a cybersecurity team, instead of just waiting for a cyberattack or other security crisis to happen. In doing so, employees have time to learn and grow into roles,” says Izuakor.
That’s going to require a change in attitude around hiring. Companies can’t just expect experienced cybersecurity professionals to materialise out of nowhere and accept working on an entry-level salary. Businesses need to accept they must begin hiring people at the very start of their careers. While they may have less experience, they can learn on the job and, if taken care of, can be a positive investment for an organisation – even if they don’t have any technical qualifications to begin with.
SEE: Cybersecurity: Let’s get tactical (ZDNet special feature)
In her TED talk, Miller explains how someone like a barista could have the necessary skills to thrive in a cybersecurity career. They can do many different things at once making and serving coffee, so what’s to say they can’t take that experience and use it in a security analyst role?
“I’m looking for somebody who’s really good at taking those multiple inputs, like a barista – they can take that myriad of things that comes at them, and synthesise that into tasks and then prioritise and execute on those tasks. That’s what I ask a SOC analyst to do,” she says.
By expanding the search for cybersecurity staff in this way, organisations have a better chance of diversifying the workforce, which can help improve cybersecurity for everyone by bringing different viewpoints and considerations into the room, as well as being able to respond better to new threats and issues.
“Organisations need to look at recruiting individuals who come from a variety of backgrounds, and can adapt to the growing threat landscape and new challenges. A versatile workforce will assist in battling any cyber threats and maturing current cyber capabilities,” says Izuakor, who adds that investing in training these employees is also key.
“Due to the pace at which technology is evolving, constant development of talent is critical. By implementing a robust training and upskilling program, individuals are given the opportunity to learn and progress in their own careers while organisations can get ahead of the growing competition in the industry by building up internal talent.”
Cybersecurity is a vital part of modern business, so businesses should invest in hiring the right people. Demanding five years of experience for an entry-level role isn’t going to work, neither is a tick-box exercise of demanding particular qualifications in an industry famous for people joining in unconventional ways, and where new threats mean new skill sets are always required.
In which case, businesses need to think ahead when it comes to cybersecurity hiring. Recruitment isn’t something to be done just to patch things up after an incident – it’s a major part of running a business and should be treated as such. That’s why hiring the right people and treating them with respect and care is necessary. Get it wrong, and your existing cybersecurity team could become burned out and walk away – and the only people who will benefit are cyber criminals.
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SEN. MAGGIE HASSAN is about to kick 6,500 of her fellow citizens in the teeth. In the near future, the U.S. Senate will vote on the confirmation of David Chipman to be director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). As recently reported, Hassan plans to support the nomination, regardless of the impact to state businesses and employees.
Chipman is an outspoken advocate for “gun violence prevention” as is Hassan. While preventing gun violence sounds like a cause, it doesn’t mean what most people think.
When liberals like Chipman and Hassan push “reducing gun violence” they are not advocating for enforcement of existing laws, of which we have plenty, nor are seeking better policing of gang-related gun violence in Chicago and Detroit. What they want are new prohibitions that only restrict the law-abiding.
Anti-gun politicians manipulate the data by including suicides in their “violence” numbers to create the perception of a crisis. Suicide is tragic, but guns aren’t why people kill themselves, mental health is. To liberals like Hassan and Chipman, “reducing gun violence” is shorthand for reducing gun ownership and gun production.
Just who is Chipman and what does his prior experience look like? Look at his resume and you’ll see that after he left ATF in 2012 he became a policy advisor to two of the most notorious anti-gun groups in America, Giffords and Mayors Against Illegal Guns. He was also the senior vice president of an anti-gun company that uses artificial intelligence to locate and track firearms use.
Chipman advocates “tougher” gun laws, including limits on high-capacity magazines — a dysphemism for standard capacity magazines — and a ban on scary looking black rifles. Instead of concentrating on the actions of the unlawful, the anti-gun organizations see any opportunity to undermine the 2nd Amendment.
We doubt there is a restriction on firearms Chipman would oppose. Putting him in charge at the ATF would give him the authority to impose restrictions on New Hampshire citizens and have a huge impact on our economy as the host of several of the nation’s largest manufacturers.
Chipman is against the products New Hampshire citizens make each day. Does New Hampshire need or want more severe gun regulations?
According to FBI crime statistics, New Hampshire consistently ranks among the states with the least violent crime. While many factors contribute to this, one that can’t be ignored are the number of individual citizens (41%) who are armed and able to protect themselves from criminals.
Four years ago, when Constitutional Carry (SB 12) passed in New Hampshire, which anti-gun activists claimed would lead to blood in the streets and more crime. Instead, violent crime dropped another 14% between 2018 and 2019, the latest years of the FBI data.
The ATF is considering new anti-gun mandates that potentially put many current gun owners at risk. Currently, federal law defines what is a firearm and what is not (18USC921), yet the agency wants to mandate that many parts that now make up a firearm be traceable components. This would be a disaster for Granite State manufacturers like SIG Sauer and Sturm Ruger.
Instead of Congress making changes to the statutes, the ATF wants to circumvent elected officials and redefine a firearm to include a range of simple machined parts that are just components and by themselves are incapable of discharging a bullet. Such a rule change will make criminals out of ordinary citizens who happen to have one of those parts on a firearm manufactured years ago.
How does this impact us? Who is exactly at risk? Ruger employs 1,600 between its three plants, according to the NH Business review, and Sig Sauer employs a stunning 2,300 people across nine locations. And that is only direct employment. Both companies engage with a wide variety of subcontractors and suppliers across the state. There are at least 200 small companies in the state that produce additional parts, machine parts, apply special finishing, electroplating, anodizing, painting, etc. These firms will suffer financially. In total, there are more than 6,500 jobs directly or indirectly involved in the manufacture of firearms and firearms parts in New Hampshire.
Those jobs pay an average of $83,000 per year and collectively have an economic impact of approximately a billion dollars across the state. The Firearm Industry Trade Associate NSSF estimates that the industry contributes $214 million in tax revenues to the state. There are also 1,200 federally-licensed firearms dealers (collectors, dealers, and manufacturers) in the state too. Think of all the other companies, such as banks, restaurants, and more that all these New Hampshire workers interact with.
By supporting Chipman, Sen. Hassan is telling all these people that their jobs don’t matter to her, and the potential economic impact here could be immense. We urge Hassan to vote against David Chipman and instead support the citizens of New Hampshire who want to keep their jobs.
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Nearly a year after a “strike team” appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom recommended an overhaul of California’s unemployment benefits system, hundreds of thousands of jobless residents continue to experience delays in getting payments and the state is still grappling with the loss of billions of dollars to fraud.
And while the state Employment Development Department has made some progress in adopting change, the festering problems have become a leading issue for the campaign seeking to recall Newsom from office on Sept. 14.
Newsom’s record on the EDD has been attacked in campaign ads and public speeches by activists who put the recall on the ballot and by Republican candidates seeking to replace him as governor. The agency’s problems are listed as a primary reason to recall Newsom in the official ballot statement submitted by leading recall proponent Orrin Heatlie, a retired Yolo County sheriff’s sergeant.
“Newsom’s Employment Development Department spent over $30 billion in fraudulent payments to criminals and prison inmates, while forcing hundreds of thousands of struggling, out-of-work Californians to wait months for their money,” Heatlie wrote.
At the same time, some unemployed Californians who have dealt with the agency say that their bad experiences are likely to inform their vote.
“It’s a potential vulnerability and it comes under the heading of whether or not he is doing a good job,” said Darry Sragow, a veteran Democratic political strategist and publisher of the California Target Book, a guide to state politics and elections.
Millions of Californians were thrown out of work starting in March 2020 when state restrictions on business operations and public gatherings forced many businesses to shut down as people stayed home.
The EDD was quickly overwhelmed and paid $164 billion in benefits after being flooded with 23.6 million claims for assistance since the start of the pandemic. Those who lost jobs found an EDD with problems that had hampered the agency for years including antiquated technology and insufficient staff, resulting in computer glitches that prevented people from filing and following up on claims, as well as hours-long waits on the phone in efforts that too often failed to reach an agency representative for help.
In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Newsom said he was not satisfied with the performance of the EDD. But he complained that he inherited an agency that had failed to modernize and prepare for a major event such as the pandemic.
In July 2020, the governor appointed the strike team of government efficiency experts that two months later recommended an overhaul of the agency and its operations.
“Unprecedented demand due to job loss during this pandemic paired with an antiquated system have created an unacceptable backlog of claims,” Newsom said at the time. “Californians deserve better, and these reform efforts aim to move the department in that direction.”
The agency says it has completed implementation of just over half of the recommendations made by the strike team in September 2020. It has put in place an identity verification system to help screen out fraud, expanded the use of automated systems to process claims and provided people calling by phone with alternative ways of getting their questions answered, including chat bots and text messages.
Representatives for EDD said it is still working to get all mail to a document management center each day, initiate quality controls, track appeal decisions and complete updates to the call center system.
The agency brought in thousands of mostly temporary workers to help answer phones and eliminated an initial backlog of 1.5 million claims facing delays.
But problems have persisted. As of July 31, there was a backlog of 216,000 claims that had not been approved within 21 days. The week ending on that date saw the EDD receive 3.4 million calls — it was able to answer only 248,000 of them.
And 14% of new claims still require some manual processing.
The nonprofit Center for Workers’ Rights gets an average of 40 calls a day from people still needing help with their unemployment claims, Executive Director Daniela Urban said.
“New claimants are still facing long waits,” she said, adding that people whose claims are wrongly rejected by EDD have not been able to get swift action on their appeals.
“We’re at over a 100-day delay in getting those hearings,” Urban said.
Some jobless Californians say the EDD‘s failures have left them on the brink financially. It has affected how they view the recall election, they said.
Tonice Jones, a Los Angeles-area resident, paid $20 to a private service to help get her unemployment claim resolved with EDD after her benefits were delayed by weeks, and she spent hours on the phone trying to get through to the agency.
“I feel it’s absolutely absurd I had to pay to get help,” said Jones, who worked in marketing for a gym before the pandemic. “This process has been a nightmare.”
Asked about the recall, Jones, an independent, said: “This experience has definitely reduced my support for Newsom moving forward.”
Logan Powell, a Democrat from Barstow, said he is undecided on the recall, but his bad experience with EDD has created doubt about whether he will vote to keep Newsom in office.
“It has made me a little hesitant,” said Powell, who was a sales clerk at a gas station before the pandemic and has seen his claim for unemployment benefits delayed more than 10 weeks.
Lisa Pitsenbarger, a home healthcare worker from Orange, has been waiting for benefits since May.
“Trying to get through on the phone is just horrendous,” she said.
Pitsenbarger said she didn’t vote for Newsom in 2018, and her experience with EDD has only added to her resolve to vote in favor of the recall.
“He’s in charge and he’s had all this time to work this out and doesn’t do anything,” Pitsenbarger said.
The EDD has also faced criticism for not doing enough to stop fraud. The agency determined at least $11 billion in benefits were paid on fraudulent claims, many in the names of state prison inmates, including convicted killers on death row. An additional $19 billion in benefits have been identified as suspicious and are under investigation.
State Auditor Elaine Howle issued two reports in January that blamed insufficient planning by state officials for the agency‘s lack of preparedness with regard to the pandemic workload and said California officials failed for months to heed warnings of widespread claims fraud.
Half a year later, the auditor’s office says only five of her 26 recommendations have been fully implemented.
In response to the problem, the EDD began late last year to check unemployment claims against the personal information of prison inmates, something 35 other states had already been doing. It also hired a firm to verify the identity of claimants by methods including video calls.
In November, Newsom announced the formation of a task force with federal prosecutors and county district attorneys to investigate fraud. But given the scope of the task, while hundreds of people have been arrested, the state paid benefits on tens of thousands of fraudulent claims.
Last month , the Newsom administration named former federal prosecutor McGregor Scott to serve as special counsel to assist in the investigations. Newsom did not comment on the announcement, which was made by Rita Saenz, whom the governor appointed as EDD director in December.
Critics have also noted that the governor avoided a discussion of serious problems at the EDD during his annual State of the State address in March, when he spoke for half an hour on pressing challenges facing the state.
The governor has also been mostly quiet on the EDD problems in recent months, which might be a good strategy, Sragow said.
“It’s not something you want to defense by drawing attention to it,” he said. “You’ve got to acknowledge it, cover yourself on it, and be sure that when the hit comes that you are able to tell a story that it wasn’t your fault and you are on top of it and you are dealing with it.”
That has been the message of the governor’s office throughout the pandemic.
Newsom’s last substantive comments on the EDD came in May when he announced a revised budget that included allocating $342.9 million over two years to improve the EDD. The budget included an expansion of its workforce, technology upgrades and a plan to allow benefits to be directly deposited into bank accounts to reduce fraud associated with the debit cards currently used.
“We are making a big, bold commitment in terms of benefits management upgrades and addressing issues of language access in this budget proposal,” Newsom told reporters in May.
The governor emphasized that the problems at the EDD have also been experienced by unemployment agencies in other states grappling with record numbers of jobless claims.
“It was just not designed for the challenge that this nation, this state has faced so we have to reimagine it, we have to support it,” Newsom said of the agency at the time.
Candidates seeking to replace Newsom say he has not done enough, and they are offering their own plans.
Conservative radio talk show host Larry Elder, who leads in the polls, says he would replace the EDD’s antiquated information technology systems so that all claims could be processed automatically. Many are currently processed by hand. Elder said he also would never have suspended the safeguards that require a determination of eligibility before claims are paid.
“It is a disgrace that Gavin Newsom’s draconian coronavirus restrictions forced Californians out of their jobs and homes, while the EDD paid up to $31 billion to fraudsters and criminals,” Elder said in a statement.
Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, another Republican candidate, says he would make the EDD the state’s top priority technology project.
“Under Gavin Newsom, incompetence has festered in the Employment Development Department,” Faulconer says on his website.
Other candidates weighed in on the agency during a recent debate at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda.
Republican candidate John Cox, who ran for governor in 2018, promised change at the top of the EDD.
“That management should go,” he said.
And Republican Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, another candidate to replace Newsom, noted he was co-author of a package of bills to reform the agency, including a measure to end the inclusion of Social Security numbers in EDD mail.
“Unfortunately, Governor Newsom failed to act with any sense of urgency,” the Rocklin lawmaker said. “He refused to prioritize EDD reforms in his `historic state budget, choosing instead to put Band-Aids on a broken system.”
Meanwhile, more turmoil is coming Sept. 4, just before recall election day. That is when federal supplemental benefits are scheduled to end, leaving many California gig workers and independent contractors without financial help to which they have become accustomed, Urban said.
“The end of the benefits program is going to cause a lot of distress for claimants if they don’t have new work,” Urban said. But, she added, “it will give EDD some breathing room.”
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Over the last ten years, a flurry of “ban-the-box” laws have been enacted, on the state and local level. Such laws are now being passed at the federal level. In response, many employers reevaluated how they used criminal history screens and background checks in hiring. Now, lawmakers in several jurisdictions—like New York City, Philadelphia, and Illinois—are expanding existing laws, imposing new, more stringent requirements on employers. As a second wave of “fair chance” legislation starts to form, lawsuits related to criminal history screens and background checks have also intensified. The shifting legal landscape and growing risks of litigation present challenges for organizations large and small. Prudent employers will take this opportunity to review existing practices and build a compliant, flexible system for hiring new talent.
What Are “Ban-the-Box” or “Fair Chance” Laws?
Fair chance laws aim to reduce stigma and increase access to employment for people with arrest or conviction histories. Generally, these laws dictate whether and when an employer can inquire into a job applicant’s criminal history, and the ways in which the employer can evaluate convictions when hiring. DC’s ban-the-box law (passed in 2014) follows a trend seen in other jurisdictions: It prohibits employers from asking about criminal histories until a conditional offer of employment is made. A covered employer may then disqualify an applicant on the basis of a conviction, but only with good reason after conducting an individualized assessment, weighing multiple enumerated factors (like how the conviction relates to the job duties, or how recent or serious it was). In many jurisdictions, such as New York City, these laws also require employers to provide written notice to disqualified applicants and limit how employers can use background checks, arrest histories, and sealed records.
What Should Employers Do?
Given recent litigation and legislative activity in this area, employers would be well served to take the following steps:
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I usually read the Police Blotter out of morbid curiosity as to what our local police are having to deal with on a day to day basis, or the very least for the occasional chuckle. It has however become extremely alarming with the rash of cars being broken into that citizens are continually leaving their vehicles unlocked with loaded firearms in their vehicles.
We were in the unfortunate position of having our street hit by a bunch of teens not too long ago and what we caught on our surveillance system was once they realize the vehicles are locked they quickly move on. I’m sure that’s not always the case but I have also seen the same when people post videos from the neighborhood apps that these thieves don’t want to draw that much attention to themselves by having alarms going off in the wee hours of the morning.
It also appears you are not immune, no matter where you live, be it on the mountains, in rural areas or in the city.
The bottom line is we don’t need to make the police work any harder or make their jobs and the community any more dangerous than it already is by allowing criminals to use our vehicles as grab-bags for firearms and ammo. So please, either bring your firearms in with you at night or at the very least secure them within your vehicle as these break-ins appear to becoming more frequent throughout the area.
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It’s no secret that precious few real secrets are truly secure these days. We’ve all received — and hopefully ignored — “phishing” attempts to steal our private data or to con us with phony, look-alike websites. The same thing, but much worse, is happening every day to government agencies and corporations large and small. Meanwhile, effective defenses against this growing crime wave are weakened by a low supply of skilled defenders.
Our increasingly connected cyber world of online networks, cloud computing and social media has created a field day for hackers, thieves and state-sponsored pirates who profit by breaching America’s most secure computer systems. The COVID pandemic and its work-from-home needs have only increased the flow of online data that’s ripe for plunder and individual workers with limited computer-security skills from their corporate IT specialists. Today, more than ever, people — not hardware or systems — are the weakest link when it comes to online security.
While this is hardly a new phenomenon, just recently the problem has increased many times over. Online criminals have become increasingly sophisticated in their daring attacks on public and private assets. The latest cybercrime to grab headlines implants ransomware, a malicious software that locks an organization’s computer files until the hackers are paid an expensive ransom.
The growth of cybercrime and its increasing costs for victims have governments, the business community and individual citizens racing to keep up with the criminals. Stronger online defenses and better coordination between public and private security teams can go only so far in keeping information secure and cyber thieves at bay. What’s too often lacking in the ideal cybersecurity defense effort is talent — men and women with the college-level training and certified skills needed to keep computer systems safe and secure from intrusion.
This is where higher education is playing a key role in America’s cybersecurity defenses. By helping to fill an emerging skills gap with well-trained graduates, the nation’s colleges and universities are providing the talent and expertise needed to fight criminal intrusion. Information technology in all its forms has created a wide-open career path, not only for those just entering the job market, but also for older workers who by choice or necessity are seeking a change of career in a new, well-paying field.
That’s why I’m especially pleased, as chancellor of Western Governors University Ohio, to see the number of students graduating each year from WGU’s bachelor’s, master’s and certification programs in a range of information technology, cybersecurity, cloud computing, software development, data analytics and information technology management specialties. While we are not, by any means, the only source of accredited, degree-caliber IT education in Ohio, I know that our affordable, online-only and competency-based approach to learning offers distinct advantages that appeal to many students. This is particularly true for adults, including those with existing jobs or family obligations that make attending a full-time, classroom-based college program impractical.
The demand for workers with high-level computer skills has always been strong in today’s technology-driven world, even without the increasing demand for cybersecurity defenses. But the recent growth of ransomware attacks and other cybercrimes has driven that demand to new levels. Higher education is doing all it can to bridge any skills gap that could threaten to leave crucial positions unfilled and defenses less than ideal.
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The Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act of 2019 is set to become federal law effective December 2021. The law prohibits many federal agencies and federal contractors from requesting arrest and conviction information from a job applicant—at least until after extending a conditional offer of employment. Although this will be the first federal “ban-the-box” legislation to become law, 35 states, Washington, D.C., and numerous cities have already adopted similar requirements for state and local agencies and contractors.
With the majority of state and federal governments already adopting some form of ban-the-box legislation for government contractors and agencies, the trend is to extend such prohibitions to private employers. Within the past few years, multiple cities and 14 states have adopted legislation that prevents employers, both private and public, from requesting conviction and/or arrest information before extending conditional offers of employment.
Notably, House Democrats are already looking to follow suit with H.R. 1598 (the “Workforce Justice Act of 2021”). If passed, the federal government would withhold funds provided under the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program from any state that refuses to extend ban-the-box legislation to private employers. More specifically, the Act would require states to prohibit private employers from (1) requiring a job applicant to disclose a criminal record, (2) asking about the criminal record of a job applicant prior to making a conditional offer of employment, and (3) conducting a criminal background check prior to making a conditional offer of employment. That legislation is currently being reviewed by the House subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security.
Whether or not the Workforce Justice Act ultimately passes both houses of Congress, employers should be on the lookout for new legislation in their respective states and municipalities. This type of legislation often falls into one of two categories: either outright prohibitions against asking for criminal history information prior to making a conditional offer of employment, or stringent requirements that employers analyze conviction records prior to making employment decisions based on criminal history.
Colorado is an example of an outright prohibition. Starting September 1, 2021, private employers in Colorado (with 11 or more employees) will be prohibited from asking for criminal history information on an initial employment application and barred from stating in an advertisement or application that individuals with a criminal history will not be considered or should not apply for a job.
Illinois is an example of the laws imposing stringent requirements on the use of criminal conviction information. On March 23, 2021, Illinois Governor Ptitzker signed the “Employee Background Fairness Act” into law. Going a step further than many other states, and following the approach taken by New York, Illinois now limits an employer’s ability to consider an applicant’s criminal history to only those circumstances in which either (1) there is a substantial relationship between the applicant’s prior criminal offenses and the employment sought or (2) employing the applicant would “involve an unreasonable risk to property or to the safety or welfare of specific individuals or the general public.” The new law requires employers making this determination to consider certain delineated factors before withdrawing a conditional offer of employment on the basis of a candidate’s criminal history. These factors comprise:
If, after considering these factors, an employer decides to disqualify an employee, the employer must provide written notice to the individual of (1) the disqualifying conviction(s), (2) the conviction report, and (3) the right of an employee to respond.
Private employers subject to ban-the-box legislation should take a detailed look at their application process to ensure it complies with local requirements, especially if their city or state has adopted legislation similar to Illinois or New York. Failing to comply with ban-the-box legislation can lead to litigation and/or hefty penalties. Employers with questions regarding ban-the-box requirements, or seeking help with the employment application and review process, should reach out to trusted counsel to help navigate these laws.
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A troubling phenomenon is growing in KwaZulu-Natal and other provinces of South Africa. The presence of paid-for assassins, or “hit-men,” and contract killings is on the rise.
LISTEN to Dakota Spotlight’s interview with with Paul McNally producer of the podcast Alibi.
According to one study, South Africa’s taxi industry nurtures this alarming industry with a recruitment pool where hit-men can be hired. Often the targets are of the traditional sort: politicians, criminals, law-enforcement professionals, royalty.
But in this part of the world, where unemployment is high, you don’t need to a politician or judge to be come a target anymore.
Priscilla Mchunu was a 54-year-old teacher and acting principal when she was assassinated in front of her students at Laduma High School in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. But, who would kill an acting principal and why?
That’s exactly what Paul McNally, producer of the podcast Alibi, wanted to find out. Season 2 of Alibi is titled Laduma High, and it is a riveting, edge-of-your-seat ride into the very scary world of the assassination industry in South Africa. Dakota Spotlight podcast spoke with McNally from his home to discuss this gripping podcast.
Pricella Mchunu was a teacher an acting principal when she was a target of a contract killing in South Africa. Contributed / Volume
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