PRIMA RiskWatch
May. 1, 2014

Lessons in gun control from Australia and Brazil
In the year and a half since 20 children were killed by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, a handful of states have passed laws requiring universal background checks, bans on semi-automatic weapons and limits on high-capacity magazines. But the U.S. remains a patchwork of uneven regulations on firearms, ammunition and gun owners. Meanwhile, at least 44 school shootings have occurred since the Newtown tragedy.More

Applications are now being accepted for the $100,000 Innovations in American Government Awards.
Offered by Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, the Innovations Award is the nation’s premier award for the public sector. It recognizes programs that demonstrate creative and effective government at its best.

All units of government — federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial — from all policy areas are eligible to apply for recognition.More

Is the public safety community ready for new 911 location rules?
The Federal Communications Commission is proposing for the first time that cellular carriers begin delivering location information to 911 dispatchers on calls made from inside buildings. The proposed rules reflect the fact that cell phones now are a primary means of communication and are used for the majority of emergency calls. Current Enhanced 911 location requirements apply only to outdoor calls, but a growing number of calls are coming from inside buildings.More

Oklahoma botches execution, raising questions on death penalty in US
Oklahoma inmate Clayton Lockett died during a botched execution on April 29, minutes after a doctor had called a halt to the procedure, raising more questions about new death penalty cocktails used by the state and others. Thirteen minutes after a doctor administered a lethal injection at the state's death chamber in McAlester, Lockett lifted his head and started mumbling. The doctor halted the execution, said state corrections department spokesman Jerry Massie. Lockett died of an apparent massive heart attack about 40 minutes after the procedure started, he said.More

Pet lovers turned away from Oklahoma tornado shelters
Claims Journal
Jerry Starr thought he was taking the safe approach when a twister was reported heading toward his suburban neighborhood outside Oklahoma City last May. He grabbed his teenage daughter Dyonna and his dog and drove to the local City Hall, which serves as a public storm shelter. But when he arrived, a police officer told him that the only way they could come in was if Tobi, his shih tzu-yorkie mix, stayed outside. No pets allowed. So Starr and Tobi rode out the storm in his car, one of the most dangerous places he could be.More

Drinking at volunteer firehouses beginning to dry up
Claims Journal
Some volunteer firehouses have a bar in the basement. Others have a ban on booze. But regardless of their official stance on alcohol, fire officials across New Jersey say that the practice of drinking at firehouses — once considered vital to the culture of many local departments — is starting to dry up. In part, that is due to several high-profile incidents in the past couple of years that have focused attention on the issue.More

White House issues report on steps to prevent sexual assaults on college campuses
The Washington Post
The White House is pushing colleges to survey their students about sex assault and other “campus climate” issues, part of a rape-prevention campaign that will include a website to support survivors and track enforcement, a public service announcement from President Obama, and recommendations for how to handle reported assaults. The key message from the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault was that colleges must take action to curb violence that has long plagued women at schools across the country.More

Sweeping measure expanding rights of gun owners is signed into Georgia law
The New York Times
A plan to bolster the legal rights of gun owners that opponents have derided as the “guns everywhere” bill was signed into law on by Gov. Nathan Deal. “Our nation’s founders put the right to bear arms on par with freedom of speech and freedom of religion,” Mr. Deal, a Republican, said in a statement. “Georgians cherish their Second Amendment rights, and this law embodies those values.”More

Florida Senate OKs 75 mph speed limits
Miami Herald
Drivers should be able to travel at 75 mph on most interstate highways in Florida, the Senate voted. By a 27-11 vote, senators gave the Department of Transportation the leeway to decide where the speed limit can rise from 70 to 75 on about 1,500 miles of roadway on Interstate 75, I-95, I-10, I-4, Florida’s Turnpike and the Suncoast Parkway. What’s the big deal, proponents wondered. More

Washington official knew for years about report warning of landslides
The Wall Street Journal
A Snohomish County official was aware at least eight years ago of a geological report warning of the potential for a "large catastrophic failure" where the deadly March 22 landslide occurred. A county engineering geologist referenced the 1999 report in preparation for a presentation for homeowners here following a smaller 2006 landslide. His notes summarize the key points of the report, but make no mention of the catastrophic warning.More

Powdered alcohol poses safety problems, appeals to kids
Laboratory Equipment
The U.S. is on the verge of having powdered alcohol — in packets like Kool-aid but with the punch of a rum or vodka cocktail — for sale across the country. After much confusion, Palcohol, which has seven flavors including Cosmopolitan and “Powderita” is on hold over problems with its labeling. There are a lot of unknowns about this form of alcohol, although a version was patented as far back as 1964, but the new product is tempting for young people looking to conceal alcohol. More

Red Cross issues safety steps as strong storm system approaches
The strong storm system that has caused devastating tornadoes in the South and Midwest is moving eastward, threatening other parts of the country for the next several days. The American Red Cross South Louisiana Region has safety steps people can follow and urges everyone in the path of this storm to get prepared now. More

Florida school district explores privatizing school bus transportation
School bus drivers are fighting to keep their benefits as the Hillsborough County School District discusses opting to outsource its bus transportation system to a private company. It's one option among many, according to Hillsborough County School Board Member Candy Olson. "There are no simple solutions," said Olson. "You can't order a bus today and get it tomorrow." The district has faced obstacles, including spending more than $60 million a year on transportation, and there is a need to cut back, the Board explained. The district is also trying to find a way to handle students who misbehave — students bus drivers want to face the consequence of not being allowed back on the bus.More

Rhode Island company creates tornado safety app
Hundreds of miles away from the destruction paths left behind by the Tornadoes in the South and Midwest a Rhode Island company is giving people peace of mind. Echo Messaging Systems, Inc. has created the first ever app that can find someone following a twister. From their Lincoln office Tammy Fuller and Gerald Deane monitor tornado activity. The screen lights up when people are using their app. "If there is a need, if they are in trouble — you are going to know where they are," said Fuller.More

Safe Routes spreads to Wisconsin elementary schools
Wauwatosa Now
Sarah Lerand is the first person to tell her Safe Routes to School liaisons to be patient. "Nothing happens quickly," Lerand said, noting the district's lack of sidewalks, congested traffic and other barriers to students walking or biking to school. Her patience is paying off. Since becoming McKinley Elementary School's SRTS coordinator in 2010, Lerand has helped survey parents, create walking school bus routes and receive federal grant money. One grant has helped fund speed radar signs on Swan Boulevard, North Avenue and Wauwatosa Avenue. It's also equipped crossing guards with tools to increase their visibility, like safety cones and emergency kits. More

Alcohol breath test plugs into smartphone
Drinking and driving is dangerous, even buzzed driving. Across the United States, the legal blood alcohol content limit is .08. But a recent study by the University of California, San Diego, found drivers with even just a .01 blood alcohol content are 46 percent more likely to be officially blamed for a crash than sober drivers. In fact, blowing below a .08 on a Breathalyzer test does not even mean you cannot be charged for driving under the influence. But now there are several breath test apps out there on the market which just attach to your smartphone. One of those is called the Breathometer. More