Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Katharine T. Sullivan and Office for Victims of Crime Director Jessica E. Hart Recognize Domestic Violence Month at a Law Enforcement and Domestic Violence Roundtable

Yesterday, Office of Justice Programs Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Katharine T. Sullivan and Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) Director Jessica E. Hart spoke to federal, state and local law enforcement leaders during a roundtable discussion focused on domestic violence. PDAAG Sullivan and Director Hart joined U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania Scott W. Brady for the discussion, which was followed by a roundtable with leadership from the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh. October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

PDAAG Sullivan and Director Hart highlighted the incidence of domestic violence, the threats posed by domestic abusers to their partners and to law enforcement, and Department of Justice resources available to support victims. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime Victimization Survey, Americans experienced more than 1.2 million domestic violence victimizations in 2019. Data from other sources suggest that lockdowns and stay-at-home orders have precipitated a rise in domestic violence hotline calls and more calls for service to police for domestic violence incidents.

PDAAG Sullivan emphasized the dangers these calls represent for law enforcement. “Officers who respond to domestic violence very often find themselves under attack, and some have lost their lives responding to these calls.”  She added, “In providing the safety, protection and support victims need, we realize you are putting your own lives at risk.”

Both described substantial investments made by the Department of Justice to address domestic violence. OVC recently awarded $1.8 billion to states to support victim compensation programs and thousands of local victim assistance programs. Victim assistance programs funded by OVC served more than seven million victims in 2019. Last week, OVC awarded a $1.5 million grant to the National Domestic Violent Hotline to expand its digital services and technology-based tools to assist victims.

At a press event held prior to the roundtable, PDAAG Sullivan and Director Hart announced $4 million in OVC funding to support the establishment or expansion of Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, or SANE, programs on college and university campuses.

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    The rapid spread and magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic have underscored the importance of having quality data, analyses, and models describing the potential trajectory of COVID-19 to help understand the effects of the disease in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is using multiple surveillance systems to collect data on COVID-19 in the U.S. in collaboration with state, local, and academic and other partners. The data from these surveillance systems can be useful for understanding the disease, but decision makers and analysts must understand their limitations in order to interpret them properly. For example, surveillance data on the number of reported COVID-19 cases are incomplete for a number of reasons, and they are an undercount the true number of cases, according to CDC and others. There are multiple approaches to analyzing COVID-19 data that yield different insights. For example, some approaches can help compare the effects of the disease across population groups. Additional analytical approaches can help to address incomplete and inconsistent reporting of COVID-19 deaths as well. For example, analysts can examine the number of deaths beyond what would normally be expected in the absence of the pandemic. Examining higher-than-expected deaths from all causes helps to address limitations in the reporting of COVID-19 deaths because the number of total deaths is likely more accurate than the numbers of deaths from specific causes. The figure below shows actual deaths from the weeks ending January 1 through June 27, 2020, based on data from CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, compared with the expected deaths based on prior years’ data. Deaths that exceeded this threshold starting in late March are considered excess deaths that may be related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Higher-Than-Expected Weekly Mortality for 2020, as of July 14, 2020 Analysts have used several forecasting models to predict the spread of COVID-19, and understanding these models requires understanding their purpose and limitations. For example, some models attempt to predict the effects of various interventions, whereas other models attempt to forecast the number of cases based on current data. At the beginning of an outbreak, such predictions are less likely to be accurate, but accuracy can improve as the disease becomes better understood. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in significant loss of life and profoundly disrupted the U.S. economy and society, and the Congress has taken action to support a multifaceted federal response on an unprecedented scale. It is important for decision makers to understand the limitations of COVID-19 data, and the uses and limitations of various methods of analyzing and interpreting those data. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) includes a provision for GAO to, in general, conduct monitoring and oversight of the authorities and funding provided to address the COVID-19 pandemic and the effect of the pandemic on the health, economy, and public and private institutions of the U.S. This technology assessment examines (1) collection methods and limitations of COVID-19 surveillance data reported by CDC, (2) approaches for analyzing COVID-19 data, and (3) uses and limitations of forecast modeling for understanding of COVID-19. In conducting this assessment, GAO obtained publicly available information from CDC and state health departments, among other sources, and reviewed relevant peer reviewed and preprint (non-peer-reviewed) literature, as well as published technical data on specific models. For more information, contact Timothy M. Persons, PhD at (202) 512-6888 or PersonsT@gao.gov, SaraAnn Moessbauer at (202) 512-4943, or MoessbauerS@gao.gov, or Mary Denigan-Macauley, PhD at (202) 512-7114 or DeniganMacauleyM@gao.gov.
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  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken With Rosemary Barton of Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Federal Court Shuts Down Atlanta Area Tax Return Preparer
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department announced today that a federal court in the Northern District of Georgia permanently enjoined the owner of tax preparation businesses in Suwanee, Georgia, from preparing federal tax returns for others.
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  • Data Security: Recent K-12 Data Breaches Show That Students Are Vulnerable to Harm
    In U.S GAO News
    A cybersecurity incident is an event that actually or potentially jeopardizes a system or the information it holds. According to GAO's analysis of K-12 Cybersecurity Resource Center (CRC) data from July 2016 to May 2020, thousands of K-12 students were affected by 99 reported data breaches, one type of cybersecurity incident in which data are compromised. Students' academic records, including assessment scores and special education records, were the most commonly compromised type of information (58 breaches). Records containing students' personally identifiable information (PII), such as Social Security numbers, were the second most commonly compromised type of information (36 breaches). Financial and cybersecurity experts say some PII can be sold on the black market and can cause students significant financial harm. Breaches were either accidental or intentional, although sometimes the intent was unknown, with school staff, students, and cybercriminals among those responsible (see figure). Staff were responsible for most of the accidental breaches (21 of 25), and students were responsible for most of the intentional breaches (27 of 52), most frequently to change grades. Reports of breaches by cybercriminals were rare but included attempts to steal PII. Although the number of students affected by a breach was not always available, examples show that thousands of students have had their data compromised in a single breach. Responsible Actor and Intent of Reported K-12 Student Data Breaches, July 1, 2016-May 5, 2020 Notes: The actor or the intent may not be discernible in public reports. For this analysis, a cybercriminal is defined as an actor external to the school district who breaches a data system for malicious reasons. Of the 287 school districts affected by reported student data breaches, larger, wealthier, and suburban school districts were disproportionately represented, according to GAO's analysis. Cybersecurity experts GAO spoke with said one explanation for this is that some of these districts may use more technology in schools, which could create more opportunities for breaches to occur. When a student's personal information is disclosed, it can lead to physical, emotional, and financial harm. Organizations are vulnerable to data security risks, including over 17,000 public school districts and approximately 98,000 public schools. As schools and districts increasingly rely on complex information technology systems for teaching, learning, and operating, they are collecting more student data electronically that can put a student's information, including PII, at risk of disclosure. The closure of schools and the sudden transition to distance learning across the country due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic also heightened attention on K-12 cybersecurity. GAO was asked to review the security of K-12 students' data. This report examines (1) what is known about recently reported K-12 cybersecurity incidents that compromised student data, and (2) the characteristics of school districts that experienced these incidents. GAO analyzed data from July 1, 2016 to May 5, 2020 from CRC (the most complete source of information on K-12 data breaches). CRC is a non-federal resource sponsored by an educational technology organization that has tracked reported K-12 cybersecurity incidents since 2016. GAO also analyzed 2016-2019 Department of Education data on school district characteristics (the most recent available), and interviewed experts knowledgeable about cybersecurity. We incorporated technical comments from the agencies as appropriate. For more information, contact Jacqueline M. Nowicki at (617) 788-0580 or nowickij@gao.gov.
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    In Crime Control and Security News
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    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Has a Bold, New Look
    In Space
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  • Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt Delivers Remarks at Health Care Fraud Takedown Press Conference
    In Crime News
    Good morning and thank you for joining us today. We are here this morning to announce the results of truly historic nationwide law enforcement operations led by the Criminal Division’s Health Care Fraud Strike Force Program — part of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.
    [Read More…]
  • The United States Partners with Australia and Japan to Expand Reliable and Secure Digital Connectivity in Palau
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Jury Convicts West Virginia Doctor of Drug Distribution
    In Crime News
    A federal jury convicted a West Virginia doctor Thursday for prescribing a buprenorphine product in violation of the Controlled Substances Act.
    [Read More…]