Tag Archives: security

Suicide at TN Tower raises security questions

Security issues were raised by a recent suicide at Tennessee Tower, located across the street from the state Capitol, reports WSMV TV.

Police identified the man as Anton Kanevsky, 26, who was visiting Nashville from New York. A state worker saw his body fall past his office window one morning.

Police said Kanevsky left his keys, phone and sandals on the roof before leaping to his death on the plaza 31 stories below.

His family may never know why, but many people want to know how a traveler from out of state got onto the roof of the building.

Kanevsky’s social media profiles show he is from East Meadow, NY, and fluent in Russian. He kept an online travel journal and chronicled his brief few days in Nashville on Facebook. He was looking for work.

Kanevsky stayed at a hostel in downtown Nashville. He had no obvious connections to anyone at the Tennessee Tower.

Security at the tower falls under the state’s General Services division. They contract with private security companies Walden Security and Allied Barton.

Employees must scan their ID to get into Tennessee Tower. Visitors must sign in and show a photo ID. It’s not clear if Kanevsky got to the roof through an elevator inside the building or if he found another way.

The tower is currently having work done on its top floors and roof. There is an outside elevator that’s supposed to be for construction workers, so it’s possible Kanevsky rode that.

Wellspring Builders, the general contractor, referred Channel 4’s questions to the state. The General Services administration would only say it’s under investigation.

No more ID scanning for Legislative Plaza visitors

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A major bottleneck at the entrances to Tennessee’s legislative office complex is being eliminated this week.

Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey told reporters on Thursday that state troopers have been instructed to stop scanning IDs and printing out temporary nametags for visitors.

Visitors will still have to pass through a metal detector, but Ramsey said ID scanning was taking too long and not serving much purpose because the names aren’t run through criminal databases.

Lines can often stretch around the block when advocacy groups hold their days on the hill or when contentious legislation is being heard in committee.

Ramsey said he’s also asked his staff to look into purchasing more metal detectors so visitors can be screened more quickly.

Further from Richard Locker, who notes that House Speaker Beth Harwell joined Ramsey in making the change.
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Speakers refute security ‘task force’ claims of legislative endorsement

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A private group called the Tennessee Task Force on National and Homeland Security is marketing itself with an official-looking logo and a claimed “mandate” from state lawmakers. But legislative leaders say the group has no official endorsement from the General Assembly.

In fundraising literature, the Tennessee Task Force describes itself as a “non-profit publicly funded and operated body with a mandate endorsed by Members of the Tennessee State Legislature to protect the citizens of Tennessee from the existential threat posed by various acts of terrorism.

Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey’s spokesman, Adam Kleinheider, said the group does not carry the Legislature’s imprimatur.

“The General Assembly took no vote approving or endorsing their work and neither speaker appointed the group,” Kleinheider said in an email. “Any attempt to assert otherwise would be erroneous.”

Fellow Republican House Speaker Beth Harwell’s spokeswoman, Kara Own, agreed.

“This task force does not function in any official capacity with either the Tennessee General Assembly or the state and has not been recognized in any way by the House of Representatives as a whole,” she said.

Leaders of the Tennessee Task Force, which touts itself as a “partner with state policy-makers, local and federal law enforcement agencies,” didn’t return messages seeking comment.
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On the secret security briefing for state legislators

About a dozen lawmakers sat in on a closed door briefing with a private group purporting to know confidential information about the state’s homeland security and warning them of waning resources to local law enforcement, reports Andrea Zelinski.

One of the main messages legislators could take away from the briefing was that terrorists could be harboring in any state, including Tennessee, said Rep. Larry Miller, D-Memphis, who attended the meeting.

Lawmakers said the group, the Tennessee Task Force on National and Homeland Security, did not ask legislators to pass or support specific legislation, but informed them of pent up concern by law enforcement who they say don’t have enough legal tools.

“When you’re in a bubble and you’re concerned about taxes and all sort of stuff like that, you tend not to hear things on a larger scale,” said Jeff Hartline, a spokesman for the group, which he said focuses on educating law enforcement and lawmakers.

Resumes of individuals associated with the group outlined experience in several areas, including Islamic terrorism and electromagnetic pulse weapons. When asked if the group was concerned specifically with Muslims — who have been targeted by state legislation in the past — Hartline said the group is interested with “anything that’s a threat to safety and security in Tennessee.”

The group is chaired by Jonna Z. Bianco, formerly the vice president and director of the congressional Electromagnetic Pulse Caucus. The “Task Force on National and Homeland Security” is a group one of its leaders explained as “easy to dismiss as something coming from people who might go around wearing tinfoil hats.”

Legislators said, off the record, after the closed meeting the information shared by the task force was interesting, but some details appeared taken out of context.

Hartline said aspects of the group’s message include organized crime, illegal weapons transferred in and out of the state, human trafficking, and electromagnetic pulse devices. “That’s a piece of it,” Hartline said about EMPs, “because that does present a clear and present danger to the ongoing of commerce in Tennessee.”

Corker’s PR on Border Security Amendment

News release from Sen. Bob Corker:
WASHINGTON – In remarks on the Senate floor today, Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., commented on an amendment he co-authored with Senator John Hoeven, D-N.D., to bolster security on the nation’s southern border as part of the immigration bill now being considered by the Senate.
“Some people have described this [amendment] as a border surge…[W]e are investing resources and securing our border [in ways] that have never been [done] before: doubling the border patrol, $3.2 billion worth of the technology that we took from the chief of the border patrol, the technology that he needs to have 100 percent awareness and to secure our border, dealing with the [entry]/exit program, dealing with e-verify so that all of these things are in place,” Corker said on the Senate floor.
“I do think the American people have asked us if we pass an immigration bill off the Senate floor to do everything that we can to ensure that we have secured the border. That’s what people in Tennessee have asked for…I think that’s what this amendment does,” Corker added. “I want to thank all involved in crafting an amendment that I think tries to deal with the sensibilities on both sides and at the same time secure our border in such a way that we can put this issue mostly behind us and we can have an immigration system in our country that meets the needs of a growing economy – the biggest economy in the world – that focuses on making our country stronger, not weaker, and hopefully will put this debate behind us.”

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Energy Secretary Visits Oak Ridge, Seeks Security Changes

By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — The nation’s new energy secretary said Monday that a breach in security at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant was unacceptable and he’s taking steps to make sure it isn’t compromised again.
Ernest Moniz, who was sworn in last month, made the Oak Ridge National Laboratory his first official trip in office. Later in the day he planned to visit the Y-12 National Security Complex, which was broken into by a nun and two other protesters last year.
“Clearly this was an unacceptable breach of security,” Moniz told reporters after a brief tour of the lab’s $1.4 billion Spallation Neutron Source facility.
“With or without the Y-12 incident, safety and security are essential core elements of our mission. I’m in discussion in the department, in the administration and in the Congress right now, talking about how we will move forward on some organizational changes.”

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Car in Governor’s Entourage Bangs Security Gate

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — One of the sport utility vehicles assigned to the governor’s office is getting more than $10,000 in repairs after getting caught on a security gate at the state Capitol.
Surveillance video obtained by The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/10vdZ1u ) shows the vehicle carrying Gov. Bill Haslam passing safely through the gate, but a GMC Denali trailing the governor’s car didn’t make it. Security pillars rose up from the pavement, lifting the SUV slightly off the ground and making it swerve.
The accident on May 7 damaged the rear suspension of the Denali, but caused no injuries.
The governor’s entourage was returning to the Capitol after a bill-signing ceremony in Clarksville and a speech at a bookstore in Nashville.

Governor-signs-a-bill Briefs: Taxes, School Security, Etc

Tax Cuts
Gov. Bill Haslam signed two tax cuts into law this week, including a reduction in the state sales tax on groceries from 5.25 percent to 5 percent as well as a cut to the state’s Hall Income Tax for seniors ages 65 and older.
The bills are among more than 50 measures the governor signed as he continues to plow through measures passed by state lawmakers that ended April 19.
Full story, HERE.
School Security
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam has signed a bill that allows school districts to let people with police training be armed in schools.
The measure passed the House 82-15 and was approved 27-6 in the Senate.
It allows schools to hire retired law enforcement officers after they meet certain requirements, such as completing a 40-hour school security course.
The measure makes information about which teachers are armed or which schools allow the guns confidential to anyone but law enforcement.
Haslam included $34 million in his budget for local government officials to use on their priorities, which could include security measures.
Ignition Interlock
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee’s ignition interlock law will apply to more drunken drivers under legislation signed by Gov. Bill Haslam.
Currently, ignition-locking devices, which force drivers to pass breath tests to start vehicles and keep them running, are required for DUI offenders whose blood alcohol level topped 0.15 percent.
This bill drops the level to the intoxication threshold of 0.08 percent and would require first-time offenders to get the devices. In turn, those convicted of DUI won’t get a restricted driver’s license and will be allowed to drive anywhere.
The measure was unanimously approved 95-0 in the House and 31-0 in the Senate.
It was sponsored by Republican Sen. Mae Beavers of Mt. Juliet and Republican Rep. Tony Shipley of Kingsport.

Casada, Fitzhugh Clash Over School Security Bill

State House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh says Republicans showed an inclination to “put petty politics above the safety of our students” during the legislative session by killing one of his bills.
House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada says that’s not so and Fitzhugh is “seeing a ghost behind every tree.”
The bill in issue (HB494) passed the Senate unanimously and cleared House committees system until it reached the Calendar Committee at the end of the session, where Casada declared it unneeded and “duplicative” of present law. He made a motion that, in effect, killed it for the year. The panel’s Republican majority backed him, scuttling the bill.
As amended, the bill declares that the Police Officers Standards and Training (POST) Commission and the Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy, upon request of any school system, will provide advice on school security systems.
Fitzhugh said the move was retaliation for his vote against the state budget bill.
“This was a good bill that had bipartisan support throughout the legislative session. Had I known they would take it out on our students and teachers, I would have voted for their budget,” Fitzhugh said in a news release distributed by the House Democratic Caucus.
“Republicans leaders warned us about voting against the budget, but I never thought that in the wake of the horrors at Sandy Hook that they’d risk the safety and security of our children and grandchildren just to prove a point,” he said.
Casada said, when asked last week, that was “absolutely not” the case. Current law already allows the POST Commission to give advice to schools and the bill was “just playing politics” by Democrats seeking to claim credit for enhancing school security.
Current law apparently contains nothing that would prohibit the POST Commission from offering security advice to school systems, but nothing that explicitly authorizes it either.

Democrats Bash Casada For Killing School Security Bill

News release from House Democratic Caucus:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In an unusual and highly political move, House Republicans led by Chairman Glen Casada (R-Franklin) voted last Thursday to kill HB494 by Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh (D-Ripley); this despite the bill having already passed the State Government, Education, and Finance Ways & Means Committees with a majority of support. The legislation would have helped local law enforcement increase security around school by working with the Tennessee peace officer standards and training commission.
“Republican leadership has put petty politics above the safety of our students,” said Leader Fitzhugh. “This was a good bill that had bi-partisan support throughout the legislative session. Had I known they would take it out on our students and teachers, I would have voted for their budget.”
Under the proposed legislation by Leader Fitzhugh, local schools could have requested that the POST commission initiate a security assessment of each school. Once completed, local governments and LEAs would have had the option to adopt security recommendations. This legislation was introduced in light of Governor Haslam’s declaration that Tennessee couldn’t afford to put a safety resource officer in every school. This bill was a common sense way to increase school safety, without dramatically increasing state or local expenditures.
The House Republicans voted to send this bill back to the Civil Justice Committee, which effectively killed the bill this year, after Leader Fitzhugh and 13 other Democrats voted against the budget. The intent of Republicans to kill the bill became even more clear when three House committees opened up Friday morning to hear bills, but Civil Justice was not one of them. The Senate version passed 32-0 on April 11.
“Republicans leaders warned us about voting against the budget, but I never thought that in the wake of the horrors at Sandy Hook that they’d risk the safety and security of our children and grandchildren just to prove a point,” said Leader Fitzhugh.
Video of the Calendar & Rules Committee hearing on HB494 can be found here: : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKySr0HBDUA
Representatives voting to kill the bill: Rep. Glen Casada (R-Franklin), Rep. Jimmy Eldridge (R-Jackson), Rep. Curtis Halford (R-Dyer), Rep. Ryan Haynes (R-Knoxville), Rep. Timothy Hill (R-Blountville), Rep. Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol), Leader Gerald McCormick (R-Chattanooga), Rep. Steve McManus (R-Cordova), Rep. Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville), Rep. Eric Watson (R-Cleveland), Speaker Pro Tem Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville), Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville).