By TOM GODFREY
Police and airport investigators from the Caribbean and Latin America were in Toronto for a three-day conference to share information on threats posed to airline security.
More than 120 security experts from the Dominican Republic, St. Kitts & Nevis, Haiti, Latin America and other countries were attending the Third Annual International Airport Investigators’ Training Symposium that concluded today.
“The Caribbean plays an important role in international security,” said Peel Regional Police Det. Stephen Rowland, one of the organizers of the event. “Many airline and ground security officials were here as presenters.”
The conference, which was closed to the public, heard from about 15 experts who passed on tips on passenger safety, cargo thefts, terrorism, human trafficking, drug smuggling and traditional organized crime.
Air Canada pilot Capt. Robert Barrett expressed concerns about laser lights being aimed at air crews and that of sophisticated store-bought Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), also called drones, that police said can be flown into the path of incoming or parked aircraft causing major damage.
Police said there are no laws banning people from flying a UAV around airport property. Legislation is pending.
A keynote speaker was former Toronto Police Detective Michael Jander, who also worked for the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force and is the founder of software that is used by officers to monitor social media for possible threats.
Police at Pearson Airport routinely scan social media to intercept possible threats against Canada’s busiest airport, which has been the scene of two flights that were escorted back by fighter jets in the last two months due to unruly passengers.
Jander’s product, called Go360 Social Media for Law Enforcement, allows officers to type in key words and instantly search millions of postings on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flickr and other sites.
The “social media intelligence tool” is being used by police services and emergency workers worldwide, he said, including those in many Caribbean countries who use the software to ensure the safety of visiting tourists.
Jander said the easy-to-use software will search, review and map social media traffic in real-time.
“By mapping streaming content, public safety officials can quickly isolate, identify and respond to incidents, boosting their efforts and enhancing public safety,” the Go360 website said.
The program was recently used by New York area police agencies to monitor social media feeds to assist in responding to ‘live’ incidents during the 2014 Super Bowl.
The former 25-year Toronto cop gained a reputation after helping to round up protesters who caused more than $2.1 million in damage during the G20 Summit in Toronto in 2010.
Jander and seven other officers were able to track down some of the culprits, who also torched a police car, after spending hundreds of hours poring over 55,000 images and 220 hours of video.
The team was able to identify and arrest the offenders using facial recognition technology and social media.
Also speaking was Timea Eva Nagy, originally of Hungary, who founded a group called Walk With Me, to help women who were victims of human trafficking.
Nagy, who was a former victim herself, said her group has helped more than 40 women who were former sex slave victims.
Many of the women are smuggled from the Caribbean, Latin America or European countries into Canada, where they are forced to work in the sex trade, as Nagy was at one time. She managed to escape from her captors in Toronto and now lobbies police, politicians and women’s groups on behalf of victims of human trafficking.