Editor's Note: Many of the technologies in the following stories are being used directly by domestic law enforcement in the areas of anti-terrorism, counterterrorism, and homeland security.
NLECTC Law Enforcement & Corrections Technology News Summary
Thursday, May 24, 2007
"Court Looking for Safest Way to Put Records on the Web"
Columbus Dispatch (OH) (05/20/07) P. 1A; Carmen, Barbara
County courthouses across the country have been placing court documents online, and this practice is exposing the private information of millions of Americans and court officials to the scanning eyes of identity thieves, parties in lawsuits, and professional companies that amalgamate and resell information about people. Franklin County, Ohio, is creating a list of items that should be redacted from online copies of court documents, and they are investing in software that expunges this information automatically. This list includes Social Security records, juvenile evaluations, HIV tests, names of children who are victims of sexual violence, and police officer addresses and phone numbers. In comparison Hamilton County, Ohio, has been publishing its court documents on the Internet for eight years. They have shut down online access three times because private financial and personal information has leaked out. Baseball catcher Johnny Bench filed for divorce in Hamilton County, Ohio, and his divorce papers received more than 18,000 Internet views in just their first day online. "The court has to balance the very important Constitutional requirement of open court with the need to protect individual privacy," says one court spokesperson.
"Graffiti Fight Gets Help from Technology"
Desert Sun (05/19/07) P. 1B; Wiedmaier, Stacy
New technology is helping law enforcement agencies in Indio, Calif., control graffiti by tracking vandals. Thanks to GPS and Internet technology provided by a company called Graffiti Tracker, Indio police and government officials have the tools they need to research and decode graffiti markings before they are erased. The tracking system allows law enforcement agencies to link vandals to their graffiti postings, ensuring their prosecution. "I'm very excited about this opportunity," says Graffiti Tracker founder Tim Kephart. "The Indio police departments are motivated hard chargers who will act on the intelligence we're providing. There is actual evidence that these messages can be decoded, but they must be documented before they are painted over."
"GPS: Jail of the Future?"
Twin Falls Times-News (Idaho) (05/18/07); Friedman, Cassidy
Jerome County and additional counties in Idaho's Magic Valley region will convene June 14 to talk about constructing a new jail. But Jerome's chief officer of juvenile and misdemeanor probation Kyle Fisher is suggesting taking some inmates and violators out of the Jerome County facility. Right now, younger defendants incarcerated at the Snake River Juvenile Detection Center cost Jerome County $136 each day. Adult inmates, who are frequently forced to sleep on cell floors, cost the county between $30 and $40, if sent to other counties, as well as transportation expenses. On May 16, Fisher ordered four GPS anklets for juveniles, each priced at $9 per day, which will be paid for via a federal grant. He will also propose to commissioners that they invest in the technology for adults--whether they are facing or found guilty of misdemeanors. Fisher explained that the new gadgets have alarms and can be devised to keep alcoholics from going into bars, sex violators from getting close to schools, and abusers from visiting their former wives. http://www.magicvalley.com/articles/2007/05/18/news/local_state/112444.txt
"Push for Cameras at High-Accident Intersections"
Washington Post (05/20/07) P. LZ1; Brubaker, Bill
Loudon County, Va., Sheriff Stephen O. Simpson is pushing to install as many as two dozen red-light cameras at high-accident intersections across his jurisdiction. Motorists caught by the cameras will be mailed a $50 citation, though they will not be charged points on their drivers licenses.' Studies show that the devices can be an effective deterrent against red-light running, and can reduce accidents. However, critics of red-light cameras say they encourage motorists to slam on their brakes in order to avoid getting a ticket. Other critics have questioned the accuracy of the cameras in documenting violations. Despite the criticism, Leesburg Police Chief Joseph R. Price says he is sold on red-light cameras. He noted that while the cameras may increase rear-end crashes, they significantly reduce the number of T-bone type crashes, which are usually more serious in terms of injury and property damage. In order to address concerns that the cameras produce misleading photos, Simpson said he will look into getting the most state-of-the-art red-light cameras on the market. If those concerns are addressed and officials in Loudon County and Leesburg approve the use of red-light cameras, the devices could be up and running early next year.
"Stun Gun Salve in Miami Cuts Risk of Death"
USA Today (05/18/07) P. 3A; Willing, Richard
Law enforcement officials in Miami have launched a program that aims to prevent deaths that sometimes occur when officers use electric stun guns on unruly suspects. Under the program, which began in October, police officers are required to call emergency medical technicians whenever stun guns are used. If a suspect still cannot be controlled after a stun gun has been used, technicians spray a fast-acting sedative called midazolam into their noses. After the subject has been subdued, technicians inject sodium bicarbonate to counteract acids released by tensed muscles and iced saline to lower body temperature. Many of those who have died after being subdued with a stun gun have been found to have been using drugs that raised their body temperatures to as high as 108 degrees, said John Gardner, chief of Miami-Dade County Fire Rescue's emergency medical services. Gardner noted that the program has been used successfully at least a dozen times since it was launched seven months ago. http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-05-17-stun-gun-miami_N.htm?csp=34
"Federal Airport Security Workers Scanning Bottled Liquids"
Houston Chronicle (05/22/07)
The Transportation Security Administration plans to deploy about 200 hand-held scanners that can detect explosive material in sealed bottles of liquid at airports across the United States by October. The scanners have already completed piloting at Miami International and Newark Liberty International and are undergoing testing at airports in Los Angeles, Detroit, and Las Vegas. Testing in Boston is scheduled to begin later this week. The technology is only used on passengers chosen for secondary inspections prior to boarding. http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/nation/4824767.html
"Upgrade Should Speed Up 911 Cell Phone Service"
San Diego Union-Tribune (05/18/07) P. B2; Baker, Debbi Farr
The San Diego Sheriff's Department has completed a $1.5 million overhaul of its emergency communication system. Prior to the upgrade, emergency calls passed through the California Highway Patrol (CHP) before going to the department and the response time for CHP dispatchers took 15 to 45 seconds. Now calls will be forwarded directly to the Sheriff's Department and answered by sheriff's dispatchers within three seconds, according to Undersheriff Bill Gore.
"Will County Gets Police Podcast"
Chicago Tribune (05/18/07) P. M1; Dardick, Hal
The Will County, Ill., Police Department plans to broadcast weekly police reports over iPod listening device channels, a form of broadcasting known as podcasting. Will County Police Sheriff Paul Kaupas says podcasting will enable police to disseminate information widely, present their point of view on specific incidents, and also send out neighborhood-specific information to reach people in specific neighborhoods. For instance, the department plans to report stories such as this one: During two recent weekends in Plainfield Township, Ill., 31 vehicles were stolen and only a single vehicle was locked. Police department representative Pat Barry notes that "the print media sometimes can only give what they are being told, and they are sometimes limited in what they can say by the space they have." The New York Police Department began podcasting an "Inside the NYPD" show in 2005 that features stories such as recent profiles on a police academy, a fire rescue incident, and a Muslim police chaplain. Will County, Ill. also hopes its podcasting will reach young people, and that this in turn may lead to crime tips coming back in youth-specific cases. The county already sends out email alerts about crimes to around 3,000 recipients, and has garnered tips from this email program.
"Hoosiers Can Track Inmate Status"
Louisville Courier Journal (KY) (05/16/07) P. 1B; Weidenbener, Lesley Stedman
Indiana is now part of a multi-state inmate tracking network called SAVIN (Statewide Automated Victim Information and Notification), which is available around the clock at www.vinelink.com or by calling 1-866-959-8463. Now, residents in Indiana can access the status of more than 27,000 inmates in the state's correctional system as well as county jails in Floyd, Marion, Warrick, and Henry counties. Residents can opt to be notified about inmates' placement, release, transfer, or other changes, and can use the service anonymously in English or Spanish. Java Ahmed with the Indiana Department of Correction said additional counties would be added to the system as the technology expands and more prison officials become trained. By the end of 2008, all 92 counties in the state are scheduled to be online, she said. The U.S. Congress committed $17 million to launch the nationwide system; Indiana received roughly $1.25 million. The state is providing approximately $950,000 in matching funds for the initiative through the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute and the state Department of Correction. Becky Dunlap with Crisis Connections anticipates that SAVIN will help reduce her organization's need to consult with law enforcement and prosecutors.
"Grant Will Fund Police Technology"
Rockford Register Star (Illinois) (05/16/07) P. 2C; Gurman, Sadie
The helicopters that assist Rockford, Ill., officials with search-and-rescue operations will soon be able to employ heat detection to locate people who escape in complete darkness. The infrared equipment can detect the warmth of a missing person and the heat of a just-fired gun, according to Deputy Chief Kurt Ditzler. The technology will be implemented in one of the helicopters the Winnebago County Sheriff's Department utilizes through the Law Enforcement Aviation Coalition. Rockford Area Crime Stoppers will pay for the $186,000 price tag as part of a $578,000 grant the crime-combating initiative will divide between area law enforcement groups. Ditzler explained that the infrared equipment will permit officials to scan big sections of land, seeking temperature changes, which can help them locate missing individuals, nighttime car accident victims, and suspects on the lam. Crime Stoppers is also purchasing surveillance cameras for the Rockford Police Department. Rockford police will receive during a three-year period $350,000 to implement the cameras in the city's problem neighborhoods. http://www.rrstar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2007105160030
"Hale County in Texas Selects Omnilink Systems to Electronically Monitor Juveniles on Probation"
Business Wire (05/16/07)
The Juvenile Probation Board of Hale County, Texas has selected Omnilink Systems to provide electronic juvenile offender monitoring services for several county youth that are on probation. Omnilink provides sophisticated location awareness information in real-time, offering a product that is completely waterproof and capable of tracking people and valuable assets inside buildings, buses, trains, and more. After relying on landline-based monitoring, which only notified probation officers when offenders were home, Chief Juvenile Probation Officer Eddie Subealdea stated that Omnilink's Focalpoint 2.0 monitoring technology solution allows the Hale County officers to know the location of their assigned juveniles at all times. "With Omnilink's Focalpoint 2.0 monitoring technology solution, my officers know within a minute when a juvenile breaks curfew or is somewhere off limits. And, they can view reports telling them where the juveniles have been previously. The adolescents themselves can't believe it and seem more apt to stay out of trouble," Subealdea says. "With this increased efficiency, electronic monitoring has proven to be an effective alternative to juvenile placement, which can cost 10 times as much as monitoring. That's a lot of savings which allows the tax payer dollars to be spent in other ways to improve safety or juvenile services." Omnilink uses a combination of Global Positioning Systems (GPS), wireless network technologies, RFID and situation-specific sensors to transmit information to a monitoring center using commercial cellular networks and then applying predefined supervision rules on a Web-based application. Recently updated in conjunction with law enforcement feedback, Omnilink's Focalpoint 2.0 also features automated voice alerts when an offender location violation has occurred. In addition, Focalpoint 2.0 offers a victim safeguard that tracks the victims' off-the-shelf cell phones, in addition to the related offender, and then alerts both the victim and law enforcement when the two are within a designated proximity to each other.
"Relentless Search by Police Pays Off in a Heartbeat"
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (05/16/07) P. B1; Kriegish, I. Harrison
Earlier in May, state police searched Butler County, Pa., for 10-year-old John Paul May, a Harrisville resident who was awaiting a donor heart. When UPMC Children's Hospital staff could not find the boy or contact his mother when a heart became available, the police were called. Cpl. James Green was able to convince Sprint Nextel to locate Mrs. May's cell phone utilizing incorporated GPS technology, which can only be used in "life and death" situations. The police were able to track down John Paul and his mother at a concert in Slippery Rock, and the child was taken by ambulance to the children's hospital in Oakland with under an hour to spare. The surgery went well and John Paul is recuperating.
"Biometrics Enter DHS Exit System"
Federal Computer Week (05/14/07); Chan, Wade-Hahn
To the great relief of Congress, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on May 7 that it intends to quickly implement its biometric-based exit system for verifying the identities of foreign travelers who are leaving the United States. Over the past three years, the DHS US-VISIT program has been testing biometric exit technology at 14 airports, and since 2005, the DHS has been working on creating plans that detail how a secure, biometrics-based exit strategy can be implemented. The DHS had been testing the use of RFID technology for the program, but ended the tests earlier this month. The DHS then announced that it would implement 10-fingerprint scans as a means to verify the identities of foreigners who are leaving the United States via airports. Over the next several months, the DHS will introduce new regulations that explain the working details of the biometric exit system. DHS spokeswoman Anna Hinken noted that travelers in airports typically have about two hours before leaving on their flights. "The visitors could just go up and check out whenever they wanted," Hinken said. http://www.fcw.com/article102688-05-14-07-Print
"Send in the Robots: Robot Teams Handle Hazardous Jobs"
Kansas State University News (05/01/07); Hall, Michelle
Kansas State University associate professor of computing and information sciences Scott DeLoach has been using a $219,140 grant from the Department of Defense to research and create intelligent sensor networks. DeLoach's approach uses robots, sensors, laptops, and servers to handle dangerous but necessary tasks such as searching buildings for weapons of mass destruction or clearing supply routes of improvised explosive devices. DeLoach's projects examine how robot teams can respond to changing environments when performing a task, an action that will require the robots to have knowledge of the team's organizational structure, individual team member capabilities, the environment, the team goal, and appropriate reasoning mechanisms. "The goal is to establish 'organizational reasoning' as a key component in a new approach to build highly robust cooperative robot teams," DeLoach says. So far, a model of autonomous teams has been developed that allows teams to reason about organizing and reorganizing, along with a goal model for dynamic systems that allows the dynamics of the environment to be captured, according to DeLoach. The project has also developed a high-level simulator that tests the teams reasoning algorithms to determine if the team actually adapts the problem-solving process to their environment. The robotic team structure will allow a small number of operators to control multiple teams of robots, rather than multiple operators controlling a small number of robots.
Fire Chief (04/07) P. 34; St. John, Michael
New technology enables fire fighters to respond effectively and safely to emergencies by providing access to a community's ever-evolving geospatial data. Instead of having to memorize everything from new streets to wildland-urban interface areas, fire fighters can use GIS databases and aerial maps. In terms of prevention, fire fighters can employ GIS programs to assess their service capacity by plotting and rating area risks like hazmat facilities and high life-hazard occupancies. During emergencies, updated street and building information, like emergency exits and sprinkler system valves, is invaluable; fire fighters can absorb GIS data from handheld devices and "rugged" laptops while traveling to emergencies, facilitating swift action upon arrival. Two new GIS data systems are currently being developed, the first a vehicle location system providing the real-time position of emergency vehicles. The second is a gps location system that tracks individual fire fighters, allowing the incident commander to know precisely where each of his fire fighters is within the building.
"Analog to Digital"
Security Technology & Design (04/07) Vol. 17, No. 4, P. 36; Ladd, Matt
Security practitioners can switch their analog video systems to digital, at a modest price, by following the advice of some top systems operators. For example, one operator recommends that security practitioners switch the head-end equipment but keep as much of the remaining infrastructure as possible. "As a rule, the cost of replacing the infrastructure is fairly significant, so we start by replacing the VCRs or DVRs and the matrix switches, and put the video on a network to be recorded by an NVR," he says. Security practitioners should try to switch from analog to digital as fast as they can and in as few steps as they can--if they have the budget to do so. In situations where new analog cameras are being installed, security practitioners may want to avoid using coax cabling and instead use Cat 5 or Cat 6 cabling and video baluns, assuming the run is less than 300 feet. Cameras can also be powered via the same Cat 5 cable, thereby reducing costs and eliminating the need to run separate power cables. Practitioners should also consider replacing a non-working DVR with a hybrid DVR capable of supporting a few IP cameras--this provides an easy and inexpensive way to test out IP cameras. At present, only about one in 10 security cameras that are sold are IP cameras, but industry observers predict that within about three to seven years 90 percent of cameras sold will be IP.
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