Editor''s Note: Many of technologies are being used for domestic counterterrorism and homeland security.
NLECTC Law Enforcement & Corrections Technology News Summary
Thursday, July 5, 2007
"Criminal Database Timed Out"
St. Petersburg Times (FL) (07/02/07) P. 1PAC; Thalji, Jamal
The Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS), the outdated criminal courts database in Pasco County, Fla., is being replaced. Though it is too soon for Pasco authorities to predict how long it will be or what the price of replacement is, it is known the new system will be financed by state-enforced recording charges that pay for criminal justice computer systems. "It's an old mainframe, it's an old language, it's an old support system, " noted Pasco director of court services Rosalyn Fenton. "We're looking at a lot of functionality that this system cannot support." The present CJIS system in Pasco County stores case numbers, hearing data, sentences, and court appearance appointments. Police officers, attorneys, judges, and the public use it on a daily basis. The new system needs to be Web-based, with up-to-date servers operating current software utilizing strong computer chips and vast hard drives. It will also need to be adaptable to the latest record-keeping technology. http://www.sptimes.com/2007/07/02/Pasco/Criminal_database_tim.shtml
"Murder, She Texted: Wireless Messaging Used to Fight Crime"
Wall Street Journal (07/02/07) P. B1; Yuan, Li
Text messaging is the latest trend to involve law enforcement, as worldwide agencies are employing the cell phone option to help receive tips for cases. The Boston Police Department has initiated "Text a Tip" to promote the assistance of young people, who tend to text the most. Individuals can anonymously text "TIP" to 27463 (CRIME) and then receive messages from the number asking for specifics about the location, suspect, and other factors involving a crime. At Wisconsin-based Einstein Wireless, an emergency alert system that relies on text messaging is offered in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, while California Lt. Governor John Garamendi has proposed a similar text-based emergency citizen for residents. The cost of the service and privacy issues must still be sorted out by officials. Washington, D.C., and Westchester, N.Y., are among cities offering citizens the choice of receiving crime alerts via their cell phones.
"Jail Task Force"
Flint Journal (MI) (07/01/07) P. C2
The editors of the Flint Journal write that Genesee County's overcrowded prison is just one of the many public problems that go unfixed in Flint, Mich., because a solution is regarded as too hard, not worth spending money on over the short term, or carries too much political risk. "The result is long-term conditions that cripple the community in ways we might not imagine, but all having to do with a lower quality of life and lack of opportunity," the editors state. For almost 20 years, the Genesee County Jail has been one of those problems, the editors point out, even though it was reconstructed to replace a building so below standard that a prisoner's lawsuit required its replacement. The editors stress that complaints by law enforcement and others have not yielded real results, and the primary objective has been to try and keep a lid on the situation. At the very least, the editors write, fixing the problem may mandate increased utilization of technology, with "more [people] in custody put on tethers," and an improvement of computer software to better oversee the inmate population. It is important that everyone realizes that Flint's crime rate must be reduced as soon as possible, both to protect people and to help improve the region's image, the editors say. Though a task force has been established to deal with the problem, if it "can't accomplish this, it won't have done its job," the editors conclude.
"LV Police to Post Cameras"
Las Vegas Review-Journal (06/29/07) P. 1B; Kihara, David
As of August, surveillance cameras will be in place at Las Vegas' Fremont and 15th Streets. The high-crime area will be monitored under a three-month pilot program to cut such activities as robbery and drug dealing that have made the area notorious. Police Deputy Chief Gary Schofield says that having law enforcement monitor a high-crime area is a better option than "putting a police officer on every corner" in crime-ridden areas. Yet Nevada's ACLU says the move is a privacy invasion and police are taking a "shortcut" to crime. "When you know there are cameras watching your every move, it changes the way you experience being in public," says ACLU executive director Gary Peck. According to a report from the U.S. Department of Justice, surveillance cameras have been linked to cutting down crime in certain locales. The cameras have panning, zooming, and tilting capabilities and recorded images will be kept for up to seven days. http://www.lvrj.com/news/8242867.html
"RoboCop Fantasy Gets Real"
Houston Chronicle (06/29/07); Jewell, Mark
On June 28, iRobot and Taser International teamed in Boston to demonstrate their joint product, to be used by law enforcement and the Pentagon. By merging Taser stun guns with robots already manufactured for the military, iRobot wants to provide police and soldiers with a nonlethal, defensive weapon. Certain observers, however, are worried such inventions could wind up resulting in robots that decide for themselves when to shoot and possibly kill someone. "Right now, we have no plans to take any robot with a lethal-weapon approach to the market," iRobot vice president for business development Jim Rymarcsuk stressed. The two firms stated they have a model that will be shown at the conference Taser is hosting July 9-10 in Chicago. The model combines iRobot's current PackBot Explorer with the Taser X26m in what iRobot describes as "the first robot of its kind with an on-board, integrated Taser payload." It is not yet known when the system will be available to purchase or what its price will be. http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/tech/news/4930198.html
"County to Provide Crime Fighting Help to the City"
York Dispatch (PA) (06/28/07); Klimanis, Daina
The York County commissioners have agreed to set aside $100,000 to underwrite anti-crime projects. As part of the allocation, commissioners have decided to give a $52,000 salary increase to York City Police Department Nuisance Abatement Officer William Wentz. Another $8,000 will go toward the city initiative, the Downtown York Collaborative, which has proposed stepping up downtown police patrols and maintaining the upkeep of the city center. About $10,000 have been earmarked for the city's Home Owners Maximizing Equity Program, and $30,000 toward the installation of surveillance cameras and other security equipment downtown. http://www.yorkdispatch.com/local/ci_6250966
"Cobb Computer System to Ease Traffic Ticket Hassle"
Atlanta Journal-Constitution (06/28/07) P. 1JF; Rodriguez, Yolanda
Cobb Police and Georgia officials are slated to implement a computer system that will more efficiently process traffic tickets. The Selective Traffic Enforcement Program will allow officials to download traffic tickets into the state's court system and citizens will be able to check the amount of their fines faster. In 2006, four clerks manually entered 125,000 traffic tickets into the Cobb State Court system. Law enforcement officials have been using the Traffic and Criminal Software (TraCS) system since 2004, enabling them to fill out reports via patrol car laptops. Lt. C.T. Cox says the ability to have information at such accessibility has been essential to the ability of abetting criminal cases. The department is the only one of its kind in the state to use the software, while other applications are being tested to aid officers in filling out incident reports. http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/printedition/2007/06/28/nfxnwxpolice0628a.html
Macon Telegraph (GA) (06/28/07); Burk, Jennifer
Georgia state troopers have integrated state-of-the-art forensic animation into their training. Georgia State Patrol officers taking part in a special training session for the Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team at Central Georgia Technical College are able to create 3-D diagrams and animation on a computer program using evidence collected at crime scenes of traffic accidents. Officers can submit the animation in court cases to reconstruct scenes for the prosecution. "This is an illustration of our version of what the evidence tells us," says GSP Sgt. Scott Short, support services sergeant for the reconstruction team. "Once our capabilities come to be known, we anticipate we'll get requests from GBI, from other local agencies (and) from prosecutors." http://www.macon.com/198/story/77028.html
"Long Eye of Law"
Newsday (06/26/07) P. A6; Frazier, Michael
The Long Beach, N.Y., Police Department is one of an increasing amount of law enforcement groups that employ license plate readers erected on the top of patrol cars, referred to as the Mobile Plate Hunter. A minimum of 18 Long Island police departments utilize the readers, which cost around $22,000 each. Electronic alarms are given off from the reader when a pair of infrared cameras scan license plates at a speed of 15 to 25 a second. Pictures of the plate numbers are transmitted to a database in the vehicle trunk and checked with a digital list of cars wanted for various crimes, as well as traffic violations, reported stolen vehicles, and vehicles connected to Amber Alerts. The infrared red cameras can obtain plate numbers of moving or nonmoving cars. Since installation of the devices earlier this year, Long Beach police get around 40 alerts each day for possible stolen vehicles and licenses that have been suspended or revoked. Nationally, over 220 police departments employ the Mobile Plate Hunter, which is manufactured by Remington ELSAG of North Carolina. http://www.newsday.com/news/printedition/longisland/
"City Has Model for Crime Cameras"
Charleston Daily Mail (WV) (06/26/07) P. P1A; Stump, Jake
The city of Charleston, W.Va., is planning a program that will ensure most areas of the city are surveyed by cameras that can show where crimes are being committed. Mayor Danny Jones and local law enforcement plan to pattern the program after a similar one in Wilmington, Del., where the city's entire downtown area, as well as other neighborhoods at high risk for crime, are under surveillance from 76 cameras. Law enforcement officials in Wilmington say the cameras, which are monitored by the private contract firm Downtown Visions, have resulted in very low crime rates in the downtown area. Downtown Visions employees observe footage from every camera 17 hours a day, and can instantly contact police if they see suspicious activity. Charleston, meanwhile, has installed three cameras and is looking to expand surveillance, especially in high-crime areas. However, the surveillance plans have seen some opposition, especially from the West Virginia chapter of the ACLU, which points out that citizens who are not engaged in crime still may have good reasons for wanting to keep their activities in public areas private. Employees of the Wilmington surveillance program say that they take steps to ensure that no blackmail based on legal activities observed by the cameras is possible, and note that the video footage is only used for criminal cases. In addition, no crimes captured on the Wilmington cameras have yet gone to trial, because the video evidence causes defendants to simply plead guilty. http://www.dailymail.com/story/News/+/2007062637/
"Communication Upgrade Hinges on House"
Chattanooga Times Free Press (TN) (06/26/07) P. B2; Cook, Dick
Rep. Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) has attached earmarks to a federal appropriations bill that would include $5.8 million in funding for an 800-MHz emergency radio network for three North Georgia counties. Deal's addition of the earmarks comes after a proposal for a Department of Homeland Security grant for the network was denied, and after meetings with officials from the three counties to determine what communications equipment would be necessary. The funding would potentially be used to acquire radio equipment, repeaters, and tower sites for the new network; the counties' current low-band system is aging. However, Alex Case, emergency management director for Dade County, is concerned that even with federal funding, the amount of money required to maintain the new system would be excessive, and that the low-band system is still functional. http://www.timesfreepress.com/absolutenm/templates/
"Cameras Spot 'Hot' Cars, License Plates"
Washington Times (06/25/07) P. B1
The Virginia State Police has launched an anti-auto-theft program that includes the use of digital cameras that can record license plates of cars on highways or in parking lots and automatically match the license plates recorded with those in a database of plates of stolen cars. When a match is made, an alarm sounds that alerts police officers, allowing them to recover stolen vehicles. A recent camera operation in Richmond that lasted several weeks recovered 30 vehicles and 28 sets of stolen license plates. Other anti-auto-theft strategies used by Virginia police departments include "bait cars," which are equipped with tracking devices and then left in areas with high rates of auto theft. Because of the growing use of such technology, car theft has declined considerably both in Virginia and nationally over the last decade. http://www.washingtontimes.com/article/20070625/METRO/106250074
"DNA Testing Center to Open by Fall"
New Orleans Times-Picayune (06/19/07) P. 1; Chapple, Charlie
The St. Tammany Parrish, La., coroner's office is taking up residence in a temporary forensic science facility, outfitted to perform DNA analysis, in Slidell by early autumn. After it is operational, the center at the previous Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) locale will be able to offer DNA analysis, toxicology tests, and pathology for area law enforcement groups. Rather than waiting as long as two years for a permanent center to be constructed, the coroner's office is establishing a temporary DNA lab and center in a building that is 3,139 square feet in size that was recently leased by Slidell, which owns the DISA site. A pair of the State Police crime lab's DNA analysis experts, Amanda Kliest and Natasha Poe, were recently retained by the coroner's office to perform the DNA testing at the new center. Meanwhile, retired state crime lab employee Kim Colombo will start working next month for the coroner's office as quality control director for the facility. The permanent facility will have a DNA lab able to perform toxicology tests on blood samples, an autopsy room, a morgue, and administrative spaces. The temporary center will mostly function as a testing facility. http://www.nola.com/news/t-p/frontpage/index.ssf?/base/news-8/1182233022318080.xml&coll=1
"Dogs Take Bite Out of Crime"
Frederick News-Post (MD) (06/19/07); Fortney, Sarah
All seven dogs in the Frederick County Sheriff's K-9 Unit have been fitted with bulletproof vests. These new acquisitions are designed to protect the unit's dogs from most kinds of ballistics, and two even guard against stab wounds. The department was able to purchase the vests, which can cost as much as $700 apiece, thanks to a donation from the Catoctin Kennel Club and the Maryland-based group Justice for Dogs. http://www.fredericknewspost.com/sections/business/display.htm?StoryID=61519
"Muskingum Sheriff to Get Better Radios"
Zanesville Times Recorder (OH) (06/19/07); Gadd, Brian
The $360,000 Multi-Agency Radio Communication System (MARCS) will serve 99 percent of Muskingum County, enabling law enforcement to communicate with public safety agencies within Ohio. Major Bryan Hoover of the Muskingum County Sheriff's Office noted the necessity for the upgraded communication device, as the former low-banded system was "antiquated." Hoover added that the new system will cover an extensive part of the county and the only area not covered by MARCS will be a part of Baker Road and a section between Roseville and Cannelville. MARCS office manager Dick Miller said that the system will allow officers to communicate with fire departments, EMS, and up to 172 hospitals in the state. Motorola will provide the service for MARCS and the service is slated to be in place a few months following the equipment's shipment to the sheriff's department in June. http://zanesvilletimesrecorder.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?
"Minnesota Turns to RFID to Monitor Inmates"
Computerworld (06/18/07); Songini, Marc L.
Minnesota's Department of Corrections (DOC) is preparing to introduce a $500,000 radio frequency identification (RFID) prisoner-tracking system at one of its centers to increase security and automate the tracking of inmates. Earlier in June, the DOC announced that it is implementing the prisoner-tracking system in the 1,300-prisoner Minnesota Correctional Facility, a minimum-to-medium security facility which contains sex offenders. The lead contractor for the initiative is Minneapolis' Crowley Co., which offers high-security fencing and tracking systems, while Alanco Technologies Inc. of Scottsdale, Ariz., is providing the RFID system. The monitoring system is founded on active RFID tag technology and offers alerts if something unusual is taking place. Both prisoners and corrections guards sport wrist straps possessing a proprietary RFID tag, which transmits a signal every couple of seconds to antennas implemented inside of the facility and around its edges. The readers enter data into the proprietary TSI Prism Management application that transmits the information to a master terminal in a control room and to customer terminals set up in strategic sites across the facility, including the warden's office. In addition, an inmate can be monitored in virtual real time. http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?