Editor's Note: Many of the technologies in this summary are being used by state and local police departments for domestic counterterrorism and homeland security.
NLECTC Law Enforcement & Corrections Technology News Summary
Thursday, July 26, 2007
"NOPD Unveils New Crime Maps"
New Orleans Times-Picayune (07/20/07) P. 1; McCarthy, Brendan
On July 19, the New Orleans Police Department launched an upgraded Web site mapping tool that lays out crimes on a map. The tool, located at the bottom of the police department's Web site, permits users to enter any address in New Orleans. At that point, they can look for particular crimes, zoom in and out of certain neighborhoods, and locate incidents going back to the start of 2005. The mapping tool was published on the Web site in early May and got poor reviews from users, who contended that crime information was missing, the maps were difficult to read, and directions were bad. Since then, police department technology head Maj. Michael Sauter and the Mayor's Office of Technology have redone the model and included numerous features. Users can now look by police district boundaries, neighborhoods, ZIP codes, and other information. In addition, they can email maps and transfer the information onto spreadsheets. Sauter notes that around 95 percent of all uniform crime events will be included in the mapping database.
"Do Tasers Save Lives? DeKalb Takes Another Look"
Atlanta Journal-Constitution (07/23/07); Simpson, David
The DeKalb County, Ga., Police Department, which stopped using Taser stun guns in 2005 due to alleged fatalities, is reconsidering the device. Before DeKalb withdrew its Tasers, the guns had been employed 62 times without a reported injury or complaint by a civilian, notes Maj. J.E. Helms, who heads training for DeKalb police. Helms stresses he does not think Tasers by themselves cause fatalities. DeKalb Police Chief Terrell Bolton has obtained the assistance of Southern Christian Leadership Conference president Charles Steele Jr. in facilitating the comeback of Tasers for DeKalb police. Steele states he is in favor of the decision, so long as officers and medical employees are correctly instructed. Meanwhile, R.K. de Graaf, the vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police's DeKalb chapter, stresses the stun guns protect both officers and suspects from injuries. Nationally, Tasers have been marketed as a way to lower shootings, with varied results. Shootings in Miami are said to have significantly fallen when Tasers are employed, while Houston saw its shooting fatalities rise from two in 2004 to 11 in 2005 after Tasers were distributed to officers.
"Laconia Police Eye Use of TASERs"
Laconia Citizen (NH) (07/20/07)
The Laconia, N.H., Police Department is ready to wrap up another fiscal year and is thinking about employing Taser stun guns. The department has already bought one Taser. While both the Belknap Sheriff's Department and the Tilton Police Department employ Tasers, Laconia Police Chief Tom Oetinger said on July 19 that he wants Lt. Steve Clarke to perform an in-depth study of the guns' utilization across New Hampshire and nationally before they are implemented in Laconia. "While I'm always interested in being ahead of the curve in a lot of areas, technology involving the use of force is something where I tend to be conservative until there is some sort of ability to benchmark it and there has been significant street use by other organizations," Oetinger stated.
"Cameras to Catch Street Action"
Capital Times (WI) (07/19/07) P. B2; Miller, Mike
Police in Madison, Wis., are using video cameras to better monitor a busy downtown area of the city heavily populated by bars and clubs. The department says they hope this new technology will provide a more efficient, cost effective way of monitoring the area. The city has spent an additional $100,000 to up police presence in the downtown district as a response to some recent robberies and disturbances caused by drinkers leaving the bars. One camera will be set up in the area on a trial basis. If the trial proves successful, eight more will be put in place by fall. These cameras will be hooked up to laptops in police cruisers allowing officers to monitor several areas at once. http://www.madison.com
"Homeland Security Grants Aid Vital Communications"
Omaha World-Herald (NE) (07/19/07); Stoddard, Martha
New grants announced on July 18 will provide Iowa and Nebraska significant help in offering police, fire fighters, and additional emergency responders the means to speak with each other. Iowa's 911 project manager, John Benson, explained the new grant will be crucial to his state's communications campaign. Nebraska Emergency Management Agency assistant director Al Berndt added that his state has employed a large percentage of its homeland security money to expand the communications network throughout Nebraska. Nebraska has evolved in enabling law enforcement and first responders to talk with each other within certain areas, he added. The initiative includes new radio equipment and technology. Berndt says the next phase is to expand that ability to the entire state and get state agencies on board. The U.S. government is offering $968 million for communications nationwide, utilizing money presented by Congress in a bill from 2005. http://www.omaha.com/index.php?u_page=2798&u_sid=10081784
"A Full-Scale Immersion in Disaster Training"
Colorado Springs Gazette (07/22/07); Zubeck, Pam
The National Exercise Program's latest simulation center in Washington, D.C., conducted a nationwide emergency response training between April 30 and May 17, engaging emergency responders from 11 states and six federal agencies. The latest nationwide drill, Ardent Sentry, cost $20 million and forced responders to extend their resources as a Category 3 mock hurricane hit New England--affecting seven states--and several other disasters occurred within days. The national center is expected to provide written and electronic synopses of the training simulations involving various local and federal personnel to help local and state governments create their own training programs for emergency responders. The center also will offer tabletop exercises and other localized drill information. Officials at the center say that a nuclear disaster will overwhelm many local response teams and their ability to medically care for the injured and exposed.
"La. State Police Crime Lab Shrinks Rape Kit Backlog"
Advocate (07/18/07) P. A1; Vetter, Kimberly
The backlog of sexual-assault kits in Louisiana that have not been examined for DNA evidence has fallen from 3,100 four years ago to 200. Louisiana State Police Crime Laboratory director Capt. Jerry Patrick notes that kits between 2004 and this year exist, and that the remainder of the kits, many of them going back to the 1980s, have been taken care of. Patrick credits the lab's ability to lower its backlog to federal grant funds and an expansion in the lab's DNA program. He adds that processing a single rape kit for DNA information costs between $600 and $1,000. Being able to reduce Louisiana's backlog has created an increase in the ability to resolve cold cases. After a rape kit is processed, the results are studied and put in a database known as the Combined Index System (CODIS). The database employs a pair of indexes to produce investigative crimes in cases where biological proof is found at a crime scene. The Convicted Offender index lists DNA profiles of individuals found guilty of felony sex crimes and additional violent offenses. http://www.2theadvocate.com/news/8566202.html
"State Gears Up to Use Internet to Improve 911 Calls"
Knoxville News-Sentinel (TN) (07/18/07); Jacobs, Don
Emergency Services centers are looking for ways to use the Internet to make responding to a crisis faster and easier. Tennessee is one state already looking to institute a new Web-based technology called Next Generation-911 (NG-911). This system will use a combination of Internet technology and fiber-optics that will allow callers to communicate visual as well as verbal information to dispatchers. The dispatchers will then be able to use the same system to send that message to personnel in the field. It will also allow emergency service workers from across the state to better coordinate their efforts. For example, police will be able to use the system to scan fingerprints during traffic stops. NG-911 can also be used to transmit a 3-D map of a building in a siege situation to help officers find the safest way to extract hostages.
"State-Run Sites Not Effective Vs. Terror"
USA Today (07/23/07); Hall, Mimi
The 42 anti-terrorism "fusion" centers that have been created in 37 states have thus far proved inefficient at sharing information to combat terrorism, according to a new report from the Congressional Research Service. The fusion centers were created with the aim of increasing information-sharing among federal, state, and local law enforcement officials. But many of the centers have strayed from their central anti-terrorism mission and have instead "increasingly gravitated toward an all-crimes and even broader all-hazards approach," the report says. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has provided states with some $380 million in funding to create the fusion centers. One common problem plaguing the centers is that federal agents have resisted sharing information with local police, said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who believes there should be a requirement that federal analysts be posted at each center. One DHS official predicts that by the end of 2008, 35 DHS analysts will be working in the centers.
"Notification System Gives Status of Criminal Cases"
Reading Eagle (PA) (07/18/07); Young, Mary E.
Victims and witnesses of crime in Berks County, Pa., might be automatically informed in the near future by email or phone when the defendants in whose cases they had a part are to be set free from jail. Computer equipment would be made available within eight weeks after the county commissioners sanction county involvement in the system. A federal grant of $1.25 million will fund the equipment. Victims and witnesses who choose to be entered into the system will have to offer contact data and utilize a personal identification code to obtain information. The system would inform users when a certain defendant is set free on bail, has finished a jail term, or is sent to another facility. District Attorney Mark C. Baldwin believes the system will be helpful as well to law enforcement officials. The system will eventually have data on prisoners in all 53 of Pennsylvania's county prisons and possibly data on inmates in state jails. The system was scheduled to be voted on July 19. http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=50794
"New Lab Expands N.Y.'s Ability to Analyze DNA"
Newark Star-Ledger (NJ) (07/19/07) P. 32
New York City intends to expand its study of DNA evidence by over 17,000 cases annually, due to a new forensics lab that authorities claim is the biggest in the nation. On July 18, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other city representatives met to formally launch the Forensic Biology Laboratory of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. New York City wants to begin studying DNA evidence in over 20,000 cases annually, up from the present 3,000 per year. The facility cost nearly $290 million, and has 75,000 square feet of lab room. Bloomberg explained that the lab would enable New York City to locate criminals, and also rule out innocent individuals and study DNA evidence in crimes beside murder cases, including burglaries. He added that the lab would be utilized as well by the Missing Persons agency and the unit that attempts to locate the remains of World Trade Center victims. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly stated that police officers would be alternating their protocols to make obtaining DNA an element of more crime investigations. "We'll be increasing our obtaining of DNA samples and training people, our evidence collection teams," Kelly said. http://www.nj.com/news/ledger
Idaho Falls Post Register (07/19/07) P. A1; Wells, Heather
The Rexburg, Idaho, Police Department has been pursuing those who are involved in child pornography with the aid of new software that permits investigators to acquire digital proof from storage devices in computers by making a copy of their hard drives. The software can find files that were rewritten or removed, helping to catch child pornographers and embezzlers, and breaking up drug rings. Rexburg police are now utilizing the Forensic Tool Kit to look into a pair of child pornography cases, and they hope to bring charges soon. Earlier in 2007, Rexburg Police Department Det. Supervisor Lt. Shane Turmin requested a federal grant for $14,000 to buy the tool kit. Though the Idaho Falls Police Department does not employ the kit, it does have access to related software. That department has been able to determine passwords on computers and obtain files as primary evidence in child pornography cases. Last year, 17,291 cyber-crime complaints were filed in this country. http://www.idahonews.com
"Sheriff Welcomes Statewide Role"
New Orleans Times-Picayune (07/19/07) P. 1; Scallan, Matt
The newly elected president of the Louisiana Sheriff's Association says adding technology to the sheriff's department will be a priority for him. St. Charles Parish's Sheriff Greg Champagne says technology is an integral part of the department's operations and should be readily available. "The law says we have to register sex offenders, but about half the departments in the state are still filing paper documents and fingerprints with State Police," Champagne states. To remedy the problem, Champagne says efforts are underway to "get all the departments on the same sex offender [reporting] program." As part of the effort, all of the departments will move to new 700 MHz radio systems so that first responders from various agencies can communicate, and email alert systems will be implemented for residents to let them know when criminals are in their area.
"Watching You: Downtown Camera Proposal Gains Momentum"
Daily Progress (07/18/07); Rosen, Seth
Charlottesville, Va., law enforcement are backing an approximately $300,000 proposal that would install cameras downtown to monitor high-crime areas. Police say aside from circumventing potential crimes in the area, the cameras would also assist in investigations. Councilors say that they need more information about the placement and monitoring of the cameras before reaching a decision, but in light of eight assaults that have taken place downtown in the span of two months, the proposal is gaining momentum. "Whether [the public's safety concerns] are real or perceived, we have a responsibility to try to address it in as many ways as we possibly can," said Police Chief Timothy J. Longo. Although councilors noted that some residents might cite privacy issues as reasons for preventing the surveillance, they say public safety should rank above those concerns. The exact method for monitoring the cameras is still up for discussion, but Longo said the surveillance footage would only be used by law enforcement. Longo also said real-time should be used to stream the footage, yet such technology is also more costly. Charlottesville has no current deadline for receiving the bids or voting on the cameras.
"Pepper Spray: Is the Hot Stuff Still Relevant in Our High-Tech Electronic World?"
Police and Security News (06/07) Vol. 23, No. 3, P. 65; Ijames, Steve
The use of pepper spray made with Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) became widespread among the majority of U.S. law enforcement agencies by 1992, and its use is still relevant today. Tests conducted in the late 1990s by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the University of North Carolina found that OC-based sprays are generally safe and effective and that just two of 63 proximal deaths over a period of five years could be attributed to pepper spray. The report also concluded that pepper spray helped reduce injuries among officers as well as suspects, slashed complaints of excessive force, and was used to successfully handle resistance in 85 percent of the cases where it was used. Compared to TASERs, pepper spray is more affordable, priced at about $12 per officer. The newer versions are also more effective, based on evidence that pain is a result of the portion of capsaicinoid in the product and that cone-shaped delivery units require less accuracy compared to conventional spray tools. Pepper sprays are also effective for cases that go beyond the TASER and when multiple suspects are present. One of the newest pepper spray products is the TigerLight, which features a super-bright light and a concealed blast of pepper spray on the handle end. The device is intended for one-handed use and a study by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office indicates that compliance among suspects was achieved by deputies in 98 percent of the cases when it was used. http://www.policeandsecuritynews.com
"Interoperability: A 21st Century Name for an Evolving Requirements in Ocean City, Maryland"
Sheriff (06/07) Vol. 59, No. 3, P. 11; Dimaio, Bob
For Ocean City, Md., the meaning of interoperability indicates being able to instantly communicate with people from other agencies, departments, or areas via dependable and high quality service. For example, the governments of Ocean City and Worcester County, Md., distribute separate radio systems that link together via a system-to-system network connection. The radios' programming allows them to work on either system. Every Ocean City radio also features extra channels from the National Public Safety Planning Advisory Committee (NPSPAC) designed to let incompatible radios communicate. A countrywide initiative has been launched to build repeater coverage using these channels, and Maryland is spearheading the effort through projects such as the Maryland Eastern Shore Interoperability Network (MESIN). MESIN provides interoperability to counties through such 800 MHz NPSPAC mutual aid channels as 8Call, 8TAC-1, 8TAC-2, 8TAC-3, and 8TAC-4. MESIN is an IP-based network that features gateways, routers, and a fully redundant switch, utilizing 12 tower sites across Maryland's Eastern Shore for disparate personnel with 800 MHz equipment. In 2006, Ocean City added a self-contained Mobile Command Vehicle that has a stand alone 4 channel trunked radio site that can work in conjunction with or in place of the Ocean City Trucked System. More than 100 portable radios are stored ready for use. Another system that enables interoperability is the ACU1000 Interconnect System that can link low band, VHF band, UHF band, military band, 800 MHz band, and wireless phones; modifications in the field for radios can be made as needed using onboard hardware and software. http://www.sheriffs.org