Editor's Note: Many of the technologies in this new summary are being used by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies for their homeland security, counter-terrorism and homeland security functions.
NLECTC Law Enforcement & Corrections Technology News Summary
Thursday, September 27, 2007
"7 Carrying GPS Units in Weeklong Tryout to See How Tracking Software Worked"
Modesto Bee (CA) (09/23/07); Raguso, Emilie
The Stanislaus County Probation Department recently held a trial for a new program that outfitted law enforcement and county officials with global positioning system (GPS) equipment. The trial put GPS units in the hands of a select group of town officials, including the Modesto district attorney, county supervisor, two Turlock police chiefs, sheriff, and the mayor. The GPS units were rented by the department and given to the group to determine how the equipment and tracking worked. Most trial participants took their GPS tracking devices along with them everywhere they traveled. The monitoring technology not only tracked the whereabouts of the participants, but also informed those monitoring the group how fast they were driving. The monitoring devices, which are designed for probationers, keeps a log of everywhere the person wearing the device goes to make sure people do not violate the terms of their release conditions.
"L.A. Turns Cameras on Gang Graffiti"
Christian Science Monitor (09/25/07) P. 3; Wood, Daniel B.; Tully, Alison
The City of Los Angeles has installed surveillance cameras in a crime-ridden section of the city's east San Fernando Valley area in an effort to deter gang-related graffiti and other gang-related activities. The cameras sit atop poles at locations such as back alleys and have a motion-detection system that flashes the lens when someone is loitering in front of them. After the camera takes a picture, the system plays a voice recording that warns suspects that their picture has just been taken and that they will be prosecuted if caught committing a crime. The cameras have other features that previous generations of surveillance cameras did not have. For instance, the cameras have a wireless feature that allows them to be moved easily and more often to new locations. Officials can also download the photos taken by the camera without having to go up to the camera in a bucket raised and lowered by a crane. Some residents in the east San Fernando Valley area say the cameras are helping to reduce graffiti and other gang-related crimes. Critics, however, say the amount of money the city is spending on the cameras--roughly $70,000 for the 10 that will eventually be installed--is small compared with the $8 million the city pays on average each year for graffiti removal. http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0925/p03s03-usju.html
"High-Tech Law Enforcement"
Tucson Citizen (AZ) (09/21/07) P. 4A; Gargulinski, Ryn
The new $180,000, 400-lbs. robot used by the Tucson police bomb squad is just one of many high-tech devices debuting on the law enforcement front. The robot is a crime-fighting tool used to protect officers from potentially hazardous chemicals or explosives, entering about 30 percent of the Tucson Police Department's bomb squad crime scenes. Technology that allows license plate scanning will soon be launched in the form of a $24,000 scanning device enabling officers to track license plates of stolen vehicles in one swooping motion. James Wysocki, administrator of information services at the TPD, says the tool will save officers hours of time in addition to maximizing the amount of vehicle plates they can scan. COPLINK, used from coast to coast, is another device that departments largely depend on. The system is accessible from a police car's Mobile Tactical Computer (MTC), enabling officers to view mug shots and maps, among other information. The convenient E-Citation program also allows officers to automatically fill out citations with license information due to a separate high-tech scanning device. Though technology has made strides within the department, Wysocki said the TPD has not eliminated any employees, and has reassigned them instead. He adds, "There seems to be an elastic demand for law enforcement services. Our problem is one of growth, not of shrinking." http://www.tucsoncitizen.com/ss/local/63619.php
"Big Bro's Coming to Transport Hubs"
Boston Herald (09/24/07); Underwood, Mike
In an effort to buffer against future possible threats, the Massachusetts state government revealed its plan to expand surveillance to all major transportation facilities, including metro stations, ports, and airports. Homeland Security Undersecretary Julliette Kayyem says the initiative is in response to the July 7, 2005, bombing attack in London, and believes video security will enable authorities to respond quickly if a similar attack occurs in Boston. Sen. James Timilty (D-Walpole), the state Legislature's Homeland Security committee chairman, says the new strategy is an important step but there are still other vulnerable public areas. "My biggest fear is that our softest targets are places like schools. I'm very scared about what could happen so we ought to have cameras in certain places," Timilty says. Along with public surveillance, the state government will organize a statewide emergency response program as part of it's heightened focus on transportation, while plans to build an Internet-based alert system and to coordinate evacuation and relocation are also being discussed.
"Police Get a New Weapon in Arsenal to Detect Hazardous Radiation"
Buffalo News (09/19/07) P. B3; Michel, Lou
New York state troopers and members of the Erie County sheriff's bomb squad are regularly carrying radiological detection units on their patrols. The devices, which cost $1,500 and are the size of a paper bag, are so sensitive that they start emitting beeps if a patrol car traveling at 55 mph or higher comes close to another car transporting even a tiny amount of radioactive substances. After radioactivity is located, another unit is sent to the scene to determine what the material is. Police can then decide whether the radiation being given off from a person or a vehicle's cargo is of real concern. The hand-held "identiFINDER" machine obtains a reading and then deciphers the substance. It also informs police as to whether the radiation is at a satisfactory level. If the portable database in the device cannot provide an answer, the officer can instantly email the data to a government facility. The 450 detection units were purchased with money from the U.S. Homeland Security Department. http://www.buffalonews.com/cityregion/otherwny/story/165974.html
"St. Louis Police Will Get Help Locating Gunfire"
St. Louis Post-Dispatch (09/20/07) P. B5; Bryan, Bill
St. Louis law enforcement have received a Department of Justice grant for installing an "urban gunshot detection monitoring system" that can identify the sound of gunfire and its location. The $500,000 grant will be split between financing the new system and the Police Executive Research Forum thinktank, committed to creating strategies to reduce gun-violence. "We believe this joint venture will help us understand and examine the root causes of violent crime, especially those involving firearms," Police Chief Joe Mokwa said. Officers also say the technology will assist in the process of making arrests and lead to confiscation of more weapons. The monitoring system contains microphones that have a range of roughly one mile used to pinpoint the location of a shot. Similar technology is employed by the military, and other police departments in Chicago, Minneapolis, and Oakland, California.
"Cameras Provide Extra Eyes for Police"
Chattanooga Times Free Press (TN) (09/21/07) P. B2; Harris, Ryan
The Fort Oglethorpe, Tenn., Police Department is testing a license-plate recognition system outfitted on patrol vehicles. The system is run by eight cameras erected on the light-bar of a police car, and a processor in back of the cruiser interprets the license-plate number and compares it to area and national databases. In addition, a GPS system lists the site of every vehicle, as well as stores a time and date stamp. During three hours of testing, Fort Oglethorpe police were able to take 1,467 license-plate photos with the system and were informed about 14 suspects. Numerous citations were given, and an arrest was made. Implementing the system would cost $30,000 to $35,000 for each patrol vehicle. Though there are not any immediate plans to buy the equipment, Police Chief Larry Black noted he will write a report based on the police department's tests to show to the Fort Oglethorpe City Council, which would have to sanction such a purchase. Black pointed out that money obtained from drug busts could help finance the equipment.
"Machine Aims to ID Liquids at Airport"
USA Today (09/20/07); Hall, Mimi
Scientists working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security are developing a machine that is able to identify liquid explosives, which could be used to screen baggage at airports. The project, named SENSIT, uses magnetic resonance imaging [MRI] to identify the molecular structure of chemicals in a liquid. If the technology is implemented in airports, it could result in the end of the restriction on the size of liquids in carry-on baggage that has been in place since last September. Currently only bottles up to three ounces in weight and smaller than a quart-sized plastic bag are allowed, because current X-ray scanners can't "differentiate between a sports drink and a material somebody could use for a bomb," according to scientist Bob Kraus. The SENSIT machine currently can identify a total of 50 safe and unsafe liquids, with safe liquids showing up as a green dot on a monitor and dangerous liquids being labeled with a red dot. SENSIT is scheduled to be tested next summer at Albuquerque International to determine if the scanner can be effective in a crowded airport environment.
"San Jose Cops Unveil Interactive Crime Map"
San Jose Mercury News (CA) (09/18/07); Skipitares, Connie
San Jose, Calif.'s police department has launched new crime-tracking software on its Web site that lists the precise location of crime reports. Created by the Salt Lake City firm Public Engines, the software replaces a service that was much less exact. Residents can now look at a report's status, including where an arrest was conducted or if an investigation is still going on or was terminated. In addition, with much more in-depth mapping, they can focus on a region as small as a one-mile radius of their school or house. Map icons reveal where robberies, car thefts, sexual attacks, and additional crimes are being reported. San Jose is only one of a few cities in the country to provide this kind of in-depth and simple to access data. The software enables residents to obtain automatic notification through email when crimes are reported close to their houses or schools. The database is updated each morning at 1 a.m. with the approximately 1,500 crime reports produced daily across San Jose. http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_6925367
"$6 Million Grant to Improve Cape Police Response"
Fort Myers News-Press (09/18/07)
The Cape Coral, Fla., Police Department has received a $6 million grant from the federal Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. Cape Coral will work in tandem with other public-safety groups in Lee County and the county government to utilize the grant to buy and install a highly-advanced digital radio communications system, which will enable each public-safety group in Lee County to communicate with one another. Presently, Southwest Florida public-safety agencies employ radio systems that are not compatible with one another and cannot swap information, which makes it hard for agencies to work jointly to improve crime-fighting and public safety. In remote sections of Lee County, the existing analog system also witnesses drop zones. Changing over to a digital system will result in faster response times for first responders, greater officer safety, and more access to emergency services for local residents, police claim. In addition, the new system will be more dependable and will have broadened channels to accommodate more users. The Lee County Board of Commissioners has earmarked $2 million for the project, meaning that $8 million overall will be utilized to improve the radio communications system.
"Bay Area Leaders to Build Disaster Communications System"
Insurance Journal (09/14/07)
With grant funding, the Bay Area Public Safety Interoperable Communications Initiative will link communication channels for public agencies in a number of urban counties in California, including San Francisco, San Mateo, Contra Cost, Alameda, and Santa Clara. The public agencies' interoperable communications system will enable greater disaster response efficiency and disaster relief coordination in the event of earthquake or other catastrophic events. The $200 million project also will connect these counties' communication systems to Sacramento. http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/west/2007/09/14/83487.htm
"SAPD Secures $6 Million From Justice Department"
San Antonio Business Journal (09/13/07)
The San Antonio Police Department will receive a $6 million federal grant through the Justice Department's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), part of a U.S. Department of Justice effort to improve communications technology and fight crime. "This funding will help San Antonio first responders fight crime and keep our communities safe," U.S. Sen. John Cornyn said. "It's critical that we provide our law enforcement officials the resources necessary for emergency preparedness and other homeland security efforts to protect homes and families." The funding can be used to purchase technology that allows for increasing communications and data interoperability between law enforcement agencies and other first responders in the area. http://www.bizjournals.com/sanantonio/stories/2007/09/10/daily26.html
Governing (08/07) Vol. 20, No. 11, P. 56; Walters, Jonathan
Chicago's Citizen and Law Enforcement Analysis and Reporting (CLEAR) database is changing the way members of its police force do business. CLEAR has a number of capabilities designed to better connect the area's law enforcement agencies to each other and to their communities. The system is accessible to squad-car laptops, mobile devices, and community members with an online subscription. All the typical data needed to catch a criminal is made available, including warrants, fingerprints, rap sheets, identifying marks, aliases, license plates, and firearms information. High-tech equipment also monitors video and sound in areas of potential criminal activity, or can be taken on the go to track stolen vehicles or suspects in transit. CLEAR can even screen crime-rates by district or neighborhood, allowing officers to alert communities to potential dangers, ratchet up the heat on suspects, and make sure police presence is felt where it is most needed. The system has proved extremely successful, improving community relations and bringing down crime-rates in and around Chicago. In fact, CLEAR has proven itself so many times, even the federal government has taken notice, ordering similar systems for military use in Iraq and Afghanistan. http://www.governing.com/manage/pm/perf0807.htm
"Medical Remedies Prevent Death by TASER"
Police and Security News (08/07) Vol. 23, No. 4, P. 27
For the past seven months, emergency medical technicians in Miami have been participating in a pilot program that aims to prevent TASER-related deaths. The program calls for EMTs to spray the sedative midazolam in the noses of subjects who have been TASERed if the first electroshock does not control them. EMTs then inject the subject with iced saline solution to cool their body and sodium bicarbonate to neutralize the toxic acids released by their tense muscles. The treatment, which is the first of its kind in the country, has been used at least 12 times by Miami EMTs to reduce TASERed subjects' body temperatures and calm them down. Government officials and TASER International are hoping the treatment will help to restore public confidence in TASERs. http://www.policeandsecuritynews.com