War on Terrorism

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Public Safety Technology in the News

Editor's Note: A number of these technologies are used for counterterrorism and domestic homeland security.

Study Shows Tasers to be Relatively Harmless
The Post (10/22/07), Alivia Nuzzo

A study examining instances of
Taser® use by law enforcement at six agencies supports the use of the electro-muscular discharge units as a less-lethal alternative for law enforcement. Research data for the study, which was funded by the U.S. Department of Justice and conducted by Wake Forest University's School of Medicine, was gathered from criminal suspects' reports regarding use of Tasers®. Of the almost 1,000 subjects, 99.7% had little or no injuries. Death occurred in two instances, but it was later determined that the deaths were unrelated to the use of Tasers®.

New 911 System Can Trace Cell Calls
Daily News Transcript (10/22/07), Keith Ferguson

The Walpole (Massachusetts)
Police Department has taken advantage of Vestas Pallas, a new 911 system that reports cell phone numbers to dispatchers and provides dispatchers with the ability to trace cell phone calls to detailed locations on a computer-generated map. In the past, cell phone call location and phone number information were difficult to acquire. The system takes advantage of the GPS feature that's on most new phones to obtain location and phone number information. However, if the cell phone is older and doesn't have a GPS feature, the system initially will indicate the nearest cell tower and zero in on a more precise location as the call continues.

Townwide Alert Helps Police Find Missing
nashuatelegraph.com, an edition of "The Telegraph," (Nashua, NH). (10/22/07), Hattie Bernstein

Lt. James Sartell has 10 years on the Hollis, New Hampshire,
police force, and has always been concerned about children and elderly citizens going missing, especially in the fall and winter months when temperatures dip down quickly. Recently an elderly man called the department after his wife did not return from an afternoon walk. The department took this opportunity to contact the toll-free national hotline for "A Child is Missing" alert system, which the town subscribes to free of charge, and within a minute the service telephoned 1,000 residents in the area near where the woman had last been seen. Roughly 490 of those calls were answered, and citizens received an automated message regarding the situation. Some of those citizens also volunteered to assist police with the search. These efforts resulted in the missing woman being found in about 2 hours.

SUU Issues First E-Mail Safety Notice
SUUjournal.com (11/12/07), Josh Smith

The Southern Utah University (SUU) Department of Public Safety recently issued its first-ever campuswide e-mail alert. The alert included a mug shot and information about a gentleman "considered by Public Safety to be a threat" and requested that people alert the department if they saw him on the campus. Previous efforts would have required public safety officials to post signs throughout campus. With this new system, notification is instant and provides the capability to send notifications to everyone on the SUU system. Other future
technology projects include electronic locks on exterior doors, digital signage, comprehensive video surveillance, and an emergency siren system.

Minneapolis Wins Award for New High-Tech Emergency Dispatch System
Technology (11/8/07), News Report

Minneapolis' new cutting-edge
computer aided dispatch (CAD) system, which will improve how police and fire and rescue units respond to emergency situations, was awarded top technology honors at the 8th annual Tekne Awards. These awards acknowledge organizations and individuals that have a positive impact on the technology-based economy of Minnesota. The award-winning system went into service in March 2007. It provides first responders and 911 dispatchers with new ways to respond faster and smarter to emergency situations by making more detailed information available to them. This new system was paid for using U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant funds, and was developed by TriTech, Inc. of San Diego.

Device Will Put Crooks at Cops' Fingertips
WTOP Radio (11/14/07), Hank Silverberg

Technology designed to correctly identify criminals who have given false information regarding their identity will be implemented by Fairfax County, Virginia. The county will be the first in the nation to use a handheld device that will allow police officers to instantaneously identify a person who has been arrested either by using fingerprints or a digital photo. The information captured will be cross-referenced against information contained in a database of criminal records, and in the future this system may connect to a national database of criminal records. Fairfax County is expected to have 50 of the units, which have been paid for using U.S. Department of Homeland Security funding. Several surrounding jurisdictions hope to obtain similar devices as well.

Local FBI Rolls Out Online Sharing Network
The Gazette (11/6/07), Alicia Ebaugh

In terms of information sharing between local and
State law enforcement Iowa is "far ahead," according to an FBI official, but taking advantage of an FBI site will only serve to make that communication better. On October 6, officers from across Iowa got their first look at the FBI's Law Enforcement Online information sharing network. This network assists all levels of agencies in sharing information nationwide. The FBI's system has been operational since 1995 and the agency is still working to get thousands of local, county, and State agencies involved by providing trainings to organizations nationwide. Law Enforcement Online gives officials a secure, encrypted location in which to put crime information so they can seek out information from other jurisdictions or make information available to other agencies. Access to Law Enforcement Online is granted using an FBI background check process.

FBI Harnesses Power of "On Demand" From Comcast to Track Criminals, Find Missing Persons, Make Communities Safer
CNNMoney.com (11/1/07), PR Newswire

The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has found a valuable tool in using the ON DEMAND
technology that Comcast uses for cable service. "Police Blotter ON DEMAND" is a community-oriented video on-demand service that was launched in the Philadelphia area last December. Recently a Comcast customer, after seeing the profile of a wanted bank robber, contacted the FBI with a tip that led to an arrest. This service provides law enforcement with another tool to reach out to the public for assistance. The features the service provides, such as pause and rewind, can assist customers in seeing details and making connections that might otherwise be lost. Police Blotter ON DEMAND is regularly updated with video profiles for bank robbers, missing persons, and individuals from the Philadelphia Police Department's most wanted files. The offering is available free of charge to customers on the Comcast system.

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