Editor's Note: Many of these technologies are being used by domestic law enforcement for homeland security and counterterrorism.
This recap of Public Safety Technology in the News is a service of the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center (NLECTC), a program of the Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice.
Denver Deploys New Graffiti Surveillance System
Government Technology (11/15/07), News Report
The city and county of Denver, Colorado, in an effort to reduce the city's graffiti issue, have announced they will take part in a 30-day beta test of a newly released graffiti surveillance system. Law Enforcement Associates will provide eight Graffiti Cam units, along with training on installation and set-up and free 24-hour technical support to the Denver Police Department. Based on graffiti-related motions, the Graffiti Cam system is designed to inform law enforcement of graffiti crimes in progress. The system will provide law enforcement the chance to catch suspects in the act, as well provide video evidence for suspect identification.
Future Cops: Police Use Tactical Technologies to Catch Criminals
FOXNews.com (11/27/07), Gene J. Koprowski
A suspect flees from the Los Angeles Police, but rather than getting involved in a dangerous, high-speed pursuit the police only follow for a few blocks. During that time, the police tag the car using a laser-guided GPS tracking system that launches a transmitter which attaches to the fleeing car. Once the car is tagged, police can then slow down and fall back, which encourages the suspect to slow down as well. The transmitter attached to the vehicle allows police to track the suspect in real-time using a wireless network. Once the vehicle stops, police can move in and arrest the suspect as he is exiting the car. This technology is being tested by the Los Angeles Police Department and the Suffolk County Police Department in New York. Now StarChase, LLC, the developer of the system, plans to move to the next phase and commercialize the product and hopes to have it on the market early next year.
System Lets Agencies in Area Share Data
washingtonpost.com (11/29/07), Mary Beth Sheridan
More than 60 Washington, D.C. area law enforcement agencies now have access to the Law Enforcement Information Exchange (LInX) system. LInX will allow these agencies to easily share crime reports and mug shots. Prior to the system's implementation, agencies had to make calls to other departments or actually visit the department to exchange information relating to suspects. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) launched LInX because of possible threats to naval installations, and hoped that the system would perpetuate communication between the various levels of law enforcement in an effort to protect and serve. Funding to establish the service came from NCIS and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Law enforcement will access LInX at no charge. At present, roughly 2,000 officers in the D.C. area have access, with that number expected to double before the end of the year. These officers can access 6 million mug shots and 14 million crime reports. NCIS has cre! ated similar systems in six other areas of the United States.
Bowie Police Go High Tech
gazette.net (11/22/07), Megan King
In the past month, the Bowie (Maryland) Police Department has been able to scan more than 20,000 license plates using a new license plate recognition technology system. Since its installation on October 30, the system has alerted officers more than 300 times to violations such as stolen vehicle and suspended tags. The plates that the system scans are cross-checked against a database of statewide motor vehicle violations, as well as national criminal data. If a violation is found, the system notifies the patrol officer. The license plate scanning system allows officers to scan 5,000 plates during a 10-hour shift. The department purchased the system using donations from various businesses within Bowie, which amount to about 40 percent of the total cost of the system.
Law Enforcement Technology (11/2007), p. 22, Jonathan Kozlowski
YouTube (www.youtube.com), the popular website that allows any user the ability to upload videos to the Web free of charge, can be a useful tool for law enforcement agencies seeking to improve communication with the general public and to share information with other agencies. The Broward County (Florida) Sheriff's Office is using YouTube to post public service announcements in conjunction with distributing printed materials to the community. The Office's most popular video, "Gone in 4 seconds," has been viewed almost 7 million times. The Franklin (Massachusetts) Police Department posted video of two suspects from store footage to YouTube and soon received a tip from another agency identifying the suspects. The International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC) is also using the YouTube site to post videos of missing children and educational materials.
Schools' Computer Flags Sex Offenders
Washington Post (12/4/2007), Ian Shapira
The Prince William County (Virginia) school system has implemented the V-soft security system to track school visitors and screen for sex offenders. The V-soft system, also known as Raptor, scans identification cards such as driver's licenses and compares the information against listings of sex offenders from across the country. The Raptor system is also in use in the Anne Arundel County (Maryland) school system and is credited with identifying three sex offenders and leading to one arrest.
Video-Conferencing Increases Security, Saves County Time, Money
The Daily Siftings Herald (11/27/2007), Donna Hilton
Clark County, Arkansas, is saving money by using video-conferencing to allow inmates to make their first court appearances without leaving the county jail. The system uses two television sets and two cameras, which allow the inmate and judge to communicate. With the new system in place, security is improved because prisoners do not have to be transported from the jail to the courtroom. The video-conferencing equipment was purchased by the Clark County Sheriff's Department and cost less than $1,000.
FCC Awards Spectrum to Public Safety Group
ComputerWorld (11/27/2007), Donna Hilton
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has awarded the Public Safety Spectrum Trust Corp. (PSST), a nonprofit group with members from various public safety organizations, the license for 10 MHz in the wireless spectrum considered to be valuable. The portion of the wireless spectrum awarded to PSST was abandoned by television in light of the congressional requirement to move broadcasts to digital by 2009. The PSST spectrum will be combined with an adjacent 10 MHz that will be auctioned off in early 2008. The winner will be required to establish a nationwide wireless network that will meet both public safety and commercial needs. Then, according to the FCC, PSST will establish a network-sharing agreement with the winning bidder, with PSST becoming the administrator for this network.