Editor's Note: Many of these technologies are being used by state and local agencies in their homeland security/counter-terrorism missions.
Homeland Security and Justice Departments Providing More Info to Local Officers
The National Ledger, (11/16/2008), Jim Kouri
The U.S. Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Justice (DOJ) have enhanced their biometric systems to improve information sharing with state and local agencies. The changes improve interoperability between the Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT) and the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS). To target criminal aliens, a new database link can automatically check the criminal and immigration history of individuals incarcerated by local and state law enforcement. IDENT and IAFIS interoperability is key to Secure Communities, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's comprehensive plan to identify criminal aliens in local communities. Seven sites nationwide have participated in a pilot version of interoperability between the DHS and DOJ databases. The Customs agency plans to expand this capability to more than 50 state and local law enforcement agencies by next spring.
New Police Car Scans License Plates, Sniffs Out Bombs
ABC News, (11/15/2008), Patrik Jonnsson
law enforcement professionals attending the International Association of Police Chiefs' annual meeting in November got their first look at a "purpose-built" Police Car. The Carbon E7 is a 300-horspower car that runs on biodiesel fuel. It is equipped with sensors for weapons of mass destruction and automatic license-plate scanners. Carbon Motors would need to sell about 20,000 cars to U.S. law enforcement agencies to warrant its proposed 2010 production run. In designing the vehicle, the company included ideas gleaned from law enforcement officers, including a "hoseable" rear seat, an extra-wide driver's seat into a cockpit-style front compartment and side emergency lights to increase visibility and safety. The vehicle sticker price has not yet been announced.
Improved Measurements Could Mean Safer, More Reliable Electroshock Weapons
Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are working toward a standard method for assessing the electrical output of electroshock weapons. In recent years, conducted-energy devices such as stun guns have become popular among law enforcement agencies as less-lethal weapons. Questions have been raised about whether the devices can contribute to or cause death in some individuals. Groups such as Amnesty International have called for guidelines that include "threshold exposures," which are the minimum level that would incapacitate different groups of people without putting them at risk for injury or death. However, current reports on the voltage the weapons deliver are inconsistent. NIST scientists have developed methods for calibrating the high-voltage and current measurement probes used by industry. More research is needed, but eventually NIST will work with government agencies and the law enforcement community to standardize the method that ! will facilitate establishment of user guidelines.
The Diamondback, (11/11/2008), Kyle Goon
Police at the University of Maryland will soon be able to directly contribute crime data to the crime-mapping Web site www.UCrime.com. UCrime relies on police departments, newspapers, user reports and university incident logs to find crime data and plot it on a Google map. Crimes are classified by category and include descriptions of what happened. University police want to upload the university's crime information for crime mapping purposes.
Californian Prisons Employ Robotic Scouts
California's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has agreed to test remote-controlled surveillance robots. Roughly 250 of the 1.2-pound Recon Scouts are used by law enforcement agencies in the United States and military personnel in Iraq. Ten robots will be tested in California prisons. During hostile prison situations, the robots can be thrown into place or fired from a tear-gas launcher. They can survive a 30-foot drop onto concrete and can be operated from up to 100 feet away using a handheld controller, which displays footage from the robot. The robots cost $6,000 ($9,000 with an infrared camera).
States Complete Radiation Detection Drill
Global Security Newswire, (11/07/2008)
Nine states and the District of Columbia recently completed a practice exercise to test their ability to cope with a nuclear or radiological attack. The exercise, which ran several days, tested the coordination capabilities in the southeastern region of the United States. The exercise was the end result of the Southeast Transportation Corridor Pilot Program, which emphasized training, improved communications Technology and emergency protocols to improve regional nuclear detection and response capabilities.
BMV Joins Identity Theft Fight
Indianapolis Star, (11/07/2008), Gretchen Becker
An Indiana agency is testing face-recognition Technology for driver's licenses to help fight identity theft. The Bureau of Motor Vehicles will test the Technology at three of its Indianapolis branches as part of a pilot program. A $2.4 million software program scans the millions of photos in the database to determine if a photo is on a different credential with a different name. The software looks for matching points on the face, such as the distance between pupils, and compares those to other images with the same data points. The system reports any suspect names and faces. About 20 states are using the Technology.
Wichita Falls Unified Command Post is Ready for Operation
Texomas, (11/14/08), Sara DiMuro
The city of Wichita Falls, Texas, has a new rolling command center to help cope up close with long-term situations such as standoffs, environmental hazards and weather disasters. The $400,000 center, which was funded with federal grant money, is available for use across north Texas. The unit has full telephone and dispatch capability, infrared night vision and a camera mounted on the top.
New Technology in Bonneville Co. Will Help Find Missing Children
KPVI-TV, (10/31/08), Andrew Del Greco
The Bonneville County Sheriff's Office in Idaho is the latest jurisdiction to obtain iris scan Technology as a tool to locate lost children. The sheriff's office will share the Technology with other agencies in the state. Should an adult or child go missing, if their eyes have been scanned their identification can be sent digitally across the United States. Young children may not know their names or phone numbers and can be identified with an iris scan. Thirty-five states currently use the Technology.
Green Prisons Farm, Recycle to Save Energy, Money
Associated Press, (11/01/08), Phuong Le
Corrections facilities are discovering the benefits of going green. Prison officials find that using inmates to keep bees, recycle, and grow organic vegetables reduces costs, lowers the impact on the environment and provides inmates with new skills. Agencies are replacing old appliances with energy-efficient ones and installing solar panels. Because of a water shortage this summer, inmates in the North Carolina's prison system converted 50-gallon pickle barrels into small cisterns to capture rainwater. The green practices instituted by the Cedar Creek Corrections Center in Washington state has resulted in the facility using 250,000 fewer gallons of water a year and saving $6,000 to $8,400 annually on garbage bills.