War on Terrorism

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Public Safety Technology in the News

Editor's Note: Many of the technologies listed in this entry are used by federal, state and local law enforcement in their homeland security and/or counter-terrorism mission.

Phila. Police to Be Permitted Larger Caliber Handguns
Philadelphia Inquirer, (12/06/2008), Andrew Maykuth

Police in Philadelphia will soon have more firepower. In 2009, officers will be allowed to carry .40- and .45-caliber semiautomatic handguns to replace their 9 mm pistols. The police weapons upgrade is seen as a means to provide officers with more tools to subdue criminals, who often carry powerful weapons. Offices will have to pay for the new guns, which cost $500 each. The larger caliber guns fire heavier and slower bullets, which are more likely to stop an adversary. Other Law Enforcement agencies that allow their officers to carry .45-caliber guns include the Los Angeles Police Department and the Pennsylvania State Police.

L.A. Co. Gets Cutting-Edge Lie Detector
KABC-TV Los Angeles, (12/08/2008), Robert Holguin

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's crime lab is testing lie detector technology that monitors the human voice. Traditional polygraph tests measure stress levels via changes in heart rate and breathing, while layered voice analysis technology measures the frequencies in a person's voice, even those inaudible to the human ear. Developers say the technology's success rate in clinical trials is 95 percent. During interviews, it alerts Law Enforcement investigators to a possible lie via computer messages such as "false statement" and "S.O.S."

Group Wants Obama to Name Officer to Fight Online Dangers
Washington Post, (12/11/2008), Kim Hart

The Family Online Safety Institute is urging President-elect Barak Obama to appoint a national safety officer to strengthen resources to protect children from cyber crime. The individual would serve under a chief
technology officer. The institute also wants $100 million a year for education and research, an annual White House summit on safety issues and a national council to coordinate federal, advocacy and industry efforts. Young people are often unaware of the information security risks posed by the mobile devices and Web sites they use. Children are vulnerable to cyber bullying, identify theft, exposure to inappropriate material and abusive messages.

Denver Airport Center Adopts National Incident Management System
PRWeb Press Release Newswire, (12/15/2008)

Hotels at Denver Airport Center will soon be using crisis response measures developed by the U.S. Department of
Homeland Security. The center will train airport hotel staff on procedures using the National Incident Management System and the Incident Command System. The training is aimed at helping staff deal with a broad range of potential emergencies hotels could face, such as fire, natural disasters, disease outbreaks, hazardous materials incidents, terrorist incidents and criminal acts. Special emphasis will be placed on interoperability with first responders.

UT Professor Refines Art of Looking Behind Walls
Austin American-Statesman, (12/14/2008), Dan Zehr

A University of Texas engineering professor is researching how to use weather radar
technology to see through walls. The research, if successful, could result in technology to help soldiers, police and rescue workers locate people behind walls or inside crumbled buildings. Hao Ling and his research team are working with Doppler radar technology to transform radar waves into understandable images of a human behind a wall, crafting a program that would simulate a variety of wave patterns created by people in motion.

KDHE, Local
Law Enforcement Partner for New DUI Instruments
WIBW.com, (12/03/2008)

Kansas authorities are using enhanced
technology to detect drunk drivers. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is making 200 of the Intoxilyzer 8000 devices available to Law Enforcement. The department's Breath Alcohol Program is responsible for the certification of agencies, instruments and officers who test drivers suspected of driving under the influence. The program has recertified or newly certified about 4,400 officers. The updated technology is more accurate, easier to use and more mobile, enabling officers to run more impaired driving checks.

`Hands Free' Cell Phones No Safer
DailyBreeze.com, (12/14/2008), Sue Doyle

Drivers using cell phones, even if hands free, are four times more likely to have an accident, according to a new report. The American Automobile Association's Foundation for Traffic Safety found that dialing and talking on cell phones detracts from drivers' attention to the road and delays drivers' reaction times by 0.23 seconds. California drivers and other jurisdictions around the United States have been banned from using hand-held cell phones behind the wheel, but there are no plans to institute a total driver cell phone ban.

AP IMPACT: More Are Getting Away With Murder
Associated Press, (11/20/2008), Karen Hawkins

A rise in drug- and gang-related killings is making it harder to solve homicides in the United States. According to FBI figures, the homicide clearance rate in the United States was 61 percent in 2007, compared with 91 percent in 1963. The clearance rate is the number of homicides solved in a year, compared with the number of killings that year. In more cases now, the killer and victim do not know each other, and witnesses are often intimated by gangs and frightened to come forward with information. Increased use of DNA
technology and other forensic techniques has been helpful in solving cold cases, but technology can't do it all and funding for cold case police units has decreased. Finding witnesses and getting them to talk is still an integral part of investigations.

Ripon Police to Hone Skills With Firearm Simulators
Modesto Bee, (12/12/2008), Leslie Albrecht

Police in Ripon, Calif., will be testing three firearms simulators for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) over the next year. The simulators show a variety of scenarios that may require an officer to fire a weapon, and will allow officers to practice "shoot-or-don't-shoot" situations. Officers who "fire" a weapon will see the path of the bullet on the simulator, testing their skills in unpredictable environments instead of on a firing range. The police department will provide feedback on the simulators to DOJ's Rural Law Enforcement
technology Center.

Prison Officials Ask for $66 million to Help Stop Cell Phone Smuggling
Austin American-Statesman (12/04/2008), Mike Ward

Texas corrections officials have proposed spending nearly $66 million on high-
technology screening equipment to thwart smuggling of contraband into the state's prisons. Under the proposal, screening equipment similar to that used in the nation's airports would be installed in the state's 20 largest maximum security prisons. An extensive surveillance camera network would also be added. The rest of the prison system's 92 facilities would receive walk-through metal detectors and parcel screening devices similar to those used in courthouses.

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