Science and Technology News

Thursday, January 18, 2018

USS Anchorage Participates in NASA’s Orion Mission Test

By Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Natalie Byers, U.S. 3rd Fleet

SAN DIEGO, Jan. 18, 2018 — The San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchorage departed from Naval Base San Diego yesterday to conduct an underway recovery test in conjunction with NASA off the Southern California coast.

The test is part of a government interagency effort to safely practice and evaluate recovery processes, procedures, hardware and personnel in an open ocean environment that will be used to recover the Orion spacecraft upon its return to Earth.

This will mark the fourth time Anchorage will conduct an underwater recovery test mission with NASA. Throughout the program’s history, a variety of San Antonio-class ships have been involved in preparing NASA and the Navy, using a mock capsule designed to roughly the same size, shape, and center of gravity as NASA’s Orion crew module.

Lessons Learned

NASA and Navy teams have taken lessons learned from previous recovery tests to improve operations and ensure the ability to safely and successfully recover the Orion capsule when it returns to Earth following Exploration Mission 1, slated for December 2019.

The mission will be an unmanned flight conducted to pave the way for subsequent crewed missions and to enable future missions to the moon, Mars and beyond, officials said.

Anchorage’s specially trained bridge team will be on watch while the ship conducts operations. Small boats carrying Navy divers and NASA’s recovery team will maneuver alongside the mock module to rig tending lines, guiding the capsule to Anchorage as the ship safely operates on station.

Navy-NASA Partnership

Conducting both daytime and nighttime recovery operations, NASA crew members will work alongside the Navy to manage how the capsule is brought in, set down and safely stored. NASA plans to conduct three more underway recovery test missions before the launch of Exploration Mission 1.

Anchorage is homeported in San Diego and is part of Naval Surface Forces and U.S. 3rd Fleet.
U.S. 3rd Fleet leads naval forces in the Pacific and provides the realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy.

Criminal Justice Technology in the News

Law Enforcement News

State Police Drones to Fly Over Central New York, (01/10/2018)
The New York State Police Unmanned Aerial System program plans to provide drones to Troops A, D, F and G. The drones will support disaster response and traffic safety missions; a UAS can conduct a motor vehicle documentation and reconstruction much more quickly than it can be done manually.
Link to Article

Pilot Making It Easier to Search for Missing Kids With Disabilities Could Go Statewide
WFSU, (01/12/2018), Sascha Cordner
A pilot project that has run successfully in five Florida counties could soon expand statewide. Project Leo, named after an autistic boy named Leo Walker who drowned near his home in 2014, uses GPS tracking devices to track registered users should they ever wander. The pilot program registered several successes, and pending legislation would retain and expand the program.
Link to Article

Texters Beware: Elk River Police, Sherburne County Sheriff's Office Target Motorists Who Text While Driving
Star News, (01/12/2018), Jake Andersen
The Elk River (Minn.) Police Department recently used two undercover spotter vehicles to conduct a crackdown on motorists who text and drive. The spotters called in officers in law enforcement vehicles to write citations when they spotted drivers violating the state statute. The department adopted the strategy because drivers often put their phones down when they spot a law enforcement vehicle.
Link to Article

Chief: York City Schools' Body-cam Rollout Going Smoothly
York Dispatch, (01/15/2018), Junior Gonzalez
For the past six months, officers with the York (Pa.) City School District have been wearing body-worn cameras, and the department's chief says the implementation has gone well. The 14 officers wear the cameras at all times, but they only record when activated. The school district has greatly increased the number of stationary surveillance cameras in its buildings in recent years as well with the aim of deterring crime.
Link to Article

Little Rock Police to Get Crime-Fighting Tool; U.S. to Fund Ballistics Tracer
Arkansas Online, (01/15/2018), Ryan Tarinelli
The Little Rock Police Department will use a $479,342 U.S. Department of Justice grant to purchase cutting-edge technology that reduces the time spent linking shell casings from multiple crime scenes. The technology is part of an effort to develop a new unit that follows the Crime Gun Intelligence Center model, and is spurred by a recent uptick in the number of homicides in the city.
Link to Article

New High-tech Crime Analysis Center to Open in Goshen
Times Herald-Record, (01/15/2018), Heather Yakin
Orange County will become the latest region to join the New York State crime analysis center program, with the Hudson Valley Crime Analysis Center set to open in Goshen in March 2018. Regional crime analysis centers provide real-time high-tech database searches, crime trend analysis and social media mining, and include cutting-edge data-sharing technology.
Link to Article

Ohio Turnpike Donates Radios to Portage Police and Fire
Record-Courier, (01/11/2018)
The Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission has donated approximately 250 used MARCS Motorola radios to local fire and police departments who requested them through an application process. MARCS, a 700/800 MHz radio and data network, uses state-of-the-art trunked technology to provide statewide inoperability that also extends in a 10-mile radius outside the state. The commission recently purchased new radios and decided to donate the old ones to help local agencies achieve interoperability more quickly. .
Link to Article

Houston and Harris County Officers to Receive Millions for Rifle-Resistant Vests
Rare Houston, (01/11/2018), Gerald Hanks
The Harris County Sheriff's and Constable's offices, and the Houston Police Department, will receive some of the largest grants given in a new $23 million program that will help more than 450 Texas jurisdictions purchase ballistic-resistant vests designed to protect against rifle fire. Harris County will receive $3 million and Houston, $4 million, under a new program recently enacted by Gov. Greg Abbott. The tactical vests, designed to protect against rifle fire from weapons such as an AR-15, are heavier than those worn for everyday duty.
Link to Article

Courts News

Dodge County Emergency Management Conducts Courthouse Shooter Drill
Daily Citizen, (01/16/1959), Terri Pedersen
Personnel from 25 different law enforcement and government agencies participated in a simulated active shooter drill at the Dodge County (Wisc.) Courthouse on Martin Luther King Day. A starter gun was fired on each floor of the courthouse to begin the exercise, although participating officers did not carry live weapons. The exercise was based on the "Run, Hide, Fight" principles, although participants were told to stay indoors because of the extreme cold outside.
Link to Article

Corrections News

Jury Scam Run From Inside Georgia Prison Using Cellphones
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, (01/12/2018), Rhonda Cook
An ongoing investigation alleges that inmates used contraband cellphones to call residents of Georgia's Gwinnett County and claim that they owed fines for missing jury duty and would be arrested if they did not pay. One inmate at Macon State Prison supposedly made more than 10,000 such calls in the span of a month. Inmates used PayPal to collect the money.
Link to Article

Bill Making It Illegal for County Jail Inmates to Have Cell Phones Draws Concerns
WFSU News, (01/12/2018), Sascha Cordner
The Florida legislature is considering the possibility of making it illegal for inmates in the state's jails to possess a cell phone. Cell phones are considered contraband in Florida prisons, but jails are run on a local basis, and present policies can differ greatly.
Link to Article

Netting Going Up at South Carolina Prisons to Prevent Contraband Being Smuggled In
ABC4, (01/14/2018), Angela Brown
The South Carolina Department of Corrections has begun adding netting around several of its facilities, with plans to expand the program in the future. Director Bryan Stirling says that searches by officers and K-9s are not able to stop the flow of contraband into South Carolina correctional institutions, and stronger measures are necessary.
Link to Article

Number of DUI Charges in Lancaster County Decreased in 2017, DA's Office Says
Fox 43, (01/09/2018), Keith Schweigert
In 2016, Lancaster County, Pa., instituted DUI Central Court, which has a goal of getting at-risk offenders into treatment as soon as possible. This reform, along with increased use of services like Uber and Lyft, additional law enforcement checkpoints and increased public awareness of the dangers of driving while intoxicated, apparently has led to a sharp decrease in the number of DUI incidents in the county.
Link to Article

Local Legislators Say Fixing Prison System on Top of Agenda
Dothan Eagle, (01/13/2018), Jeremy Wise
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has asked for $30 million more in funding for the state's troubled correctional system in the upcoming budget, with funds going toward hiring more officers and more mental health professionals. In this article, several members of the state legislature weigh in in favor of the proposal.
Link to Article

New Mexico Man Pleads Guilty to Directing Computer Attacks Against Websites of Dozens of Victims, as Well as Felon-In-Possession Charges

A New Mexico man pleaded guilty today in St. Paul, Minnesota, to engaging in and directing distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against the websites of his prior employers, business competitors and public services, as well as felon-in-possession charges.  Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Gregory G. Brooker of the District of Minnesota and Special Agent in Charge Richard T. Thornton of the FBI’s Minneapolis Field Office made the announcement.

John Kelsey Gammell pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit intentional damage to a protected computer and two counts of being a felon-in-possession of a firearm before District Judge Wilhelmina M. Wright of the District of Minnesota.  He will be sentenced at a later date.

According to admissions made in connection with his plea, from at least in or about July 2015 through in or about March 2017, Gammell engaged in a campaign of DDoS attacks on websites throughout the United States.  A DDoS attack is a malicious attempt to disable or interrupt service to a computer or website, usually by causing large amounts of internet traffic to be directed to the computer or website.  Gammell directed DDoS attacks at a number of victims’ websites, including websites operated by companies he used to work for, companies that declined to hire him, competitors of his business, and websites for law enforcement agencies and courts, among others.

Gammell admitted that he caused DDoS attacks by using computer programs on his own computers, as well as by directing “DDoS-for-hire” companies from which he purchased services to launch the DDoS attacks.  Gammell purchased subscriptions to multiple DDoS-for-hire companies, including VDoS, CStress, Inboot, and IPStresser.  He initiated attacks using these DDoS-for-hire companies against dozens of victims, including but not limited to Washburn Computer Group, the Minnesota State Courts, Dakota County Technical College, Minneapolis Community and Technical College, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and others.  Gammell took a variety of steps to avoid detection and circumvent his victims’ DDoS attack mitigation efforts, such as using IP address anonymization services to mask his identity and location, using cryptocurrency in payment for DDoS-for-hire services, using multiple DDoS-for-hire services at once to amplify his attacks, using spoofed emails to conceal his conduct, and using encryption and drive-cleaning tools to conceal digital evidence of his conduct on his computers.

Gammell, who is prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition based on prior felony convictions, also admitted that he possessed parts for use in the building of AR-15 assault rifles, upper and lower receivers, a pistol grip, a trigger guard, 15 high-capacity magazines, a buttstock, a buffer tube and 420 rounds of 5.56 x 45mm full metal jacket rifle ammunition in Colorado, where he worked.  He further admitted that he possessed a Heckler & Koch P2000 handgun, and a Springfield Armory model 1911-A1, .45 caliber handgun, as well as hundreds of rounds of ammunition in New Mexico, where he resided.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Minneapolis Field Office.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy C. Rank of the District of Minnesota and Trial Attorney Aaron R. Cooper of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section are prosecuting the case.  The U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the District of Colorado and the District of New Mexico also provided substantial assistance in this matter.