Science and Technology News

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Criminal Justice Technology in the News

Law Enforcement News

A Gripping Simulator at Monroe College Signals Talk on Police Shootings
Norwood News, (06/16/2016)

Members of the local community board's Public Safety Committee recently participated in an exercise at Monroe College in Fordham, N.Y., designed to show them the dangers and split-second decisions faced by police officers in the line of duty. Committee members used the School of Criminal Justice's Law Enforcement Training Simulator to participate in realistic shoot/don't shoot scenarios, as well as follow-up discussions about whether their decisions to shoot were justified.
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Facial Recognition Technology Comes Out of the Shadows
Minneapolis Star-Tribune, (06/14/2016), David Chanen

The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office, the only one in Minnesota using facial recognition technology, recently posted information about its use of the technology to aid in investigations on its Facebook page, prompted by a local writer's blog entry. The Image Recognition Technology system takes about 30 minutes to search for a match and has aided several recent investigations.
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New Technology Enhances Campus Security
UConn Today, (06/16/2016), Grace Merritt

A University of Connecticut alumnus has donated a pilot installation of a new gunshot detection technology to the campus. Developed by New Haven-based security company Verbi Inc., which is owned by the alumnus, the technology detects gunshots and explosions, notifies campus police, maps a shooter's location and sends a live video feed to officers' handheld devices, all in less than two seconds. Officers receive notifications via text messages, iPad notifications and/or text-to-speech automated phone calls.
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Milwaukee Police See Promise in High-tech 'GPS Bullets'
Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, (06/21/2016), Ashley Luthern

The Milwaukee Police Department has launched a pilot program to test a device that fires GPS units onto suspect vehicles for tracking purposes. In early phases, officers have deployed the devices successfully 50 percent of the time, but that is expected to improve to 75 percent as officers become comfortable with the technology. The technology was created by StarChase LLC.
Link to Article

Virginia Tech Continues Campus Safety Efforts With Indoor Emergency Phones
WSLS 10, (06/21/2016)

Virginia Tech has installed more than 100 indoor emergency phones in locations throughout the campus, with plans calling for a total installation of 145 units. A press of button connects users to emergency dispatch within seconds.
Link to Article

Corrections News

State Prisons to Get Body Scanners to Keep Drugs Out
Concord Monitor, (06/17/2016), Allie Morris

New Hampshire's Democratic governor, Maggie Hassan, recently signed a bill that places six scanners in each of the state's three prisons and provides for grant funds to help place scanners in county jails that want the devices. The bill makes $740,000 available in grant funding and provides for $1.1 million to purchase the scanners. It stipulates that the machines only detect contraband, and do not display or record private body parts.
Link to Article

Keeping the Drugs Out: Jails, Prisons Find a Steep Challenge
Virginian-Pilot, (06/19/2016), Kathleen Ronayne for the Associated Press

As visitors and inmates get more inventive in their attempts to smuggle drugs into prisons, corrections officials and lawmakers try to be equally inventive in finding ways to stop illegal drug smuggling. This article profiles a number of preventive measures in place in various locations across the United States.
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Probation Key to Prison Reform
Bismarck Tribune, (06/07/2016), Carolyn Grueskin

A 16-person committee charged with reviewing potential reforms to the North Dakota corrections system recently heard testimony about the state's rate of probation revocation, which may indicate a need for changes in the way that parolees are supervised. Improved access to treatment and increased access to jails for short-term incarceration, as well as additional resources for probation and parole officers, all could lead to improvements in the success of community supervision. North Dakota uses probation for felony offenses less frequently than many other states, and increasing probation for low-level felonies could improve overcrowding in the state's correctional facilities.
Link to Article

GPS Tracker Was Attached to Suspect's Leg. But Leg Wasn't Attached to the Suspect
Washington Post, (06/21/2016), Peter Hermann

A suspect in a District of Columbia homicide case apparently removed his prosthetic leg and the GPS tracking device attached to it, left it in a closet, put on a spare leg and moved freely about the city, believing he had established an unbreakable alibi. Apparently the technician who placed the device put it on over a sock and did not realize he was attaching it to a prosthetic leg; both actions are against protocol.
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Union: Escape Shows Need for More Staff, Better Technology
Press-Republican, (06/04/2016), Joe LoTemplio

New York Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott recently released a 150-page report on the investigation into the escape of convicted murderers Richard Matt and David Sweat from Clinton Correctional Facility on June 6, 2015. An initial response from the union representing correctional officers indicated a potential need for major changes in staffing and technology.
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The Senate's Popular Sentencing Reform Bill Would Sort Prisoners By 'Risk Score'
ProPublica, (06/14/2016), Lauren Kirchner

The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act has attracted 37 co-sponsors in the Senate from both sides of the aisle; not well-known to the public is a clause calling for the attorney general to adopt/develop a tool for predicting future criminal behavior. Inmates receiving a "low risk" rating could reduce their sentences, but those receiving "high risk" scores could not. Such policies are already in place in various states, but there is little evidence that these tools actually are accurate.
Link to Article

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Criminal Justice Technology News

Law Enforcement News
Burglary Call Led to Shooting of Stafford Deputy, (06/08/2016)

A Stafford County (Va.) deputy responding to a burglary call was shot four times, including one shot to the upper chest area stopped by his ballistic-resistant body armor. The deputy also took shots in the hip, thigh and arm, and was listed in serious but stable condition following the June 7 incident. The suspect was apprehended and charged.
Link to Article

Bend Police Launch App
Bend Bulletin, (06/09/2016), Claire Withycombe

The Bend (Ore.) Police Department recently unveiled a free app allowing residents to submit tips anonymously, receive emergency alerts from the department, contact school resource officers and register their bikes. Officer Scott Vincent led efforts to implement the app; Vincent, a former SRO, had set up a number to allow students to text him directly, and received a number of tips from students whom he felt would not have reached out to him otherwise. The new app also links to, a site where individuals can register to upload photos of their bikes and other details in case of theft.
Link to Article

LAPD Enlisting 100 BMW i3 Electric Cars
Fox, (06/09/2016)

The Los Angeles Police Department plans to add 100 BMW i3 electric cars to its fleet, for use in non-emergency and community outreach situations. The battery-powered i3 gets 81 miles per charge, and BMW says in 2017 that will increase to 114 miles. The total price tag is estimated at $1.4 million, less expensive than conventional models considered by LAPD.
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Researchers Study the Use of e-Cigarettes for Illicit Drugs
Medical Xpress, (06/09/2016), Brian Macneill

An interdisciplinary team of Virginia Commonwealth University researchers is using a $339,000 National Institute of Justice grant to study how drug users use e-cigarette devices to vape illicit drugs. Funds for the grant, "Characterization and Abuse of Electronic Cigarettes: The Efficacy of 'Personal Vaporizers' as an Illicit Drug Delivery System," are being used to evaluate e-cigarettes' viability to vape marijuana, heroin, methamphetamine and other drugs.
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Screens Behind Bars
The Economist, (06/11/2016)

Correctional facilities in England and Wales are experimenting with several methods of allowing inmates limited access to electronic technology in hopes of reducing re-offending. Wayland Prison has created its own television channel, and along with limited programming, allows inmates access to "blended learning" that integrates classroom instruction with use of digital resources. Other prisons allow inmates electronic access to tasks such as arranging visits or adding phone credits.
Link to Article

How to Develop a Police Grant With the NLECTC System, (06/09/2016), Denise Schlegel

This article explains the centers that make up the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center System (a contract program of the National Institute of Justice) and the myriad services they offer. The author says that "All law enforcement administrative personnel, law enforcement grant writers and those involved with the development of policing strategies or a department strategic planning process should explore all areas of this resource which applies to the needs of their organization or community."
Link to Article

Hennepin County Uses Facial Recognition Software to Help ID Suspects
ABC5 Eyewitness news, (06/14/2016), Beth McDonough

In Minnesota's Hennepin County, everyone booked into county jail has a facial scan taken and entered into a database that investigators are using to help solve local crimes. The software has recorded success stories, but some local residents are also concerned about privacy issues.
Link to Article

How Kevlar Saved an Orlando Police Officer's Life
LiveScience, (06/14/2016), Laura Geggel

A Kevlar ballistic-resistant helmet is being credited with saving the life of an Orlando, Fla., police officer during the June 12 operation to end the Orlando Pulse nightclub mass shooting. Photos of the helmet have been widely tweeted; this article looks at the science behind Kevlar and its protective abilities.
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Police Chief Credits Bulletproof Vest With Saving Officer's Life, (06/14/2016)

The chief of the Louisville (Ky.) Metropolitan Police Department credits a ballistic-resistant vest with saving the life of an officer shot on Saturday evening, June 11. Officer Kyle Carroll has been released from the hospital; the suspect remains at large.
Link to Article

Funding Woes Will Cause School Safety Mapping Program to Go Away July 1
The News Tribune, (06/11/2016), Melissa Santos

Funding for Washington State's Critical Incident Planning and Mapping System, which maps the state's public schools to assist first responders during emergencies, will end July 1, and the state is scrambling to possibly find a solution. The software program contains maps, blueprints, building photos and emergency plans for roughly 2,400 public facilities, including all K-12 schools and community colleges. It is credited with helping stop a school shooting in 2003.
Link to Article

Corrections News
Mahoning Jail ODs Prompt Move to Buy County Scanner, (06/09/2016)

The Mahoning County (Ohio) Sheriff's Office has again requested funding to purchase an airport-style full-body scanner for use with all inmates entering or leaving the county jail. Sheriff Jerry Greene and Maj. Alki Santamas, jail administrator, recently requested funding from the county commissioners; it was the second such request in 2016. Two county jail inmates recently overdosed on a drug allegedly smuggled in by a third inmate; both survived.
Link to Article

Milwaukee County Officials Make Change to GPS Monitoring as Chief Flynn Voices Frustration, (06/09/2016), Theo Keith

Milwaukee County, Wis., will begin enforcing a stricter policy regarding GPS monitoring violations by juveniles. Milwaukee police will now receive immediate email notifications of overnight violations, which were previously delayed until 8 a.m. the following day.
Link to Article

How Maryland Came to Repeal Mandatory Minimums for Drug Offenders
Washington Post, (06/01/2016), Ovetta Wiggins

Two freshmen Maryland lawmakers have brokered a bipartisan deal that includes stricter penalties for certain violent crimes but does away with mandatory minimum sentences for first-time nonviolent drug offenders. The legislation allows approximately 1,600 inmates to become eligible, and appeal, for early release in October 2017 when the mandatory minimum sentences end.
Link to Article

2 Drones Smuggling Drugs to Prisons Shot Down in UK: Report
Business Standard, (06/12/2016)

British prison officials have used ultra-powerful torch lights to bring down drones attempting to smuggle drugs into jails in two separate incidents at the London and Birmingham jails. Light from the torches is believed to have blinded operators' eyes, causing them to crash the devices.
Link to Article

Drone Detector Chosen by US Aviation Chiefs
Business Weekly, (06/13/2016), Kate Sweeney

The Federal Aviation Administration has chosen Cambridge cluster technology from Blighter Surveillance Systems for evaluation in several U.S. airports as part of a research program into technologies that could detect and identify unauthorized unmanned aerial vehicles near airports. The system can detect a drone six miles away, track it and disrupt the radio signals that control it, all in 15 seconds or less. The FAA receives more than 100 reports of unauthorized drones in or near flight paths every month.
Link to Article

National Institute of Justice Adds Webpage on Microbial Forensics

At, you can learn about how NIJ has expanded its funding of research into the forensic applications of microbiomes over the past five years. In a forensic science research and development context, the portfolio focuses on the necrobiome (the community of organisms found on or around decomposing remains), the microbiome (found in different soils) and the trace human microbiome (microbes on our skin and the surfaces and objects with which we interact).