Science and Technology News

Friday, June 23, 2017

ATF, Colorado Springs PD Demonstrate Mobile App for Explosives Reporting

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Explosive devices? There is an app for that.

The mobile Bomb Arson Tracking System (BATS), developed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives through the U.S. Bomb Data Center, allows bomb squads and fire investigators to report incidents from any mobile device. The Colorado Springs Police Department Regional Explosives Unit was one of the first squads in the country to pilot the new app in 2015, and their critical feedback supported a new release of the app nationwide earlier this past spring.

Mobile BATS centralizes incident reporting, notification and information sharing to help bomb squads detect, deter and prevent future criminal and terrorist attacks in real time.

    What: Mobile BATS demonstration and availability for interviews
    Who:   Special Agent Tim Kelly, ATF’s Denver Arson and Explosives Group Supervisor Sergeant Chris Arseneau, CSPD Regional Explosives Unit Supervisor
    **CSPD Chief Pete Carey, El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder and ATF Special Agent in Charge Debora Livingston will provide brief statements but are not available for questions.***
    Where: CSPD Police Operations Center, 705 S Nevada Ave., Colorado Springs, CO, 80903
    When: Thursday, June 22, 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Please RSVP by 4 p.m., June 21, to PIO Lisa Meiman at ATF’s Denver Field Division at 303-575-7611 or (link sends e-mail). Media should plan to be on site by 11:15 a.m.

About the U.S. Bomb Data Center and BATS
The U.S. Bomb Data Center (USBDC) serves as the national repository for explosives- and arson-related incidents. Its purpose is to collect data and to provide those federal, state and local agencies having jurisdiction with information and intelligence to assist in the investigation of bombings, arson, and the criminal misuse of explosives. The database that houses this information and the source of intelligence is the Bomb Arson Tracking System (BATS). BATS contains information on more than 450,000 explosives- and arson-related incidents investigated by ATF, FBI and other federal state and local law enforcement and public safety agencies. Currently the USBDC has more than 2,500 interagency partners and more than 12,000 registered users of BATS.

Mobile BATS provide agencies with a system for real-time reporting of explosives and arson related incidents into BATS from any mobile device. By permitting on-scene access to BATS, investigators can provide more timely and comprehensive incident information into the database and to investigators within their area and nationwide.

Please see the attached fact sheet for more information on the U.S. Bomb Data Center.

About the Colorado Springs Police Department Regional Explosives Unit
The Regional Explosives Unit, comprised of Colorado Springs Police Officers and El Paso County Sheriff’s Deputies, is responsible for all explosives related calls in the South Central Region of Colorado to include the counties of El Paso, Teller, Park, Lake and Chaffee. The unit is staffed by five full-time bomb technicians, and 10 part-time technicians and para-technicians. In 2015, the Unit also assumed all arson investigations for the City of Colorado Springs. The Regional Explosives Unit is accredited as a bomb squad by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and routinely works with numerous federal agencies. The Unit works in concert with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on all domestic explosives-related cases.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Criminal Justice Technology in the News

Law Enforcement News

Cops Given Special Gear So They Don't OD During Drug Busts
The Daily Caller, (06/15/2017), Steve Birr
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg (N.C.) Police Department recently began to train its officers in the use of special protective gear when responding to a drug scene, although the officers are advised, if possible, to wait for trained crime scene technicians to handle any potential drug-related substance. The department has responded to 62 drug overdose incidents so far in 2017, many of them related to fentanyl.
Link to Article

Officer Saved by Bulletproof Vest During Armed Home Invasion
WXIA, (06/16/2017), Catherine Park
A Hall County, Ga., sheriff's deputy survived a shot to the torso during a response to a home invasion thanks to his ballistic-resistant vest. The call took place around midnight on June 15, and the officer was treated and released at a nearby hospital. All suspects in the case are in custody.
Link to Article

App Gives Responders Mental Health Info for Better Decisions
GCN, (06/15/2017), Stephanie Kanowitz
The RideAlong app integrates with the national 911 system to allow law enforcement officers to access information on how best to interact with registered individuals who have a mental illness. Officers can search the system to see if the individual in question is registered; system profiles indicate how to approach and interact with a particular person.
Link to Article

Law Enforcement Turns to Social Media to Get More Recruits
The Wichita Eagle, (06/20/2017), Stan Finger
Law enforcement agencies throughout Kansas have begun using the power of video to assist with recruiting. The Topeka Police Department has produced a recruiting video that plays in local movie theaters, and the Wichita Police Department is in the process of posting an ongoing weekly series of video clips that follows a recruit class through the training academy in a reality show style format. Other agencies have joined the trend as well as departments continue to have difficulty recruiting new officer candidates.
Link to Article

Courts News

2 Tenn. Deputies Wounded, Suspect Dead in Courthouse Shooting, (06/20/2017), Rosanna Hughes for the Chattanooga Times/Free Press
Two deputies have been treated for injuries sustained when an inmate took a gun from one of them at the Coffee County, Tenn., courthouse and used it against both men before escaping to the street. Michael Eugene Bell shot himself in the head two blocks away; he was at the courthouse on charges of facing charges for kidnapping, domestic assault and evading arrest.
Link to Article

Corrections News

Alabama Plans to Supply Prisoners With Tablet Computers, Wi-Fi for Education, Phone Calls, (06/21/2017), Connor Sheets
The Alabama Department of Corrections plans to supply every dorm in all of Alabama's correctional facilities with some 15 to 20 tablets that inmates can use for both secure Internet access for educational purposes and to make phone calls. Alabama had launched a successful pilot program at Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in 2015; the program is similar to ones in place in several other states.
Link to Article

There's No Cheap Talk When It Comes to Prison Calls
HeraldNet, (06/14/2017), Ann E. Marimow for the Washington Post
On June 13, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, by a 2-1 decision, found that the Federal Communications Commission had exceeded its authority in attempting to regulate and reduce the cost of calls made to prisons from within the same state in which they are located. Although the judges acknowledged that the cost of the calls can be exorbitant, they still found that the FCC had no authority to cap those costs.
Link to Article

PA Cashes in on Over Crowding in Vermont Prisons
CBS Philly, (06/13/2017), Kristen Johanson
Due to overcrowding in Vermont correctional facilities, nearly 300 long-term Vermont inmates are now lodged at the Camp Hill correctional facility near Harrisburg. Pennsylvania prisons have more than 5,000 empty beds, leading to the long-term housing arrangement with Vermont.
Link to Article

Inmates Fly Mobile Phones, Drugs and Porn Into Jail — Via Drone
USA Today, (06/15/2017), Waseem Abbasi
An investigation by USA Today staff into U.S. Department of Justice documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request show more than a dozen attempts to smuggle items such as cell phones, drugs and pornography into federal prisons over a five-year span. Current technologies are not able to stop incursions by the unmanned aircraft, with state correctional facilities reporting similar attempts.
Link to Article

Two South Carolina Correctional Officers Injured Taking Cellphone From Inmate in Edgefield
The Post and Courier, (06/15/2017), Maya Prabhu
Two South Carolina state correctional officers sustained non-life threatening injuries incurred when trying to take a contraband cellphone from an inmate at Trenton Correctional Facility in Edgefield. When the officers attempted to take the phone away from one man, they were assaulted by several others.
Link to Article

Should Correctional Facilities Use Rainwater to Reduce Water Consumption?, (06/19/2017), Klaus Reichardt
This article looks at the feasibility of corrections facilities' collecting rainwater to achieve increased conservation and reduce costs. Factors to consider include local rainfall, cost of installing a system and to what extent the water needs to be treated before it can be used.
Link to Article

Tennessee Prisons Will Serve as a Guinea Pig for On-Site Cell Phone Forensics
Nashville Public Radio, (06/20/2017), Natasha Senjanovic
Tennessee will soon begin on-site analysis of contraband cell phones confiscated in the state's correctional facilities. Special computers required for the analysis will be installed in all facilities; the hardware will be paid for by a federal grant.
Link to Article

Data From Electronic Monitoring Helps Greensboro Police Connect Man to Attempted Robbery
Fox 8, (06/13/2017)
Forensic evidence and data points collected from an electronic monitoring device have connected a Greensboro, N.C., resident with an attempted commercial robbery. Adam Parker was wearing the device while on release pending trial on charges of possession of firearm by a felon and felony carrying a concealed weapon.
Link to Article

Monitoring Bracelet Leads to Robbery Arrest
The News-Gazette, (06/17/2017), Mary Schenk
An Urbana, Ill., man who was wearing an electronic monitoring device while out on bond pending trial on a charge of residential burglary and criminal trespass has been arrested for his possible role in an armed holdup. Surveillance video showed that one of the two men who committed the holdup, later identified as Robert Golden, wore an electronic monitoring device, and data points from Golden's device placed him at the scene of the incident.
Link to Article

New Model Penal Code for Criminal Sentencing Approved by the American Law Institute: Comprehensive Reform Recommendations for State Legislatures
University of Minnesota, Robina Institute News (06/2017)
This analysis piece takes an in-depth look at the recently approved America Law Institute's Model Penal Code: Sentencing, which revises the 1962 Model Penal Code.
Link to Article

Back to Business: How Hiring Formerly Incarcerated Job Seekers Benefits Your Company
American Civil Liberties Union, (06/08/2017)
This new release sends readers to a new report titled Back to Business: How Hiring Formerly Incarcerated Job Seekers Benefits Your Company. The report, from the Trone Center for Justice & Equality, looks at how companies can tap into a vast potential workforce (70 million Americans have a criminal record) by hiring the formerly incarcerated.
Link to Article

Lake County Jail Getting Body Scanner to Deter Drug Smuggling
The News-Herald, (06/14/2017), Andrew Cass
After two inmates in the Lake County, Ohio, jail died from opioid overdoses in December 2015, the sheriff's office requested the purchase of a body scanner to detect drugs being smuggled into the facility, and following a third death in March 2017, the office received permission from the county commissioners to make that purchase. Sheriff Frank Leonbruno says numerous other nearby counties already use the scanning devices.
Link to Article

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Criminal Justice Technology in the News

Law Enforcement News

First Responders Learn How to Identify, Safely Handle Meth Labs
Amherst Bulletin, (06/07/2017), Emily Cutts
More than 250 police officers, firefighters and emergency responders recently participated in a training session in Hadley, Mass., to learn how to identify and safely handle meth labs and learn about other drugs. The clandestine lab training session was provided by the company that developed the first Basic Clan (short for "clandestine") Lab and Site Safety Officer programs for the U.S. Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration. One session during the training featured the opioid fentanyl and the dangers of coming into contact with the drug.
Link to Article

Police Deliver Bait Packages to Catch "Porch Pirates"
CBS News, (06/12/2017)
Police are using bait packages with GPS trackers to find thieves who steal packages delivered to doorsteps. Inside a regular shipping box, officers pack a common delivery item along with a GPS tracking device. In Southern California, Arcadia police say more than 100 suspected thieves have taken the bait. To avoid being a victim, police say residents should have packages delivered to an address where someone can receive them in person. People can also install surveillance cameras to deter thieves.
Link to Article

Erwin Police to Get Body Cameras
The Daily Record, (06/08/2017), Shaun Savarese
Police in Erwin, N.C., will soon be equipped with new, improved body-worn cameras. The department plans to purchase 10 of the nearly $300 cameras for the patrol division. The new cameras are more sophisticated than the ones previously used by the department.
Link to Article

Drone Usage by Local Police, Fire Departments Quickly Increasing
WTOP, (06/08/2017), Neal Augenstein
Approximately a dozen police, fire and emergency agencies surrounding the Washington, D.C., area are using drones to capture criminal suspects and fight fires. Departments using the technology include the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office, the Stafford County Sheriff's Office and Fairfax County Fire and Rescue, all in Virginia.
Link to Article

Prince William Co. Police to Start Wearing Body Cameras
WTOP, (06/06/2017), Neal Augenstein
Police in Prince William County, Va., will begin wearing body cameras in the fall. The department said cameras will be worn by patrol officers, K-9 officers, traffic enforcement and school resource officers. The department tested two systems in a pilot program before deciding which cameras to buy.
Link to Article

Three Samples of Carfentanil Found in Mass. for First Time
Boston Globe, (06/07/2017), Felicia Gans
The Massachusetts State Police Crime Laboratory has identified three samples of carfentanil, a lethal synthetic opioid never before identified in the state. The drug is about 100 times more potent than fentanyl and many times more potent than heroin, state police wrote in a statement. It can be absorbed through the skin or accidentally inhaled. The statement noted that carfentanil has been used to sedate elephants and has no legitimate medical uses for humans. Police said they are not aware of any deaths in Massachusetts currently tied to carfentanil, but several recent overdose deaths in New Hampshire are believed to be caused by the substance.
Link to Article

St. Joseph County's New 911 Dispatch System to Launch This Month
South Bend Tribune, 06/11/17, Ted Booker
First responders and dispatchers in St. Joseph County in Indiana will soon be using a new dispatch system. When calls are taken by dispatchers, the nearly $2 million computer-aided dispatch system will automatically give police and fire agencies basic details. In some cases, it could enable firefighters to arrive minutes earlier to a fire. Police officers will automatically receive information such as maps with the fastest routes to crime scenes.
Link to Article

Shooting Leaves Officer, Robbery Suspect Wounded in Virginia
U.S. News & World Report, (6/12/2017), Associated Press
An officer with the Hampton (Va.) police department survived a shooting following a June 12 robbery attempt thanks to his ballistic-resistant vest, according to a department spokesman. The suspect shot one officer following a short foot chase, before he himself was shot by a second officer. Both men survived, with the officer listed in good condition at a local hospital. Two other suspects were also taken into custody.
Link to Article

2 Ky. Deputies Shot While Serving Warrant; Suspect Dead, (06/12/2017)
While attempting to serve an indictment warrant, two Kentucky deputies were injured June 12 when the suspect began shooting at them from his house. A department spokesman gave credit to one deputy's badge and ballistic-resistant vest for saving him from serious injury; the other underwent surgery and is expected to recover. The suspect, who had an extensive criminal history, was shot and killed at the scene.
Link to Article

Alabama Police Officer Saved by Ballistic Vest, (06/09/2017), Marty Roney for the Montgomery Advertiser
An officer with the Prattville (Ala.) Police Department survived a handgun shot during the course of responding to a domestic violence call on June 8. Two officers approached a group of people standing in a driveway, and one of them fired at least three handgun rounds at the officers. The officers did not return fire.
Link to Article

Corrections News

Bill to Keep Drones Away from Prisons Advances in New York
Unmanned Aerial Online, (06/08/2017), Betsey Lillian
The New York State Senate has approved a bill that would ban civilian use of drones within 1,000 feet of a correctional facility. Under the bill, violators would face a $1,000 penalty for the first offense, with each additional offense punishable as a misdemeanor. However, the restrictions would not apply to the operation of a drone approved by the Federal Aviation Administration for commercial purposes. The legislation now goes to the Assembly for consideration.
Link to Article

Legislators Seek Law to Ensure Prison Visits Are Available Seven Days a Week
Times Union, (06/08/2017), Matthew Hamilton
A group of New York State lawmakers wants to require state prisons to offer visitation hours seven days a week. Currently, the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision has discretion on when to offer visiting hours. Minimum and maximum security facilities have visitation hours seven days a week; medium security facilities have visitation three days a week. A proposed bill would require visitation be available every day of the week at all prisons, with hours subject to department discretion.
Link to Article

Law Enforcement Agencies Join Forces to Combat Contraband in Tennessee Prisons
Knoxville News Sentinel, (06/12/2017), Marissa Lea Gaston for USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee
More thorough searches of inmates and of vehicles and people entering prison property are among the measures the Tennessee Department of Correction plans to take to reduce the amount of contraband in the state's prisons. Helping in the effort are the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Tennessee Department of Safety, the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference and the U.S. Attorney's Office. The partnership's first initiative involved a search of more than 300 vehicles and resulted in the recovery of cellphones and drug paraphernalia. The task force of nine agencies includes the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the Drug Enforcement Administration and Metro Nashville Police.
Link to Article

Appeals Court Tosses FCC Cap on Cost of Calls to Prisons
Miami Herald, (06/12/2017), Tali Arbel for the Associated Press
A federal appeals court has struck down regulations intended to cap the price of some calls to prison inmates. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia found that the Federal Communications Commission lacked authority to set rates for calls between inmates and people in the same state. Companies that provide prison phone service sued to stop the 2015 FCC rules. The in-state rate caps, intended to stop high charges between inmates and people in the same state, were suspended by earlier court decisions and never went into effect.
Link to Article

34 Indicted in Meth Trafficking Operation Run From State Prisons
The State, (06/13/2017), Cynthia Roldán
Thirty-four people in South Carolina, including state prison inmates, have been indicted as part of an investigation into a methamphetamine trafficking organization that largely operated out of state prisons. S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson's office announced that between January and May, a state grand jury investigation returned 19 indictments alleging multiple but connected conspiracies each related to trafficking 400 grams or more of methamphetamine, trafficking methamphetamine and heroin, firearms charges and other crimes. The inmates ran the meth trafficking organization using contraband cell phones and smart phones to direct drug deliveries, sales, payments and other trafficking-related activities of co-conspirators on the outside, the release said.
Link to Article

Painesville Judge Requiring Drunk Driving Defendants to Download Uber, Lyft on Smartphones
The News-Herald, (06/10/2017), Tracey Read
An Ohio judge has begun requiring offenders guilty of operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI) to download the Uber and Lyft apps to their smartphones and enter a credit card number as a condition of probation and to inspire them not to drink and drive. Painesville Municipal Court Judge Michael A. Cicconetti said, "It's just common sense. Now that we have the technology and most people have the ability to do that, why not make it part of their sentence?" In 2016, there were 604 citations for OVI issued for defendants who appeared in Painesville Municipal Court.
Link to Article

New York Spreads Crime Analysis Tech Across the State
GCN, (06/08/2017),  Matt Leonard
The state of New York is opening up crime analysis centers across the state for local police. The centers provide local law enforcement with increased data sharing capabilities along with access to social media mining software and geospatial data systems to help map crime hot spots. In addition to connection with each other, centers have access to information from the State Police, the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, the Department of Motor Vehicles and the federal probation system.
Link to Article

Polygraph Therapy Faces Scrutiny in Child Porn Cases
Courthouse News, (06/12/2017), Adam Klasfeld
This article examines issues surrounding the use of therapeutic polygraphs for sex offenders. The article discusses what occurred during a hearing in New York after an assistant U.S. attorney asked that a sex offender take a polygraph as a condition of his supervised release.
Link to Article

When a Computer Program Keeps You in Jail
The New York Times, Opinion, (06/13/2017), Rebecca Wexler
This opinion piece discusses how aspects of technology advancements and automation are making the justice system less fair for criminal defendants. It says the root of the problem is that automated criminal justice technologies are largely privately owned and sold for profit, and that developers tend to view their technologies as trade secrets, often refusing to detail how the systems work.
Link to Article

Imprisoned by Technology
Australian Broadcasting Company, RN, Big Ideas, (Audio), (06/13/2017)
This audio recorded at Swinburne University in May discusses use of technology such as surveillance, home detention and electronic bracelets as alternatives to incarceration, and whether technology can do everything expected in prisons: punish offenders, keep the community safe and reduce re-offending. The guest is Mirko Bagaric, professor of law and director of the Evidence-based Sentencing and Criminal Justice Project at Swinburne University.
Link to Article