Science and Technology News

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Criminal Justice Technology in the News

Law Enforcement News

Police Foundation Buys "Game Changing" Tactical Equipment for Green Bay Officers
WBAY, (01/11/2017), Sarah Thomsen
The Green Bay Police Foundation has funded 100 sets of tactical vests and ballistic helmets for police officers in Green Bay, Wis. The foundation was created last summer to fund equipment and training the department otherwise can't afford. The foundation can receive donations from the community.
Link to Article

NJ Law Enforcement Officials Ask for Better Information Sharing Among Agencies
New Jersey 101.5, (01/13/2017), Joe Cutter
A New Jersey state Senate committee has approved legislation to improve the flow of critical crime and terror information among New Jersey law enforcement agencies. The bill approved by the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee would establish the New Jersey Criminal Justice Information Sharing Environment Coordinating Council to oversee the free flow of intelligence among State Police, local police departments, Homeland Security and others.
Link to Article

NIST to Launch Ongoing Face Recognition Vendor Test
BiometricUpdate, (01/13/2017), Rawlson King
The National Institute of Standards and Technology will launch a new, ongoing "Face Recognition Vendor Test," beginning in February 2017. The test will seek to evaluate the face recognition performance on cooperative images, as collected in civil and criminal identity management applications. The test will additionally evaluate accuracy on more difficult images, including in-the-wild and photojournalism images and non-cooperative surveillance stills.
Link to Article

$80,000 Grant Will Help Forensics Department
Times Daily, (01/13/2017), Russ Corey
The Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences will use an $80,000 federal grant to obtain equipment vital to completing criminal investigations. The grant from the U.S. Department of Justice will allow the department to purchase pathology supplies to help with performing autopsies and chemistry supplies to help with analyzing controlled substances.
Link to Article

Albany State University Forensic Science Research Receives $600,000 NIJ Grant
Albany Herald, (01/14/2017)
Albany State University in Georgia will use a $600,000 grant from the National Institute of Justice to explore human microbiome, or genes of microorganisms in and on the body, as trace evidence for forensic identification. Research into microbiome, including human skin, may help link human-touched objects to the identity of victims or suspects.
Link to Article

Lawmaker Pushing Tweak to Drones Law
The Bismarck Tribune, (01/16/2017), Nick Smith
A North Dakota state senator has introduced legislation to eliminate the possibility that law enforcement in the state could use nonlethal weapons on a drone. The bill would amend legislation passed in 2015 that left open that possibility. A hearing date on the proposal has not been scheduled.
Link to Article

Hampton P.D. Receives Body Cams
Hampton County Guardian, (01/16/2017), Matt Popovich
The Hampton Police Department in South Carolina used a state grant to purchase 11 body cameras for officers. The grant from the South Carolina Department of Transportation's Office of Highway Safety and Justice Commission allowed the purchase of the cameras and accompanying electronic technology devices, which turn on an officer's body camera whenever a patrol vehicle's emergency lights are activated.
Link to Article

Cohasset Police Introduce Citizen Police Academy
WickedLocal Cohasset, (01/17/2017), Amanda C. Thompson
Police in Cohasset, Mass., plan to hold a Citizen Police Academy in January to provide 20 participants a chance experience what it is like to be a police officer. Academy students will learn about the department's hiring process and organization, community policing, the parameters within which police must operate and computer forensics.
Link to Article

New Jersey Buys Police Body Cameras
njtoday, (01/18/2017)
Thirty-seven law enforcement agencies across New Jersey will share $566,000 in grants to buy 1,132 police body-worn cameras. The grants are being provided using funds from the U.S. Department of Justice Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program. Agencies can use up to $500 in grant funds for each camera or camera package, including camera and related equipment. Police departments in 15 of New Jersey's 21 counties received awards.
Link to Article

Courts News

Maine to Convert to Electronic-Based Court Records
Seacoastonline, (01/10/2017), Brian Early
Maine intends to convert its paper-based court system to an electronic one. In December, the Maine Judicial Branch announced a 10-year, $15 million contract with Tyler Technologies to computerize Maine District, Superior and Supreme Judicial courts. Initial implementation in two counties is to be completed by 2019, with state-wide implementation by 2021. The court will use software that has been used in 11 other states and by 600 county courts nationwide.
Link to Article

Corrections News

Drones Soon Could Be Banned From Flying Near SC Prisons, Jails
The State, (01/12/2017), Cassie Cope
A South Carolina state Senate subcommittee has approved a proposal to ban drones from flying within 500 feet of prisons and jails in the state. The proposal would make it a misdemeanor to fly a drone within 500 feet around or 250 feet above a prison or jail without written consent from the state prisons director. The bill now goes to the full Senate Corrections and Penology Committee for consideration.
Link to Article

Fewer Inmates Now Walk Away From Halfway Houses, Corrections Chief Says
Alaska Dispatch News, (01/17/2017), Devin Kelly
Changes in security, screening policies and counseling have contributed to a drop in the number of walkaways from Alaska's halfway houses, according to Dean Williams, Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Corrections. Williams said two or three dozen people had been leaving each month and not returning. Between July and December 2016, the number of walkaways in Anchorage halfway houses dropped to 39, compared to 117 in the first six months of the year.
Link to Article

Friday, January 13, 2017

Department of Justice Efforts to Improve Law Enforcement Information Sharing

January 12, 2017
Courtesy of Joseph F. Klimavicz, Deputy Assistant Attorney General and Chief Information Officer

2016 was a great year in Department of Justice Information Technology.  I am especially proud of our efforts to modernize technology aimed at improving law enforcement information sharing -- with far reaching benefits not only within the department, but also extending to our law enforcement partners.  Specifically, we made significant advancements in key initiatives including: Tribal Access Program (TAP), Logical Entity Exchange Specifications (LEXS), Spectrum Relocation and Land Mobile Radio.

Tribal Access Program (TAP)
The department officially launched the Tribal Access Program (TAP) for National Crime Information in late 2015 to provide tribes access to national crime information systems for both civil and criminal purposes.  TAP allows tribes to more effectively serve and protect their nation’s citizens and by ensuring the exchange of critical data across the Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) systems and other national crime information systems.

The Tribal Access Program is a multi-faceted program, delivering both technology and a training solution that provides tribes with consistent access to national crime information systems.  The cross-component team, comprised of the Department of Justice’s Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking (SMART), Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), Office of Tribal Justice (OTJ), Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have drawn upon its experience in information systems, tribal law enforcement and sex offender registration and notification systems to break a long-standing impasse that was putting communities at risk. 

The program allows for unprecedented sharing of critical information between tribal, state and federal governments – information that could help solve a crime or even save someone’s life. It is the only program that allows national crime database information to be shared between tribal, state, and federal governments which results in the strengthening of government-to-government relationships. The ability for tribes to enter information into national crime databases benefits not only tribes but federal and local governments and communities since the data is available at a national level.

Since TAP has been implemented there have been over 60 sex offender related transactions; over 200 transactions related to orders of protection; over 130 entries that disqualify prohibited persons from purchasing firearms; over 250 fingerprint submissions for civil and criminal purposes; and over 2000 transactions for general investigative use.
Logistical Entity eXchange Specifications (LEXS) Version 5.0 Release

The department developed the Logical Entity eXchange Specifications (LEXS) several years ago to provide a framework for consistent and interoperable packaging of information to promote information sharing and interoperability within the justice community.  LEXS provides capabilities and tools that can be used by a broad range of agencies and organizations and avoids each developing their own, incompatible, information exchanges.

LEXS ensures information is exchanged in a standardized and consistent manner, shielding both data sources and data recipients from the complexity of multiple interfaces and allows for the multipurpose use of information.  It provides one language for communication of information between organizations.  LEXS is used by a number of national and nationwide information sharing systems and by many state and local criminal justice agencies and programs.

Version 5.0 of LEXS and its associated products are now available for download and use.  In this release, LEXS now supports streamlined messages, both message structure and content, and improved metadata flexibility while maintaining adherence to the National Information Exchange Model Package Description specification.   Additionally, LEXS 5.0 supports retrieval of information on specific entities rather than collections of data.

Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) 3 Spectrum Relocation
The relocation and reconstitution of law enforcement capabilities is a technically challenging, multi-year effort requiring close coordination among all affected Department of Justice components: ATF, DEA, FBI, USMS. ​ These four components have received over $1.1 billion dollars in spectrum relocation funds to cover costs to vacate the 1755-1780 MHz spectrum by July 2018, and to re-build affected DOJ wireless capabilities by 2023.  As a result of the auction, DOJ law enforcement components will replace existing wireless systems with newer, more spectrum efficient solutions.  These replacement systems will use the latest in current and future technology as they are deployed, and will be consistent with the mandate that "comparable capability" is maintained, rather than increasing DOJ’s capabilities as a result of the spectrum auction. 

The cross-component team made significant progress in FY 2016, including planning and design of new wireless systems.  The team also successfully accommodated early vacate requests from the wireless carriers, who are seeking early access to priority market areas before our planned spectrum vacate dates in 2018.  Also significant was the team’s push to vacate DOJ spectrum in four states and 10 major cities ahead of schedule. The team also worked with the vendor community to refine DOJ requirements, identify candidate technologies and assess market readiness to deploy new wireless solutions on federal spectrum.

Shared Land Mobile Radio (SLMR)
DOJ’s land mobile radio (LMR) programs provide tactical and investigative voice communications for field agents, deputy marshals and uniformed officers across the varied missions of the department.  DOJ’s shared LMR program, led by the FBI, provides a common radio infrastructure for use by investigative field components (FBI, DEA, ATF, USMS) as well as funding for priority initiatives, upgrading radio infrastructure and purchasing radios for use in the field.

In addition to maintaining operational systems, the FBI deploys SLMR systems nationwide on behalf of ATF, DEA and USMS.  The department’s deployment, known as “R&R/AddCap,” (which is short for “removal and replacement” and “additional capacity”) involves replacing wideband FBI radio infrastructure equipment with new narrowband equipment, where necessary, while adding equipment to provide capacity for the other DOJ components, and connecting all of these sites to a nationwide network core, which is managed by FBI Operational Technology Division.
Last year the program issued a RFI for LMR infrastructure and is currently reviewing responses. The team also provided LMR communications in support of key national events during 2016, such as the Super Bowl and the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.

We are constantly looking for ways to evolve our tools and technologies to support the department’s diverse mission. These projects are a small sample of the great work underway in this area. I look forward to sharing more as we move forward on these initiatives in 2017.

DOJ and FTC Issue Updated Antitrust Guidelines for the Licensing of Intellectual Property

Update Reaffirms Role of Guidelines while Reflecting Developments in the Law
and the Agencies’ Enforcement and Policy Work

The Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission issued today updated Antitrust Guidelines for the Licensing of Intellectual Property  (IP Licensing Guidelines) that explain how the federal antitrust agencies evaluate licensing and related activities involving patents, copyrights, trade secrets and know-how.  This update modernizes the IP Licensing Guidelines, which the agencies jointly issued in 1995, so they may continue to play a fundamental role in the agencies’ analysis of the licensing of intellectual property rights and provide guidance to the public and the business community about the agencies’ enforcement approach to intellectual property licensing.

The agencies announced the proposed update of the IP Licensing Guidelines and made a draft available for public comment in August 2016.  As described in that announcement, the proposed update reflected intervening changes in statutory and case law, as well as relevant enforcement and policy work, including the agencies’ 2010 Horizontal Merger Guidelines. During a 45-day comment period, the agencies received public comments from academics, private industries, law associations and non-profit organizations, which are available here.  After carefully reviewing and considering the comments, the agencies have now finalized the update.

 “Our modernized IP Licensing Guidelines continue to apply an effects-based analysis that puts the focus on evaluating harm to competition, not on harm to any individual competitor, and support procompetitive intellectual property licensing that can promote innovation,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Renata Hesse of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.  “The comments we received were helpful in completing this update and also serve more broadly to better our understanding of some of today’s very complex antitrust issues that involve intellectual property rights.”

“Today, the Commission reaffirms its commitment to an economically grounded approach to antitrust analysis of IP licensing,” said Chairwoman Edith Ramirez of the FTC.  “A strong and competitive IP licensing system benefits consumers and fosters innovation, by helping to ensure that inventors realize an appropriate return on their investment.”

In response to the desire of some commenters for the guidelines to more specifically address additional IP licensing activities, the agencies reiterate that the flexible effects-based enforcement framework set forth in the IP Licensing Guidelines remains applicable to all IP licensing activities.  In addition, the business community may consult the wide body of DOJ and FTC guidance available to the public – in the form of published agency reports, statements, speeches and enforcement decisions – which rely on this analytical framework and further illuminate each agency’s analysis of a variety of conduct involving intellectual property, including standards-setting activities and the assertion of standards-essential patents.