Science and Technology News

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Public Safety Technology in the News

Police Use Web to Tackle Crime, (08/08/2009), Stephanie Taylor

Tuscaloosa County (Ala.) Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Andy Norris has created a Twitter page for the agency, which thus becomes one of a growing number of law enforcement agencies with Twitter and/or Facebook accounts. Departments post the types and locations of crimes that have taken place, similar to the police blotter that runs in many newspapers, and also post crime alerts and safety tips. Increasingly, citizens are becoming involved in posting about potential criminal events on their own social networking sites. With all this power, there is also potential for misuse. For example, earlier in 2009, the Texas attorney general’s office and the Austin city attorney’s office pushed for the closing of a Twitter account that allegedly impersonated the Austin Police Department.

Cybertracking Registered Sex Offenders, (08/09/2009), Greg Abbott

A registered sex offender in Ft. Worth, Texas, recently was arrested after other residents of his group home notified authorities that he had a cell phone with Internet-browsing capabilities, a parole violation. The man had been previously convicted of soliciting sex via the Internet with someone he believed to be a 13-year-old girl. In Texas, a new state law requires sex offenders to provide online identifiers and mobile phone numbers to the state’s sex offender registry; this includes accounts on social networking sites. Previously, registered sex offenders had to provide only home address, land-line phone number and place of employment.

Fewer Delays Set for Drivers
The Journal, (08/07/2009), Edward Marshall

A new pilot program in Jefferson County, W.Va., introduces “total stations” and global positioning system markers for use by local police officers in mapping major accident-prone intersections. After mapping has been completed, officers trained to use the total stations can use their measuring capabilities and GPS to obtain accurate measurements of an accident scene quickly. The system uses the pre-mapped templates as permanent references. The project aims to reduce the traffic delays caused when officers take manual measurements of an accident scene. Officers will also use the same technology to map all local schools.

Pierce Twp. Cops Have New Night Vision, (08/05/2009), Barrett J. Brunsman

The Pierce Township Police Department recently acquired a new $5,000 night device that officers have used nightly for approximately a month. The device uses a single AA battery, weighs 15 ounces and is about 4½ inches long and 2¼ inches thick. It comes with a 3x optical magnifier and a head harness. This is the first night vision device for Pierce Township, and it was paid for with a U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant. The department has used it to make several drug-related arrests.

Police Sign With Information Sharing Service, (08/06/2009)

The Wisconsin Rapids (Wis.) Police Department has signed on with Nixle, a service that allows government agencies, including law enforcement agencies, to send text and e-mail messages to local residents. Messages can target a specific area where an incident has taken place, for example, a neighborhood where a child has gone missing. Nixle is free to law enforcement agencies.

City of Redlands Launches Crime-Mapping Tool
KCAL, (07/30/2009)

Residents of Redlands, Calif., now have access to crime statistics for the entire city or just the streets near their homes. The East Valley COMPASS (Community Analysis, Mapping and Planning for Safety Strategies), a federally funded crime mapping tool, went into service earlier this summer. The software uses geographic information systems technology to plot crime-related incidents in the area.

Auburn Puts Its Crime Statistics Online
NewsTribune.Com,(08/09/2009), Mike Archbold

Auburn, Wash., has joined the growing group of police departments nationwide providing crime statistics to local citizens via The new system maps where crimes have taken place in the city on a daily basis, providing location by block, specific location and police report number. Powered by Google, the system includes crimes over periods ranging from three to 30 days in the past. It also offers information by neighborhood and by specific crime type, and analyzes information into trend charts and graphs. The system also provides reported locations of registered sex offenders. Residents can also sign up for a neighborhood crime alert delivered free through their e-mail. has more than 500 participating departments across the country.

Izard County 9-1-1: Bringing Advanced Technology to Rural Arkansas
9-1-1 Magazine, (08/10/2009), Kenneth Heard

Izard County (Ark.) recently implemented enhanced 911 service, which should avert the problem of cell phone calls ending up in another county’s 911 system. The county has installed the AT&T Vesta Pallas 2.3 system, which gives dispatchers a way to handle calls from cell phones. Enhanced 911 service for landlines is planned for the future. The PBX-based system also provides such services as mapping, incident tracking, computer-aided dispatch, digital logging and third-party applications. Only two of 75 counties in Arkansas have yet to install some type of enhanced 911 service.

Colorado District Trains Principals on 2-Way Radios
The Journal, (08/11/2009), Dian Schaffhauser

In Colorado, Pueblo County School District 70 recently held a training program for all school principals. During the upcoming school year, all trained staff will be able to communicate with first responders via two-way radios. If an incident occurs in a school, a communications network bridge will enable first responders’ radios to talk with the radio system used by district schools. School principals recently participated in a series of drills and tabletop exercises and learned procedures for using the radio. All Colorado schools are required to inventory and test interoperable communications equipment at least once every term and comply with the National Incident Management System (NIMS).

Border Town Leverages Wireless Cameras to Reduce Crime, Better Manage Officers
Security Directors News, (08/11/2009), Leischen Stelter

The Mission (Texas) Police Department has more than 40 square miles of area to cover, including 13 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border. After two years of research, the department recently decided on and installed a wireless mesh network surveillance system by Firetide that uses network cameras from Axis. Officers can easily move cameras to areas with an immediate need and allows for monitoring of both rural and residential areas. Cameras are monitored from a city command center and a mobile command unit. The project also includes free WiFi for public use in some parks and community areas.

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