Science and Technology News

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Public Safety Technology in the News

Fresno County to Benefit From ICE Strategy to Enhance the Identification, Removal of Criminal Aliens
Borderfire Report, (03/24/2020)
Fresno County is the latest California jurisdiction to participate in a federal initiative to enhance ability to identify criminal aliens. The information sharing capability is offered through Secure Communities, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) initiative. Previously, arrestees’ fingerprints were checked for criminal history against the U.S. Department of Justice biometric system maintained by the FBI. With Secure Communities, that fingerprint information will now also be simultaneously checked against the biometrics-based immigration records maintained by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. If fingerprints match any in DHS’ system, the new automated process notifies ICE, enabling the agency to take appropriate action to ensure criminal aliens are not released back into communities. Top priority is given to serious offenders, such as those with prior convictions for major drug offenses, murder, rape, robbery and kidnapping. Since its inception in Oc! tober 2008, Secure Communities has identified 18,000 aliens charged with or convicted of serious crimes.

Symantec Reports on 10 Riskiest U.S. Cities for Electronic Crime, (03/24/2010)
Seattle, Boston and Washington, D.C. are the top three U.S. cities most vulnerable to cybercrime, according to a report from Symantec. The increased risk can be due to a higher density of WiFi spots or risky online behavior. High-tech hubs in San Francisco and Raleigh were ranked fourth and fifth. Other cities in the top 10 are Atlanta, Minneapolis, Denver, Austin and Portland. The study examined 50 cities for risk. Marian Merritt, Norton Internet safety advocate, said the study highlights that with more and more people relying on the Internet to pay their bills and shop, users need to be vigilant to protect themselves.

Half of States Ban Tobacco Use in Prisons
USA Today, (03/24/2010), Andrew M. Seaman
In the interest of saving money on health care and protecting inmates and correctional officers from breathing second-hand smoke, half of U.S. states now ban tobacco use in prisons. Virginia is the most recent state to ban smoking for staff and inmates. Inmates in Virginia were notified of the ban a full year before it took effect in February 2010. Georgia plans to enact a smoking ban Dec. 1. Not all states have been receptive to a prison smoking ban. The Arizona legislature rejected a proposed ban in 2009.

For Ex-Cons, a Home Instead of a Cell
The St. Augustine Record (03/25/2010), Jennifer Edwards
Some inmates in Florida will soon have a new home to help them adjust to life outside prison and hopefully prevent them from returning to jail. A new four-bedroom house was built in West Augustine through Hogans Harvest, a community improvement organization. The house will serve as transitional housing, where up to four offenders can stay up to six months as they adjust to the community and get jobs, according to Jean Harden of the Emergency Services and Homeless Coalition. The $170,000 cost of the home was paid for with state grants. The Florida Department of Corrections said that about one-third of the 40,000 inmates who leave its prison will return within three years. Each inmate cost the state $20,000 a year.

Terror Threat Tracking System Shares Thousands of Tips from Locals, FBI Says
Security Management, (03/24/3010), Joseph Straw
The FBI says its eGuardian system is proving to be a powerful tool for tracking terrorist threats. The system, which was launched in January 2009, contains 3,400 suspicious activity reports (SARS), which have generated 56 investigations. Law enforcement either generate their own SARs or field a tip from the public. The reports describe legal behaviors that may be terrorist precursors, such as photographing critical infrastructure or inquiring about the type and level of security at a site. The reporting agency enters the information into an external eGuardian portal, and the report is then reviewed by an intelligence analyst or trained law enforcement officer. If the report constitutes a legitimate SAR, it is designated within eGuardian for follow-up by an FBI-led regional Joint Terrorism Task Force. The SARs are simultaneously analyzed regionally and nationally to spot patterns.

Amid Budget Crisis, California Makes Parole Easier
Associated Press, (03/24/2010), Thomas Watkins
Being a parolee in California just got easier. Due to budget woes, the state has relaxed restrictions on nonviolent criminals such as burglars and drug offenders. The aim of the new law is to decrease the prison population by reducing the number of minor parole violations that send offenders back to prison. About 24,000 nonviolent offenders will be affected. They will still be required to register their addresses with the prisons agency, but a state parole officer won’t check up on them. It will be up to local law enforcement to handle unannounced home visits searches. Officials estimate the rules will save the state about $500 million the first year. The restrictions, coupled with an early release program, are expected to reduce the prison population by 6,500 inmates. The changes will free up parole officers to focus on ex-prison gang members, sex offenders and violent criminals, who have a 70 percent recidivism rate. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has about! 7,700 felons who will quality for the easier restrictions.

U.S. and Mexico Pledge More Nonmilitary Aid in Battle Against Drug Cartels
The Washington Post, (03/24/2010), William Booth
U.S. and Mexican officials are turning to nonmilitary measures in an effort to stem Mexico’s rising drug violence. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton recently led a delegation of Cabinet members to Mexico to discuss what could be done. Secretary Clinton and Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinosa of Mexico agreed on the need for a joint survey to better understand the dynamics of drug consumption in the two countries. The meeting was held to review the progress of the Merida Initiative, a three-year, $1.4 billion program to help countries fight drug trafficking by providing training for police officers and judges and equipment such as helicopters, night vision goggles and crime data software. The Obama Administration is shifting its support away from military-style hardware to measures designed to fortify Mexican communities and dissuade young people from joining drug cartels.

System Shows Gun Firing Decline in San Francisco
San Francisco Examiner, (03/25/2010), Joshua Sabatini
San Francisco is expanding coverage for its gunshot location system. The ShotSpotter gunshot location system currently covers 3.3 square miles. A Board of Supervisors committee has approved a $1 million grant to add 4 square miles. The technology enables police to respond within minutes to the scene where a gunshot was detected. However, many gunshots fired in San Francisco go largely unreported. Police Department Lt. Mikail Ali said the system is having an effect in reducing gunshots in the three areas it covers. In a two-month period during 2009, there were 244 gun firings detected, compared to 177 in the same period of 2010.

Lawmakers Offer Support for Public Safety Network
PC World, (03/25/2010), Grant Gross, IDG News Service
A California congressman plans to introduce legislation to fund a nationwide broadband network for public safety agencies. Rep. Henry Waxman said he will introduce a bill to implement the Federal Communication Commission’s recommendations for a nationwide wireless broadband network for police and fire departments. The FCC’s national broadband plan recommends that Congress allocate $12 billion to $14 billion over the next 10 years to build the national network. In introducing the bill, Waxman noted that disagreement exists over what to do with the “D” block of the 700 MHz spectrum that the FCC envisioned would be shared by public safety and commercial interests. That bock of spectrum did not sell at auction in 2008.

Driving Home Police Skills
Times-News (, (03/26/2010), Michael Cole
The College of Southern Idaho has added driving simulators to its law enforcement program. In the simulators, cadets are exposed to stressful situations that require quick judgment and stellar driving skills. Brett Reid, an assistant professor of law enforcement, says the technology teaches skills to use during pursuits, while keeping students in a safe, controlled environment. The equipment of the Workforce Solutions for the Digital Age project was purchased with a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration. The grant purchased the simulation machines and a new patrol car.

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