Science and Technology News

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Public Safety Technology in the News

Merced County, California Solar Panels to Power Local Jails
Huffington Post, (12/21/2011)


Merced County will use solar energy to power the county's correctional facilities, a move expected to save $14 million in electricity bills over 25 years. The 1.4 megawatt photovoltaic array was installed on 4.5 acres adjacent to the John Latorraca Correctional Facility and the Iris Garrett Juvenile Justice Correctional Complex in El Nido. Money saved by the project will be deposited in a fund used to support other capital improvements, including planned energy efficiency upgrades at all county facilities. The system was developed and installed by Siemens, who upgraded the corrections' complex lighting system to improve energy efficiency and the economics of the entire project.
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U.S. Police Fatalities Rose 13 Percent in 2011
Bloomberg News, (12/29/2011), Seth Stern

According to the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund, 173 officers died in the line of duty in 2011, an increase of 13 percent over the previous year. More U.S. law enforcement officers were killed by firearms than in traffic-related incidents in 2011, the first time that has occurred in 14 years. Gunfire accounted for 68 deaths, and 64 officers were killed in traffic-related incidents, including car or motorcycle crashes and being hit while standing outside their vehicles. Job-related illnesses and causes such as falls, drowning, stabbings and electrocution accounted for 27 deaths. U.S. Attorney General Holder called the rising fatalities "appalling and unacceptable" and said Justice Department is determined to reverse the numbers through training regimens and protective equipment purchases.
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Lawmakers to Consider Repealing Red-Light Cameras
naplesnews.com, (12/28/2011), Katherine Albers


Florida state lawmakers may consider repealing the law allowing the use of red-light cameras. A bill introduced December 27 is similar to one debated last year, which passed in the House, but died in the state Senate. Proponents of the cameras note that they increase safety. Collier County issued 20,624 red-light camera citations in 2010 at $158 each. The county began its red light program in April 2009. Statewide, attorneys have filed lawsuits arguing that the cameras assume drivers are guilty until proven innocent.
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Greenacres to Buy Voice-Stress Analysis System, a Technology Some Studies Question
Palm Beach Post, (12/28/2011), Willie Howard


Greenacres, Fla., plans to purchase a voice-stress analysis system for interrogating suspects and screening job applicants. The city council approved $16,084 for a system. Suspects in major cases have been taken from Greenacres to other departments for voice-stress tests in the past, and the company that makes the equipment says the system has an accuracy rate of 96 percent and a false positive rate of 0.7 percent. However, a study published by the National Institute of Justice found that voice-stress technology was "no better than flipping a coin" in detecting lies about drug use. The study noted, however, that the presence of a voice-stress system during an interrogation made those being questioned less likely to lie. The voice-stress system is used by 148 other Florida law-enforcement agencies, according to the manufacturer.
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Nearly 1,000 Inmates to Be Released From KY Prisons
FOX19, (01/03/2012), Brad Underwood


Kentucky officials expect to save $442 million over the next 10 years with the release of 990 nonviolent inmates in the New Year. According to the Kentucky Department of Corrections, the inmates being released are nonviolent offenders with good prison records. Offenses include burglary, drunken driving, drug trafficking, drug possession, evidence tampering, forgery and fraud. The state has hired 60 probation and parole officers to supervise the released offenders, and offenders on probation and parole will immediately join rehabilitation programs. Offenders ineligible to be released under the program include those who have six months or less to serve for violation of probation or parole, those sentenced to two years or less, and those convicted of a capital offense or Class A felony.
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Crestview Police to Field Meth Lab Cleanup Unit
Destinlog.com, (01/02/2012), Paula Kelley


Law Enforcement agencies in Okaloosa County, Fla., stand to benefit from a plan by Crestview police to field their own specially trained unit to clean up methamphetamine labs. Four Crestview officers have been trained in clean up, who in turn will be available to help other county law enforcement agencies. The officers will be loaned to other departments at a lower cost than departments pay private companies to perform the work. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced in 2011 that funds to offset meth lab clean-up costs had been cut, leaving agencies to fill in the gap. The DEA estimates that on average it costs $3,000 to clean up a small meth lab. Officers responding to a lab will wear protective gear.
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Top 30 Law Enforcement Technology Stories
Government Technology, (12/31/2011)


Government Technology has compiled a list of the top law enforcement technology articles for 2011. Find out about a mobile investigation app that is helping to bring criminals to justice in Seattle, how predictive policing is reducing crime in Santa Cruz, Calif., how a database of more than 24,000 shoe prints is helping police investigators in Cape Coral, Fla., and the development of a new device that combines iris, facial and fingerprint recognition scanning into a smartphone, giving nearly instantaneous identification results to an officer using it in the field.
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Serious Crime Fell by 8 Percent in Boston in 2011
Boston.com, (01/03/2012), Andrew Ryan


Serious crime in Boston declined by 8 percent in 2011, with the largest drop in aggravated assaults, which fell by more than 16 percent. The number of reported homicides, robberies, larcenies and vehicle thefts also fell; rape was the only major crime that increased, surging by almost 12 percent. Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis III attributed the overall fall in serious crimes to officers' hard work and a commitment by the city to keep the same number of police on the street through the economic downturn. An increase in reported rapes does not necessarily mean that sexual assaults are on the rise, according to Davis and rape intervention experts. Rape is one of the most underreported crimes because roughly 80 percent of the victims are attacked by someone they know. The city ended the year with 62 homicides, a decline of 12 killings from 2010, representing a reduction of 16 percent. Homicides remained concentrated in the Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan neighborhoods.
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Madisonville Police Get Body Armor
SurfKY News Group, (01/03/2012)


The Madisonville Police Department in Kentucky will be able to purchase 13 ballistic-resistant vests thanks to a state grant. The $9,425 grant from the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security was awarded under the state-funded Law Enforcement Protection Grant Program, which is financed from the sale of weapons confiscated by law enforcement personnel in a variety of criminal cases. According to the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), more than 3,000 law enforcement officers' lives have been saved by body armor since the mid-1970s. Community Development Director Daron Jordan noted that vests are usually under warranty for up to five years, and that the body armor that the city is purchasing will "meet or exceed" NIJ body armor standards.
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