Science and Technology News

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Public Safety Technology in the News

Dobbs Ferry Students Experience Texting-and-Driving Simulator, (01/06/2012), Lizzie Hedrick

Students at New York's Dobbs Ferry High School recently participated in a Westchester County texting-and-driving simulation. "Driving" a mock police cruiser, the students tried to follow another police car, drive in heavy traffic and respond to text messages, all at the same time. Most had minor accidents; a few ran over pedestrians or had head-on collisions. The Westchester County Police Department has used the simulator since 2005, and recently began an initiative using it to educate students about the dangers of texting and driving.
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Evansville Police Department Issues Tasers to All Patrol Officers, (01/07/2012), Richard Gootee

The Evansville (Ind.) Police Department has used grant funds to purchase Tasers for the agency's 130 patrol officers. The department's SWAT and field training officers had used the less lethal devices for several years. The weapons cost $800 each and the cartridges, $20. All officers will go through initial training and refresher sessions in appropriate use of the devices.
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South Bend Police Department to Create Online Crime Information Website, (01/09/2012), Terry McFadden

By the time spring rolls around, residents of South Bend, Ind., will have access to information about crime in their neighborhoods via the Internet. The agency's records department will provide the information to the public within no more than 24 hours of a reported incident, and residents can view the information from their computers or their smart phones. Available information will include type of incident, time and location. Access will be through the department's website.
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Arkansas Law Enforcement Using Social Media to Fight Crime, (01/12/2012), Meredith Mitchell

In Arkansas, a growing number of law enforcement agencies have begun using social media such as Facebook® to help with their policing efforts. For example, the Garland County Sheriff's Department posts arrest pictures and community alerts on Facebook, and the Conway County Sheriff's Department has its own Facebook site as well. Garland County has more than 3,500 followers and a department spokesperson says there have been no issues with the site to date.
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Maine Town Adds Shotgun-Style Tasers to Arsenal, (1/14/2012), Associated Press

The town of Sanford, Maine, recently purchased two shotgun-type Tasers for shared use by its 41-member police force. The more powerful weapons have a range of up to 100 feet and deliver a 20-second charge. Hand tasers have a range of 20 feet and a five-second charge.
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Software Keeps Dogged Watch Over Kids Cellphone Activity
SunSentinel.Com, (01/14/2012), Nicole Brochu

According to a 2010 Pew Research Center study, some three-quarters of teens and preteens have cell phones, the majority of them smart phones, and law enforcement agencies recommend that parents use some type of monitoring/blocking software to protect their children from potential predators and even themselves. A variety of apps allow parents to monitor, texts, e-mails and photos received; apps downloaded; and Internet searches performed. Some apps alert parents when their children receive a call from an unapproved number or have a GPS feature that allows parents to track children's movements.
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Frederick Police Use Data-Sharing Program
Gazette.Net, (01/16/2012), Katherine Heerbrandt

The Frederick (Md.) Police Department is one of many law enforcement agencies in the country using Law Enforcement Information Exchange [LInX], a U.S. Department of Defense data-sharing application to which local, state and federal agencies upload reports daily. LInX operates 10 regional information sharing databases around the country, including the one for the National Capital Region in which Frederick participates. Federal partners involved in the project include the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Marshals Service and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. The system provides information on criminals and known associates such as booking data, photographs, search warrants and more. Participating agencies are required to have appropriate technology in place.
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Salem Police to Begin Using Twitter Social Media Site, (01/17/2012), Stacey Barchenger

The police department in Salem, Ore., recently began using Twitter to send crime prevention messages to local residents who have signed up as "followers." Citizens can use the link to become followers. The department plans to use Twitter to send out breaking news alerts and educational tips.
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'Hands-Free Bozeman' Cell Phone Law Now In Effect, (01/17/2012), Lauren Maschmedt

January 17 marked the implementation of a new law banning the use of hand-held devices (including cell phones and laptops) while driving in Bozeman, Mont. However, a spokesman for the Bozeman Police Department said drivers may still use MP3 and iPods. Drivers may also answer their phones by using a hands-free device. During the first 30 days, police will hand out warnings rather than actual tickets; after that, a $100 fine takes effect. Using a prohibited device while driving is a primary offense.
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Biometric Standard Expanded to Include DNA, Footprints
Information Week, (12/09/2011), Elizabeth Montalbano

The identification of DNA, footmarks and specific fingerprint information has been added to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) biometric data standard. Released in November 2011, the latest revision to Data Format for the Interchange of Fingerprint, Facial, & Other Biometric Information includes the first international standard for the exchange of DNA biometric data. The standard is used by federal agencies, including the FBI and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, in addition to international law enforcement agencies. NIST says plans call for adding methods of identifying voices, bitemarks and dental characteristics in future revisions.

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