Science and Technology News

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Public Safety Technology in the News

Police Use Technology to Prevent Crime
Minnesota Daily, (03/19/2012), Branden Largent

Use of a variety of technology by Minnesota police is helping to drive down crime rates and increase police efficiency. University of Minnesota police statistics show that campus crime has dropped about 30 percent over the past 10 years. Minneapolis police use multiple mobile cameras in the city and share license plate recognition technology with the city’s traffic control unit. Car-mounted cameras can scan hundreds of plates per minute and check against a database to identify stolen cars. Minneapolis police also have an automated system to connect to pawn shops and track all items the shops purchase, allowing police to search for possible stolen goods. The city also uses ShotSpotter® gunfire location system. Also, university police will soon be using a new breathalyzer system for sobriety tests.
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Social Media Role in Police Cases Growing
USA Today, (3/18/2012), Roger Yu

Law enforcement agencies are finding valuable investigative information on social networking sites, where suspects often brag about their exploits online. Agencies can order social media companies to shut down a Twitter or Facebook page immediately after a crime has been committed, or have relevant information archived before any changes can be made to the information. About 88 percent of law enforcement agencies have used social media sites, according to a survey by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. However, the law regarding how police can legally retrieve personal data can be confusing, according to Mark Rumold, an attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. He says the law is “arcane and confusing. And there is significant debate on what governs what.”
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Partnership Between Missouri Prisons, Animal Shelters Transforms Inmates and Dogs
Quincy Herald-Whig, (3/19/2012), Mary Poletti

In Missouri prisons, both inmates and dogs are getting a second chance. Under the year-old Missouri Department of Corrections’ Puppies for Parole Program, inmates train and socialize dogs that are up for adoption from animal shelters. The program is funded by private donations and has benefitted the inmates, the dogs, the shelters and the atmosphere in state prisons, according to DOC Director George Lombardi. Sixteen of the state’s 20 prisons participate in the program, under which dogs remain at a prison for eight-week cycles, spending time with inmates for obedience and socialization training. To date, 742 dogs have gone through the program. The majority of the dogs have found homes with prison staff, but others go to private homes, nursing homes, veterans’ homes and children with autism. Inmates who participate in the program say they have learned patience and compassion, and some want to become dog handlers and trainers when they are released.
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State Police Add Texting to Emergency Communications, (03/19/2012)

New Jersey citizens can now receive emergency information from police on their cell phones and PDAs. The New Jersey State Police and the state Office of Emergency Management will use a service called Nixle Connect to deliver important, time-sensitive information to residents such as emergency evacuations, AMBER Alerts, crime information and safety tips. The application allows government agencies to communicate with the public via text, e-mail and Internet posts. To register for the service, residents can go online at, or send a text message with their ZIP code to 888777.
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Saginaw Police Unveil RAPTOR Center
Midland Daily News, (03/16/2012)

The Saginaw Police Department has a new center that uses a combination of technologies to combat crime. The Regional Analysis of Police Technology and Operations Reporting (RAPTOR) Center combines ShotSpotter® gunfire location system technology, high-definition surveillance cameras with live video, real-time crime mapping to track and analyze crime patterns as they develop, and automated vehicle location technology to ensure “closest car dispatch” to minimize response time to crimes in progress. The RAPTOR is the only facility of its kind in Michigan.
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To Shoot or Not to Shoot? Virtual Program Teaches Police How to Make the Call
Observer-Dispatch, (03/21/2012)

A virtual firearms training simulation program used by police in New York State is saving training funds while providing officers with a realistic experience. The Eastern Air Defense Sector (EADS) in Rome, N.Y. and the Utica Police Department recently provided members of the media with a demonstration of the EADS Firearms Training Simulation program (FATS), which presents real-life scenarios police might encounter such as domestic disputes, traffic stops, school shootings and rooftop snipers. As a trainee steps up the screen, a scenario is chosen by another officer who then controls how the characters on the screen react depending on the trainee’s behavior. Trainees talk the screen and give orders such as “calm down” and “drop your weapon.” The FATS system simulates the recoil of a firing gun, allows users to blow up fuel tanks by shooting them, and differentiates between lethal and nonlethal shots. EADS Technical Sgt. Kyle Laitenberger said live-fire training exercises are still an important part of training, but the FATS program costs “pennies on the dollar” compared to using live ammunition. About 200 officers from throughout the state travel to Rome every year to train on the system.
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New Application Will Make Crime Information Easier to Access Nationwide
Daily Nebraskan, (03/25/2012), Daniel Wheaton

A new mobile software app will soon be available to help police track crimes in their communities. Developed by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Public Policy Center and NUtech Ventures with funding by the National Institute of Justice, the intent of the CrimeView NEARme app marks each crime’s location along with relevant notes. The app was tested for several months by the Lincoln Police Department. Officers using NEARme see nearby police points of interest on their GPS-enabled smartphones or tablets. They can then pursue outstanding warrants, make proactive visits to parolees or check on registered sex offenders.
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New Program Could Cut Down on Crashes in Cherokee County
Tahlequah Daily Press, (03/22/2012), Josh Newton

Law enforcement agencies in Cherokee County, Okla., are implementing a summertime safety corridor along several roads to eliminate injury and fatal car crashes. The program, which will be kicked off May 1 and highly publicized, will focus on DUI enforcement, speeding, aggressive and inattentive driving, and additional patrols. Participating in the program will be the Oklahoma Safety Office, Tahlequah Police Department, Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office and Cherokee National marshals.
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