Science and Technology News

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Public Safety Technology in the News



New Technology Keeps Track of License Plates for Police
WDAY, (0910/2012), Rob Kupec

Fargo, N.D., is considering using license plate reader technology to replace the handheld camera currently used to log license plates for parking enforcement. The Cass County Sheriff’s Department currently has one car equipped with LPR technology, and wants to use it for a trial period before implementing a policy on storing license plate numbers and possibly using it for parking enforcement. Presently, photos taken with the handheld camera are deleted immediately unless a parking ticket is issued.
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Social Media: A Crime-Fighting Tool
Desert Dispatch, (09/13/2012), Katie Lucia

California’s Barstow Police Department uses Facebook, YouTube and Myspace to collect evidence, track suspects and solicit tips, placing the agency among the 88 percent of law enforcement agencies across the nation who use social media as a crime-fighting tool (according to a recent survey conducted by the International Association of Chiefs of Police). In addition to combing social media in a search for evidence, the department also has its own Facebook page that provides information to the community and gives citizens a place to turn in tips.
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CODY Citizens’ Crime Mapping: The Newest Trend in Public Safety Software Increases Citizen Awareness in PA
MarketWatch.com, (09/17/2012)

Residents of Berks County, Pa., can now access details about crimes in the area through the county’s implementation of CrimeMapping.com (http://www.crimemapping.com). The general public can now view interactive maps and create reports for specific types of crimes and specific time periods. Such information previously could be accessed by law enforcement professionals only. Its purchase was funded by drug forfeiture funds at no additional cost to county residents.
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MARTA Launches Camera Surveillance Pilot Program
WBSRadio.com, (09/17/2012), Jennifer Griffies

The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) has begun equipping buses with surveillance cameras on randomly chosen routes. The mobile cameras are in addition to security cameras already in place at the 38 MARTA stations throughout the city. The cameras will store audio and video data to help the MARTA police force with investigations into crime, complaints and accident claims. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is providing $9 million out of the $17 million implementation cost.
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Undercover Police Used Smartphones to Keep Tabs on Protests in Tampa
National Journal, (09/17/2012), Josh Smith

At this summer’s Republican National Convention in Tampa, law enforcement officers used a new technology tool to turn their smartphones into multimedia surveillance and communication devices. Specialized apps and software enabled the smartphones and tablets to send real-time video, voice and data via an interoperable network. Using cell phones made what the officers were doing far less evident and allowed them to blend into the crowd.
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Plano Police Embrace Social Media
5NBCDFW.com, (09/18/2012), Catherine Ross

The Plano (Texas) Police Department has begun to slowly move into the world of social media. After a year of research and planning, the department went live with a Facebook page in September, which will include Crime Stoppers tips, traffic updates and postings about DWI enforcement patrols. The department will decide about implementing a Twitter feed at a later date, but has launched TIP411, a service that allows the public to provide anonymous text or e-mail tips.
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Franklin Police Try Electronic Ticketing
New Jersey Herald, (09/18/2012), Rob Jennings

Police in the borough of Franklin, N.J., are testing Info-Cop software, an electronic ticketing system. Officers need only swipe/scan a driver’s license and then make applicable choices from a menu. Info-Cop autofills much of the relevant information. Using e-ticketing reduces the amount of time spent at roadside stops and eliminates some of the legibility problems created by handwritten tickets. The pilot program is being done at no cost to Franklin, which is the first agency in its county to test an e-ticketing program.
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Police, Rescuers Study Use of Small-Scale Drone Aircraft
Des Moines Register, (09/16/2012), Daniel P. Finney

As the time when police, first responders and other agencies can launch unmanned patrol zones grows closer, civil liberties proponents step up campaigns to put strict regulations in place. A national poll conducted in June 2012 shows that the majority of American citizens support limited use of drone technology in certain situations but remain leery of its use overall. According to this article, to date police agencies in Iowa are interested in the technology, but find it cost-prohibitive.
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St. Louis Police Call for Stolen Cellphone Database
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, (09/17/2012), Christine Byers

Spurred by police concerned over the growing number of cellphone thefts nationwide, wireless service providers are making progress toward establishing a database to render stolen cellphones useless to anyone but the rightful owner. Some wireless carriers are already blacklisting stolen phones on their own networks. In February, the Major Cities Police Chiefs Association, which includes the St. Louis police chief, passed a resolution calling for the wireless industry to disable stolen phones while leaving the GPS tracking capabilities intact. That way, police could track a stolen device, but a thief couldn’t profit from it. In the spring, Federal Communications Commission officials and representatives from the CTIA-The Wireless Association pledged to establish a database and launch a public awareness campaign. By the end of this year, all wireless providers would have begun the process, according to Chris Guttman McCAibe, vice president of regulatory affairs for CTIA. Similar stolen-phone databases are already used abroad. The United Kingdom’s was set up in 2002.
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Law Enforcement Receives Gift of Protective Clothing
Pomeroy Daily Sentinel, (09/23/2012), Charlene Hoeflich

An Ohio police department has received a donation of 16 protective suits to help safeguard officers dismantling meth labs. The garment ensembles donated to the Middleport Police Department by Blauer Manufacturing Co. include a full suit with breathing apparatus, protective gloves and footwear. In requesting the suits, Officer Shannon Smith cited the increasing number of meth labs being operated in the area and the need for officers to have protection from chemical agents. Each suit is valued at $4,000. Smith says the counties of Meigs and Gallia dismantled more than 30 meth labs this summer. The suits provide limited protection against tears, punctures, abrasion, liquefied gas, high heat and flames, cryogenic liquids, gasses and body fluids.
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