Science and Technology News

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Public Safety Technology in the News

Law Enforcement News
Singing Sarasota Police Offer Safety Tips
Herald-Tribune, (12/08/2015), Carlos Munoz

Five officers from the Sarasota (Fla.) Police Department appear in a YouTube video reminding local residents to secure their valuables during this holiday shopping season. Set to the tune of "Jingle Bells," the video was created by the department in response to the 510 vehicle burglaries investigated so far this year, including 426 in cars that appeared to have been left unlocked.
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Surgeon: Paramedics, Body Armor Saved Life of Officer Shot Multiple Times, (12/08/2015), Will C. Holden

Denver Police Officer Tony Lopez Jr. was protected by his ballistic-resistant vest when he was shot multiple times during a traffic stop on December 8. Lopez, whose father is a commander with the department, underwent several hours of surgery and is expected to recover. Police said one suspect had been shot and taken into custody in fair condition.
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ACPD to Partner With Neighborhood Social Networking Site Nextdoor, (12/09/2015)

The Arlington County (Va.) Police Department will partner with Nextdoor, a neighborhood-oriented social networking site built to connect residents in specific communities across the country. The department will use the site to share targeted crime and safety information with residents in specific neighborhoods; according to the company, about 88 percent of neighborhoods in the county are already represented on the network.
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Suspect Who Shot at Metroparks Rangers, Striking One in Bulletproof Vest, Dies; Identified, (12/10/2015)

A suspect who was handcuffed and had been searched pulled a concealed handgun, possibly from his boot, and shot the 27-year-old female Metroparks officer who was driving him to be booked on December 8. Her ballistic-resistant vest saved her from significant injury. The driver and a second officer, who was injured by shattered glass, returned fire, and the suspect later died from his injuries.
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Detroit, Wayne County to Fight Crime on U.S. Border
The Detroit News, (12/09/2015), George Hunter

The Detroit Police Department and the Wayne County Sheriff's Office have pooled Aviation Unit and Harbormaster officers to improve border patrols in the air and on the water. Detroit has the nation's busiest international border for commercial traffic. Detroit's Aviation Unit deploys one helicopter, a 1972 military re-issue and has three boats; Wayne County has four boats. The two agencies plan to work together to obtain additional funding. 
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Facial Recognition Helps Reunite Owners with Lost Dogs
Ventura County Star, (12/10/2015), John Scheibe

The same technology that lies behind the FBI's facial recognition system is also the basis for Finding Rover, an app that may help reunite owners with lost pets. Ventura County has plans for a public launch of the app to kick off a program that encourages owners to upload photos of their pets to the database. When a lost animal is located, facial recognition technology can determine possible matches from the uploaded photos.
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Free Cell Phone App Aims to Reduce Impaired Driving
Watertown Daily Times, (12/13/2015), Susan Mende

The free "Have a Plan" app, which works on Windows, Android and iPhone platforms, allows users to quickly find a taxi service and also estimate whether they've had too much to drink based on weight, age and number of drinks consumed. The app, which is provided by New York State, also allows users to preload a list of phone numbers for potential designated drivers. There have been more than 7,500 downloads of the tool since August 2015.
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This Algorithm Will Try to Predict Which Gang Threats on Twitter Turn into IRL Violence
VICE, (12/11/2015), Alex Zimmerman

Researchers are working on developing an algorithm that can analyze tweets and decode gang member language, possibly determining how likely the messages are to indicate actual violent criminal acts. Plans call for testing the project in New York and Chicago.
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Huntington Police Using New, High-Tech Training Simulator, (12/14/20115), Chelsea Spears

The Huntington (W.Va.) Police Department has used a $70,000 grant to purchase a Ti Training Use-of-Force Simulation System and begin mandatory training on its 600 scenarios. The training also includes emergency medical assistance. The agency has expressed its willingness to help train officers from other agencies as well.
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Corrections News
Over the Wire: Prison Guards Handcuffed in Battle with Drones
Yahoo! Tech, (12/03/2015), Wayne Rash

Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) appear to have become a new means of smuggling contraband into correctional facilities, and they're causing a significant problem because they're hard to spot and hard to trace back to their operators. To cope with this growing problem, the Federal Bureau of Prisons has issued a request for information looking for a solution to the issue.
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States Encouraged to Mull South Dakota Sobriety Program
KOAA 5, (12/05/2015), James Nord for the Associated Press

Offering an alternative to jail for those convicted of an alcohol-related crime, South Dakota's 24-7 sobriety program has reduced rates of drunken driving and domestic violence. Participants must have their alcohol levels measured twice a day, with remaining out of prison as the incentive to remain sober. President Barack Obama recently signed a $305 billion transportation law that includes incentives for other states to adopt this model program.
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Windham County Sheriff Touts Electronic Monitoring Program for Inmates, (12/08/2015), Mike Faher

Prison overpopulation, a nationwide problem, is causing states to look at alternatives to mandatory incarceration. In Vermont's Windham County, Sheriff Keith Clark is looking to continue a pilot program that places greater emphasis on the use of electronic monitoring as an alternative to incarceration. The state legislature invested $200,000 in the pilot program in 2014, and halfway through its trial period, Clark is touting the project as a success.
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Dogs, Inmates Learn From Each Other in Jacksonville Prison Program
Jacksonville.Com, (12/09/2015), Beth Reese Cravey

Teaching Animals and Inmates Life Skills (TAILS) pairs rescue dogs and inmates in a partnership that corrects animal behavioral issues and allows them be eligible for adoption. In its two years of existence, the program has placed 200 healthy dogs in Florida homes. Each dog is cared for and trained by two inmates, who also benefit by learning skills and obtaining a sense of accomplishment.
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Marijuana and Cell Phones Arrive With Prison Food
Detroit Free Press, (12/09/2015), Paul Egan

A delivery truck brought more than food to Saginaw Correctional Facility recently: the Sun Valley Foods vehicle's contents also included marijuana and cell phones. Prison officials received a tip about the contraband and after locating it, turned the case over to the Michigan State Police for investigation.
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Richmond County Sheriff's Office Unveils New Body Scanner
The Augusta Chronicle, (12/09/2015), Bianca Cain Johnson

The jail in Georgia's Richmond County recently implemented use of the SafeView imaging system, which uses millimeter wave technology and no X-rays or radiation. In its first three weeks of use, the facility recovered approximately 10 contraband items carried by arriving inmates. The scanner, which is the same technology commonly used at airports, takes only 1.5 seconds to detect foreign objects and guide users to their location.
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Wisconsin DOC Orders Body Cameras at Youth Prison
Wisconsin Public Radio, (12/11/2015), from the Associated Press

The Wisconsin Department of Corrections has ordered security staff at the Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake juvenile facilities to wear body cameras and activate them during all interactions that involve acts of aggression and crisis intervention. The two facilities are under FBI investigation for alleged abuse by both staff and inmates.
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Santa Clara County Bans Plastic Bullets Following Inmate Death
San Jose Mercy News, (12/11/2015), Tracey Kaplan

Santa Clara County, Calif., has stopped the use of plastic bullets by jail guards who need to subdue - and possibly remove from their cells - unruly prisoners. The ban follows the death of a mentally ill inmate who was struck by three of the plastic bullets during a September 2015 cell extraction. Although his cause of death has not been determined, it is possible the resulting injuries were a contributing factor.
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How to Shoot Down a Drone: Ray Guns, Nets and Malware Are Being Used to Knock Drones Out of the Sky
International Business Times, (12/11/2015), Jeff Stone

Drones are a hot-ticket Christmas present this holiday season, with the Federal Aviation Administration saying 1 million new drones will be purchased in the United States. There's also a growing counter-industry of devices dedicated to removing drones from the sky, as this article describes.
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