Science and Technology News

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Public Safety Technology in the News

Law Enforcement News
Norwood Police Receive Grant for In-Cruiser Video Cams
Fox19Now, (01/05/2016)

Police in Norwood, Ohio, will use a federal grant to help establish an in-car video program for patrol vehicles. The police department will use the $31,492 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program to help outfit half of the patrol fleet (six vehicles) with the cameras. Norwood will also contribute to the cost of the cameras. Two cameras face forward through the windshield. One will record true high-definition video, and the other will capture a wide-angle panoramic view of the front of the patrol car. The third camera will monitor the rear cabin, the prisoner area of the patrol car.
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Butler Police Create Internet Transaction Safety Zone, (01/06/2016), Bryan LaPlaca

Residents of Butler, N.J., now have an Internet Transaction Safety Zone at the local police station to use to deliver and pick up items from legal Internet purchases. The Butler Police Department created the safety zone in the police station parking lot for transactions of large items, and the police station lobby for transactions of smaller items.
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Body Armor Now Required on All Cleveland EMS Responses, (01/05/2016)

A new body armor policy requires all Cleveland EMS personnel to wear a ballistic vest at all times, with a few exceptions. The policy, effective Jan. 1, 2016, directs personnel working in an operational capacity to wear body armor at all times while on duty unless the EMT, paramedic, captain or sergeant is engaged in tasks inside an EMS base facility, inside or on the grounds of a hospital, attending training at EMS headquarters, attending a court hearing or at a medical appointment. Previously, EMS personnel were only required to wear body armor on specific call types, such as assaults and active shooters.
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Can Body Cameras Boost Public Trust in Police? Dallas Study Hopes to Find Out
The Dallas Morning News, (01/04/2016), Naomi Martin

Dallas will be conducting a study to examine if cameras worn by police affect the public's confidence in law enforcement. The six-month study, to be conducted by the Caruth Police Institute, will survey 911 callers and drivers pulled over by police. The goal is to rebuild trust between the police and the community. Institute Director Melina Schlager said that if the research shows that cameras are a good investment, it will help the department in its quest to fund more of them. So far, the department of 3,500 officers has paid for 400 cameras. Researchers will monitor 100 officers who wear the cameras and 100 officers who don't, and track changes in the number of complaints, commendations and uses of force. They will also call back citizens and hold focus groups to gauge how people feel about the new technology.
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Corrections News
Pulaski County Jail Welcomes Body Scanning Technology
WKYT, (01/06/2016)

The Pulaski County Detention Center in Kentucky has a new body scanner to detect contraband. The jail is the first in the state to have a full body scanner, which provides an x-ray image and the ability to view what inmates are carrying outside or inside their bodies. It takes about 10 seconds for a jailer to learn if an inmate is carrying anything abnormal.
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DEPUTIES: Sex Offender's GPS Bracelet Tracks Him to Greenville Elementary School
WITN, (01/08/2016)

A registered sex offender's GPS tracking bracelet led to the discovery that he was on the grounds of an elementary school in Pitt County, N.C., according to county deputies. Deputies arrested the man on a probation violation. Deputies say the man's tracking bracelet showed that he went to South Greenville Elementary School. He was jailed on a $50,000 secured bond. Records show the man was convicted in 2002 for taking indecent liberties with a minor and was just released from prison in November.
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Criminal Justice Computer Integration Project Launches
The Associated Press via The Charlotte Observer, (01/07/2016)

New Hampshire officials say a program designed to improve the efficiency of the state's justice system is off to a good start. The Justice-One Network Environment project integrates computer systems across agencies, bringing together the systems of courts, prosecutors, law enforcement, corrections and the motor vehicle department, and makes all criminal justice data available electronically to authorized users. The goal is better tracking of criminal offenders from arrest through disposition. Information on criminal warrants, restraining orders and offender status will be available statewide. Also, criminal justice personnel will spend less time processing data received via paper records from other agencies.
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State Seeks to Preserve Lifetime GPS Monitoring of Sex Offender
Journal Sentinel, (01/08/2016), Bruce Vielmetti

The state of Wisconsin wants a federal appeals court to reverse a judge's decision that lifetime GPS monitoring of some sex offenders violates the constitution. Michael Belleau, 72, was convicted before Wisconsin passed a 2006 law requiring that child sex offenders discharged from civil commitment remain under 24-hour electronic monitoring forever, and pay for it. In 2012, two years after Department of Corrections officials affixed an ankle bracelet on him after his discharge from civil commitment, Belleau sued the department, claiming the practice amounted to retroactive punishment and unreasonable search and seizure without a warrant. In September, Chief U.S. District Judge William Griesbach agreed and granted summary judgment to Belleau, who the judge said had served his sentences and couldn't be punished further. An attorney for the state, and an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union representing Belleau, recently argued the case before 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago.
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Use GPS to Track Domestic Abusers, Advocates Say
The Des Moines Register, 01/11/2016), Kathy Bolten

Proponents of using GPS devices to track the movements of domestic abusers are renewing an effort to get legislation passed in the Iowa state legislature. One proposal would require law enforcement to assess an alleged domestic abuser at the time of an arrest. An offender deemed to be a potentially lethal risk to the victim could be required to wear an electronic tracking device. A bill proposed last year included allowing tracking domestic abuse offenders with a GPS device, but the bill did not get through the legislature. Concerns about using electronic monitoring to help enforce protective orders include that it would be costly and difficult to implement, and that it gives victims a false sense of security. Nineteen states allow pretrial electronic monitoring of defendants, particularly in cases of domestic violence, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. If an offender gets too close to a victim, law enforcement is notified. Seven states have authorized the use of electronic receptors to notify victims as well.
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Reconsidering the Ankle Monitor: Contemplating the Criminal Justice Tool's Role in the Rehabilitation Process Amid the Wearable Tech Boom
GOOD, (01/05/2016), Rob Walker

The use of electronic monitoring of offenders can play a productive role as a tool of rehabilitation, but much more research and work is needed. Agencies can use ankle monitors to keep offenders in the community and incorporate behavioral programs to help enforce positive changes like holding down a job and attending therapy sessions. An agency in California uses ankle bracelets that employ transdermal alcohol testing, which measures alcohol intake through the skin. They are used on drunk-driving offenders whose rehabilitation entails breaking a cycle of addiction. But the evolution of the monitors and their underlying technology and their uses should be driven by a combination of researched data on their effectiveness and limitations and a broader conversation about the goals of the justice system.
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Wayward Drone Lands in Waupun Prison Yard, (12/30/2015), Sharon Roznik of Gannett Wisconsin Media

A wayward drone was located on the grounds of the Waupun Correctional Institution in Wisconsin after its owner notified authorities that he had lost communication with the device and was worried it was headed toward the prison. Prison staff found the drone and returned it to its owner. Police said they can't find any wrongdoing by the owner, but the incident could result in talking with Waupun's city attorney and council about creating ordinances against flying drones near correctional institutions.
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Someone Used a Drone to Deliver a Handgun into a Notorious Canadian Prison
Vice News, (12/14/2015), Justin Ling

A drone was used to deliver a handgun to a Quebec prison, according to a published report. According to a report in the newspaper La Presse, somebody used a drone to make an illegal delivery to the Rivière-des-Prairies prison, on the eastern edge of Montreal Island. Anonymous sources told La Presse that the drone dropped a handgun in a sector that houses the prison's convicted mafiosos and biker gang members; the prison didn't find out about the delivery until a day later. Guards from nearby jails were called in to help search for the gun and all staff were required to wear bulletproof vests during the search.
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Examining Electronic Monitoring Technologies
The Pew Charitable Trusts

Local and state agencies are increasingly using electronic monitoring technologies to supplement supervision of pretrial defendants awaiting trial and convicted offenders on probation or parole. Although recent studies have found that the technology is a promising tool for reducing recidivism and controlling corrections costs, questions remain about its effectiveness as an alternative to incarceration. The Pew Charitable Trusts interviewed five experts to get their perspectives on the uses, advantages and disadvantages of electronic monitoring technologies, and possible directions for future research.
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Wearing an Electronic Monitoring Device Might Be Worse Than Jail Time
Pacific Standard, (12/15/2016), Julie Morse

Teenage offenders might be better served by community-based programming as an alternative to electronic monitoring, according to a university researcher. Offenders are required to call their probation officers three times a day and must put in a formal request to their probation officer 48 hours in advance if they want to go anywhere besides school, according to a study by University of California-Berkley professor Kate Weisbard. These can be challenging rules for youth to follow. According to a survey conducted by Weisburd, 50 percent of youth tethered to the monitoring device have violated program rules. An alternative could be community-based programming such as that offered by Oakland, which has Evening Reporting Centers where, she says, "the youth were kept busy, off the streets, got good programming, and there was no need at all for electronic monitoring."
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California Rethinks High-Tech Drive to Bar Prison Cell Phones, Associated Press (12/23/15)

California state officials have stopped plans to expand to more prisons a high-tech system to rid prisons of illegal cell phones because of concerns that the system may be unable to keep up with advances in technology quickly enough, officials said. California began installing devices four years ago to prevent unauthorized cell phone signals from reaching their destination. The problem is the switch by cellular service providers to technology that uses new frequency bands. Carriers also are transmitting voice calls over what amounts to a Wi-Fi network. The prisons' system doesn't capture Wi-Fi, Skype or satellite transmissions, unless Skype and other social media applications are attempted through a cellular connection, according to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Department spokeswoman Dana Simas said, "It's been difficult to make sure the technology can handle those upgrades. Whether we're going to scrap it or whether we can find solutions to these issues that will be determined later." So far the vendor has been able to upgrade its system as cellular service providers make changes, the department said.
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Here's What the World Will Look Like After Mass Incarceration
The Daily Beast, (12/27/2015), Sarah Shourd

Electronic monitoring can be a means of supervising offenders in the community while reducing costs. But some argue that the technology is an imperfect solution that can inhibit rehabilitation, place an undue burden on families and can result in offenders being imprisoned for a relatively small infraction of the rules. Some fear use of the technology could expand to other areas of society to people who have not committed a crime, such as people with a history of substance abuse problems or the mentally ill.
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The Worrying Rise of Automated Parole
New Republic, (12/31/2016), Michael Thomsen

The use of computer kiosks as a way to automate probation has gained in popularity as a means to help with case overload and cut costs. New York City, California, Texas, Florida and other states use the technology, which can consist of touchscreens, hand or fingerprint scanners, cameras for photographing a probationer and keyboards for the probationer to enter information such as employment or address changes. The computer-driven efficiency gains have helped manage caseloads, but, the author notes, "they've also helped build one of the largest and most punishing civilian surveillance programs in the country, creating a second-tier citizenry that lives under constant threat of re-arrest for a missed appointment or failed drug test."
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