Science and Technology News

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Criminal Justice Technology in the News

Law Enforcement News
D.C. Offers Rebates for Installing Surveillance Cameras to Deter Crime
The Washington Post, (02/18/2016), Peter Hermann

The District of Columbia is offering residents rebates for installing security cameras on their properties to deter crime and aid police investigations. The program offers a rebate of up to $200 per camera, with a maximum of $500 for each residence and $750 for other addresses, such as businesses.
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Northwest Alabama Law Enforcement Look to Open Forensics Lab
WHNT News, (02/16/2016), Carter Watkins

Law enforcement agencies in northwest Alabama are exploring opening up a forensic lab. The agencies currently send evidence in drug investigations to the state forensics lab in Huntsville, which has a backlog of cases. Law enforcement agencies in eight Alabama counties are working with the University of North Alabama to develop a narcotics lab.
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Minneapolis Council Committee Approves $4 Million Contract for Police Body Cameras
Star Tribune, (02/17/2016), Erin Golden

The Minneapolis City Council's Public Safety Committee has approved a $4 million contract to outfit police officers with body cameras. If approved by the full council, the city can begin equipping its officers in May. The city plans to spend $6.4 million over the next five years to cover the cost of the cameras, software and additional staff who will review the footage and respond to public records requests. A federal grant will cover $600,000 of this year's expenses. In the future, the city expects the body camera program will cost about $1.2 million annually.
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Topeka Police Officials Unveil New Emergency Center
The Topeka Capital-Journal, (02/22/2016), Phil Anderson

Topeka, Kan., has a new Emergency Coordination Center to manage the efforts of various city agencies in an emergency. The center, which cost $56,271, features dedicated computers, radios and phone lines that are tied into the city's computer network and that will allow a smooth flow of communication among departments and agencies, including police, fire, public works, hazmat and ambulance. The new facility is dedicated expressly to incidents occurring inside Topeka's city limits.
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Mich Tech Prof Developing Drone to Catch Other Drones
The Detroit News, (02/15/2016), Charles E. Ramirez

A Michigan Technological University professor is working on a method for law enforcement agencies to safely disable a rogue drone using another drone. Mohammad Rastgaar-Aagah is an associate professor with Michigan Tech's Mechanical Engineering Department. His system involves a drone that can shoot a net at another unmanned aircraft, haul it in and safely land with it. The Federal Aviation Administration recently announced it will require unmanned aircraft to be registered to make it easier to identify owners and educate novice pilots. The move was spurred by numerous reports of drones flying near jets and airports.
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Corrections News
Assembly Passes Bills Prohibiting Drones Over State Prisons
Wisconsin State Journal, (02/18/2016), Matthew DeFour

The Wisconsin State Assembly has passed legislation to thwart the flying of drones over state prisons and the use of drones in crime. One bill prohibits flying drones over state prisons, carries a $5,000 penalty, and allows municipalities to designate no-drone zones. A second bill passed by the Assembly creates enhanced penalties for using a drone to commit a crime. The amount of fine and jail time would depend on the type of crime.
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Maryland County Equips Some Detention Officers With Body Cameras
The Washington Post, (02/22/2016), Lynh Bui

Some corrections officers in in Prince George's County, Md., have been equipped with body cameras. The cameras are issued to the correctional facility's 34-member emergency-response team, which handles urgent situations such as fights and unruly detainees. The team previously recorded incidents at the facility, which houses about 900 inmates, using a handheld camera.
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Louisiana Considering Closing 2 Prisons in Budget Cuts, The Times-Picayune, (02/19/2016), Kevin Litten

The Louisiana Department of Corrections is considering closing two privately operated prisons as part of a plan to reduce the state's $940 million budget shortfall. The closure would save about $4.6 million. The corrections department is trying to cut a total of $14.1 million from its budget. A potential alternative to closing the two prisons is to temporarily reduce the rate the state pays the two companies that operate the two prisons.
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New Tool Tests for Drugs in Fingernail Clippings
FOX31 Denver, (02/17/2016), Serena Ung

Testing technology is available to detect drug and alcohol abuse using a person's fingernail clippings. Parents and counselors can use it to test at-risk youth for drug and alcohol abuse. The test uses fingernail clippings to test for substances such as alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines and opiates. Ten clippings the width of a quarter can be sent to a test lab and give a three-month history of abuse. Four private labs in the country offer the testing. Fingernail clippings have been found to be more accurate than hair samples because hair treatments and dyes can weaken the test.
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Body Scanner Helps Merced County Jail Catch Smuggled Contraband
Merced Sun-Star, (02/21/2016), Brianna Calix

The Merced County Sheriff's Department is using a full body digital scanner to thwart the smuggling of contraband into the county jail. The technology is used on inmates being processed into the facility. The scanner will show such items as drugs, money, explosives, weapons, chemical materials, needles, scissors or nails. The department used state funding to purchase the scanner.
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Lawsuit: Private Probation Company Forced Illegal Drug Tests
The Associated Press via The Union-Recorder, (02/18/2016)

A private probation company illegally required people on probation for traffic offenses to submit to drug tests at their own expense to profit the company, according to a federal lawsuit. The Southern Center for Human Rights filed the lawsuit against Sentinel Offender Services and Stacy McDowell-Black, a private probation officer in the company's office in Cleveland in north Georgia. Sentinel contracts with court systems to supervise probationers. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of two women who pleaded guilty to driving while unlicensed and who were fined by a judge and placed on probation with Sentinel. Even though the judge didn't order drug testing, McDowell-Black ordered them to take the tests and pay for them, the lawsuit says. The women objected but were falsely told the tests were a court-ordered requirement and that their probation could be revoked if they refused to submit a urine sample, the lawsuit says.
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Super-Precise GPS Could Mean Advances for Self-Driving Cars, Wearable Tech
GovTech, (02/17/2016)

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside have developed a more efficient way to process data from GPS, enhancing location accuracy to a few centimeters. The optimization could be used in development of autonomous vehicles, aviation and navigation systems. It also can enhance location data in mobile phones and wearable technologies without increasing the amount of computer power needed.
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Oklahoma Prisons Director Stepping Up Contraband Crackdown
Public Radio Tulsa, (02/19/2016), Matt Trotter

Oklahoma prison officials have stepped up anti-contraband operations, conducting four raids so far this year. Teams from the Department of Corrections use dogs, cellphone detectors and deep-tissue scanners to detect illegal cell phones, drugs, lighters and improvised weapons.
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WISN 12 News Investigates Flaws in GPS Monitoring System
WISN 12 News, (02/19/2016), Colleen Henry

Two Wisconsin sex offenders wearing state-issued GPS monitoring bracelets spent time living near schools, one in Milwaukee and one in Greenfield. Greenfield police said the Department of Corrections did not notify them of the man's location close to a school. Police would like to independently monitor the state's GPS monitoring system to keep an eye on sex offenders in the community.
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