Science and Technology News

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Criminal Justice Technology in the News

Law Enforcement News
New York's Top Cop Embraces Smartphone Revolution, (06/05/2016), Gary Silverman

The New York Police Department has implemented a $160 million mobility initiative that equips all 36,000 officers with a smartphone and every patrol car with a tablet computer. Further plans call for use of body-worn cameras, gunshot sensors and surveillance cameras. Commissioner Bill Bratton has stated that officers are able to respond more quickly, and he has offered to share the city's software and statistical models with interested departments.
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Atlanta Police Officer Saved by Bulletproof Vest, (06/06/2016), Ellen Eldridge

Thanks to his ballistic-resistant vest, an Atlanta police officer survived being shot by a suspect following a home invasion/burglary call on June 4. The officer, the first responding to the scene of an apartment break-in, returned fire and wounded the suspect, who was captured shortly thereafter by pursuing officers.
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Ames Police Department Mixing Mystery With Community Outreach, (06/05/2016), Jodi Whitworth

In "picture gAmes," part of a social media campaign conducted by the Ames (Iowa) Police Department, the department posts a picture on Facebook, with a clue, and asks local residents to find and identify the location. The department will close out the clue by posting a fact or safety tip related to the image; it's all part of an effort to connect the department and the community. A new picture will be posted each week.
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City Of Houston to Add Radiation Detection to Crime Fighting Tools
Houston Public Media, (06/07/2016), Florian Martin

The City of Houston has received a five-year, $30 million grant for equipment to detect radioactive material, including 5,000 to 6,000 radiation detectors to be issued to first responders and equipment for 15 to 20 vehicles, including cars, boats and aircraft. Houston is the fourth city to receive grant money under the Securing the Cities initiative. Other participants are New York, Los Angeles and Washington.
Corrections News
Scanners That Could Catch Weapons Can't Be Used at Rikers
ABC News, (06/04/2016), Michael Balsamo for the Associated Press

At New York City's Rikers Island jail, airport-style X-ray body scanners have sat unused for a number of years due to concerns about the devices' emission of low-dose radiation. Instead, the city relies on less sophisticated metal detectors that can be defeated by a wrapping of duct tape around an object. A state law prohibits the use of non-medical devices that emit low-dose radiation; the city is lobbying for a legislative change.
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Pima County Gives Inmates Tablets While Behind Bars
KGUN9, (06/03/2016), Whitney Clark

Devices made specifically for correctional facilities by Global Tel Link will be given to almost all of the 2,000 inmates in the Pima County (Ariz.) Jail. Inmates can use the tablets to play free games, read books, and pay for phone calls. They cannot be use to take photos or to access the Internet.
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Indiana, FCC at Odds Over Prison Cell Phone Use
WBAA, (06/01/2016)

Indiana Governor Mike Pence has joined with nine other Republican governors to ask the Federal Communications Commission to allow their states to jam cell phone signals in correctional facilities, a practice that currently is prohibited. Although correctional staff confiscate numerous contraband cell phones each year, some still get through, and prisoners can use them to orchestrate crimes on the outside.
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5 Ways Law Enforcement Will Use Tattoo Recognition Technology
Electronic Frontier Foundation, (06/02/2016), Dave Maass, Aaron Mackey and Soraya Okudai

Under Tatt-C (Tattoo Recognition Technology Challenge), a joint project of the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the FBI, a group of biometric companies, research institutions and universities was asked to run five experiments to show how well their algorithms could match tattoos from a specific dataset under various circumstances. This article presents the results of those five tests.
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States Bedeviled by Contraband Cellphones in Prisons
PBS NewsHouse, (06/07/2016), Teresa Wiltz

The use of contraband cellphones to carry out scams and arrange for other crimes from inside correctional facilities has led 10 governors, led by Republican South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, to request permission to jam cell phone signals from inside prisons from the Federal Communications Commission. FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai has stated that in the hands of an inmate, a cell phone is a weapon, indicating he may favor the proposal.
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Reliability of Drug Scanners Called Into Question
Kingston Whig-Standard, (06/06/2016), Ian MacAlpine

In Ontario, the leader of an advocacy group for family members of inmates in federal institutions is conducting a campaign to correct what the group says are high rates of false positive results for drug residue generated by ion mobility spectrometry (IMS) devices, also known as ion scanners. A positive result can cause these family members to lose visiting privileges altogether or have them changed to a higher security setting. In an effort to avoid false positive readings, family members often undertake such pre-visit activities as washing coins, avoiding purchasing gas the day of a trip, showering and putting on clothes straight from the dryer, and avoiding any stops after leaving their homes.
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Inspector General's Report on Dannemora Prison Break: Lack of Searches Pervasive at Clinton Jail
Time Warner Cable News, (06/06/2016), Katie Eastman

One year exactly after Richard Matt and David Sweat broke out of New York State's Clinton Correctional Facility, the New York State Inspector General's office has released a 150-page report detailing the subsequent investigation. The report reviews systemic failures that led to the escape, which ended only after a three-week search by law enforcement.
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The Amazing iPhone-sniffing Prison Dogs
The Marshall Project, (06/07/2016), Maurice Chamah

This article features an in-depth interview with Capt. Scott VanGorder, director of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Drug Interdiction Unit, on the use of dogs to sniff out contraband cell phones in prison. Questions probe how dogs are selected, how they are trained to locate cell phones and some of the strange places that inmates hide this contraband.
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