Science and Technology News

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Criminal Justice Technology in the News

Surveillance Poles to Combat Crime in Downtown Santa Ana
Eyewitness News KABC7, (11/02/2016), Greg Lee

The city of Santa Ana has installed seven code blue help points downtown to help fight crime. Each point is equipped with a camera, an information call button and a 911 call button. Police said the points can provide evidentiary value in the event of a crime and provide an additional resource for the public. The blue flashing lights make the poles easy to spot, and the poles can be used by police in a large-scale emergency to address the public with a live or recorded message. When the help button is pushed, the call dispatcher can see and hear the person who is calling for help.
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Missouri City Awarded Bulletproof Vest Grant
Sugar Land Patch, (11/03/2016), Bryan Kirk

The police department in Missouri City, Texas, will be able to purchase body armor with grant funds from the Bureau of Justice Assistance Fiscal Year 2016 Bulletproof Vest Partnership program. The city has received this recurring grant for more than a decade, which reimburses the police department for 50 percent of the costs for replacement of body armor.
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Austin Leaders OK Deal With Dallas County to Reduce Rape Kit Backlog
Austin-American-Statesman, (11/03/2016), Elizabeth Findell

The Austin City Council has approved a six-year, up to $3.6 million agreement to allow the city to send forensic evidence to Dallas County's forensics lab to help reduce Austin's rape kit backlog. The Austin Police Department has 610 recent cases involving DNA, including at least 484 rape kits. Austin police have been unable to process DNA since late May, when its lab was closed because of evidence contamination and processing failures. It is expected to reopen next year. The department has been sending DNA evidence to the Texas Department of Public Safety, but DPS has been able to process only some of the evidence.
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Border Patrol Fighting Drones Helping Cartels Deliver Drugs Over U.S. Border
CBS News, (11/06/2016), Chris Martinez

Federal agents are using the Tethered Aerostat Radar System (TARS) to monitor the U.S.-Mexico border and spot aircraft such as drones that are being used for illegal activity. Smugglers use drones and homemade, low-flying planes to try to deliver drugs over the border. Six blimps along the border carry specialized radar that can detect aircraft flying too low for conventional radar to see. The TARS radar images are sent to a military base in California, where officers watch for potential threats. If a smuggler makes it over the border, the TARS technology helps track down the drugs before they get into the wrong hands.
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Drug-Related Autopsies Skyrocket for Local Coroners, Forensics Professionals
The Tribune-Democrat, (11/06/2016), Jocelyn Brumbaugh

The Coroner's Office in Cambria County, Pa., and other forensic professionals in the area are experiencing a spike in the number of deaths investigated related to drug abuse. To date in 2016, the Cambria department responded to 60 deaths that have been confirmed as drug overdoses, with 20 pending toxicology results. In 2015, the office reported 58 total drug overdose deaths, 20 of which were linked to heroin. Forensic Dx in Windber, Pa., performs autopsies from surrounding counties, and said more than half of those completed over the past two years have been for drug overdoses: 131 overdoses out of 244 total autopsies in 2015, and 142 of 233 total autopsies to date in 2016. The region is also experiencing an increase in cases where fentanyl, a potent painkilling opiate, is present in heroin overdoses.
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Burlington County Working on $40M Emergency System Upgrade
Burlington County Times, (11/07/2016), Brian Woods

A New Jersey county is improving its public safety communication system through enhanced broadband spectrum. The $40 million project in Burlington County was spurred by a Federal Communications Commission mandate to change radio frequencies for public safety emergency response systems from a 500 MHz band to 700 MHz. On its website, the FCC states that the 700 MHz spectrum allows signals to penetrate buildings and walls easily and to cover larger geographic areas with less infrastructure.
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Pennsylvania Awards $6.5 Million in School Safety Grants
THE Journal, (11/07/2016), Joshua Bolkan

The Pennsylvania Department of Education is awarding $6.5 million as part of the Safe Schools Initiative Targeted Grant program to reduce school violence. The program includes $3.9 million for school entities, municipalities and police departments for training and salary for school resource officers and school police officers. Another $2.6 million was awarded to public school entities to fund programs designed to prevent violence and procure safety and security equipment.
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Corrections News

Drone Makers Asked to Hard Code Prisons As No-Fly Zones
ZDNet, (11/04/2016), Charlie Osborne for Between the Lines

Prison officials in the United Kingdom want drone manufacturers to hard code prison locations into their products to stop attempts to use the devices to deliver contraband to inmates. The unmanned aerial vehicles have been detected in fly-and-drop schemes to deliver mobile phones, weapons and drugs to inmates. A recent report on Prison Safety and Reform says together with vendors, the prison system plans to trial "the inclusion of prison coordinates in no-fly zones" in the hard wiring of the devices.
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Washington Prisons to Cease Calling Inmates 'Offenders'
OBP, (11/03/2016), Austin Jenkins

Prison inmates in the state of Washington will no longer be called offenders. In a memo to staff, Dick Morgan, Secretary of Corrections, said the term offender has a negative connotation. Instead of offender, the Department of Corrections will use terms like individual and encourage staff to address inmates by name. A spokesman for the union representing front line prison staff said they would like to see the department focus on improving staff safety and security.
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Opiate Declines in Md. Prisons After Cut From Medicaid List
Associated Press, (11/04/2016), Hannah Lang

Since a drug used to treat opiate addiction was removed from the Medicaid Preferred Drug List in July, the amount of it recovered in Maryland correctional facilities as contraband has decreased by 41 percent, according to the state Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. The drug Suboxone, in film strip form designed to be placed under a user's tongue, can easily be smuggled into correctional facilities. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene removed it from the preferred list, substituting Zubsolv tablets, on July 1. The tablets are harder to smuggle into prison. Between July 1 and Oct. 31, the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services recovered 940 pieces of Suboxone film strips, compared to 1,603 recovered during the same period in 2015.
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Dog-Training Program for Inmates Expands in Maryland
Blasting News, (11/05/2016), Susan Lee

A Maryland correctional facility is considering expanding its inmate dog-training program. The Happy Hounds program at the Roxbury Correctional Institute near Hagerstown allows inmates to train rescue dogs from shelters to prepare them for adoption. The current program allows for six to 10 dogs for training purposes.
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Jail Officer Standards Relaxed
The Journal Gazette, (11/06/2016), Jamie Duffy

An Indiana sheriff is lowering the age and education requirements for jail confinement officers to ease recruitment and retention. Allen County Sheriff David Gladieux lowered the requirement from a minimum age of 21 with a high school diploma to a minimum age of 18 with a high school equivalency certificate. Lower pay compared to other law enforcement positions and job stress can affect recruitment and retention. Starting pay for an Allen County Jail confinement officer is slightly more than $35,000 a year. A sheriff's deputy salary starts at slightly more than $45,000. The sheriff's department said after the changes in requirements, confinement officer applications grew by 40 to 116. The jail needs 13 more confinement officers to be at the optimum 126.
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New Cook County Clinic Aims to Keep Mentally Ill Out of Jail
Chicago Tribune, (11/01/2016), Lisa Schencker

A new Cook County clinic on the South Side of Chicago has been established to keep more mentally ill people and those with substance abuse problems out of jail. The Community Triage Center is a walk-in facility for assessments, support and referrals. Police also can bring people to the center if they believe they would be better served there than in the hospital or behind bars. The center is modeled after similar programs in Phoenix, Las Vegas and San Antonio, Texas. About 20 percent of county jail detainees have a behavioral health issue that may have led to their detention, according to the county health system. Mental health services are provided at the jail, but health officials say it is not an ideal surrounding for treatment.
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