Science and Technology News

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Criminal Justice Technology in the News

Law Enforcement News

Call of Possible Drunk Driver Came Before Fatal Officer-involved Shooting
WECT, (12/13/2016)

Leland (N.C.) Police Officer Jacob Schwenk survived several bullet wounds, including one to the chest that was stopped by his ballistic-resistant vest, in a shootout with a suspect Friday evening. Schwenk was responding to a call of a vehicle weaving in the roadway and running over mailboxes. He exchanged gunfire with the driver, Brent Quinn, who was killed in the exchange.
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County Approves $11.15 Million Contract for Updated Equipment
WOWT 6 News, (12/06/2016)

The emergency communications system in Douglas County, Neb., will be updated with new site equipment and enhanced data under an $11.15 million contract with Motorola Solutions. The upgrades include new radios for the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, Douglas County Corrections and rural law enforcement agencies in the county. The new radios allow for additional features and functionality, and the upgraded network provides improved communications and interoperability.
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FBI Uses Animal Abuse Data to Study Correlation to Crimes Against Humans
Charleston Gazette-Mail, (12/06/2016), Rick Steelhammer

Animal abuse is believed to be a key precursor activity to crimes of violence against people, and this year the FBI began collecting animal cruelty crime data for use in investigating violent crimes such as child abuse, sexual assault and homicide. Animal cruelty crime data is included in the FBI's National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), which also tracks hate crimes and violent crimes. Demographic information in NIBRS about animal cruelty offenders including age, gender and previous arrests will help FBI analysts determine how strong the link is between animal cruelty and crimes of violence against people. The database allows investigators to identify and map hot spots for puppy mills, dog fighting and cockfighting, and keep track of the names and location of people known to be involved in them.
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'Tool Kit' Announced to Aid Law Enforcement With Backlogged Rape Kits
WHAS11 (12/07/2016)

Kentucky law enforcement agencies now have a "tool kit" to help deal with thousands of untested rape kits. The tool kit released by state Attorney General Andy Beshear includes resources for law enforcement on managing sexual assault kits, preplanning of investigations while kits are being tested, reviewing DNA results once kits are returned, and notifying and interviewing victims.
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Bay Area Law Enforcement Agencies Get Funding to Improve Pedestrian and Cyclist Safety
Tampa Bay Business Journal, (12/01/2016), Janelle Irwin

Law enforcement agencies in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties in Florida will use grant money to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety. The grants from the Florida Department of Transportation and the University of South Florida's Center for Urban Transportation Research will be used, for example, for officer overtime to monitor busy and dangerous intersections, and for officers dedicated to enforcing pedestrian and cycling rules and educating motorists on how to be safe.
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Aviation Unit Returns to the Department of Natural Resources
HeliHub, (12/04/2016)

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources again has a helicopter as an enforcement tool. The aircraft will be used as a surveillance platform to assist Natural Resources police officers as they patrol 17,000 miles of waterways and nearly a half-million acres of public lands. The department once had a police aviation unit, which was eliminated in 2009 and its helicopter transferred to another agency. That same helicopter became available last year, and after it was refurbished, was brought back to the department.
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Sacramento, Calif., Police Launch Real-Time Crime Center
Government Technology, (12/07/2016), Eyragon Eidam

The Sacramento Police Department has a new Real-Time Crime Center, which will provide officers in the field with real-time, tech-enabled intelligence during large events and critical incidents. Law enforcement officials now have access to more than 46 police mobile camera systems and other streaming video feeds from surface streets, public transit and popular public areas. Center staff also monitor radio traffic, social media feeds and a gunshot detection system.
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Grants to Help Community Policing Efforts
CBS19 Newsplex, (12/12/2016)

Three dozen law enforcement agencies across Virginia are getting grants to support training and equipment to enhance the agencies' community-inclusive policing efforts. The money for the grants comes from federal funds awarded to Virginia by the Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program. Earlier this year, listening sessions were held for law enforcement and community groups, during which ideas were pitched and then selected for funding, including one-on-one and small group mentoring for youths and their families; training for law enforcement officers in de-escalation and crisis communication strategies; and equipment for a police department athletic program intended for at-risk youth.
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Corrections News

New Screening Tool, Vigilance Lead to Drop in Texas Jail Suicides
The Texas Tribune, (12/04/2016), Johnathan Silver

Inmate suicides in Texas county jails have sharply declined since the jails began using a new intake form to determine if inmates are suicide risks, along with better follow-up and services. Since December 2015, 14 county jail inmates have taken their own lives, a drop from a record 34 suicides between December 2014 and November 2015. Previously, jails asked inmates to self-report medical problems and indicate if they felt depressed or suicidal. The new screening forms use multiple questions to obtain the same information and give jailers lengthier instructions for responding to inmate answers. Additional suggestions for improvement include diverting inmates with mental illness and substance abuse and enhancing suicide prevention techniques.
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Lower Inmate Population Results in Unit Closures
The Hour, (12/07/2016), Ken Dixon

Connecticut recently closed four units at the Osborn Correctional Institution in Somers due to a drop in crime in the state and fewer inmates. The units once held 400 prisoners. The state is experiencing a drop in crime and a 40-percent decline in the recidivism rate. The prison population is down 17-percent since 2012, with about 14,800 inmates currently, and three prisons have been closed in recent years. Over the last three years, the state has seen a 23 percent drop in violent crime, which is now is at its lowest level in Connecticut since 1974.
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Prisons Set to Receive $1.3 Million to Fight Illegal Cell Phone Use
The Post and Courier, (12/08/2016), Gavin Jackson

South Carolina plans to operate a $1.3 million system to detect and target illegal cell phone use by inmates in restrictive housing units in four state prisons. It is seen as the best option available to combat illegal phone use, since federal law prohibits cell phone jamming. In 2015, the Department of Corrections reported 1,610 incidents involving cell phones, or their accessories, by inmates.
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'It Does Not Have to be This Way': Report Slams Services for Former Inmates Returning to D.C.
The Washington Post, (12/12/2016), Justin Wm. Moyer

People returning to the District of Columbia after serving time in prison face particular challenges for successful reentry into society, according to a report from the Council for Court Excellence. The report said that "D.C.'s returning citizens face a variety of challenges that returning citizens elsewhere simply do not confront," and notes the city's status as a federal district rather than a state. The report found that more than one in five employed returning citizens lack stable housing when they return to the community, and those who were unemployed were even more likely to stay in homeless shelters or on the street. Its recommendations include that correctional facilities have returning citizens apply for housing up to 90 days before release, and it urges the D.C. Council to approve legislation preventing landlords from discriminating against those with criminal records. Kevin Donahue, the city's deputy mayor for public safety and justice, said in a statement that the District "continues to identify opportunities to improve our supports for our inmate population and returning citizens in an effort to reduce recidivism."
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