Science and Technology News

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Criminal Justice Technology in the News



Law Enforcement News

Los Angeles Approves $60 Million to Outfit Police Force With Body Cameras
The Wall Street Journal, (06/22/2016), Zusha Elinson

Los Angeles police will be getting body cameras. The city council approved a five-year, nearly $60 million plan for the purchase of thousands of cameras. With a plan to deploy 7,000 cameras, Los Angeles will become the largest police department in the U.S. to so widely adopt the technology. Los Angeles will pay the camera vendor $31 million for cameras and storage over five years. The rest of the money will pay for phones and data plans from another supplier, and support staff to handle the influx of video footage, according to city estimates.
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Council Approves $17 Million Contracts for Austin Police Body Cameras
American-Statesman Staff, (06/23/2016), Nolan Hicks

The Austin City Council has approved two contracts totaling $17 million to provide police officers with body cameras. The council approved $12 million for the cameras and $5 million in cell phones and service from AT&T. City staff said that the cell phone purchase would provide the body camera system with extra capabilities.
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Hartford Police Department Opens Its Doors for Community Meetings to Combat Crime
FOX61, (06/23/2016), Jenna DeAngelis

The Hartford Police Department is holding monthly meetings with the community to discuss current crime trends and crime prevention efforts. The department hopes the meetings will encourage people to trust the police department, and come forward with any tips, information or ideas to make Hartford a safer place.
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Fentanyl Worries Changing Way Narcotics Officers Operate
ABC News, (06/26/20160, Jim Salter for the Associated Press

The street version of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opiate, is forcing changes in long-standing basics of police drug investigations. Fentanyl is sold by itself and is used to lace heroin, cocaine and counterfeit prescription pills. A speck the size of a few grains of salt can potentially kill a 250-pound man, said Tommy Farmer, special agent in charge of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Fentanyl can be absorbed through the skin or inhaled if it becomes airborne. A memo issued by the Drug Enforcement Administration urges police to use caution from the outset of a stop. Officers should wear protective gloves before reaching into a suspect's pockets to avoid skin contact with loose fentanyl, and wear masks to protect their lungs in case it becomes airborne. The DEA discouraged field testing of drugs, saying confiscated materials should be sent straight to a lab.
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Police Officer Shot 7 Times Released From the Hospital
Fox29, (06/27/2016)

A Folcroft, Pa., police officer survived being shot seven times on June 24, thanks in part to four bullets that were stopped by his ballistic-resistant vest. Officer Christopher Dorman left the hospital Monday following two surgeries to repair some of the damage from shots to the face, leg and groin. Dorman was responding to a call about a possible drug deal.
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Corrections News

Researchers Suggest Ways to Reduce Jail, Prison Spending
Missoulian, (06/22/2016), Amy Beth Hanson for the Associated Press

Montana could reduce spending if detention facilities and treatment programs focused their services on those most likely to re-offend, according to researchers. The Council of State Governments Justice Center found that growth in the state's criminal justice system is being driven by past offenders committing new crimes or parole violators being returned to custody. It recommends that the state develop a risk/needs assessment tool to help determine a person's risk of re-offending. The state should hire more probation and parole officers to supervise those who are determined to be at a lower risk to reoffend.
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Free College Courses to be Offered to CT Inmates
The Connecticut Mirror, (06/24/2016), Jacqueline Rabe

Seven prisons in Connecticut will begin offering inmates free enrollment in community college courses beginning in August. The program is possible because the U.S. Department of Education decided to test the impact of reversing a prohibition of giving inmates access to federal financial aid for education known as Pell Grants. In Connecticut, four schools in the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities system were selected for a pilot program and an estimated 801 prisoners are expected to enroll.
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Using Data Analytics to Curb the Billions We're Wasting in Our Jails
Government Technology, (06/23/2016), Stephen Goldsmith

Local governments could save money and make their communities safer by using data analytics to make decisions about pretrial detention. Just 10 percent of jurisdictions use risk data analytics when deciding which defendants should be detained. Jurisdictions that use data to make pretrial decisions have achieved lower costs, greater fairness and lower crime rates. Washington, D.C., releases 85 percent of defendants awaiting trial. Compared to the national average, those released in D.C. are two and a half times more likely to remain arrest-free and one and a half times as likely to show up for court.
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Prisons Want to Use Tech to End In-Person Visits - These Librarians Have a Different Plan
mic.com, (06/23/2016), Jack Smith IV

The Brooklyn Public Library is planning to build video visitation areas in 12 of its locations in neighborhoods with high rates of incarceration to enable people to connect with jailed family members. The libraries plan to build visitation centers that are comfortable, humane and free to use. In some jails, families can pay as much as $30 for a 20 minute visit. The library already built one visitation room at its central location, and recently received nearly $400,000 in grant money from the Knight Foundation to expand to more libraries.
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Technology Required to Keep Prison Cells Free of Cellphones
WRAL, (06/22/2016)

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety has confiscated more than 4,300 cellphones from inmates in prisons across the state since 2011, including 382 so far this year. To fight the problem, prisons statewide have installed "cell-sense" systems, which trigger an alarm if someone tries to sneak a cellphone inside. Some facilities are also using "managed access," which blocks unauthorized cellphone signals and that is in the process of being rolled out statewide. Authorities also are experimenting with having prison visits done via videoconferencing.
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New Technology Could Help Screen Inmate Mail for Drugs
The Anniston Star, (06/21/2016), Kirsten Fiscus

Authorities at the Calhoun County Jail in Alabama are considering new technology to help screen inmate mail for drugs. Calhoun County Sheriff Larry Amerson recently saw a demonstration of the VeroVision mail screener, which detects drugs and chemicals used to dilute those substances. Currently, mail is screened and is opened if suspected of containing illicit substances or materials. Amerson said he would consider purchasing the $147,000 mail screener, but can't afford it now. The VeroVision requires that the mail be opened and scanned separately from the envelope.
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How to Catch Drones Smuggling Drugs Into Prison
CNN Money, (06/24/2016), Heather Kelly

As drones become more prevalent, prisons are looking for ways to detect the devices, which have been used to attempt to deliver contraband to inmates. One technology on the market is the DroneTracker, a 17-inch-wide device containing cameras, sensors and microphones that can detect a drone within 1,640 feet. The device sends an alert when it senses a drone. Researchers in Michigan have designed a drone that catches other unwanted drones with a large net. The Dutch National Policy Agency trained a bald eagle to catch drones in its claws.
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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Criminal Justice Technology in the News



Law Enforcement News

A Gripping Simulator at Monroe College Signals Talk on Police Shootings
Norwood News, (06/16/2016)

Members of the local community board's Public Safety Committee recently participated in an exercise at Monroe College in Fordham, N.Y., designed to show them the dangers and split-second decisions faced by police officers in the line of duty. Committee members used the School of Criminal Justice's Law Enforcement Training Simulator to participate in realistic shoot/don't shoot scenarios, as well as follow-up discussions about whether their decisions to shoot were justified.
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Facial Recognition Technology Comes Out of the Shadows
Minneapolis Star-Tribune, (06/14/2016), David Chanen

The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office, the only one in Minnesota using facial recognition technology, recently posted information about its use of the technology to aid in investigations on its Facebook page, prompted by a local writer's blog entry. The Image Recognition Technology system takes about 30 minutes to search for a match and has aided several recent investigations.
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New Technology Enhances Campus Security
UConn Today, (06/16/2016), Grace Merritt

A University of Connecticut alumnus has donated a pilot installation of a new gunshot detection technology to the campus. Developed by New Haven-based security company Verbi Inc., which is owned by the alumnus, the technology detects gunshots and explosions, notifies campus police, maps a shooter's location and sends a live video feed to officers' handheld devices, all in less than two seconds. Officers receive notifications via text messages, iPad notifications and/or text-to-speech automated phone calls.
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Milwaukee Police See Promise in High-tech 'GPS Bullets'
Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, (06/21/2016), Ashley Luthern

The Milwaukee Police Department has launched a pilot program to test a device that fires GPS units onto suspect vehicles for tracking purposes. In early phases, officers have deployed the devices successfully 50 percent of the time, but that is expected to improve to 75 percent as officers become comfortable with the technology. The technology was created by StarChase LLC.
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Virginia Tech Continues Campus Safety Efforts With Indoor Emergency Phones
WSLS 10, (06/21/2016)

Virginia Tech has installed more than 100 indoor emergency phones in locations throughout the campus, with plans calling for a total installation of 145 units. A press of button connects users to emergency dispatch within seconds.
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Corrections News

State Prisons to Get Body Scanners to Keep Drugs Out
Concord Monitor, (06/17/2016), Allie Morris

New Hampshire's Democratic governor, Maggie Hassan, recently signed a bill that places six scanners in each of the state's three prisons and provides for grant funds to help place scanners in county jails that want the devices. The bill makes $740,000 available in grant funding and provides for $1.1 million to purchase the scanners. It stipulates that the machines only detect contraband, and do not display or record private body parts.
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Keeping the Drugs Out: Jails, Prisons Find a Steep Challenge
Virginian-Pilot, (06/19/2016), Kathleen Ronayne for the Associated Press

As visitors and inmates get more inventive in their attempts to smuggle drugs into prisons, corrections officials and lawmakers try to be equally inventive in finding ways to stop illegal drug smuggling. This article profiles a number of preventive measures in place in various locations across the United States.
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Probation Key to Prison Reform
Bismarck Tribune, (06/07/2016), Carolyn Grueskin

A 16-person committee charged with reviewing potential reforms to the North Dakota corrections system recently heard testimony about the state's rate of probation revocation, which may indicate a need for changes in the way that parolees are supervised. Improved access to treatment and increased access to jails for short-term incarceration, as well as additional resources for probation and parole officers, all could lead to improvements in the success of community supervision. North Dakota uses probation for felony offenses less frequently than many other states, and increasing probation for low-level felonies could improve overcrowding in the state's correctional facilities.
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GPS Tracker Was Attached to Suspect's Leg. But Leg Wasn't Attached to the Suspect
Washington Post, (06/21/2016), Peter Hermann

A suspect in a District of Columbia homicide case apparently removed his prosthetic leg and the GPS tracking device attached to it, left it in a closet, put on a spare leg and moved freely about the city, believing he had established an unbreakable alibi. Apparently the technician who placed the device put it on over a sock and did not realize he was attaching it to a prosthetic leg; both actions are against protocol.
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Union: Escape Shows Need for More Staff, Better Technology
Press-Republican, (06/04/2016), Joe LoTemplio

New York Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott recently released a 150-page report on the investigation into the escape of convicted murderers Richard Matt and David Sweat from Clinton Correctional Facility on June 6, 2015. An initial response from the union representing correctional officers indicated a potential need for major changes in staffing and technology.
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The Senate's Popular Sentencing Reform Bill Would Sort Prisoners By 'Risk Score'
ProPublica, (06/14/2016), Lauren Kirchner

The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act has attracted 37 co-sponsors in the Senate from both sides of the aisle; not well-known to the public is a clause calling for the attorney general to adopt/develop a tool for predicting future criminal behavior. Inmates receiving a "low risk" rating could reduce their sentences, but those receiving "high risk" scores could not. Such policies are already in place in various states, but there is little evidence that these tools actually are accurate.
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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Criminal Justice Technology News



Law Enforcement News
Burglary Call Led to Shooting of Stafford Deputy
Fredericksburg.com, (06/08/2016)

A Stafford County (Va.) deputy responding to a burglary call was shot four times, including one shot to the upper chest area stopped by his ballistic-resistant body armor. The deputy also took shots in the hip, thigh and arm, and was listed in serious but stable condition following the June 7 incident. The suspect was apprehended and charged.
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Bend Police Launch App
Bend Bulletin, (06/09/2016), Claire Withycombe

The Bend (Ore.) Police Department recently unveiled a free app allowing residents to submit tips anonymously, receive emergency alerts from the department, contact school resource officers and register their bikes. Officer Scott Vincent led efforts to implement the app; Vincent, a former SRO, had set up a number to allow students to text him directly, and received a number of tips from students whom he felt would not have reached out to him otherwise. The new app also links to http://www.bikeindex.org, a site where individuals can register to upload photos of their bikes and other details in case of theft.
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LAPD Enlisting 100 BMW i3 Electric Cars
Fox News.com, (06/09/2016)

The Los Angeles Police Department plans to add 100 BMW i3 electric cars to its fleet, for use in non-emergency and community outreach situations. The battery-powered i3 gets 81 miles per charge, and BMW says in 2017 that will increase to 114 miles. The total price tag is estimated at $1.4 million, less expensive than conventional models considered by LAPD.
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Researchers Study the Use of e-Cigarettes for Illicit Drugs
Medical Xpress, (06/09/2016), Brian Macneill

An interdisciplinary team of Virginia Commonwealth University researchers is using a $339,000 National Institute of Justice grant to study how drug users use e-cigarette devices to vape illicit drugs. Funds for the grant, "Characterization and Abuse of Electronic Cigarettes: The Efficacy of 'Personal Vaporizers' as an Illicit Drug Delivery System," are being used to evaluate e-cigarettes' viability to vape marijuana, heroin, methamphetamine and other drugs.
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Screens Behind Bars
The Economist, (06/11/2016)

Correctional facilities in England and Wales are experimenting with several methods of allowing inmates limited access to electronic technology in hopes of reducing re-offending. Wayland Prison has created its own television channel, and along with limited programming, allows inmates access to "blended learning" that integrates classroom instruction with use of digital resources. Other prisons allow inmates electronic access to tasks such as arranging visits or adding phone credits.
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How to Develop a Police Grant With the NLECTC System
PoliceOne.com, (06/09/2016), Denise Schlegel

This article explains the centers that make up the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center System (a contract program of the National Institute of Justice) and the myriad services they offer. The author says that "All law enforcement administrative personnel, law enforcement grant writers and those involved with the development of policing strategies or a department strategic planning process should explore all areas of this resource which applies to the needs of their organization or community."
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Hennepin County Uses Facial Recognition Software to Help ID Suspects
ABC5 Eyewitness news, (06/14/2016), Beth McDonough

In Minnesota's Hennepin County, everyone booked into county jail has a facial scan taken and entered into a database that investigators are using to help solve local crimes. The software has recorded success stories, but some local residents are also concerned about privacy issues.
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How Kevlar Saved an Orlando Police Officer's Life
LiveScience, (06/14/2016), Laura Geggel

A Kevlar ballistic-resistant helmet is being credited with saving the life of an Orlando, Fla., police officer during the June 12 operation to end the Orlando Pulse nightclub mass shooting. Photos of the helmet have been widely tweeted; this article looks at the science behind Kevlar and its protective abilities.
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Police Chief Credits Bulletproof Vest With Saving Officer's Life
WLKY.com, (06/14/2016)

The chief of the Louisville (Ky.) Metropolitan Police Department credits a ballistic-resistant vest with saving the life of an officer shot on Saturday evening, June 11. Officer Kyle Carroll has been released from the hospital; the suspect remains at large.
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Funding Woes Will Cause School Safety Mapping Program to Go Away July 1
The News Tribune, (06/11/2016), Melissa Santos

Funding for Washington State's Critical Incident Planning and Mapping System, which maps the state's public schools to assist first responders during emergencies, will end July 1, and the state is scrambling to possibly find a solution. The software program contains maps, blueprints, building photos and emergency plans for roughly 2,400 public facilities, including all K-12 schools and community colleges. It is credited with helping stop a school shooting in 2003.
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Corrections News
Mahoning Jail ODs Prompt Move to Buy County Scanner
Vindy.com, (06/09/2016)

The Mahoning County (Ohio) Sheriff's Office has again requested funding to purchase an airport-style full-body scanner for use with all inmates entering or leaving the county jail. Sheriff Jerry Greene and Maj. Alki Santamas, jail administrator, recently requested funding from the county commissioners; it was the second such request in 2016. Two county jail inmates recently overdosed on a drug allegedly smuggled in by a third inmate; both survived.
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Milwaukee County Officials Make Change to GPS Monitoring as Chief Flynn Voices Frustration
Fox6.com, (06/09/2016), Theo Keith

Milwaukee County, Wis., will begin enforcing a stricter policy regarding GPS monitoring violations by juveniles. Milwaukee police will now receive immediate email notifications of overnight violations, which were previously delayed until 8 a.m. the following day.
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How Maryland Came to Repeal Mandatory Minimums for Drug Offenders
Washington Post, (06/01/2016), Ovetta Wiggins

Two freshmen Maryland lawmakers have brokered a bipartisan deal that includes stricter penalties for certain violent crimes but does away with mandatory minimum sentences for first-time nonviolent drug offenders. The legislation allows approximately 1,600 inmates to become eligible, and appeal, for early release in October 2017 when the mandatory minimum sentences end.
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2 Drones Smuggling Drugs to Prisons Shot Down in UK: Report
Business Standard, (06/12/2016)

British prison officials have used ultra-powerful torch lights to bring down drones attempting to smuggle drugs into jails in two separate incidents at the London and Birmingham jails. Light from the torches is believed to have blinded operators' eyes, causing them to crash the devices.
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Drone Detector Chosen by US Aviation Chiefs
Business Weekly, (06/13/2016), Kate Sweeney

The Federal Aviation Administration has chosen Cambridge cluster technology from Blighter Surveillance Systems for evaluation in several U.S. airports as part of a research program into technologies that could detect and identify unauthorized unmanned aerial vehicles near airports. The system can detect a drone six miles away, track it and disrupt the radio signals that control it, all in 15 seconds or less. The FAA receives more than 100 reports of unauthorized drones in or near flight paths every month.
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