Science and Technology News

Friday, November 25, 2016

Criminal Justice Technology in the News



MU College of Education Receives Grant to Study Principal Training
Columbia Tribune, (11/14/2016)

The National Institute of Justice has awarded the Missouri Prevention Center and University of Missouri College of Education a $4.1 million grant to study a training program for school principals to deter bullying. The grant will support the Safe and Civil Schools Leadership program, which teaches principals and teachers to collect and use data and develop programs to make schools safer. Researchers will study the program in 60 middle and high schools in the Puget Sound region of Washington State.
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NCCo Launches 'Panic Button' App for Local Agencies, Businesses
The News Journal, (11/15/2016), Brittany Horn

A new 911 communication system in New Castle County in Delaware integrates a panic button, live camera feeds and an automatic 911 call through a free smartphone app. Schools, malls, hospitals and other institutions can download the Rave Panic Button app and register their building and employees, and provide information to emergency responders at the scene. To report an emergency, a user can press the button most relating to their situation, prompting a call to 911 and notification to employees and agencies that need to respond.
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Burglars Beware: High-Tech, Crime-Fighting Liquid is 'Invisible and Silent Witness' to Theft
The Washington Post, (11/16/2016), Lynh Bui

Law enforcement agencies are using liquid technology designed to link criminals to stolen goods and crime scenes. The Prince George's County Police Department in Maryland is among the latest law enforcement agencies to begin using SmartWater, a traceable liquid that people can apply to their belongings and that is detectable only by using UV light. Each bottle of the product contains a unique forensic code that is registered to the owner. Law enforcement can send a sample of the dried SmartWater scraped off an item to a lab in Florida, where technicians will trace the owner. The UK-based company said that the product is used in more than 30 cities across the United States.
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Fort Worth to Get $350,000 Gift to Buy Body Armor for Police
Star-Telegram, (11/16/2016), Sandra Baker

The Fort Worth Police Department will use a $355,000 donation from a real estate developer to buy 900 advanced ballistic-resistant vests that offer better protection from rifle shots. Also, the Protect the Fort group has committed to raise an additional $250,000 to buy 900 advanced ballistic helmets.
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Manhattan DA Reveals $10 Million Lab Dedicated to Fighting Cybercrime
New York Daily News, (11/17/2016), Ellen Moynihan Reuven Blau

New York City has a new $10 million cybercrime lab. The 17,000-square-foot facility in Manhattan will have more than 75 full-time staffers, including assistant district attorneys assigned to a specialized investigative bureau focused on cybercrime and identity theft.
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$218K Awarded to Hudson County Police Departments for Body Armor
The Jersey Journal, (11/17/2016), Ron Zeitlinger

Three Hudson County, N.J., law enforcement agencies have been awarded a total of $64,000 to purchase body armor. Through the state Division of Criminal Justice's Body Armor Replacement Fund, the Hudson County jail will receive nearly $36,000, the county sheriff's office will receive nearly $20,000 and the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office will get $8,300.
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Mental Health Training Increases in Law Enforcement Academy
News-Press Now, (11/14/2016), Megan Favignano

Law enforcement academy programs have increased their emphasis on mental health. About 2 million jail bookings each year involve a person with mental illness, according to a Vera Institute of Justice 2015 report. The National Alliance on Mental Health's analysis shows in many cases law enforcement agencies have become de facto first responders to individuals having a mental health crisis. Kip Wilson, interim director for the Regional Law Enforcement Academy at Missouri Western, said law enforcement academies also have added training specific to the mental health of officers. Cadets go through stress courses, which include situations they may encounter as an officer.
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Real-Time Crime Mapping by Springfield Police Called 'Next Evolution' in Policing
MASSLive, (11/21/2016), Patrick Johnson

The Springfield (Mass.) Police Department has new software that allows officers to see real-time maps of crimes in the city. The CrimeView Dashboard software allows an officer on a sector patrol to view on a mobile laptop a map showing recent incidents of all types of reported crime, and it helps supervisors decide where to deploy officers.
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Corrections News

Nevada Prisons Change Policies on Discipline, Mental Health Treatment
Las Vegas Sun, (11/15/2016), Cy Ryan

The Nevada Department of Corrections is taking steps to better prepare inmates for their eventual release. Prison inmates who commit infractions will spend less time in segregation and possibly receive treatment to help control anger. Inmates with mental health issues will be transferred to the Northern Nevada Correctional Center in Carson City, where better treatment facilities are available.
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On Heels of Justice Reform, Utah Prisons Have Seen Populations Decline
The Salt Lake Tribune, (11/15/2016), Robert Gehrke

Changes in how Utah punishes drug offenders have contributed to a significant drop in the number of people incarcerated. The Justice Reinvestment Initiative was designed in 2014 to increase the number of drug offenders in treatment. Before the initiative was enacted, officials projected that the prison population through the first six months of the year was on pace to reach 7,498, and then was expected to be held to 6,674 after the initiative. However, currently the number is 6,371, which is 15 percent below the projections before the reforms passed. Drug possession is now considered a Class A misdemeanor rather than a felony, meaning more offenders are getting steered into treatment programs rather than put in prison.
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Nevada Receives $978K Federal Grant to Reduce Recidivism
Las Vegas Review Journal, (11/16/2016), Andra Chereb

Nevada will use a $978,000 U.S. Department of Justice grant to reduce recidivism among male inmates convicted of property crimes and drug offenses. The program will target property crime offenders between the ages of 18 and 55 who are assessed as moderate to very high risk of reoffending, and where substance abuse was a factor in the crime. Inmates serving sentences for drug crimes are also included. The plan includes enhanced case management for supervising released inmates with an emphasis on public safety, offender accountability and community programs.
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Pennsylvania Corrections Officers Get Final OK to Carry Pepper Spray
ABC27News, (11/21/2016), Myles Snyder

The governor of Pennsylvania has approved legislation allowing corrections officers in state prisons to carry pepper spray. The bill signed by Gov. Tom Wolf requires the state Department of Corrections to issue canisters of oleoresin capsicum aerosol to officers working in medium- and high-security state prisons. The bill becomes law in 60 days. Supporters say pepper spray can deter prison assaults and protect corrections officers, but only a few officers had been allowed to carry it.
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Oklahoma Department of Corrections Wants $800,000,000 to Build Two New Prisons
KFORTV, (11/21/2016), Sheldra Brigham

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections wants $800,000,000 to build two new prisons. Officials said existing facilities are old, outdated and overcrowded, and limit the use of technology. Critics of the plan said a better use of state funds is to support programs to keep people out of prison. But state officials said the number of inmates is expected to continue to rise, and having the extra space of two new prisons is imperative to public safety.
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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Criminal Justice Technology in the News



Law Enforcement News

Dennis Police Win Grant to Combat Opiate Crisis
CapeCod.com, (11/08/2016)

The Dennis Police Department in Massachusetts will use a U.S. Department of Justice grant for drug interdiction efforts and for training officers on responding to persons with mental health issues. The $72,443 grant is from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program. The program provides Massachusetts with critical funding necessary to support a range of program areas including law enforcement; prosecution and court programs; prevention and education programs; corrections and community corrections; drug treatment and enforcement; crime victim and witness initiatives; and planning, evaluation and technology improvement programs.
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Center for Applied Forensics Acquires Mobile Crime Scene Unit
The Anniston Star, (11/09/2016), Kirsten Fiscus

The Center for Applied Forensics in Alabama has a new vehicle for crime scene response. The truck was bought by Dekalb County initially for use as a mobile methamphetamine unit. It was transferred to the Center in August and is undergoing changes such as addition of LED lighting. The truck will provide a secure and climate controlled environment to process evidence at a crime scene. The Center will use a federal grant to purchase a new camera system and laser trajectory kits for the vehicle.
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Body Armor Protects NY Cop From Knife Attack
PoliceOne.com, (11/10/2016)

A police officer in Mt. Kisco, N.Y., survived a knife attack on November 10 thanks to his ballistic-resistant vest. Officer David Sanchez had pulled over a suspected stolen vehicle, and the driver initially fled, then left the vehicle and led the officer on a foot chase. When Sanchez caught up to and attempted to apprehend Ronald Greenland, police said he resisted arrest by striking Sanchez and attempting to stab him multiple times.
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APD to Get New Body Armor With $900,000 Ga. Power Donation
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, (11/10/2016), Leon Stafford

The Atlanta Police Department will purchase new helmets and body armor designed to protect against assault weapons using a $900,000 donation from Georgia Power and matching funds from the city. About 1,500 protective vests and helmets will go to police, while 281 will go to firefighters and 75 to department of corrections officers.
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Corrections News

Drug Diversion Program Proposed in Augusta to Get Addicts into Treatment
Centralmaine.com, (11/11/2016), Keith Edwards

Several law enforcement agencies and treatment providers in Maine would partner together in a program to keep drug addicts out of jail and get them into treatment. Augusta city officials want to seek grant funding from the state for the program, which would include drug treatment providers and five other area law enforcement agencies. Under the plan, low-level, first-time drug offenders could avoid a drug charge being placed on their record if they undergo drug treatment successfully. State statistics showed there were 189 drug overdose deaths in the state through June 30, a 50 percent increase over the same period in 2015.
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Suit Filed to Block Death-Penalty Measure Prop. 66
SFgate.com, (11/10/2016), Bob Egelko

A lawsuit has been filed to try and block a newly passed initiative aimed at speeding up executions from taking effect. The lawsuit filed on November 9 said Proposition 66 will cause "confusion and upheaval" in the courts, interfere with their authority, and force courts and lawyers into hurried and less-reliable decisions in capital cases. Prop. 66, sponsored by prosecutors, requires the state Supreme Court to rule on death penalty appeals within five years of sentencing, more than twice as fast as its current pace. It sets the same five-year deadline for the second-stage appeals and requires defense lawyers to file those appeals with the trial judge within a year, compared with the previous three-year deadline.
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Cook County Jail Population Drops With More Electronic Monitoring
Chicago Sun Times, (11/11/2016), Matthew Hendrickson

The population at the Cook County Jail has dropped below 8,000 for the first time in years due to more detainees being sent home on electronic monitoring, according to the Cook County Sheriff's Office. The number of detainees at the jail recently fell to 7,999. As of November 4, the jail had 2,207 detainees at home on electronic monitoring.
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Jail Overcrowding Underlines Need
Coshocton Tribune, (11/11/2016), Joe Williams

Local leaders want to build a new $14 million jail due to overcrowding at Coshocton County Justice Center, but the project is on hold due to lack of funding. The facility, built in 1973, should be holding up to 16 prisoners a day by modern state standards, but the daily total often exceeds 60 prisoners and has gone higher. The jail holds prisoners awaiting trial on traffic, misdemeanor and felony charges. Once they are convicted, felons move on to state prison or community control, but the others can remain behind to serve jail terms.
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Whatcom Sheriff Asks Everyone to Stop Booking People in Jail for Minor Crimes
The Bellingham Herald, (11/12/2016), Samantha Wohlfeil

To relieve crowding at the Whatcom County Jail in Bellingham, Wash., agencies are being asked to avoid booking people unless they are required to or if it is a matter of public safety. Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo has asked that people not be booked on suspicion of crimes such as driving with a third-degree suspended license, or "other offenses that might alternatively be handled with a citation." When the jail population hits 212, agencies are asked not to book people for certain minor crimes. The jail staff still plans to accept people arrested on suspicion of assault, for domestic violence offenses that require arrests and for driving under the influence if the arrested person is an imminent threat to public safety or has a long history of failing to attend court appearances, according to an Oct. 21 memo.
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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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