Science and Technology News

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Criminal Justice Technology in the News



Law Enforcement News

First Responders Learn How to Identify, Safely Handle Meth Labs
Amherst Bulletin, (06/07/2017), Emily Cutts
More than 250 police officers, firefighters and emergency responders recently participated in a training session in Hadley, Mass., to learn how to identify and safely handle meth labs and learn about other drugs. The clandestine lab training session was provided by the company that developed the first Basic Clan (short for "clandestine") Lab and Site Safety Officer programs for the U.S. Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration. One session during the training featured the opioid fentanyl and the dangers of coming into contact with the drug.
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Police Deliver Bait Packages to Catch "Porch Pirates"
CBS News, (06/12/2017)
Police are using bait packages with GPS trackers to find thieves who steal packages delivered to doorsteps. Inside a regular shipping box, officers pack a common delivery item along with a GPS tracking device. In Southern California, Arcadia police say more than 100 suspected thieves have taken the bait. To avoid being a victim, police say residents should have packages delivered to an address where someone can receive them in person. People can also install surveillance cameras to deter thieves.
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Erwin Police to Get Body Cameras
The Daily Record, (06/08/2017), Shaun Savarese
Police in Erwin, N.C., will soon be equipped with new, improved body-worn cameras. The department plans to purchase 10 of the nearly $300 cameras for the patrol division. The new cameras are more sophisticated than the ones previously used by the department.
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Drone Usage by Local Police, Fire Departments Quickly Increasing
WTOP, (06/08/2017), Neal Augenstein
Approximately a dozen police, fire and emergency agencies surrounding the Washington, D.C., area are using drones to capture criminal suspects and fight fires. Departments using the technology include the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office, the Stafford County Sheriff's Office and Fairfax County Fire and Rescue, all in Virginia.
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Prince William Co. Police to Start Wearing Body Cameras
WTOP, (06/06/2017), Neal Augenstein
Police in Prince William County, Va., will begin wearing body cameras in the fall. The department said cameras will be worn by patrol officers, K-9 officers, traffic enforcement and school resource officers. The department tested two systems in a pilot program before deciding which cameras to buy.
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Three Samples of Carfentanil Found in Mass. for First Time
Boston Globe, (06/07/2017), Felicia Gans
The Massachusetts State Police Crime Laboratory has identified three samples of carfentanil, a lethal synthetic opioid never before identified in the state. The drug is about 100 times more potent than fentanyl and many times more potent than heroin, state police wrote in a statement. It can be absorbed through the skin or accidentally inhaled. The statement noted that carfentanil has been used to sedate elephants and has no legitimate medical uses for humans. Police said they are not aware of any deaths in Massachusetts currently tied to carfentanil, but several recent overdose deaths in New Hampshire are believed to be caused by the substance.
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St. Joseph County's New 911 Dispatch System to Launch This Month
South Bend Tribune, 06/11/17, Ted Booker
First responders and dispatchers in St. Joseph County in Indiana will soon be using a new dispatch system. When calls are taken by dispatchers, the nearly $2 million computer-aided dispatch system will automatically give police and fire agencies basic details. In some cases, it could enable firefighters to arrive minutes earlier to a fire. Police officers will automatically receive information such as maps with the fastest routes to crime scenes.
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Shooting Leaves Officer, Robbery Suspect Wounded in Virginia
U.S. News & World Report, (6/12/2017), Associated Press
An officer with the Hampton (Va.) police department survived a shooting following a June 12 robbery attempt thanks to his ballistic-resistant vest, according to a department spokesman. The suspect shot one officer following a short foot chase, before he himself was shot by a second officer. Both men survived, with the officer listed in good condition at a local hospital. Two other suspects were also taken into custody.
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2 Ky. Deputies Shot While Serving Warrant; Suspect Dead
PoliceOne.com, (06/12/2017)
While attempting to serve an indictment warrant, two Kentucky deputies were injured June 12 when the suspect began shooting at them from his house. A department spokesman gave credit to one deputy's badge and ballistic-resistant vest for saving him from serious injury; the other underwent surgery and is expected to recover. The suspect, who had an extensive criminal history, was shot and killed at the scene.
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Alabama Police Officer Saved by Ballistic Vest
Officer.com, (06/09/2017), Marty Roney for the Montgomery Advertiser
An officer with the Prattville (Ala.) Police Department survived a handgun shot during the course of responding to a domestic violence call on June 8. Two officers approached a group of people standing in a driveway, and one of them fired at least three handgun rounds at the officers. The officers did not return fire.
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Corrections News

Bill to Keep Drones Away from Prisons Advances in New York
Unmanned Aerial Online, (06/08/2017), Betsey Lillian
The New York State Senate has approved a bill that would ban civilian use of drones within 1,000 feet of a correctional facility. Under the bill, violators would face a $1,000 penalty for the first offense, with each additional offense punishable as a misdemeanor. However, the restrictions would not apply to the operation of a drone approved by the Federal Aviation Administration for commercial purposes. The legislation now goes to the Assembly for consideration.
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Legislators Seek Law to Ensure Prison Visits Are Available Seven Days a Week
Times Union, (06/08/2017), Matthew Hamilton
A group of New York State lawmakers wants to require state prisons to offer visitation hours seven days a week. Currently, the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision has discretion on when to offer visiting hours. Minimum and maximum security facilities have visitation hours seven days a week; medium security facilities have visitation three days a week. A proposed bill would require visitation be available every day of the week at all prisons, with hours subject to department discretion.
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Law Enforcement Agencies Join Forces to Combat Contraband in Tennessee Prisons
Knoxville News Sentinel, (06/12/2017), Marissa Lea Gaston for USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee
More thorough searches of inmates and of vehicles and people entering prison property are among the measures the Tennessee Department of Correction plans to take to reduce the amount of contraband in the state's prisons. Helping in the effort are the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Tennessee Department of Safety, the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference and the U.S. Attorney's Office. The partnership's first initiative involved a search of more than 300 vehicles and resulted in the recovery of cellphones and drug paraphernalia. The task force of nine agencies includes the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the Drug Enforcement Administration and Metro Nashville Police.
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Appeals Court Tosses FCC Cap on Cost of Calls to Prisons
Miami Herald, (06/12/2017), Tali Arbel for the Associated Press
A federal appeals court has struck down regulations intended to cap the price of some calls to prison inmates. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia found that the Federal Communications Commission lacked authority to set rates for calls between inmates and people in the same state. Companies that provide prison phone service sued to stop the 2015 FCC rules. The in-state rate caps, intended to stop high charges between inmates and people in the same state, were suspended by earlier court decisions and never went into effect.
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34 Indicted in Meth Trafficking Operation Run From State Prisons
The State, (06/13/2017), Cynthia Roldán
Thirty-four people in South Carolina, including state prison inmates, have been indicted as part of an investigation into a methamphetamine trafficking organization that largely operated out of state prisons. S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson's office announced that between January and May, a state grand jury investigation returned 19 indictments alleging multiple but connected conspiracies each related to trafficking 400 grams or more of methamphetamine, trafficking methamphetamine and heroin, firearms charges and other crimes. The inmates ran the meth trafficking organization using contraband cell phones and smart phones to direct drug deliveries, sales, payments and other trafficking-related activities of co-conspirators on the outside, the release said.
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Painesville Judge Requiring Drunk Driving Defendants to Download Uber, Lyft on Smartphones
The News-Herald, (06/10/2017), Tracey Read
An Ohio judge has begun requiring offenders guilty of operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI) to download the Uber and Lyft apps to their smartphones and enter a credit card number as a condition of probation and to inspire them not to drink and drive. Painesville Municipal Court Judge Michael A. Cicconetti said, "It's just common sense. Now that we have the technology and most people have the ability to do that, why not make it part of their sentence?" In 2016, there were 604 citations for OVI issued for defendants who appeared in Painesville Municipal Court.
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New York Spreads Crime Analysis Tech Across the State
GCN, (06/08/2017),  Matt Leonard
The state of New York is opening up crime analysis centers across the state for local police. The centers provide local law enforcement with increased data sharing capabilities along with access to social media mining software and geospatial data systems to help map crime hot spots. In addition to connection with each other, centers have access to information from the State Police, the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, the Department of Motor Vehicles and the federal probation system.
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Polygraph Therapy Faces Scrutiny in Child Porn Cases
Courthouse News, (06/12/2017), Adam Klasfeld
This article examines issues surrounding the use of therapeutic polygraphs for sex offenders. The article discusses what occurred during a hearing in New York after an assistant U.S. attorney asked that a sex offender take a polygraph as a condition of his supervised release.
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When a Computer Program Keeps You in Jail
The New York Times, Opinion, (06/13/2017), Rebecca Wexler
This opinion piece discusses how aspects of technology advancements and automation are making the justice system less fair for criminal defendants. It says the root of the problem is that automated criminal justice technologies are largely privately owned and sold for profit, and that developers tend to view their technologies as trade secrets, often refusing to detail how the systems work.
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Imprisoned by Technology
Australian Broadcasting Company, RN, Big Ideas, (Audio), (06/13/2017)
This audio recorded at Swinburne University in May discusses use of technology such as surveillance, home detention and electronic bracelets as alternatives to incarceration, and whether technology can do everything expected in prisons: punish offenders, keep the community safe and reduce re-offending. The guest is Mirko Bagaric, professor of law and director of the Evidence-based Sentencing and Criminal Justice Project at Swinburne University.
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