Science and Technology News

Friday, July 14, 2017

Criminal Justice Technology in the News



Law Enforcement News

First Responders Wary, But Prepared for Carfentanil
Fosters.com, (06/30/2017), Brian Early
Carfentanil, a synthetic opioid that is many times more powerful that fentanyl and heroin, has reportedly been found in at least two cases in Rochester, N.H. A Strafford County grand jury indicted two people in June for possession of carfentanil. It appears to be the first reported cases of the drug in the state's Seacoast region, after the first reported deaths in the state came earlier this year. Carfentanil is dangerous to first responders and other nondrug users because it can be absorbed through skin. The police department has ordered additional protective gear and trained officers how to handle containers suspected to have drugs so as not to endanger themselves.
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Nevada Lands Grant to Launch Anti-Bullying App, Will Contribute to National School Safety Research
The Nevada Independent, (07/05/2017), Michelle Rindels
Nevada will set up a Safe to Tell hotline and reporting app starting in 2018 that will allow students to report bullying or potential threats. Researchers supported by the National Institute of Justice will analyze data about the hotline's usage and response techniques to determine whether having it contributes to a better school climate.
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City Unanimously Approves $100K Grant for Ithaca SWAT Team Equipment, Training
The Ithaca Voice, (07/06/2017)
Police in Ithaca, N.Y. will use a $100,000 grant to purchase new equipment and fund overtime pay for training. The grant from the Department of Homeland Security and approved by the city's Common Council is intended for new equipment, including night vision helmets, breathing apparatus, radar, cameras and robot technology.
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CPD Squad Cars With New Crime-Fighting Technology Hit Streets
ABC7 Eyewitness News, (07/06/2017), Laura Podesta
The Chicago Police Department has begun to rollout new squad cars equipped with mobile computers to connect officers with police databases, crime mapping and gunshot detection systems. The lights on the cars are designed to enhance police presence in neighborhoods. There will be a total 550 of the new vehicles on the streets by early next year.
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Akron Police Will Begin Wearing Body Cameras Next Month
Cleveland.com, (06/30/2017), Evan MacDonald
Police in Akron, Ohio will begin wearing body cameras in July. The program will kick off with 100 officers wearing the cameras. Eventually a total of 245 cameras will be available. The police department tested 30 devices and worked with Kent State University to analyze the results before deciding which cameras to buy.
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Smart Home Device Alerts New Mexico Authorities to Alleged Assault
ABCNews, (07/06/2017), Morgan Winsor
A smart home device alerted authorities to an alleged assault at a residence in Tijeras, N.M. A man got into an argument with his girlfriend and the altercation became physical, according to the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department. The man, Eduardo Barros, allegedly wielded a firearm and threatened to kill his girlfriend, asking her, "Did you call the sheriffs?" A smart speaker hooked up to a surround sound system inside the home recognized that as a voice command and called 911, authorities said. Deputies responded and removed the woman and her daughter from the scene, and a crisis negotiation team and SWAT team took Barros into custody following a standoff.
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Corrections News

SC Law Requires All Officers to Learn to Spot Mental Illness
The Charlotte Observer, (07/04/2017), Seanna Adocox for the Associated Press
South Carolina's law enforcement and correctional officers are now required to undergo training to recognize mental illness and de-escalate confrontations with people who are manic. The training for all of the state's roughly 16,000 law enforcement and correctional officers will be part of the 40 hours of additional training they need every three years to be recertified for their jobs. The training is already standard for the 59 agencies in the state that are either state or nationally accredited.
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Alabama Prisons Aim to Add Technology to Further Inmates' Education
EdTechTimes, (07/03/2017), Jessica Filippone
The Alabama Department of Corrections is adding tablets and secure wireless network connections to prisons to provide inmates with educational training. The training curriculum would include such topics as adult basic literacy, life skills, general educational development services and entry-level vocational training. The tablets would not have access to the Internet.
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South Carolina Inmate May Have Used Drone in Prison Escape, Officials Say
The New York Times, (07/07/2017), Niraj Chokshi
A South Carolina prison inmate had the help of a cellphone and perhaps a drone to facilitate his escape, according to the South Carolina Department of Corrections. Jimmy Causey escaped July 4 from the Lieber Correctional Institution in Ridgeville, S.C., and was captured in Austin, Texas several days later. Bryan Stirling, the director of the South Carolina Department of Corrections, said, "We 100 percent know a cellphone was used or multiple cellphones were used while he was incarcerated, and we believe a drone was used to fly in the tools that allowed him to escape." Causey used a wire cutter to clip his way through fences at the maximum-security prison. Both Stirling and Mark Keel, the head of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, criticized federal authorities for failing to provide state prison officials with the authority to jam cellphone signals at their institutions.
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With Crime, Incarceration Rates Falling, Texas Closes Record Number of Prisons
The Dallas Morning News, (07/07/2017), Brandi Grissom
Texas will close more prisons this year than it has in any single year due to state's tight budget and dwindling inmate population. When all four prisons ordered closed by Sept. 1, 2017 are shut, Texas will have shuttered eight prisons in six years. Officials say falling crime rates and diversion programs to reduce the number of people incarcerated have contributed to the closings.
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Scientists Lay the Groundwork for a Reliable Marijuana Breathalyzer
National Institute of Standards and Technology, (07/05/2017)
Although companies are developing marijuana breathalyzers, testing a person's breath for marijuana-derived compounds is more complicated than testing for alcohol. Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have taken an important step toward a reliable marijuana breathalyzer by measuring the vapor pressure of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana. Vapor pressure is needed to accurately measure blood levels of a substance based on breath. NIST is not developing a breathalyzer, but the researchers' work could lay the technical groundwork for development of accurate devices. More research will be needed to understand how breath levels of THC correlate with blood levels, and what blood levels of THC indicate that a person is too impaired to drive.
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SF Jails Could Turn to Scanners to Reduce Strip Searches
San Francisco Chronicle, (07/06/2017), Dominic Fracassa
San Francisco Sheriff Vicki Hennessy wants to scale back the use of strip searches at the county's jails, particularly for transgender suspects, by installing electronic body scanners. Hennessy stressed that while the scanner proposal came together with transgender people in mind, cutting back on strip searches would be a positive step for inmates and officers. Inmates would walk through the scanner to determine if they're hiding any drugs or weapons. A strip search would still be triggered if the scanner indicated that an inmate was possibly concealing contraband. The city's mayor has included $300,000 in the city's new budget to buy two scanners.
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'Wireless Prisons' Exploit Inmates With High User Fees, Claims Study
The Crime Report, (07/06/2017)
Prisons should be wary of private communications firms that financially "exploit" incarcerated individuals by charging high fees for the use of their services, according to a report from the Prison Policy Initiative. In a study of a contract awarded by the Colorado Department of Corrections to GTL to provide computer tablets to inmates in the state's prisons, the report said prisoners would be forced to pay fees far higher than they would pay outside.
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