Science and Technology News

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Criminal Justice Technology in the News



Law Enforcement News

Fresno Officer Stabbed in Chest, Saved by Body Armor
The Fresno Bee, (09/05/2017), Jim Guy
A Fresno police officer was stabbed in the chest but uninjured Sept. 5 because of his body armor. Police used a Taser stun gun to subdue the attacker, police said. Officers responded to a report of a man with a Bowie knife attacking a van and smashing its windows. When one officer arrived, police said the man attacked the police cruiser. When a second officer arrived, police said the man dropped the Bowie knife but pulled out a smaller knife and stabbed the officer. An officer fired the Taser, subduing the suspect, who faces charges of attempted murder on a police officer.
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New Oklahoma DUI Database Helps Police Track Offenders
NewsOn6, (08/29/2017), Marty Kasper
A new database is helping police departments across Oklahoma improve tracking of DUI offenders. The database requires that DUIs be reported to courts of records, and sets up a system that officers in the state will be able to access to see someone's DUI history. The database has more than 1,500 active cases entered and 2,500 law enforcement officers enrolled.
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New Emergency Pager System Goes Online in Rensselaer County
The Record, (08/29/2017)
First responders in Rensselaer County, N.Y., have a new paging system to enhance response times, coordination and communication. The Home Alerting System operates on the county's 10 emergency communications towers established as part of the total communications system updates. The new system uses high band technology, and will be used to notify first responders of an incident. Over the past four years, county officials have been replacing nearly all of the emergency communications systems including a new radio system, emergency 911 phone system and computer aided dispatch system.
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Digital Age Brings New Tools to Help Residents Fight Crime
The Beverly Review, (08/29/2017), Kyle Garmes
Chicago police recently hosted a seminar on how residents can help fight crime with video, smartphones and texts. One technology is a system that enables residents to see visitors at their door by using their smartphone. The main focus of the seminar concerned an initiative that enables people with security cameras to share their footage with police.
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Police Department to Get Over $100,000 in Safety/Training Equipment
The Bridgeport News, (08/30/2017), Darlene J. Swiger
The Bridgeport (W.Va.) Police Department will receive $114,650 in safety/training and cruiser equipment due to a budget surplus from last fiscal year. A total of $39,500 will be spent on cruisers for warning lights, sirens, scanners, vehicle markings and consoles. Funds will also be used for defensive tactics body suits to be used when teaching defensive tactics and force-to-force scenarios, storage cases for gas and chemical masks, in-vehicle cameras, radios and other equipment.
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Stoughton Police Gear Up As Risk From Fentanyl Grows
The Enterprise, (08/30/2017), Tom Relihan
A bill introduced in the Massachusetts state legislature would require police and first responders to don protective equipment before going near a drug overdose scene. In June, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration issued an alert to law enforcement agencies about the dangers of handling fentanyl during anti-drug operations. Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid that is easily absorbed through the skin or by being inhaled. In Stoughton, Police Lt. John Bonney said each of the department's cruisers are now equipped with bags containing protective gear for officers dealing with fentanyl or other hazardous materials.
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8 NYPD Officers Sickened After Drug Exposure
Officer.com, (09/05/2017), Matthew Chayes and Anthony M. Destefano for Newsday
The occupant of a Queens home where a white powder thought to be heroin in the air sickened eight New York Police Department officers has been arrested. Onix Torrellas, 39, was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, reckless endangerment and other crimes, according to police. The eight officers were treated and released after they became ill during an incident at the home Sept. 1. Investigators were doing tests to determine whether the white powder contained fentanyl.
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Update: Dead Suspect ID'd in Deputy-Involved Shooting
The News-Star, (08/29/2017), Ashley Mott
A Lincoln Parish sheriff's deputy was saved by his ballistic-resistant vest during a shootout with a suspect on Aug. 29. He was treated at a local hospital and then released. The suspect was killed in the exchange of gunfire following a traffic stop.
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Courts News

County Gets Boost in Battling Drug Crime
Daily Journal, (08/29/2017), Allison Shapiro
The Kankakee County State's Attorneys' Office in Illinois has been awarded $100,000 in grant funding to help stem drug-related crime. The money from the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority will fund a full-time complex narcotics prosecutor and a part-time complex narcotics investigator. The two additions will focus on cartels, drug manufacturing and trafficking, and drug-induced homicides.
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Corrections News

N.H. Prison System Credits Policy Changes for Decline in Drug Use
Concord Monitor, (08/29/2017), Alyssa Dandrea
The New Hampshire Department of Corrections says policy changes have contributed to a drop in the number of inmates testing positive for illicit drugs. More than 20 percent of the total offender population had tested positive for drugs in fall 2016. Last month, the total percentage of positive tests dropped to just below 12 percent, the department said. The department credits its new contraband detection dogs, stricter mailroom and visitation policies, and the drug treatment focus unit as reasons for the decline in drug use.
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State Officials Show Off New Contraband Detectors for Prisons
The Baltimore Sun, (08/30/2017), Jessica Andersen
Maryland corrections officials have announced $1.8 million worth of advanced metal detectors that can locate the smallest pieces of contraband. The Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services has purchased 161 Cellsense metal detectors. Officials said they are being used in all 24 facilities across the state to curb smuggling of drugs, weapons and other items. The state purchased them after federal authorities announced the largest federal indictment in Maryland history last year at the Eastern Correctional Institution in Westover. Dozens of corrections officers and inmates were charged in an alleged conspiracy to smuggle heroin, cocaine, cellphones, pornography and other contraband into the facility.
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Michigan Residents Can Now Receive Voice Message Alerts From Department of Corrections
WLNS, (08/31/2017)
Michigan residents can now receive public safety alerts from the Michigan Department of Corrections' Nixle service on their landline telephones in addition to their cell phones and email. Nixle is a community notification system that provides real-time information through text message, email, voice messages, social media and a mobile app. Residents can select whether they want voice message alerts sent to their cell phone, landline or both. Since 2015, more than 7,000 people have signed up to receive alerts.
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Report Says Illinois Prisons Failing to Implement Mental Health Reforms
Peoria Public Radio, (09/05/2017), Patrick Smith
A newly released report says psychiatric care in Illinois state prisons is "exceedingly poor and often dangerous." The report, which was filed in June and unsealed on Sept. 1, is required as part of a settlement agreement over the treatment of prisoners with mental illness. The federal court-appointed monitor found that although the Illinois Department of Corrections has made significant improvements to its mental health care system during the first year of the agreement, the state failed to make the "vast majority" of improvements required by the court. A spokeswoman for the department says although they have not achieved 100 percent compliance with the agreement, they are working hard to improve mental health treatment.
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South Carolina Prisons Attempting Trial Run for New Opioid Treatment Drug
The Post and Courier, (09/04/2017), Andrew Brow
Under a new pilot program, the South Carolina Department of Corrections will administer the treatment drug Vivitrol to inmates with opioid addiction problems. Officials hope the treatment program will help incarcerated people avoid drugs once they are released. The trial run of Vivitrol will begin with 10 prisoners. Corrections staff and drug treatment specialists will manage the medication and counseling, either in person or through telemedicine conferences.
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Michigan Doubles Capacity to Prep Inmates for In-Demand Jobs
Associated Press, (09/02/2017), David Eggert
The Michigan Department of Corrections has established a "vocational village" at the minimum-security Parnall Correctional Facility near Jackson. The facility helps train inmates in skills such as masonry, robotics, truck driving and fork lift operation. It's the second school to be launched by the department, more than doubling capacity from about 200 inmates to roughly 550. Soon-to-be released prisoners who qualify are assigned to the exclusive village for housing and job training that simulates a regular work day.
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Justice Dept Implores FCC to Combat Prison Cellphone Problem
Associated Press, (08/31/2017), Meg Kinnard
The U.S. Department of Justice is pressing federal regulators to come up with a way of keeping inmates from using cellphones in the nation's prisons. In a letter obtained by The Associated Press, Assistant Attorney General Beth Williams told the Federal Communications Commission that addressing the security threat posed by contraband cellphones "should be a chief priority" of both the FCC and Justice, which oversees the federal Bureau of Prisons. The letter follows an appeal from South Carolina's prisons director to Attorney General Jeff Sessions in June, asking for help pursuing FCC permission to jam cell signals of the contraband phones, which often are thrown over fences, smuggled into prisons or delivered by drone.
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Arkansas Jails Turn to Private Providers for Health Care
ArkansasOnline, (09/04/2017, Brandon Mulder
Arkansas jails have been turning to private companies to provide health care to inmates. About 50 percent of inmates' medical care in Arkansas' 70 county jails is contracted out to private companies. The remaining 50 percent of inmates, mostly in the state's smaller county jails, are cared for by part-time or full-time nurses and physicians. In some jails, medical workers are county employees. Elsewhere, jails have agreements with individual doctors and nurses, who are on call and come in once a week for routine services. Some private providers promise jail administrators improved quality of care at a lower cost.
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Sheriff's Office Warns of Increase in Drug Overdoses Inside Marion County Jail
WTTV, (08/30/2017), Shannon Houser
Adding K9 officers and purchasing a body scanner are among the steps the Marion County Sheriff's Office wants to take to deter smuggling of drugs and address an increase in inmate overdoses. Since July, jail workers have administered 27 doses of Naloxone, which reverses opiate overdoses. The sheriff's office recently implemented a detox unit. Inmates actively withdrawing from drugs or alcohol are paired with an inmate mentor who has gone through the detox program.
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Montana Launches Ambitious Sentencing Reforms to Slow Prison Populations
KTVH, (08/28/2017), Mike Dennison
Montana lawmakers enacted a sweeping set of initiatives this year designed to reduce the number of people in prison and on supervision. The main thrust of the reforms is to cut the rate of criminal offenders who, while on parole or probation, violate rules or commit new crimes and then are sent to prison. The main focus is to devise better targeted treatment and a clear path for offenders to serve their time and get out of the system.
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‘More Technology in Prison Will Reduce Violence' Says City MP
Chelmsford and Mid Essex Times, (08/31/2017), Matthew Critchell
Officials want to provide inmates in Chelmsford Prison in England with access to computers for educational purposes and possibly to communicate with their families. Vicky Ford, Member of Parliament for Chelmsford, said it will help reduce violence at the prison. Ford told the Chelmsford and Mid Essex Times that the number of violent assaults rose from 321 to 414 incidents in 2016, of which more than 120 were assaults against prison staff.
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