Science and Technology News

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Doctors Use Cutting-Edge Research at Navy Hospital



By Shannon Collins DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Nov. 30, 2017 — A Defense Department study on the benefits of surfing for patients with post-traumatic stress. A clinical tracking tool used to manage patient care. An advanced electroencephalogram and eye tracker.

The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center's traumatic brain injury clinic at Naval Medical Center San Diego and the Naval Health Research Center at Naval Base Point Loma in San Diego are developing and using cutting-edge research to better help service members, their family members and retirees.

At the research center, Kristen Walter is conducting DoD's first research study of its kind on the psychological and physical effects of a surf therapy program for patients with post-traumatic stress disorder and other issues. Almost 70 active duty and reserve component patients from all service branches, primarily the Marine Corps and the Navy, participated in the study.

“Initial results suggest that both PTSD and depression symptoms improve for those affected with the disorders,” Walter said. “We’ve also found our strongest effects are improvements in positive effect and decreases in negative effect. We assess individuals before and after each surf therapy session.”

After this first study, she added, she and her team will look into not only the effects not only of surfing therapy, but also of hiking and other recreational therapies that would be accessible for more patients. She said she has personally noticed the change in the patients.

Sense of Community

“There’s definitely a sense of community here in addition to the surf therapy," she added. “It improves mood, makes people feel better -- more connected to the environment and also to other people.”

Patients typically undergo standard psychotherapies for psychological disorders, but recreational outlets offer them an alternative, Walter said.

“Some people don’t benefit from our standard treatment," she explained. "Getting people actively engaged in their environment, doing things that matter to them -- that’s incredibly important for mental and physical health. It’s really important to study those effects.”

The team designed the algorithm for the clinical tracking tool with Navy Seal patients because of the Seals’ high operations tempo, said Dr. Lars Hungerford, senior clinical research director for DVBIC.

“We created an algorithm and a tool so that we can screen them while they’re still overseas so we’ll know how many people we’ll need to see [and] get them set up so that when they hit the ground here, they’re all set up and running. We can just move on from there,” he said.

On the Same Page

While a patient is undergoing treatment at the hospital, Hungerford said, all of the different specialists who see the patient will put in their notes and appointments and see the patient’s goals so that everyone is on the same page.

“For example, when we first see a patient, we do an intake, meet as a team and come up with a treatment plan for what that person needs," he said. “They need occupational therapy, speech, neuropysch -- that gets put into the referral and gets kicked over to the individual providers, and then they write up their notes and we track all of their symptoms in the system.

Coordinating Care

“We see they have a headache goal,” he continued. “According to the tracking system, we’ve met, and we’re about halfway through the headache goal, but now they’re complaining more about memory problems, so things might shift as we go along. You can capture that quickly by looking at this system, and [all of the providers] can communicate and coordinate care.”

The eye tracker is used to measure saccade response, or reaction time and speed of response, Hungerford said. The new wireless EEG prototype is portable and doesn’t require liquid or gel.

“With the old EEGs, you had to put on a lot of gel, and patients left with a goopy head and had to go home and take a shower,” he said. “With this prototype, we can apply it within a few minutes and get a nice reading of the EEG waves. When the sensors touch skin, they don’t have to go through hair. They’re flat for comfort and don’t have prongs. It’s advanced technology.”

The new fusion study is using both the eye tracking and EEG at the same time. “That’s probably something that hasn’t been done,” Hungerford said. Looking at the different modalities that diagnose TBIs and comparing what the eyes are doing to what the brain is doing to what the MRI reveals combine to achieve a better understanding of what is going on with the patients, he added.

Criminal Justice Technology in the News



Law Enforcement News

Oklahoma to Install High-Speed Cameras to Catch the Uninsured
Government Technology, (11/21/2017), Scott Berson
In 2018, Oklahoma will begin using traffic cameras to scan drivers’ license plates and send tickets to those who do not have insurance. Drivers will face a $184 fine, and if they do not pay, they face possible prosecution. An estimated 25 percent of Oklahoma drivers do not have insurance.

Surveillance Cameras in Bars, Homes Could Feed Into New Orleans Crime Monitoring Center
BestofNewOrleans.com, (11/21/2017), Alex Woodward
New Orleans has a new Real Time Crime Monitoring Center, with plans to include feeds from surveillance cameras owned by businesses and residents along with video from city-owned surveillance devices. The center will primarily be staffed by civilian employees, and is part of a multi-million project to decrease crime rates in the city.

All’s Quiet So Far With City’s New Alert System
Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, (11/28/2017), Matt Dotray
The LBKAlert system launched a few weeks ago, but so far the Lubbock Police Department has not elected to use it for any public safety event. A department spokesman says that the system is intended for use in times when there is a need for a citywide alert, and the department will err on the side of caution in using it.

Dayton’s New Traffic Weapon: A Speed Gun That Can Cite You With No Stop
Dayton Daily News, (11/28/2017), Cornelius Frolik
In October 2017, the police department in Dayton, Ohio, began using DragonEye Speed Lidar devices, which allow officers to take photos of speeding vehicles, thus enabling them to issues citations without making a traffic stop. Unlike stationary speed cameras, these devices can be deployed anywhere in the city.

Corrections News

Mecklenburg Jail Visits Are Now Solely by Video. Critics Say That Hurts Inmates, Families.
WBTC.com, (11/21/2017), Charlotte Observer Staff
A growing number of North Carolina jails, including the one in Mecklenburg County, have ended in-person visits in favor of video-only visitation. Research indicates that inmates who receive visits and remain connected with family and friends are less likely to reoffend, and that in-person visits return greater results than do video-only visits.

Informed Decision-making Belongs in the Justice System
Des Moines Register, (11/21/2017), Lettie Prell, contributor
This opinion piece, written by a retired research director with the Iowa Department of Corrections, takes a stand against the recent backlash against using risk assessments in determining sentencing and setting bond.

Drones Are Caught Flying Drugs or Mobile Phones Into Jail Every Five Days: Specialist Squad Has Seized 120 Devices Since the Start of 2016 and Convicted 17 People
Daily Mail, (11/21/2017), Ian Drury
In the United Kingdom, a new specialist squad established in January 2016 has recovered 120 drones used in attempts to smuggle contraband into the nation’s jails. The team’s efforts have led to the conviction of 17 individuals.

New AEI Report Suggests Reforms to Curb Recidivism
Correctional News, (11/20/2017), Daedalus Howell
The American Enterprise Institute recently released “Rethinking Prison: A Strategy for Evidence-Based Reform,” a 37-page report in which the author calls for reforms aimed at reducing recidivism rates. The report calls for an increase in instructional programs, a reduction in the number of prisoners and increased use of risk assessments.

'Mass Exodus' of Texas Prison Guards Leaves Some Units Understaffed
Houston Chronicle, (11/15/2017), Keri Blakinger
The Texas correctional system faced a 28-percent turnover rate in the past fiscal year, which some experts attribute to a recovering oil and gas sector. In times of economic prosperity, individuals often leave corrections jobs for other positions that offer better pay. The system presently has a 12-percent job vacancy rate.

Bail ‘Disrupters’ Have a Plan to Free Thousands From U.S. Jails
NBC Nightly News, (11/23/2017), Hannah Rappleye and Brenda Breslauer
Late in November, criminal justice reformers launched The Bail Project, a plan to use charitable donations to bail people who cannot afford to pay bond out of jail. Backed by $30 million in donations, the group plans to establish a revolving fund to keep more than 160,000 low-income individuals out of jail while awaiting trial for minor offenses.

UNO Researchers to Study Correctional Officers' Stress, Mental Health
KIOS, (11/22/2017), Cheril Lee
Researchers at the University of Nebraska-Omaha plan to look for a possible link between correctional officers’ exposure to stressful experiences and subsequent development of long-term mental and physical health issues. In addition to collecting data, the researchers will also take saliva samples to obtain physical evidence of officers’ exposure to stress.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Criminal Justice Technology in the News



Addition of Cameras, LED Lighting Designed to Reduce Greenville Crime
WNCT9, (11/14/2017), Brandon Truitt
The installation of 1,500 LED lights and public safety cameras has helped reduce crime in areas of Greenville, N.C., police say. In one area, use of the lights has contributed to a 19 percent drop in crime. The next phase of the project is to continue to change more of the 7,300 lights in the city to LED and add more public safety cameras. The police department currently uses more than 200 cameras to assist in different cases.
Link to Article


Norwich Moves to Next Generation of 911 Calls
The Bulletin, (11/12/2017), Ryan Blessing
The police department in Norwich, Conn., has completed a switch to a new statewide 911 call system, the last of the state's municipal departments to complete the change. According to the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, the new internet-based system will provide the infrastructure to allow texting to 911, sending images or video with a 911 call, and calling 911 directly through the internet once telecommunications companies make the features available to the public.
Link to Article


Porter County Votes to Spend $1.2M for Emergency Radio Equipment
Post-Tribune, (11/14/2017), Amy Lavalley
Officials in Porter County, Ind., are moving ahead with plans to switch to 800 MHz radios for emergency communications. The Board of Commissioners approved spending $1.2 million for the project. The county is offering financial help to the county's smaller departments to purchase the radios.
Link to Article


VPD Adds Body-Worn Cameras to Uniform
The Foothills Sun-Gazette, (11/15/2017), Reggie Ellis
The police department in Visalia, Calif., will use a $153,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to cover half the cost of outfitting more than 100 officers with body-worn cameras. The department is researching vendors to determine who can provide the most efficient package.
Link to Article


Stockton Police Get Set to Have Eyes in the Sky
The Record, (11/15/2017), Nicholas Filipas
The police department in Stockton, Calif., plans to begin using unmanned aircraft in the new year. Police plan to use the technology to provide an aerial view in situations such as shootings, searching for subjects in neighborhoods, missing person cases and large fires. One device is equipped with heat sensors and multiple high-functioning cameras, and can withstand strong winds and heavy rain.
Link to Article


DHS Hosts Explosives Detection Dog Training
WJLA, (11/15/2017), Mike Carter-Conneen
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently held canine explosives detection training for police agencies in the Washington, D.C., area. The DHS Regional Explosives Detection Dog Initiative puts dogs and their handlers in real-world scenarios, such as a motorcade, searching for explosive materials. The training also includes odor recognition trials.
Link to Article


Overdose Deaths Decline as Outreach and Law Enforcement Ramp Up
The News-Messenger, (11/16/2017), Craig Shoup
Law enforcement officials in Sandusky County, Ohio, credit educational outreach programs, life-saving personnel and better law enforcement for a drop in overdose deaths. According to Sandusky County Sheriff Chris Hilton, there have been eight overdose deaths in the county through Nov. 15, compared to 12 at the same time last year. The total number of overdose deaths in Sandusky County last year was 23.
Link to Article


3 Shot in Charleston Burglary Call, Including Officer; One Dead
WDTV 5, (11/17/2017)
A patrol officer in Charleston W.Va., was saved by his ballistic-resistant vest when a burglary suspect shot him in the torso. The officer returned fire, killing the suspect. The shooter entered the home with three other men, where they held the residents at gunpoint demanding drugs and money.
Link to Article

Corrections News

Drone Carrying Drugs, Cell Phones Crashes at Buckeye Prison
12 News, KPNX, (11/16/2017)
An attempted delivery of illegal contraband at ASPC-Lewis in Buckeye in the fall was unsuccessful after the drone that was carrying the items crashed, according to the Arizona Department of Corrections. The drone crashed back in September in a security zone that is unreachable by inmates. ADP said the drone was carrying multiple cell phones and drugs. Officials have not determined who attempted to deliver the contraband.
Link to Article


State Unveils Plans to Improve Correctional Officer Staffing Levels
Oanow.com, (11/16/2017)
The Alabama Department of Corrections has a plan to increase officer staffing levels through recruiting, increasing officer pay and consolidating operations in some correctional facilities. The plan includes moving staff and inmates at the Draper Correctional Facility to other facilities. Draper will be repurposed for vocational and educational training programs for inmates housed in nearby facilities.
Link to Article


Prisons Work to Keep Out Drug-Smuggling Drones
IPR, (11/16/2017), Tracy Samilton
This article discusses the problem of people using drones to attempt to smuggle contraband into prisons, and efforts to develop technologies to detect and disable or intercept drones. The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services recently received emergency funding to evaluate drone detection systems.
Link to Article


Device Said to Stem Opioid Withdrawal Pain
Tribune-Star, (11/19/2017), Scott L. Miley for CNHI
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved the marketing of the NSS-2 Bridge to help reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms. The NSS-2 Bridge is a small electrical nerve stimulator placed behind a patient's ear. It contains a battery-powered chip that emits electrical pulses to stimulate branches of certain cranial nerves. It was developed by Indiana-based Innovative Health Solutions. A judge in Greenwood City, Ind., this year began offering a plan through the local probation department in which opiate addicts can choose to wear a NSS-2 Bridge rather than face jail time.
Link to Article


New Program Offers Peer Support to Women Transitioning Out of Prison
WHYY, (11/17/2017), Anne Hoffman
Mental Health Partnerships in Philadelphia recently received a $3 million grant for a program to offer peer support to women leaving prison. The three-year program will work with women at Philadelphia's Riverside Correctional Facility, and specifically target women who struggle with a self-reported mental health condition, drugs and alcohol, and/or are facing housing insecurity.
Link to Article


Preventing Cell Phone Usage in Prisons Comes With a High Cost
ABC News4, (11/16/2017), Angela Brown
This article discusses the use of managed access as a means to block the use of contraband cell phones in prisons. Managed access prevents unauthorized calls by blocking calls to and from devices or numbers that are not approved.
Link to Article