Science and Technology News

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Criminal Justice Technology in the News



Law Enforcement News

DHS Finds Security Flaws in First Responder Apps
Officer.com, (12/19/2017)
“Securing Mobile Applications for First Responders,” a joint pilot project from the Homeland Security Advanced Research Project Agency's Cyber Security Division and Office of Science & Technology's First Responder Group, the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials and Kryptowire, LLC, has found potential cybersecurity vulnerabilities in a number of apps used by the nation's first responders. The project involved 33 apps from 20 developers and involved three months of testing. The project discovered flaws in 32 of the apps, 18 of them critical, and worked with developers to remediate the vulnerabilities.
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Technology Is Turning Wrong-Way Drivers Around
RouteFifty.com, (12/19/2017), Jen Fifield for the Pew Charitable Trusts
In the aftermath of a number of serious accidents caused by wrong-way drivers, the Arizona Department of Transportation has installed thermal cameras on more than 30 off-ramps and along a 15-mile stretch of Interstate 17. When the cameras pick up a wrong-way driver, flashing signs alert other drivers while the system warns local law enforcement and highway officials. Officials can then broadcast warnings, close ramp access and broadcast an alert to drivers who have signed up for an app.
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Some New Tennessee Laws Target Distracted Driving
WRCB TV, (12/26/2017), Nick Austin
New Tennessee state laws that go into effect with the New Year include two that focus on distracted driving. One law prohibits non-hands-free use of cell phones in active school zones. Another allows the use of only white or amber headlights. Colored headlights will still be allowed if a vehicle is stationary, such as a classic car at a cruise-in.
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GPD Officers to Get New Body Cameras
Gainesville Daily Register, (12/26/2017), Megan Gray Hatfield
Police in Gainesville, Texas, will be equipped with new body cameras in 2018. The department will also receive in-car video equipment and a cloud-based digital evidence management system. Police officials said there have been reliability issues with the body cameras currently in use.
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Police Need More Participation With Surveillance Program
KSLA, (12/26/2017)
Police in Texarkana, Texas, want more citizens to participate in the department's video surveillance program. Over the past year, the department has encouraged citizens to register their video surveillance cameras to help fight crime, and the program has proven to be a valuable tool for police.
Link to Article


Taunton Police, Fire Now Work Together at 911 Call Center
WJAR, NBC 10 NEWS, (12/22/2017), Ashley Cullinane
The fire and police departments in Taunton, Mass., are working together at the 911 call center in an effort to modernize emergency communications in the city. Dispatchers can now streamline emergency calls for both police and fire service. A police officer will be at the call center at all times. The ultimate goal is for the city to have a centralized emergency dispatch center that includes police, fire and emergency medical services, all under one roof.
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City of Staunton Unveils Upgrades to 911 System
Augusta Free Press, (12/29/2017)
The City of Staunton, Va., has completed a significant upgrade of its E911 call system. The city's emergency communications center has launched NextGen 911, a technology platform that delivers calls through an IP-based digital network, replacing the traditional 911 call system. It allows callers to complete a 911 call more quickly and provides a text-to-911 call feature. The city's emergency communications center receives more than 60,000 phone calls per year.
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Pittsburgh Readies to Expand Camera, Gunshot Surveillance City-Wide
WESA, (01/02/2018), An-Li Herring
Neighborhoods throughout Pittsburgh are expected to get more surveillance cameras and gunshot detection devices in 2018. The city's 2018 budget includes funding for a 30-percent expansion of an existing camera network over the next three years, and there are plans to deploy the gunshot detection system over an additional 14.5 square miles. Currently, the devices, which alert the police at the sound of gunfire, cover three square miles in the East End.
Link to Article


Texting 911 Coming Soon to Central Ohio
The Columbus Dispatch, (12/31/2017), Rick Rouan
Franklin and Delaware counties in Ohio are preparing to roll out technology in the first quarter of 2018 that will allow people who need help but can't speak on the phone with a 911 dispatcher to send a text to 911. When a phone call isn't practical or possible, such as when someone is hiding during a break-in, they can use a cellphone to send a text message.
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Texas Officer Shot, Woman Killed in Exchange of Gunfire
Houston Chronicle, (12/27/2017)
A police officer in Farmers Branch, Texas, survived an apparently routine traffic stop gone awry thanks to his ballistic-resistant vest. After initiating the stop, the officer was speaking with the driver and asked a female passenger to exit the car. As she did, she fired on the officer, who returned fire. Both were taken to a hospital, where the woman died. The officer was later released. No charges were filed against the driver.
Link to Article


Corrections News

Missouri Expected to Spend $17 Million in Correctional Officer Overtime Costs This Year
Missourinet, (12/26/2017), Alisa Nelson
Staffing shortages are driving increases in spending on overtime for correctional officers in the Missouri prison system. The Department of Corrections spent $9 million on overtime in 2015, more than double that spent in 2016, and is on pace to spend about $17 million in 2017. The department has about 500 open correctional officer positions. State Rep. Kevin Engler said that increasing correctional officer pay would help to relieve overtime.
Link to Article


Families Can't Send Packages Direct to Inmates at Greene Correctional Under New DOCCS Program
HudsonValley360, (12/26/2017), Daniel Zuckerman/Columbia-Greene Media
Inmates at three New York state correctional facilities will be unable to receive packages directly from families under a new pilot program that begins Jan. 2, 2018. Under the Secure Vendor Package Pilot Program, inmates may receive packages directly from an approved vendor such as, for example, E-Ford Commissary and Access Securepak. Items from vendors' catalogs have been approved so families and friends will no longer waste money on items not permitted within the facilities that were either returned at the inmate's expense or disposed of at the inmate's discretion. According to the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, the program will provide inmates and their families and friends access to a variety of food and articles at competitive pricing while maintaining security and providing an efficient operation.
Link to Article


Indiana's Next High-Tech Hiring Pool: Prisons
WIBC, (12/27/2017), Eric Berman
Indiana is launching a program to train inmates nearing release to write computer code. The "Last Mile" program will begin in 2018, training inmates who have behaved in prison for several years. Gov. Eric Holcomb says Indiana will be the first to copy a California program that began three years ago. He says it's a chance to simultaneously help inmates contribute to society, help companies find workers with the tech skills they need and reduce the three-quarters of a billion dollars Indiana spends on prisons.
Link to Article


DOC Making Improvements to Stop Smuggling of Drugs into Facilities
KTUU, (12/27/2017)
Improving intelligence-gathering capabilities is among the steps the Alaska Department of Corrections is taking in an effort to deter inmates and others from smuggling drugs into corrections facilities. The DOC is also trying to offer more and better treatment options. Recently, the group announced a $2 million deal with the Salvation Army.
Link to Article


New Law Means Less Prison for Repeat Drug Offenders
The Detroit News, (12/28/2017), Michael Gerstein
A new Michigan law eliminates a mandatory life sentence without parole for repeat drug offenses involving narcotics or cocaine. It also allows a person convicted of certain drug offenses to be eligible for parole after serving five years for that sentence. Other new laws require criminal background checks and fingerprint samples to work at child care centers, family child care homes and group care homes.
Link to Article


Sheriff's Office May Expand Breath-Test Kiosk Program
The Journal Times, (12/22/2017), Alyssa Mauk
The Racine County Sheriff's Office is considering possibly expanding its breath-test kiosk program to track offenders' sobriety. To provide a sample, program participants go to the automated kiosk, which is in the lobby of the Racine County Jail. Before the kiosk was in place, deputies traveled across the county, testing people required to remain sober by taking a portable breath test to each of their residences. Enrollees are nonviolent offenders; as terms of probation, they may be required to maintain sobriety. Scheduled alcohol and drug screenings ensure an offender stays sober. Since its implementation, more than 150 enrollees have participated in the program.
Link to Article


Florida Prison Chief Julie Jones Eyes Tech Solutions to Contraband Problem
WFSU, (12/22/2017), Sascha Cordner
Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones is asking for $2 million in the 2018 legislative session to help address the prison system's contraband problem, including technology options and funding for the Office of Intelligence.
Link to Article


Understaffed MDOC Hopes to Avoid Further Budget Reductions
Clarion Ledger, (12/31/2017), Jimmie E. Gates
This article discusses staffing shortages and budget issues in the Mississippi Department of Corrections. A staffing shortage prompted MDOC in October to close some units at the South Mississippi Correctional Institution in Leakesville and move about 400 inmates elsewhere in the prison system.
Link to Article


The Gated Garden
The Planet Magazine, (12/12/2017), Jonathan Flynn
This article features an environmental education program at the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton, Wash. Inmates learn beekeeping and work in greenhouses and garden beds as part of the Sustainability in Prisons Project. Founded in 2003 as a partnership between the Evergreen State College and the Washington State Department of Corrections, the project has since established programs in all 12 prisons in Washington. They want to provide inmates with the skills necessary to be employable in a developing green economy.
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