Science and Technology News

Friday, August 31, 2018

Deputy Secretary Discusses Future of Space Force at Space and Missile Systems Center


By Terri Moon Cronk, DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON -- Space is a contested environment, and the United States must deploy new tools, new capabilities and the right leadership to ensure dominance in that environment , Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan said recently.

The deputy secretary spoke Aug. 27 to airmen, civilians and contractors at Los Angeles Air Force Base’s Space and Missile Systems Center in El Segundo, California. The SMC, a subordinate unit of Air Force Space Command, is the center of technical excellence for developing, acquiring, fielding and sustaining military space systems.

“We’ve got a president who says space is no longer a sanctuary,” he added. “We need to defend our economy. We need to put in place the authorities and the capabilities [in space] to protect our way of life -- period.”

Shanahan said in his corporate experience, he’s been through a transformation similar to what SMC is undertaking. “The first law of transformation is, do no harm. Our missions are too important. That doesn't mean we don't take calculated risks or we don't move quickly,” he said.

“But, from the Pentagon's standpoint we're not going to do harm, and that's why I wanted to come out here and spend some time with you,” the deputy secretary added.

During the course of the next year, a lot of changes will take place in terms of technology, roles and responsibilities, he said.

The Right Product

“If we don't choose the right technical solution, we lose. This … is about physics. It's about capability. And when you pick the wrong product, no matter how talented the team or how many resources there are, you lose,” Shanahan said.

“This is about development and programmatics. Acquisition is a huge enabler, but getting the product right is, in my mind, the most important thing we can do,” he added.

It’s also vital to put a plan in place that achieves performance, the deputy secretary said. “We have to have clear goals. Without clear goals, the team can't practice what I call ‘selectful neglect.’ We have -- in large organizations like this -- competing priorities, and if the goals aren't clear, then it just creates too much confusion.”

Having the right leaders in place also is critical, he said. “There are so many great people that work in the Department of Defense, so we have the talent. We just need to put them into the right roles.”

And, Shanahan said, “the hidden secret sauce is engagement of the team. When the team is engaged, they reward you with discretionary effort. And when you have that kind of environment, it is really fun and energizing to come to work.”

As for innovation, he noted, “you find the really great leaders, because they'll put the project or the program ahead of their own careers, and that's the kind of culture we want at the end of the day -- [the] people who are mission-oriented, first and foremost.”

Organizing Around Capability

Organizations should be centered around the capability DoD wants to deploy and the resources it needs to deploy them, the deputy secretary noted.

“If you want to know what I think about the Space Force [it’s this]: How do we deliver warfighting capability more quickly?” Shanahan said.

Other key priorities, he said, are how to give the Missile Defense Agency more capability to do “birth-to-death tracking” of ballistic missiles and other cold objects in space, and how to operate in a GPS-denied environment.

“If we're really serious about being combat credible, forward-deployed, you're going to have to operate in GPS-denied environments. We have to get after that capability,” Shanahan added.

The deputy secretary said DoD also can go a lot faster with dynamic space situational awareness. “We're standing on the air hose with technology that can be readily deployed. We can go faster.”

DoD Command, Control

Command and control at the DoD level will set the foundation to do what's important, Shanahan said.

“And whether we say it is the legacy of the SMC or the department, but you know the capability emerging to do persistent surveillance of the globe, the amount of data that we'll be able to collect and parse that in the decision tools to aid the war fighter, that'll create a time constant that is going to be you know, unbeatable,” he added.

DoD will create the environment and infrastructure to provide data to the warfighter, Shanahan said.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Wilkes-Barre Man Pleads Guilty To Computer Hacking Offense


SCRANTON - The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that Justin Bodnar, age 29, of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty on August 24, 2018, before U.S. District Court Senior Judge James M. Munley to the charge of unauthorized access to a computer.

According to United States Attorney David J. Freed, Bodnar admitted that he “hacked” into a computer belonging to another individual and thereby obtained the e-mails of that individual.  Bodnar then offered to sell copies of the e-mails to a third person.  As a result of that conduct, Bodnar was indicted by a grand jury in December 2016.

Judge Munley ordered a presentence report to be completed.  Sentencing will be scheduled at a later date.        

The matter was investigated the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).  Assistant United States Attorney Robert J. O’Hara is prosecuting the case.

A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

The maximum penalty under federal law is up to five years in prison, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine.  Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant's educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Criminal Justice Technology in the News


Law Enforcement News

Boston Vet Uses Forensics to Help Police Track Down Animal Abusers
Boston 25, (08/14/2018)
Boston area veterinarian Martha Smith-Blackmore decided to do a fellowship with a medical examiner's office and obtain extra forensic training after she was asked to do an autopsy in a "Puppy Doe" animal cruelty case. Now, Smith-Blackmore and her Forensic Veterinary Investigations business provide consultant services to law enforcement agencies across the United States.
Link to Article


Los Angeles Is First in US to Install Subway Body Scanners
Herald-Whig, (08/15/2018), Michael Balsamo
The law enforcement division of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority will install portable body scanners to screen customers for weapons and explosives. The devices, manufactured in the United Kingdom, do full-body screenings of individuals as they walk through the stations. Their detection range is 30 feet with a throughput rate of more than 2,000 individuals every hour.
Link to Article


School Installs Gunshot Detectors to Prevent School Shootings
Spectrum News Triad, (8/14/2018), Rilwan Balogun
Phoenix Academy in High Point, N.C., is in the process of implementing a gunshot detection system that will integrate with the local police department dispatch system. The device, based on military technology, listens for specific sounds and also tries to detect the light that would come off a fired gun.
Link to Article


'It Kind of Worked.' Cops Dressed Mannequins in Police Uniforms to Slow Down Drivers
Kansas City Star, (08/17/2018), Scott Berson
The Tucson (Ariz.) Police Department recently experimented with using mannequins dressed in police uniforms at key traffic points in an attempt to get drivers to slow down. According to local social media, residents had mixed feelings about the idea.
Link to Article


'Project Standup' Lets Students, Parents Report Violence by Texting
KFYRTV.com, (08/17/2018)
North Dakota's Project Standup, an existing tipline previously used to submit drug-related reports to police, has expanded to include threats of school violence. With the start of the school year, school resource officers and school administrators have been given access to the system, which is privately funded.
Link to Article


Go Ahead — Steal This Car! We Dare You, Say Police
Riverdale Press, (08/19/2018), Zak Kostro
The 50th Precinct of the New York Police Department, located in Riverdale, has received a $100,000 grant expand an existing anti-auto theft "bait car" program. The program uses plainclothes officers and bait cars in areas plagued by high auto crime. The grant will pay for two cars, cameras and a surveillance van.
Link to Article


Ambridge Firefighters to Have Extra Protection
The Times, (08/19/2018), Daveen Rae Kurutz
The police department in Ambridge, Pa., has donated ballistic-resistant vests worn by short-term officers who left the department to the local fire department. Although the vests were not custom fitted for the firefighters, they can be worn, if needed, by individuals with similar body types. Previously, the vests sat unused at the police department after the officers left.
Link to Article


EARS Donates 100th K-9 First Aid Kit to Save Police Dogs
News 12 Connecticut, (08/20/2018)
The Emergency Animal Response Service (EARS) of Connecticut has donated 100 K-9 medical kits to local police departments, in addition to creating a K-9 critical care program. More donations are planned for the immediate future.
Link to Article


New Surround Screen Simulation at Santa Ana Police Department Could Save Your Life and a Cop's
Orange County Register, (08/20/2018), David Whiting
The Santa Ana (Calif.) Police Department is one of three in the country participating in a free eight-month beta test of new firearms simulation training that uses five screens to create an experience that almost totally surrounds the trainee. The new system allows officers to be trained to look to the sides and behind them instead of playing to a single video screen located in front. The scenarios emphasize de-escalation tactics as well as firearms training.
Link to Article


Mobile Technology Helping Police Combat Mental Illness
KRBK, (08/21/2018)
In Springfield, Mo., law enforcement officers now use mobile tablet technology to connect themselves with local mental health services for assistance when encountering an individual in crisis. A significant portion of all emergency calls involve an individual who is experiencing a mental health crisis.
Link to Article


Heart Saver Donates AEDs to Law Enforcement
TriState Homepage.com, (08/21/2018), Grace Whaley
Heart Saver, a program out of Deaconess Hospital in Warrick County, Ind., has donated a total of 11 AEDs to the Warrick County Sheriff's Department and the Chandler Police Department. The law enforcement agencies will place the devices in patrol cars to assist with lifesaving efforts.
Link to Article


Courts News

Steubenville Municipal Court Video Conferencing System Up and Running
WTOV9, (08/22/2018), Jessica Haberly
The municipal court in Steubenville, Ohio, has installed a new videoconferencing system that will allow inmate arraignments by video, freeing up officers who otherwise would have to be on transport duty or spend time searching inmates on their return. The system also keeps the judge and others in the courthouse safer as well
Link to Article


Corrections News

Network Outages Can Cut Prisons Off From Outside, but DMV's Hand-Me-Down Equipment Could Fix That
Nevada Independent, (08/15/2018), Michelle Rindels
When the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles decided to stop an overhaul of its computing system, the Nevada Board of Examiners voted to allow the Department of Corrections to purchase the unused equipment at a bargain price of $158,000. The equipment, valued in excess of several million dollars, will help create redundancy to keep correctional facilities up and running in the event of a network outage.
Link to Article


A Solution to the Cash Bail Crisis Might Be Almost as Bad
The Progressive, (08/08/2018), Stephanie Wykstra
This article examines the issues surrounding increased use of electronic monitoring as part of the move to introduce sentencing reform and reduce jail populations.
Link to Article


How Philadelphia Spent $5M on a New Prison Management System and Got Nothing
Philly.com, (08/09/2018), Samantha Melamed and Claudia Vargas
Earlier in 2018, Philadelphia opted out of a contract to create a new inmate tracking system for the city, racking up a $5.6 million loss with nothing to show for it. The project is one of at least five major modernization projects affected by major delays, cost overruns or cancellation. In the meantime, the city continues to use an outdated system originally developed in the 1990s.
Link to Article


At San Quentin Prison, 'The Last Mile' Leads to Silicon Valley
PCMag.com, (08/13/2018), S.C. Stuart
This article features an interview with Kenyatta Leal, a successful graduate of The Last Mile program in the California correctional system. The program teaches inmates to code and prepares them for technology industry jobs in an attempt to reduce recidivism.
Link to Article


Trapped: How Fee-Based GPS Monitoring Puts a 'Price Tag on Freedom'
The Crime Report, (08/14/2018), Phil Telfeyan
This opinion piece examines the issues created when correctional systems turn their GPS monitoring programs over to for-profit companies.
Link to Article


High-profile Kentucky Murder Led to New Domestic Violence Law. It's Not Being Used.
Lexington-Herald Leader, (08/17/2018), Jack Brammer
A 2010 Kentucky law that expanded the use of GPS monitoring to alert domestic violence victims when their past attackers were nearby has seldom been used. Judges seem reluctant to use the law because guidelines on its use are vague, said the attorney who sponsored the legislation as then-House Speaker.
Link to Article