Thursday, February 22, 2007
"Police Needing Heavier Weapons"
USA Today (02/19/07); Johnson, Kevin
Firearms Committee of the International Association of Chiefs of Police Chairman Scott Knight reports that preliminary polls of roughly 20 U.S. police departments indicate they purchased new weapons, including military-style firearms, for their officers during the last three years. Knight believes the departments' move to include more assault weapons in their officers' arsenal is a result of the expiration of a national ban that barred the manufacture of certain firearms. The ban prohibited the manufacture of semi-automatic weapons and ammunition clips that could contain more than 10 rounds. Ron Stucker, criminal investigations chief of the Orange County, Fla., Sheriff's Department, added that officers are seeing the increased use of assault weapons in robberies and finding more of the weapons during traffic stops. Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt notes gang members, major drug traffickers, and immigrant smugglers apparently favor assault weapons compared to other types of firearms. He decided to make the wearing of body armor mandatory for his police officers last year because of the increased presence of assault weapons on the streets.
"Technology May Cut Area Gun Violence"
Contra Costa Times (CA) (02/19/07) P. F4; Read, Simon
Antioch, Calif., Councilman Jim Davis wants to bring the ShotSpotter Gunshot Location System to his city in order to help fight gun violence. The ShotSpotter uses highly technical sensors and "acoustic triangulation" to find the exact location of gunfire in a broad geographic region, the manufacturer claims. Within 10 seconds of a gun being shot, ShotSpotter can find where it happened and send an address to police and emergency personnel. Davis wants the system implemented within a five-mile by five-mile area of Antioch. ShotSpotter has been used in several other U.S. cities, including Oakland, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. Oakland Police Officer Roland Holmgren feels that ShotSpotter has been highly useful. "We've been very happy with it and have had some successes," he stated. Davis says it would cost around $1 million to bring ShotSpotter in Antioch, and notes there are several funding options the city could look into, including redevelopment agency money, company sponsors, and federal grants. http://www.contracostatimes.com
"Surveillance Questions Raised Over New Police License Plate Scanners"
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel (02/19/07); Gumer, Jason B.
Police in Palm Beach County will soon be using several camera systems to scan and check license plate numbers. The Sheriff's Office will install a $33,000 mobile multi-camera license plate recognition system that can go in an unmarked car, read license plates from multiple directions and angles, and automatically search criminal databases and notify police. The city of Atlantis will install a $250,000 security camera system that will photograph license plates on cars entering the community, run numbers through state and national crime databases, and notify police if there is a match. Civil liberties advocates are saying the systems are examples of rapidly increasing efforts to invade privacy and are intended to regulate who is driving through the more affluent communities that can afford the expensive equipment. Law enforcement officials said an officer always runs a second computer check to prevent errors, the courts have ruled there is no expectation of privacy in public places, and the systems will only make the regular activity of running license plate checks faster and more efficient.
"New Weapons Shoot to Hurt, Not to Kill"
Kansas City Star (02/18/07) P. A1; Canon, Scott
The Pentagon's Joint Non-lethal Weapons Directorate, founded in 1997, continues to explore alternatives to the use of lethal force by researching new non-lethal weapons and training military leaders at the Interservice non-lethal Individual Weapons Instructor Course at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. In addition to traditional non-lethal weapons such as rubber bullets and Tasers, which can have drastically different effects based on the size and strength of the target, some new and universally effective non-lethal weapons are in development. The Active Denial System uses electromagnetic radio-frequency beam that penetrates only 1/64th of an inch into the target's skin to create the sensation of burning skin that stops almost instantly after the beam is shut off. An imagined weapon is the development of technological black ice that would cause people and vehicles to slip uncontrollably unless equipped with shoes or tires containing the counteracting chemical. Chinese scientists have hypothesized about biotechnology weapons that would make people feel terribly clumsy, incredibly forgetful, or completely docile. A new non-lethal weapon is a pinpoint long-range loudspeaker that can send deafening sound directly at a target and has already been used to ward off a pirate attack on a civilian cruise ship in Africa in 2005.
"Sanford Cops Get 'Partner'"
Orlando Sentinel (FL) (02/18/07); Patterson, Melissa
In Sanford and other cities in Central Florida, police departments are adding systems to patrol cars that enable officers to listen to vehicle data from their computers as they drive on the road. This eliminates the need to gaze downward or stop the vehicle to look at information from a laptop. The new technology, called Virtual Partner, also lets officers create electronic tickets using vehicle tag or driver's license data. The officer simply inputs details about the offense and presses the print button; the entire process takes about two minutes, says Sgt. Greg Smith, supervisor of Sanford's traffic unit. However, some of the printers have been printing data outside of the appropriate boxes or printing only halfway, he says. The entire system cost the department about $74,000, including the installation of in-car printers. That amount was financed through state grants and law-enforcement trust money. The only town in Seminole County that has yet to implement Virtual Partner is Oviedo, which is still mulling the move. The next step for Sanford is installing Virtual Partner in unmarked squad cars and streamlining the system that transmits citation records so that data can be sent automatically to agencies as needed, says police representative Cleo Cohen.
"Police Hope to Leg Up on Inmates"
Quay County Sun (NM) (02/14/07); Delany, Chelle
The Quay County Commissioners in Quay County, N.M., along with law enforcement officials are considering the wider use of electronic ankle bracelets for adult and juvenile inmates. An ankle bracelet can track an inmate's location through GPS positioning, and today it is often used today as part of work release programs. Juvenile detention costs around $105 per day, and using an electronic ankle bracelet could reduce that to $10 per day. Magistrate Judge Karen P. Mitchell of Harding County, N.M., says the tool may be "a real option for rural New Mexico." Harding County, for instance, lacks a detention center and ships offenders sometimes to Quay County.
"Digging for Data"
Albuquerque Journal (02/16/07) P. 1; Willson, Kate
Law enforcement officials in Santa Fe County, N.M., have launched a two-person computer forensics laboratory located within the Sheriff's Department. The lab will operate out of two linked storage rooms that contain $100,000 in investments, says County Sheriff Greg Solano. Using grant money from the Department of Justice and Eastern Kentucky University, the sheriff's office appointed former deputy Larry Martinez as a computer expert. Martinez, along with Sgt. Belarmino Lopez, underwent training with the FBI and also received a tool they dubbed "Dirty Sally" that scrutinizes deleted records, emails, phone lists, and visited Web pages. The tool can gather such information as the number of times particular documents or sites were looked at as well as when and how often; the tool can also determine when documents were deleted. The new lab will work on cases from the county as well as those from northern towns, State Police, and pueblo police units. Martinez noted that the state's crime lab currently lacks a computer forensics specialist and that the typical turnaround time for the FBI's Albuquerque lab is eight to 13 months. Martinez has already used the new lab to determine if employees at the county juvenile prison were using their work computers to access pornography.
"New Bern Police Department Posting Crime Stats on Web Site"
Sun Journal (New Bern, N.C.) (02/14/07); Sawyer, Francine
The New Bern, N.C., police department has started posting crime statistics it routinely reports to the U.S. Department of Justice online at its public Internet Web site. New Bern Chief of Police Frank Palombo says the statistics will help potential home buyers better assess their potential neighborhoods. In addition, Palombo says New Bern statistics will be more timely, rather than solely presented in "annual crime statistics to be reported by the state." The statistics are broken down across two districts and five geographical zones. Palombo says that as further technology tools become available, the department plans to post information on individual crimes and arrests. The department's spokesperson will be in charge of posting online this already-collected information assembled by the crime analysis unit.
"For Cops, High-Tech Device is Just the Ticket for Fast Citations"
Orlando Sentinel (FL) (02/16/07) P. B1; Knowles, Mary
The Orange County, Fla., Sheriff's Office and the Orlando Police Department have launched electronic traffic-ticketing programs. All motorcycle deputies working at the motors division of the Sheriff's Office are using the PocketCitation device that allows officers to electronically input ticket information. The device also produces a printout of the ticket. Deputies report that the technology has resulted in officers making more traffic stops. For example, the number of tickets written by Orange County Deputies increased from roughly 28,000 in 2005 to 44,881 during the following year.
"Bucks Prison Upgrades System for Better Notification"
Philadelphia Inquirer (02/15/07) P. B6
Authorities claim that any changes to the status of Bucks County, Pa., prison inmates that a crime victim or prosecutor needs to know about will initiate a computerized letter due to an upgrade in the prison's management system. The new software, which costs $1.1 million, replaces paperwork and computer systems that resulted in mistakes such as permitting a sex offender to leave the prison for as long as 12 hours per day to take classes at the University of Pennsylvania without informing the mother of the teenage victim. This case was the subject of a hearing in February after the mother discovered on a Megan's Law Web site that the prisoner was going to classes and informed prosecutors. A judge reversed the academic release privileges, and the university stated that the offender could reapply for the graduate economic classes following his release. The new system monitors prison records and case details, and if a change in an inmate's status requires notification, the system sends a letter to the crime victim and the prosecutor, stated director of county corrections Harris Gubernick.
"Cops Gain Upper Hand But Car Thieves Still Busy"
LA Daily News (02/15/07); Sheppard, Harrison
Law enforcement officials said new technology is one of the main reasons for a drop in auto theft in California for the first time this decade. Last year California saw a statewide 5.5 percent drop in auto theft, with 247,896 cars being stolen, according to the California Highway Patrol (CHP). Vehicle-theft tracking, security systems, and devices that lock steering wheels, columns, or brakes were some of the efforts owners used to protect their vehicles. Law enforcement also used an impressive array of technology. "Bait cars," cars placed in high-theft areas, sometimes with the keys inside and engines running, can be tracked and even turned off remotely by police and resulted in 357 arrests by the CHP. License-plate recognition systems, which use multiple cameras mounted on patrol cars and can automatically scan license plates and identify stolen cars through a database, were responsible for 535 arrests and 868 vehicle recoveries. Police are also trying to reduce car owners' bad habits, such as leaving a car running for a quick errand or to warm it up on a cold morning, by issuing tickets for leaving a running vehicle unattended. http://www.dailynews.com
"Committee Approves Photo-Radar"
Wyoming Tribune-Eagle (02/15/07)
The Wyoming Senate Transportation, Highways, and Military Affairs approved legislation last week that permits Casper and Cheyenne to launch an automated vehicle identification system. Casper and Cheyenne will have to share the cost burden of the system, which is projected at $100,000. Sen. Bob Fecht (R), one of the bill's co-sponsors, believes the system will aid law enforcement in "protecting life, protecting property, and promoting public safely." The system will record vehicles that go through red traffic lights. Lt. Mark Munari with the Cheyenne Police Department said that 1,000 people die annually because of red-light violations.
"Gang Tracking High on Wish List"
Riverside Press Enterprise (02/14/07) P. B2; Gang, Duane W.
San Bernardino County Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt supports requiring parolees with known gang involvement to wear satellite tracking devices. The county's Board of Supervisors recently agreed to allow the use of civil injunctions to combat street gangs as part of a larger strategy to address the gang problem. San Bernardino County already employs satellite tracking devices to monitor the location of registered sex offenders. Sheriff Gary Penrod has expressed support for Mitzelfelt's proposal and believes that tracking devices could positively influence the behavior of parolees. Penrod is also seeking $380 million in funds for constructing a jail to house 3,000 inmates.
"State Police Start Web Crimes Unit"
Springfield State-Journal Register (02/08/07); Pelzer, Jeremy
The Illinois State Police have created a new Internet Crimes Unit that allows local residents to visit a Web site to report online crimes. The unit is comprised of 30 staff members, including forensic investigators that oversee particular areas of the state. Illinois State Police director Larry Trent believes the unit will lead to a more proactive and efficient police response. Residents can report any crime related to the Internet, such as scam emails or the presence of a sexual predator online, to the unit. Visitors to the Web site can also access information about steps they can take after being a victim of Internet crime.
"Slowing the Pursuit"
Law Enforcement Technology (01/07) Vol. 34, No. 1, P. 94; Kozlowski, Jonathan
A 1997 National Institute of Justice report "Police Pursuit: Policies and Training," by University of South Carolina high-speed police pursuits expert Dr. Geoffrey Alpert finds that in 40 percent of such situations, the primary car caused an accident. Pursuits are frequently initiated by nonviolent misdemeanor crimes such as drivers with expired licenses, individuals driving a stolen car, or individuals transporting contraband. The StarChase Pursuit Management System from StarChase allows suspect tagging and monitoring for a safer and controlled interdiction method. The system is made up of a projectile connected to a suspect vehicle serving as a monitoring device for law enforcement to eventually ease up on the accelerator and safely manage the pursuit without the risk factors that accompany high-speed chases, such as serious crashes, substantial property damage, or injury to bystanders and officers. In addition, StarChase can be employed for automatic vehicle location, anti-theft protection, and real-time monitoring of targets and assets. StarChase emits and attaches a tracking gadget to a suspect car via a launching device implemented inside the police car's grill. The tag has a minuscule global positioning system module, a global system for mobile communications transmitter, and an incorporated lithium battery power supply