Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Public Safety Technology in the News

Albany Ponders GPS System for Vehicles
WALB News, (04/14/2009), Karen Cohilas

The Albany (N.Y.) City Commission is planning to install an automated GPS vehicle location system on all public safety vehicles, including police cars, to let department heads know exactly where their vehicles are at all times. The goal of the half-million dollar purchase is to improve response time. Dispatchers typically have a general idea of officer location, but lack specifics. The system will put tracking devices on more than 200 public safety vehicles and thus allow the dispatch of the closest available unit to a scene.

Software Helps Predict Crimes
The Daily, (04/13/2009), Jessica Durkin

Police in Lowell, Mass., used crime mapping to apprehend suspects in a tire-theft spree on April 5. Officers fed details of the thefts into a database following each instance, then analyzed the data using a popular crime-fighting system called CompStat. CompStat was developed and implemented by the New York Police Department in 1994, and according to a survey conducted in 2000, one-third of police departments around the country with 100 or more sworn officers had implemented use of the software. In the near future, Scranton (Penna.) Police will implement their own copy of the system, which will serve as a pilot program for law enforcement in that area.

DMV Upgrades Unexpectedly Foil Fraud
13ActionNews, (4/13/2009)

The Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles has implemented use of facial recognition software, resulting in hundreds of fraud cases being opened and a doubled arrest rate in the past year. The software checks applicant photographs against all other photographs in the DMV database and measures the size of a person's nose, the height of a forehead and the roundness of cheeks, then compares these metrics to others in the system. When it finds a potential match, it notifies law enforcement. The software is tagging some 200 potential cases of fraud daily.

Bomber Sniffs Out Jail Cell Phones
Philadelphia Daily News, (04/17/2009), Dana DiFilippo

Philadelphia is using Bomber, a Belgian Malinois dog, to sniff out cell phones in the city's six prisons. Since January, he has found 10 cell phones, more than guards in all of the state's 26 prisons (using metal detectors and other search tools) found in all of 2008. Bomber is the only dog trained to sniff out forbidden phones in Pennsylvania prisons. Inmates use smuggled cell phones to plot escapes, continue criminal activities, coordinate riots and threaten others.

Third Largest Border Crossing County in the U.S., Webb County, Texas, Contracts to Provide Its Deputies With COPsync Software
CNNMoney.Com, (04/22/2009)

The Webb County (Texas) Sheriff's Department is making plans to implement COPsync, Inc.'s, information-sharing solution. Under the plan, all deputies in Webb County will have mobile access to real-time information concerning subjects that they are currently investigating. COPsync™ facilitates law enforcement information sharing in a mobile environment via a laptop computer or other mobile device. It allows officers to instantaneously identify criminals, communicate with other officers and access mission critical information. Webb County includes the largest land port along the United States-Mexico Border and is the fifth largest county in Texas.

New SWAT Truck Makes Grand Debut
Seguin Gazette-Enterprise, (04/24/2009), Ron Maloney

The Guadalupe County Sheriff's Office brought its armored tactical transport SWAT vehicle online recently with a demonstration for the county's police chiefs. A 19,000-pound truck built on a Ford F-550 chassis, the vehicle includes run-flat tires, a battering ram bumper, communication and public address gear, and specialized equipment for responding to hazardous materials spills or other emergencies. Other features include a roof hatch, a barn door, benches and Level 3 ballistic protection. Total cost came to $169,000, some $118,000 of that amount stemming from federal grants. The remainder of the cost came forfeiture money collected from drug dealers and other criminals. The county's SWAT team is expanding its capabilities in anticipation of ongoing population growth.

Web Site Tracks Local Crimes in Real Time, (04/23/2009), Trace Christenson

CrimeSearch, a new Web site, shows police activity in Battle Creek and Bedford Township, providing information about incidents involving service, tickets and criminal activity, providing and showing their location on a map. The site is connected to computer records and updated in real time. Information is available for different parts of the community and can be searched type of call, date or shift. It does not display specific addresses or criminal sexual conduct and domestic violence cases. An internal version with more specific information is available to officers only. The internal site will serve as a resource for officers to see crime trends and locations. The database presently reaches back to years, but could be expanded as far back as 1985 if demand warrants.

Illinois Prisons Seek Medical Cost Savings
Quad-City Times, (04/23/2009), Kurt Erickson

Illinois prison officials are investigating the possibility of using telemedicine as a new way to treat inmates, who would receive medical advice from a doctor linked to the correctional facility via video conferencing equipment . The concept is already in use in other states, including Texas and California. The state's largest public employee union, which represents correctional officers, nurses and other state prison system workers, has expressed concerns. Prison officials say the idea could result in taxpayer savings through avoiding the expense of transporting prisoners to outside medical facilities. The cost of health care in the state's prisons has risen 60 percent in the past eight years.

Car 28, Where Are You?
The, (04/25/2009), Paul Mrozek

Genesee County, N.Y., dispatchers automatically know the location of officers because of the 911 Center's Automated Locator Identification software, which displays car graphics on a road map of the county. The Automated Locator Identification program provides the communications center with the location of city, county and state police cars and the location of 911 callers, and assists dispatchers in sending the nearest available assistance. Law enforcement vehicles are equipped with antennas and modems tracked by GPS technology, and software located in the center refreshes vehicle locations approximately every 30 seconds or whenever a patrol car moves 500 feet. The software program also electronically pages and sends text messages to responding vehicles in addition to over-the-air radio dispatch.

Recon Robotics Launches Car-Inspecting Robot
Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal, (04/17/2009), Katharine Grayson

Recon Robotics has launched a miniature robot that will inspect the undersides of vehicles for contraband. The new product will make it easier for law enforcement officials to inspect underneath vehicles. The robot uses tiny cameras rather than mirrors to identify hazards.

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