Thursday, October 30, 2008

Public Safety Technology in the News

Vendors, Cops, Profs Team to Study Cybercrime
PC World, (10/11/2008), John Fontana

Public safety, national security, financial and corporate fraud, and individual protection against crimes such as identify theft and fraud will be the focus areas of the newly formed Center for Applied Identity Management Research. A group of corporations, government agencies and academic institutions have banded together to form the center, which will study and help solve identity management challenges related to cybercrime,
terrorism and narcotics trafficking. The nonprofit research corporation is headquartered at Indiana University.

“Brain Fingerprinting” Could Be Breakthrough in
Law Enforcement, (10/10/2008), KOMO staff

A Seattle-based company has developed a "brain fingerprinting" process, termed "a lie detector for the 21st century," that provides court-admissible evidence of how a person's brain reacts to words and images related to a crime. Brain Fingerprinting Labs uses a
technology based on the premise that an individual who has been at a crime scene and is then shown a photograph of the scene, has an involuntary brain reaction that cannot be disguised. Its creator, a Seattle neuroscientist, has offered $100,000 to anyone who can defeat the technology.

County Jail Inmate Tracking System for Public Set Up
Sharon Herald, (10/24/2008), Matt Snyder

Residents of Mercer County, Penna., can sign up anonymously to receive notifications if a certain inmate is released or escaped. The Statewide Automated Victim Information Notification (SAVIN) system can bring peace of mind to victims and also provide information to parents concerned about child molesters and firefighters concerned about arsonists. The free service is available 24 hours a day and provides alerts either via e-mail or the telephone.

Equipment May Speed Emergency Response
Courier-Post, (10/13/2008), Adam Smeltz

An extensive
technology upgrade recently approved in Camden County, New Jersey, will permit the county's communications center to accurately track the location of its police cruisers, fire trucks and ambulances, and allow the pinpoint tracking of calls made from newer model cell phones. The automated vehicle location (AVL) system, expected to be in place by early 2009, should improve response time.

NIEM Ventures Forth
Government Computer News, (10/06/2008), Joab Jackson

A beta of version 2.1 of the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) should be released by the end of 2009. Based on the Global
justice XML Data Model, the new version of NIEM includes a number of new features, including version independence for separate domains and new vocabulary sets. The new sets include juvenile justice terms and biometrics terms.

Got a Tip? Text a Cop
Battle Creek Enquirer, (10/13/2008)

Battle Creek's crime tip program, Silent Observer, has begun accepting anonymous text messages, providing citizens with another route to help get crime off the city's streets. A new software program called Tipsoft, which is available nationwide, allows dispatchers to read text messages onscreen and reply via e-mail. This new initiative allows tipsters to remain anonymous, just as they are when they use the telephone to report crimes to Silent Observer.

So Long, “Crunchy, Old Yellow Ticket”
Neighborhood Star, (10/15/2008), Paige Winfield

A new electronic ticketing system in the Chicago area counties of DuPage, Will, Kane, McHenry, Cook and DeKalb will shorten the length of time needed for officers to issue tickets and eliminate the need for manual data entry - not to mention making it easier for drivers to read their tickets. Officers will enter the car's license plate number and the driver's license number into a laptop, then make some menu selections on their laptops to produce the electronic tickets. The citations will then be automatically transmitted into a processing system, ending up at the county clerk's office.,6_1_NA15_TICKETS_S1.article

License Plate Readers Help Recover Stolen Cars
East Valley Tribune, (10/17/2008), Mike Sakal

Since May 1, 2008, the Scottsdale (Ariz.)
police Department has used four automatic license plate reader systems to recover 26 stolen vehicles. The system consists of two cameras facing forward and two facing to the rear, mounted on a standard police cruiser, and capable of scanning up to 1,000 license plates per hour. If the system generates a "hit" on a particular license plate, it alerts the officers in the cruiser immediately. Of the 26 vehicles recovered due to use of the technology, five included apprehension of a suspect who was in the vehicle at the time of the “hit.”

Washington, D.C. Launches Crime Text Alerting System for Local Businesses
MarketWatch, (10/15/2008)

police Alert allows the District of Columbia Metropolitan police Department to send text messages to local businesses, alerting them to crimes that have taken place in their neighborhoods. The messages can be sent to cell phones, Blackberries, and other paging devices. If anyone receiving an alert has pertinent information, that individual should call 911. Business owners and employees must subscribe to participate in the service.

Officers at Risk by Resisting Armor
USA Today, (10/28/2008), Kevin Johnson

Law Enforcement analysts estimate that as much as 50 percent of all Law Enforcement officers in the country do not wear their body armor regularly, despite the fact that the risk of dying from a gunshot wound is 14 times higher for officers not wearing their armor. Comfort appears to be the major issue for many officers, and many Law Enforcement agencies to do not mandate that their officers wear vests when on duty. There is some concern that new body armor standards issued by the National Institute of justice in July 2008 will result in heavier, less comfortable vests. Affordability is also a concern for smaller departments.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Prison Rape

After more than four decades of research, it is still unclear how much rape and sexually violent activity occurs in prisons, jails, and other corrections facilities in the United States. What is clear from research is that, as with rape in free society, prison rape goes largely unreported.

Of the hundreds of studies in institutional corrections, less than 25 research studies have been conducted on prison rape. Of those studies, some asked inmates to describe their victimizations, including nonconsensual activities other than rape, while others examined official reports filed by inmates. Because none of these studies were national in scope, it remains difficult to estimate the extent of the problem. A meta-analysis of this research estimates a 1.91 percent lifetime prevalence for all inmates in the United States (Gaes and Goldberg, 2004).

In 2004, the Bureau of
Justice Statistics (BJS) examined administrative records from adult and juvenile facilities at State and local levels. According to these official records, slightly more than 8,000 male, female, and juvenile inmates—or 0.005 percent of the total incarcerated population—reported that they had been victims of sexual violence while incarcerated. An even smaller percentage of inmates' claims were substantiated (Beck and Hughes, 2004).

Thus, although the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) 2003 states that 13 percent of all inmates have been raped in American prisons and jails, the most recent research estimates less prevalence of rape, whether inmate-on-inmate or staff-on-inmate sexual misconduct (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2004; Beck and Hughes, 2004).


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Job Opportunity at the National Institute of Justice

NIJ Seeks Deputy Director to Lead Social Science Research Efforts

The National Institute of
Justice (NIJ), the research, evaluation, and development arm of the U.S. Department of Justice, is seeking a dynamic, enthusiastic, and forward-thinking individual to lead and manage NIJ's Office of Research and Evaluation (ORE). ORE is comprised of three divisions: Crime Control and Prevention; Violence and Victimization; and Justice Systems.

The ideal applicant will have extensive
leadership and management experience, in addition to substantive expertise in the area of criminal justice. Applicants must have experience in long-range planning and development of criminal justice research and evaluation programs. Applicants must demonstrate their ability to build successful relationships and partnerships both internally and with other Federal agencies; State, local, and tribal governments; nonprofit and private sector organizations; educational institutions; or international organizations. A Ph.D. in criminology, sociology, psychology, or a related field is strongly preferred.

Duties include:

Provide supervision and oversight of an office of 25+ individuals;
Provide technical support and
leadership on a variety of criminal justice and social science research initiatives;
Establish and maintain effective working relationships with various high-level individuals within and external to DOJ;
Provide advice, guidance, and assistance to the NIJ Director on criminal and juvenile j
Justice research initiatives.

View more information about this position.

NIJ staff will be available to answer questions about this position at the annual meeting of the American Society of Criminology Conference in St. Louis, MO. Visit the "What's Up at NIJ?" panel in the St. Louis Ballroom B on Friday, November 14 from 9:30-10:50 a.m.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Public Safety Technology in the News

New Device Can Sniff Out Dirty Bombs, Other Radiation
Contra Costa Times, (10/02/2008), Mike Taugher

Law enforcement and other agencies have a new tool to alert them to small amounts of radiation. The devices, called adaptable radiation area monitors, can detect small amounts of radiation and identify what type it is. The device can be placed inside vehicles to patrol highways or survey stadium entrances, or set up on a road. It could be used in a variety of ways, for example, in a vehicle to inspect a parade route. The New Jersey State Police have installed the detectors in a fleet of vehicles. The equipment is small enough to pack into a SUV. The software allows authorities to immediately know whether the source of the radiation is from natural, industrial or medical sources or from materials that could be used in a dirty or nuclear bomb. The technology can detect tiny amounts of radioactive material at about 40 miles per hour, within 12 feet of the material. The technology was developed at Livermore National Laboratory in California.

Tiny Cameras Going With Seattle Cops Out on the Street
Seattle Times, (09/11/2008), Jennifer Sullivan

Seattle police officers are now using tiny video cameras to record events as they perform their duties. The cameras, which weigh about 3.5 ounces, are made by VIEVU, a company founded by former Seattle police officers Steve Ward. He said video provides an accurate account of events during an incident and can be useful in determining liability. The devices can be worn on an officer's uniform, helmet or belt and can store more than four hours of video. Seattle police have used the cameras during demonstrations.

Dog to Sniff Out Phones in Prisons
Tampa Tribune, (10/04/2008), Josh Poltilove

The Florida Department of Corrections will soon be using a dog's powerful sense of smell to deter smuggling of cell phones into prisons. Razor, a 14-month-old Malinois, is trained to smell cell phones and will report for duty in November. Cell phones can help inmates commit a variety of illegal activity, including dealing drugs, planning escapes and harassing victims. Between July 2007 and June 2008, authorities confiscated 336 cell phones from Florida prison inmates. A state law took effect in October making it illegal to smuggle cells phones into prisons.

North Charleston Police Take Step into the Future
The Post and Courier, (09/25/2008), Noah Haglund

The police department in North Charleston, S.C., is the latest
Law enforcement agency to use a wireless device that allows officers to quickly check criminal histories and vehicle registration. The handheld unit allows police to check a national database for warrants and vehicle information, before they confront a driver. Previously, officers had to call dispatchers to obtain that information. The device is made by the Atlanta-based American Law enforcement Network and costs about $400. The monthly subscription fee is $30 per unit. About 500 departments in five states are using the device.

State Buying DNA-Testing Robots to Speed Up Results
Coloradoan, (09/05/2008), Trevor Hughes

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is turning to robotic analyzers to speed up processing of DNA evidence samples. CBI has a backlog of DNA evidence requiring testing, partly due to more samples being submitted from property crimes in addition to violent crimes such as rape and homicide. CBI already has one robotic analyzer, which is used to develop DNA profiles from convicted felons. Three new analyzers will be used for evidentiary samples taken from
crime scenes and suspects. The new analyzers are to be installed by the end of 2008, with technicians trained and using them by May 2009.

Grant to Help Solve Crimes
The Troy Messenger, (10/04/2008), Holli Keaton

The Troy University
Forensic Science Institute is using a U.S. Department of Justice grant to expand its services for Law enforcement. The institute offers training to Law enforcement and helps with computer crime research. The university also uses its computer forensic science lab to help local, state and federal Law enforcement obtain digital evidence. The $463,000 grant will allow the university to offer more in-depth training, increase cybercrime work and expand the lab.

FEMA Awards $17.6 Million in Equipment and Training to Smaller Emergency Response Agencies Nationwide, (09/29/2008)

More than 1,000 emergency response agencies in the United States will receive equipment and training under $17.6 million in grants awarded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA is part of the U.S. Department of
Homeland Security. The grants are awarded through the Commercial Equipment Direct Assistance Program (CEDAP). FY 2008 CEDAP funds are to be used for extrication devices; thermal imaging, night vision and video surveillance tools; chemical, biological and radiological detection tools; information technology and risk management tools; and vehicle tracking tools. Of the 1,045 grant awards, 79 percent were awarded to Law enforcement agencies. The rest went to fire departments, emergency medical service, emergency management and public safety agencies.

GM Introduces
technology to Slow Down Stolen Vehicles for Police
Canadian Press, (10/02/2008)

technology to remotely slow down stolen vehicles may soon be available. General Motors of Canada is introducing the technology through its OnStar service beginning with some 2009 model year cars. An On-Star adviser can locate a vehicle using a global positioning system and send a remote signal to slow a vehicle down to help police make an arrest. Police say it will help them catch car thieves and possibly reduce the number of high-speed chases. The owner of the vehicle must first contact the police and an OnStar adviser and request the service before it can be activated. Once activated, the suspect car's parking lights flash to alert police to the correct vehicle, which is slowed to a crawl so police can easily pull it over. The car's brakes and steering will still work; the accelerator will not.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

New Law Would Help Drug Enforcement, Coast Guard Officer Says

By Kristen Noel
Special to American Forces Press Service

Oct. 2, 2008 - Legislation imposing tough penalties for operating undocumented semi-submersible vessels in international waters would help drug-interdiction efforts, the deputy chief of the
Coast Guard's Law Enforcement Office said Sept. 30. Self-propelled semi-submersibles, or SPSSs, are small sea vessels, usually less than 100 feet in length, designed to sink themselves when detected, Coast Guard Cmdr. Cameron Naron explained to bloggers in a teleconference. Drug traffickers are adapting the technology with increasing success to evade Law Enforcement, he said.

"Drug-trafficking organizations continue to adapt these vessels ... to our
Law Enforcement successes," Naron said. "These SPSSs were once perceived as a very impractical and risky smuggling tool, but now have proven successful as an innovative and highly mobile asymmetrical method of conveyance."

Naron said the number of encounters with smugglers using semi-submersibles to transport illegal drugs from South America to the continental United States ballooned in fiscal 2008, with 62 known incidents in the first three quarters of the fiscal year, compared to about two dozen over the previous six and a half years.

Coast Guard officials estimate that two to three semi-submersibles carrying illegal drugs travel up the Pacific coast each week, he added.

"In order to prosecute these cases, we've always needed to have at least a representative sample of the drugs on board," Naron explained, which is difficult and risky to obtain if the crew succeeds in sinking the vessel before
Law Enforcement takes control.

"These SPSSs are built to scuttle, which means to sink themselves very quickly," he explained. "And the time ... that it takes to get on board and try to keep them from scuttling is a very, very short amount of time that we have, and [it] puts our boarding teams at significant risk."

Naron described a Sept. 13 nighttime interdiction of a stateless semi-submersible detected 350 miles west of Guatemala, in which smugglers tried to throw a
Coast Guard law-enforcement team off the vessel by backing down and quickly reversing the engines. When the team clung to exhaust fixtures to avoid being thrown into the ocean, he said, the people aboard attempted to flood the vessel and escape through the conning tower.

"Although the scuttling valves were only open for a few moments," he said, "nearly a foot of water had already entered the hull of this SPSS."

Naron said the team recovered and detained four Columbian nationals who will be prosecuted in the United States. The vessel was carrying 11,850 pounds of cocaine, he said.

"The operator later admitted that he was trying to kill the boarding team by throwing them off the SPSS and into the vessel's propeller," Naron said.

If signed by the president, Naron said, new legislation approved in the House of Representatives Sept. 29 would allow for the prosecution of anyone caught on a self-propelled semi-submersible if it's on an international voyage and isn't documented in any country or registered in any state.

The legislation, he said, provides for a 15-year jail term and a $1 million civil penalty for the offense. It was passed by the Senate prior to House approval, he added.

"This legislation will allow us to prosecute these people just based on the fact that they were operating [a semi-submersible] vessel, subject to the ... qualifications," Naron said. "So, that will help our enforcement efforts significantly to counter this, and hopefully, this means moving drugs into the U.S. and other places will be significantly reduced."

Naron said the legislation also would help reduce the risk associated with drug-interdiction efforts by the
Coast Guard and other agencies.

(Kristen Noel works for the New Media branch of the Defense Media Activity.)

Mock Prison Riot® 2009

The Mock Prison Riot, held on the ground of the former West Virginia Penitentiary in Moundsvillw, is a program of the Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice, and an initiative of the West Virginia High Technology Consortium Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. The purpose of the Mock Prison Riot® is to showcase emerging corrections and law enforcement technologies and to give corrections officers and tactical team members an opportunity to use and evaluate emerging technologies in riot training scenarios. The next OLETC Mock Prison Riot is scheduled for May 3-6, 2009.

To learn more about this exciting event and register online go to