NLECTC Law Enforcement & Corrections Technology News Summary
NLECTC Law Enforcement & Corrections Technology News Summary
Thursday, February 1, 2007
"Cameras Gather Evidence, Help Catch Criminals"
Kansas City Star (01/28/07); Lambe, Joe
The use of video surveillance footage is growing increasingly important in solving crimes and convicting criminals. Surveillance video business doubled over the last five years, and is expected to increase from $9.2 billion in 2005 to $21 billion by the end of the decade. Kansas City homicide Detective Steve Morgan says the first thing the police do at a crime scene is look for video cameras, even as far as a couple of blocks away, in case a camera caught someone going to or leaving the crime scene. Kansas City police want $4 million to upgrade patrol car cameras to higher-quality digital equipment and to install cameras in high-crime neighborhoods. Chicago already has hundreds of cameras in high-crime areas and is in the process of installing about 2,000 more, and Cincinnati officials plan to spend $6 million for "smart" cameras that can zoom in on people when gunshots are detected. A pilot study of the technology in Orange, N.J., reported an 85 percent drop in gun-related crimes. The ACLU says the use of new video technology has outrun concerns of privacy and policy, and the extreme use of cameras in public places makes no sense, according to Brett Shirk, director of the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri, citing a study in the United Kingdom that said public cameras did not reduce crime or make people feel safer. http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/16562557.htm
"County Jail Officials Push for Video Bail Hearings"
Baltimore Sun (01/26/07); Mitchell, Josh
Prison officials in Baltimore County, Md., say they want to launch videoconferencing for inmates' bail review hearings to save money and time. At present, many prisoners are transported from the county detention center in Towson to district courts in Essex and Catonsville to take part in bail reviews. But if videoconferencing were established, inmates would remain in Towson while judges could review their bails remotely. Meg Ferguson, criminal justice coordinator for County Executive James T. Smith Jr., says the project could involve about six cameras, one at each court building and one or more at the detention center in Towson. However, District Court buildings would have to be retrofitted to handle the new technology. Ferguson was unable to offer an estimate for the project. Officials assert that in the long run, videoconferencing would save funds because the cost of transporting prisoners would be cut. Furthermore, police officers at precincts would have to deal with fewer inmates, officials say. Officials also feel it would be safer to keep inmates within a single facility for hearings. The videoconferencing initiative requires the endorsement of the county executive as well as district and city courts, and officials hope to deploy the new system by spring.
"Camera Planes Pitched to Parker"
Fort Worth Star-Telegram (01/27/07); Campbell, Elizabeth
Parker County, Texas, could purchase unmanned aircraft that can help police search for people lost in wooded areas. The aircraft measure only three feet to four feet from wingtip to wingtip, but are equipped with imaging cameras and software that can aid searchers. The aircraft system can also provide firefighters with an eye-in-the-sky view of fires that can aid firefighting efforts. In addition, the aircraft could also be used to monitor areas where drug activity is suspected. A person stationed at the control center guides the three digital cameras used by each aircraft, which sends live video and high-resolution images to a computer.
"Courts Installing Electronic Network"
Ventura County Star (CA) (01/26/07); Hernandez, Raul
The Ventura County, California, court system is scheduled to begin using a new electronic network in March for filing cases. Probate courts will be one of the early users of the network, with criminal courts hoping to use the network within two years. The multimillion-dollar statewide network, called the California Case Management System, is designed to allow judges, attorneys, and the public to access court files and documents over the internet from any location. The system is intended to reduce the lines at the county's court records department, and save a significant amount of tax dollars. Similar systems are in use in Colorado, Delaware, and federal courts.
"New Orleans Gets Anti-Crime Update"
Los Angeles Times (01/27/07) P. A14; Simmons, Ann M.
On Jan. 26, New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin announced efforts to fight violent crime, including more surveillance cameras, assigning more officers to foot patrols, and increasing the number of random traffic checkpoints. Nagin said 50 surveillance cameras in the city are currently functional, and that over the next two months 20 additional hot spots would be monitored through cameras. Surveillance cameras would also be erected along St. Charles Avenue ahead of Mardi Gras in March, he said. Law enforcement officials said officers would be required to walk their beats for as long as 1.5 hours per shift. In addition, officials said that random checkpoints established over the past few weeks have led to 1,600 citations, including 24 arrests involving drugs and the arrest of 35 wanted criminals. Some citizens have praised the mayor and police officials for providing weekly public updates.
"British Footprint Database to Help Catch Criminals"
Reuters (01/29/07); Reany, Patricia
A new database being launched by Britain on Feb. 15 will compile footwear prints and marks from crime scenes and information from shoe manufacture's to help police. Footwear marks are the second biggest evidence type behind blood and DNA, according to Dr. Romelle Piercy of the Forensic Science Service in London. Footprints can be found nearly everywhere at a crime scene from on a body or carpet to within earth or mud, and are very unique to each individual person. The Footwear Intelligence Tool will include data on shoe type, color, branding, marks, and demographic information. The database is believed to be the first of its kind in the world.
"Mayor Seeks City Funding for Gunshot Locater Technology"
Boston Globe (01/22/07) P. B5; Vaznis, James
Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino is expected to submit a request to the City Council this week for the purchase of sensors to monitor high-crime areas. The technology can locate where gunshots originated from and link directly to the city's emergency dispatch center. Officials noted that the system could be activated as soon as the summer. However, Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis indicated recently that he carefully wanted to consider the benefits of the system before providing his support. ShotSpotter developed the technology, which could eventually be used in conjunction with a camera system. Menino is optimistic that the acoustic gunshot-detection system can improve the police department's success rate for solving criminal cases.
"Video Enlisted as Crime Deterrent"
Press Enterprise (PA) (01/23/07) P. B1; Moore, Steve
Palm Desert has agreed to launch a technology trial that allows 10 local businesses to receive as much as $1,500 in rebates for equipping their buildings with video surveillance gear. City officials project that the businesses will pay roughly $3,000 each to equip the surveillance technology. Businesses involved in the program are required to offer merchandise and services to consumers in Palm Desert. The types of businesses that qualify for the program include nightclubs, bars, banks, retail stores, and others. Participating businesses will equip the cameras in places that provide cover of interior, exterior, and common entry or extra doorways. The police department will be able to instantly access the images.
"Court Security Plan to Cost Freehold $66G"
Asbury Park Press (NJ) (01/23/07); Petruncio, Nick
The Freehold borough will invest $66,500 to upgrade its municipal court security plan under a mandate issued by the New Jersey Supreme Court that orders all local urban districts to establish a court security committee and security program. The urban districts were required to present preliminary security plans by Dec. 29 of last year. State Superior Court Judge Lawrence M. Lawson said all municipalities have complied with the demand and added that his staff is currently evaluating the proposals. The urban districts are required to submit their final drafts by Feb. 5. The order also requires all municipal courtrooms in New Jersey to adopt a number of security protections, such as weapons detection measures and using materials to protect the judge's bench from bullets. The Freehold borough plans to install security cameras, a walk-through metal detector, and videoconferencing as part of its upgrade.
"Parishes Now Share a Radio System"
New Orleans Times-Picayune (01/24/07) P. 1; Hunter, Michelle
In Louisiana, police departments in the parishes of Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard, and Plaquemines can now talk to each other via a single radio system. The departments launched a joint 700 MHz digital radio system on Jan. 22 funded by federal disaster money and grants from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The initiative is expected to encompass fire, medical, and government services in the future, according to law enforcement officials. New Orleans Police Superintendent Warren Riley noted that because the new radio system facilitates interoperability, the system would accommodate out-of-state emergency personnel if they were to reprogram their own equipment. The new radio system now allows a Jefferson deputy sheriff, for example, to communicate with a New Orleans patrol officer directly, while in the past, officers would have to go though the communications hubs of the respective departments. DHS has allocated roughly $2.3 billion for a nationwide effort to replace obsolete or damaged radio systems, says George Foresman, the undersecretary of preparedness for DHS. Law enforcement officials estimate that the four-parish upgrade cost approximately $30 million.
"Osceola Site Tracks Sex Offenders"
Orlando Sentinel (FL) (01/24/07); Aradillas, Elaine
Residents of Osceola County, Fla., will be able to look up the location of sex offenders within a 1-mile radius of their address using the Sex Offender Watch program. The program, which was added to the Osceola County Sheriff's Web site, allows residents to enter the address of their home, school, or business to see if any sex offenders live within a mile of those addresses, as well as receive email notification if a sex offender should move into a residence near those locations. The program cost $7,000 to set up and will cost the same amount annually for upkeep, and is used by 300 sheriffs in 26 states.
"Council to Take Longer Look at Traffic Cameras"
Macon Telegraph (GA) (01/23/07); Barnwell, Matt
The Macon, Ga., City Council will likely convene during the last week of January to talk over a proposed agreement with Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) to erect red-light cameras at a minimum of 10 intersections in the city. Council members had earlier raised several concerns, including a pending state bill that would ban red-light cameras and citizens' opinions that Macon is more worried about making money than safety matters. ACS has informed city authorities that fines could earn the government between $4 million and $5.5 million over the deal's five-year term. Under the agreement, Macon would list 15 potential surveillance sites, and with the city's permission, ACS would then implement cameras in 10 or more of these intersections. The company would maintain the cameras and collect for Macon the fees they produce. Macon would pay a monthly fee to ACS of around $4,400 a camera, over $2.6 million during the five-year contract. The cameras would record three still pictures of vehicles that go through red lights, and a dozen seconds of video. ACS would permit preliminary reviews of camera photos and send any images that seem to portray a violation to the police, and an officer would then study the photos via a secure Web site and send a citation to the vehicle's owner. http://www.macon.com/mld/macon/news/local/16522258.htm
"Your License Plate May Be On Candid Camera"
Buffalo News (01/22/07) P. A1; Watson, Stephen T.
Police are using a new system that allows them to scan license plates quickly and accurately. The system, called optical character recognition (OCR), recognizes letters and symbols using infrared cameras that read license plates and translates the images into digital characters. Washington D.C., Maryland, Florida, and New York are some of the areas using the system. In Buffalo, N.Y., police using the system at a checkpoint issued 2,119 vehicle and traffic tickets, gave out 538 misdemeanor summonses, impounded 501 cars, and made a handful of arrests for driving a stolen car or possessing stolen plates.
"System Tracks Criminals and More"
Wyoming Tribune-Eagle (01/19/07) P. A3; Mathews, Cameron
A tracking system called RiteTrack is helping detention facilities in several states improve their intake processes and how they allocate probation officers to clients. The system is "50 percent business, the other half human service," asserts Even Brande, president and CEO of Handel Information Technologies, which manufactures the system. Les Pozsgi, division administrator with the state corrections department's field services division, says the department expects to issue a request for proposals for a field-specific, electronic case management system by February. He adds that it might use RiteTrack but will consider systems from across the country. The department's spokeswoman, Melinda L. Brazzale, says the facility now uses an internally developed product called the Wyoming Criminal Information System to monitor offenders. RiteTrack technology is beneficial because it prevents the loss of crucial data and streamlines the work of probation officers and other staff members. Law enforcement agencies, drug courts, and juvenile services can also benefit from the technology, according to Handel's Web site. http://www.wyomingnews.com
"Ringing Busy: Managing Commercial Telecommunications in a Public Safety World"
Law Enforcement Technology (01/07) Vol. 34, No. 1, P. 32; Brown, Todd
Police organizations have frequently been quick to adopt new communication technology, but to take advantage of the newest cellular phones and personal communications devices, police are forced to depend on "commercial" telecommunications systems. Some of the newer options are smart phones such as the Blackberry, Push to Talk phone/radios from Nextel, Sprint, and Verizon, and geographic information systems (GIS)-enabled devices. Smart phones can be used for scheduling and internet access, Push to Talk allows for one person to talk to multiple people at the same time, and GIS creates mapping and tracking functions on cell phones, laptops and radios. Mobile Data Terminals can be used to record, store, transmit and receive mission-critical data on-site, and are in widespread use by police and EMS. There are concerns that too much commercialization of public safety communications might have reliability and network access problems. http://www.officer.com/magazines/let/
"A Simple Plot"
Law Enforcement Technology (01/07) Vol. 34, No. 1, P. 8; Morgenstern, Henry
Although liquid explosives have not been used often in recent suicide bombings throughout the world, law enforcement agencies still must take action to stop them from being used. Investigations of the plot last August to bomb airplanes coming to the United States from the United Kingdom are finding that bottles of Lucozade--an English brand of Gatorade--with fake bottoms would have been employed. The Lucozade would have been contained in the bottle's top section while the false bottom would have held the explosives. It has been determined by authorities that the liquid would be utilized to either manufacture triacetone triperoxide TATP and/or hexamethylene triperoxide diamine. These apparently would have been mixed after take-off, and both substances can be activated by heat, friction, or electrical charge. There are numerous kinds of liquid and gel explosives that law enforcement should learn about, including WaterGel explosives, which were devised to replace dynamite, are packaged in plastic, have the appearance of very big sausages, and need a detonator. Two-element Kinepak is sold commercially and has a syrupy red liquid appearance; when combined with a white powder component it makes a highly powerful explosive, and requires an electrical or mechanical detonation. Nitroglycerin continues to be the explosive with the highest instability, and can be stabilized through freezing and reconstitution or by adding elements that can then be removed. http://www.officer.com/magazines/let/
NLECTC Law Enforcement & Corrections Technology News Summary
Thursday, February 8, 2007
"Aventura Police Use Web for Unsolved Murder"
Miami Herald (02/04/07) P. B5; Teproff, Carli
The Aventure Police Department decided to use MySpace.com and YouTube.com to hopefully receive leads in the 2001 slaying of an elderly man. Police posted footage of a person they are seeking in connection with the case at both Web sites. Police are hoping that the postings will lead to identification of the man, who can be seen on surveillance cameras interacting with the murder victim, who died in his apartment from injuries sustained during a vicious beating. South Florida Police have also employed the Internet to discourage violence at a middle school in Hollywood and identify suspects in two cases.
Auburn Citizen (02/03/07); Elliott-Engel, Amaris
Police crime labs across the country are benefiting from technologies such as DNA testing, global positioning system (GPS) technology, digital imagery, and databases for fingerprints, tire tracks, and shoe prints. But experts stress that these tools need to be combined with witness interviews, motive, and other investigative approaches before evidence can be linked to a particular person. Courts in New York have since 2001 allowed the use of DNA evidence derived from short tandem repeat (STR) testing. W. Mark Dale at the State University of New York at Albany's Northeast Regional Forensic Institute notes that evidence "needs a seamless chain of custody" as well as be "protected from degradation." The forensic institute offers a 12-week, 12-credit program at the graduate level targeted to those with degrees in biology or chemistry. Participants learn about laboratory processes, microbiology, and presenting evidence in criminal trials. A total of 48 individuals graduated in 2006, but many more such trained workers are needed to fulfill demand. Al Pola, an instructor at Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES, teaches students in the Legal Professions program how to roll fingerprints using a card and ink because not all police departments can afford automated fingerprinting systems. http://www.auburnpub.com/articles/2007/02/04/news/local_news/news01.txt
"Video Cameras and Microphones Outfit Vehicles Targeted for Theft"
Stockton Record (CA) (02/03/07); Brewer, Rick
The National Insurance Crime Bureau reported that the Honda Civic is the second most popular vehicle targeted by car thieves in California. The high theft rate involving the model prompted the California Highway Patrol (CHP) to include a Honda Civic among its roughly 20 bait cars. The cars employ video cameras and microphones that help police arrest car thieves. The agency is reluctant to reveal further details about the other types of car models used in the program or where the surveillance equipment is housed in the vehicles. In addition, CHP is also tight-lipped about where it places most of the cars because of concerns about alerting car thieves.
"Committee Endorses Surveillance Cameras"
Stamford Advocate (CT) (02/02/07); Lee, Natasha
A final vote on a proposal to install security cameras on city streets and in crime-ridden Stamford, Conn., neighborhoods is scheduled for Feb. 5. The Stamford Board of Representatives will render its decision on the plan, which obtained approval from the board's Public Safety Committee Jan. 31. Privacy hawks have criticized the plan for encroaching on civil liberties and targeting minority residents who live in the neighborhoods where the cameras would be installed. Law enforcement officials defend the use of the security cameras, saying they would deter crime, help investigate crimes caught on film, and monitor potential terrorist targets. "I'm hopeful that it will get approved," said committee Chairman Richard Lyons (D).
"$5M Earmarked for Photo Surveillance"
Philadelphia Daily Local News (02/02/07) P. 8; McDonald, Mark
As Philadelphia prepares to expand its surveillance camera program, city officials are asking the public to help by looking out for suspicious activity. A City Council committee recently approved a funding bill that would set aside $5 million for the program, but Mayor Street said the key to the surveillance program's success is the public. "I've always said that I want community people as a part of the monitoring process," he noted. "I don't want just police officers drawn down there. I want community people involved so no one will be able to reasonably accuse the police of abusing these cameras." So far the city has installed 18 cameras in and around Philadelphia's main streets, not including eight portable cameras that were recently installed. http://www.philly.com/mld/dailynews/news/local/16604001.htm
"Chief Urges Council to Allow Stun Guns"
Washington Post (02/01/07) P. T3; Paley, Amit R.
Howard County, Md., Police Chief William J. McMahon would like to introduce a pilot program that would supply department officers with 25 Taser stun guns. However, in order to implement the program, a county law restricting the use of electronic weapons would have to be amended. Council members are currently concerned about safety issues, pointing out that 150 Taser incidents have been linked to deaths. McMahon urged the use of the weapons as a way to avoid dangerous struggles with conventional weapons that result in injuries to both officers and suspects. In a meeting with the County Council, McMahon offered to allow himself to be stunned by a Taser gun in order to demonstrate the weapon's safety. He described the five-second stun as "uncomfortable" but said there were no aftereffects.
"System That Quickly Pinpoints Gunshots Considered for City"
Reading Eagle (PA) (02/01/07); Henshaw, Steven
Reading, Pa., is exploring the possible purchase of the ShotSpotter sensor system, which roughly 15 U.S. cities use to determine where gunshots are fired from. The acoustic sensors have enabled police in some cities to locate where gunshots are fired from in 15 seconds or less. The system is connected to dispatchers that can send police to locations before any emergency calls are placed by local residents. The short response time provides police officers with more opportunity to arrive at crime scenes where suspects are still present and enhances the chance that ambulance crews can save shooting victims. Berks County Commissioner Thomas W. Gajewski became interested in acquiring the system for the city after watching a news story about ShotSpotter. However, he noted that local police departments will have the final say in determining whether they want to install the technology. Reading Mayor Tom McMahon said the first priority is obtaining federal funding for installing a network of security cameras in the city, but added that ShotSpotter could also be implemented if the necessary funding is acquired.
"Doyle, AG: We'll Fix State Crime Lab"
Madison Capital Times (WI) (02/03/07) P. B1; Callender, David
Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is seeking to increase the number of analysts working at the state Crime Lab beyond the 15 requested last year by Gov. Jim Doyle. Van Hollen did not provide details about his plans but said he planned to raise the number of analysts working at the lab by "a substantially greater number" than originally requested. He indicated the number will be chosen based on the requirements of law enforcement and technologies employed by the lab. The state's backlog of criminal cases awaiting DNA tests exceeded 1,700 last year--the most since 2000. http://www.madison.com/tct/news/stories/index.php?ntid=117521
"Bush Seeks Money for Border Agents, Surveillance Gear"
Bloomberg (02/05/07); Roland, Neil
President Bush's $2.9 trillion budget for the fiscal year 2008 seeks a 1 percent increase for the amount of funding allocated to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), from $33.8 billion in fiscal 2007 to $34.3 billion in 2008. Bush is requesting that the DHS' Customs and Border Protection unit receive a 36 percent increase in funding, to $8.8 billion, with much of the additional funding paying for about 3,000 more border patrol agents and an increase in the use of surveillance technology on the U.S. southern border. "We'll need to put more effort to get the people who are the toughest nuts to crack," said DHS chief Michael Chertoff, alluding to U.S. efforts to crack down on illegal immigration. Chertoff said that Bush wants $1 billion allocated toward a project that would deploy cameras, sensors, and lights along the Arizona border with Mexico. The surveillance technology would be added to an additional 150 miles of border. Bush's budget would slash the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) budget from $6 billion this year to $5.2 billion in 2008, a 14 percent drop, while increasing airport security budgets by 7 percent and the Coast Guard's budget by 3 percent. Also, Bush would increase domestic nuclear detection funding by 17 percent. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aAHrERjzBd84&refer=home
"ShotSpotter Is Here, Minneapolis, but It's Not Going to Save the Day"
Minneapolis Star Tribune (01/31/07) P. 1B; Coleman, Nick
Minnesota Star-Tribune columnist Nick Coleman says the ShotSpotter--a new, computerized system that locates gunshots and provides police with a good picture of where the shots are occurring--"is a good news/bad news thing." He states while on the positive side, ShotSpotter can help combat crime, the "bad news is your town has reached the point where it needs a computer system to track all the gunplay." Coleman stresses that ShotSpotter will not prevent individuals from being shot, but will just send police to the general area of "where your corpse lies on the sidewalk, cooling." He adds that the technology has not saved anybody's life and so far has not yielded any arrests. In addition, Coleman notes, ShotSpotter is just certified to be correct 80 percent of the time and it cannot locate a shooting accurately enough to justify dispensing a search warrant. Coleman writes that these concerns have prompted civil-liberties experts to warn that the technology may not warrant a police crackdown on everyone in a region. "In the end, it's still the citizens who are the 'shot spotters' who matter most," Coleman concludes. http://www.startribune.com/357/story/970502.html
"Mayor Wants Thousands of Cameras"
Charleston Gazette (WV) (01/31/07) P. P1C; Balow, Jim
The Charleston, W.Va., police department has installed two surveillance cameras intended to deter crime in public areas and observe violations that do occur so that perpetrators can be easily identified and caught. Mayor Danny Jones would like to expand the camera program into an initiative that would eventually feature thousands of cameras that would enable police officers to observe every public area in the city, although police Chief Brent Webster says the department needs to become more familiar with the existing cameras' workings and maintenance needs before adding more. The department has the capability to install both overt and covert cameras at a cost of approximately $4,500 each; officers operating the cameras can adjust the angles, pan, and zoom to see detailed coverage of an event and capture important data such as license-plate numbers. Webster says that eventually operation from police vehicles will be a possibility. However, some groups are concerned that the cameras may be excessively intrusive and impinge upon citizens' privacy. Webster says the expectation of privacy does not exist in public areas, although Jones concedes that the cameras should not be used to observe private property.
"Bill to Stop Online Sexual Predators Criticized"
San Francisco Chronicle (01/31/07) P. A2; Garofoli, Joe
Critics say the Keeping the Internet Devoid of Sexual Predators Act, introduced in both the House and Senate as a way to combat online sexual predators, is ineffective and easy to circumvent. The bill would require convicted sexual offenders to register their email and instant messaging addresses with the National Sex Offender Registry, so social networking sites could compare the information with user profiles. The bill would also make it illegal for anyone over 18 to misrepresent their age on the Internet with the intention of engaging in criminal sexual activity with a minor. WiredSafety.com executive director Parry Aftab says offenders could easily use addresses or screen names other than those they register, and calls the bill "knee-jerk legislation." Others say the bill is ignoring the fact that users themselves must be educated as to the dangers of social networking sites. Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal, the leader of a coalition of 34 attorney generals considering legal action against MySpace, has taken issue with one the bill's provisions that would offer "liability relief" to social networking sites should a user be misidentified as a sexual predator. Blumenthal says the provision could be used to "provide blanket immunity." MySpace, which supports the bill, was sued last month by the families of four underage girls who were sexually abused by people they met on the site. MySpace has developed database technology for removing known sexual offenders from virtual communities, which it is currently beta-testing, and a system whereby parents can see if their children are creating multiple profiles, which will be deployed this summer.
"Florida Department of Law Enforcement Expands Deployment of SPYRUS PKI System to Meet Growing Requirement for Information Sharing and Authentication"
Business Wire (01/31/07)
SPYRUS, Inc., an innovator in security products and solutions, today announced that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) has expanded its use of the SPYRUS Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) solution and has tripled its number of certificate licenses. The system enables authentication of law enforcement personnel accessing sensitive databases. FDLE will expand the number of licenses from 26,000 digital certificates issued to more than 80,000. FDLE originally installed the SPYRUS PKI System v5.0 solution in 2001 and grew the number of licenses from 10,000 to 26,000. "We have found that the SPYRUS PKI is the best fit to meet our unique requirements for information sharing between law enforcement agencies and officers in Florida," said Acting CIO Don Sherman of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. "The flexibility of implementation and high assurance security made this the ideal choice for our environment." The SPYRUS PKI System was originally installed as part of a National Institute of Justice (NIJ) sponsored initiative conducted in cooperation with FDLE. The SPYRUS PKI updates were deployed state-wide via the State of Florida's frame relay network (Criminal Justice Network or CJNet). With more than 300 law enforcement agencies connected to the network supporting more than 800 locations from the Georgia border to Key West, FDLE has standardized on SPYRUS as the security platform for accessing a broad range of data and applications by all authorized Florida law enforcement officials.
"Where Gum Can Become Evidence"
Syracuse Post-Standard (NY) (01/31/07) P. B1; Baker, Robert A.
The Syracuse, N.Y.-based Wallie Howard Jr. Center for Forensic Sciences, which has been around for eight years, announced on Jan. 31 that the center's DNA study on the saliva of a piece of gum had helped identity a victim's attacker. Last August, a man who had been beaten, tied up, and robbed in his Syracuse apartment told police that his attacker had spit his gum out while there. The attacker was already in police custody for two separate felonies. The center performs other study's besides DNA analysis. The 28 scientists and technicians working at the center use ovens and special lighting to obtain usable fingerprints off weapons. Guns are reconstructed and bullets discharged into water tanks so special markings on the bullets can be contrasted with bullets located at a crime scene. Suspected drugs are also tested, and debris from questionable fires is analyzed for chemicals that could reveal a cause. Proof from over 20 law enforcement agencies is sent to the center, where it is studied and utilized to make cases. http://www.post-standard.com
"Antiterror Cameras Capturing Crime on T"
Boston Globe (01/29/07) P. B1; Daniel, Mac; Smalley, Suzanne
Federal homeland security grants totaling about $23 million have allowed Boston to install more than 450 security cameras since 2002 at the city's subway stations and at some bus stations. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) expects to install 50 more of the digital fiber-optic cameras by spring. MBTA Transit Police are using the digital images from surveillance cameras to arrest suspects who otherwise would probably not get apprehended. So far, roughly a dozen crimes have been solved using footage from the cameras. Officials say the cameras enable police to gain important clues such as clothing details and distinguishing features like tattoos. They also say the digital format allows recordings to be clearer than those on videotape because the images are stored on hard drives and do not degrade over time. Sergeant Detective Michael Adamson says detectives recently purchased a new video enhancement tool "because of the anticipated increase in forensic evidence that we'll be holding at the station." But some individuals are concerned about how the camera system is used when people are not doing anything wrong. http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2007/01/29/antiterror_cameras_capturing_crime_on_t/
"Intranet Puts Data at Officers' Fingertips"
Portland Press Herald (Maine) (01/30/07) P. A1; Hench, David
Maine's Portland Police Department is utilizing a new secure intranet that immediately provides a broad range of data to patrol officers. The system employs wireless signals to connect laptop computers in every police car to searchable computer databases monitored at the station, which makes large amounts of data available to officers with a handful of keystrokes and allows in-depth bulletins to be easily accessible on the officer's laptop. The utilization of Web-based technology is beginning to catch on at police departments throughout the nation. Other police departments in Maine that employ wireless technology include the Lewiston Police Department, which transmits electronic bulletins to its officers at the start of every shift with the most recent information on wanted individuals and recent crimes. Providing officers with more detailed recent information means they can perform better by taking measures to stop problems instead of reacting to them, notes Portland patrol services head Capt. Vern Malloch. The system permits police to study logs from the various beats; briefings from the intelligence division; safety bulletins and special alerts; registered sex offenders; individuals who are on probation and on bail; and probation officers' names and numbers. Data about people usually includes pictures and recent contacts with the department. http://pressherald.mainetoday.com/news/local/070130intranet.html
"'Sniffer-Bot' Algorithm Helps Robot Seek Scents"
New Scientist (01/24/07); Inman, Mason
Researchers in France have developed an algorithm that could allow robots to find the source of a faint scent even in the midst of air turbulence, much like a moth does. Massimo Vergassola and some of his colleagues at the Pasteur Institute in Paris tested their simple algorithm in a virtual environment and found that it not only allowed a virtual robot to successfully track and find the source of a scent, but it caused the virtual robot to move in complex back and forth sweeping motions, s-curves, and spirals that closely resemble the way a moth tracks a scent. The algorithm uses information received from the scent itself as well as information received when the scent is not detected, striking a balance between heading directly toward the point where it guesses the scent is coming from and wandering around collecting information but not making any progress toward the source. Vergassola says the algorithm could be implemented in an actual robot or be used for other applications that involve searching without much information, such as detecting the best paths for information to be sent through a network. This research "provides a new framework for understanding a large and significant class of problems encountered in real world situations," says the University of Pennsylvania's Alan Gelperin. He adds that by adding instruments that could gather information about the airflow around a robot, the algorithm could even be improved. http://www.newscientisttech.com/channel/tech/dn11023-snifferbot-algorithm-helps-robots-seek-scents.html
Thursday, February 15, 2007
"Manatee's Pilot Program Places Records Back Online"
Bradenton Herald (FL) (02/12/07) P. 1; Alund, Natalie Neysa
R.B. Shore, Manatee County Clerk of Circuit Court, has been working for eight months to obtain approval for a trial program for electronic access to court records. Shore has a few more months to prove the program can provide public access while protecting confidential information. The program will use redacting technology to identify and remove confidential information, and will have levels of access based on the user. Judges, their staff, and clerks will have the highest level of access, lawyers and clients will have full access to their cases, and the public will be able to view non-confidential records. The program is intended to save money by cutting down on foot traffic in the clerk's office. The first year official records such as deeds and mortgages went online, office traffic decreased 60 percent, says Shore. If the program receives approval a year-long trial will begin May 1. http://www.bradenton.com/mld/bradenton/news/local/16678806.htm
"A 'Fine-Tuned' Jail"
Tampa Tribune (02/10/07) P. 1; Wells, Mike
The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office has undertaken a project to expand its Falkenburg Road Jail by 768 beds before the end of 2008. The project calls for the construction of a new administrative building, a new sally port, a video courtroom, a control center for monitoring prisoners, and other new features and structures. The project is projected to cost $50.4 million. Jim Gross, special projects manager for the sheriff's jail division, notes that funding has not been obtained for the next construction phase. Gross adds that construction will not interfere with the operation of the jail. The number of offenders booked into the county's jail system is rising, but the number of prisoners typically held at the facility each day has decreased during the last two years.
"County Boosts Communications"
Indianapolis Star (02/09/07) P. 2; Walton, Richard D.
The approximately $8 million Hendricks County Communications Center is expected to open in June 2007 in Plainfield, Ind., located in the city's renovated police station. Supporters of the center say it will slash response times because all police and fire departments in the county will be able to communicate with each other and monitor each other's radio traffic. In addition, each patrol car in the county will be equipped with a computer featuring GPS (global positioning system) technology. The technology will enable dispatchers at the center to know the location of each car or fire truck and which vehicles are closest to a crime or fire. The closest units will be dispatched first irrespective of jurisdiction, says Larry Brinker, the center's executive director. Officers and firefighters will also be able to view aerial images of the county, says Brownsburg Town Council member Gary Hood. Avon Police Chief Jack Miller notes that local police departments will have access to a shared record-management system, enabling them to swap data more easily and identify patterns across the county. Officials add that the communications center will facilitate upgrades because they will have to be performed only at a single site rather than in multiple places. http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2007702090332
"Getting Low-Risk People Out of the Jail"
Wisconsin State Journal (02/10/07) P. A4; DeFour, Matthew
Officials in La Crosse County, Wis., initially thought about increasing electronic tracking while studying plans to construct a new prison several years ago. Two years ago, judges concurred to sentence all prisoners to the secure prison or to a widened Justice Sanctions program, operated by the Human Services Department, which handles numerous prison diversion programs, including electronic tracking. The La Crosse County Board voted that same year to phase out its work-release prison, which held as many as 110 prisoners. The men's secure prison and the women's prison are still open. In 2006, the Justice Sanctions program typically diverted 227 prisoners a day from the secure prison. Crowding in the secure prison, however, has become a big problem, with prisoners sleeping on the floor almost every night. Mike Weissenberger, who is the former sheriff of La Crosse County, was very critical of shutting the work-release prison, which he thinks has caused the crowding situation. He explained that whenever a prisoner with electronic tracking or day reporting privileges breaches the regulations at home, he or she frequently must come back to the secure prison. Justice Sanctions program administrator Jane Klekamp contests the criticism, arguing that a study discovered that the amount of prisoners violating regulations on home tracking was the same as the amount violating regulations in the work-release prison.
"Allen Parolees to Test GPS Monitoring"
Fort Wayne Journal Gazette (IN) (02/10/07) P. A1; Iacone, Amanda
The Indiana Department of Correction is utilizing Allen County to try out a new Global Positioning System (GPS) that will track sex and violent offenders out on parole. The county's commissioners approved a deal on Feb. 9 to permit the one-year pilot program, which will be financed by Indiana. The program will enable Indiana to try out the GPS system, which would eventually track all sex and violent offenders as mandated by state law. New GPS technology can follow an offender's every movement and can inform the offender if he or she goes into an "exclusion zone." The zones could be adjacent to an area park or victim's house, school, or work. The pilot program's participants must have a phone line in their house, and other adults there must permit police to search the establishment periodically. In addition, the parolees will take part in case management via community corrections. Indiana will pay a Colorado firm to lease its software and tracking equipment that is given to the offender. http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/journalgazette/16667911.htm
"'Photo-Red' Gets Local Support"
Daily Progress (02/11/07); Seal, Rob
On Feb. 6, a bill was passed in the Virginia House of Delegates that may allow the installation of red-light cameras at some local intersections. If the bill becomes law, first-time offenders would be fined $50. Law enforcement officials in Albemarle and Charlottesville have expressed support for the cameras and are prepared to allocate funds for them. Police in Albemarle would like to erect the cameras at several intersections along U.S. 29, while those in Charlottesville would like to see them erected at the intersection of McIntire Road and Preston Avenue. But detractors say taking images of drivers would be intrusive and that the cameras might be misused by law enforcement seeking additional funds. In response to these concerns, the state Senate passed two "photo-red" bills prohibiting local governments from hiring external firms to oversee the cameras. Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine says he supports legislation that would allow local communities to decide whether they want to use the cameras.
"Fighting Sex Crimes Effectively"
Buffalo News (02/09/07); Becker, Maki
Advancements in technology, policy, and the law have made police more efficient in solving and making arrests in sexual crimes. Policy used to dictate that rape cases where the victim knew the assailant or had a less-than-pristine past, such as a prostitute, were not seriously considered and frequently not seen as a rape at all. Now that there is a better understanding of what constitutes a sexual crime all cases are handled more professionally and seriously. Technology has also improved the conviction rate in sexual cases. Once very few hospitals had rape kits, where as now almost all local hospitals are equipped to collect evidence and some even have nurses that are specialists in rape evidence collection. http://www.buffalonews.com/editorial/20070209/1074888.asp
"Tragedy Spurs Minn. Cop to Mount Indian Country Crime Database"
Associated Press (02/09/07); Forliti, Amy
Sgt. Bill Blake with the Minneapolis Police Department is striving to develop a database to better monitor crimes among Native Americans in the region. Called I-CARE (Indian Crime Awareness Research and Evaluation), the network would initially include a few tribes but would later expand to include all tribes in Minnesota and Wisconsin and eventually nationwide. The aim is to provide tribes with a means of identifying trends and tracking criminals across different reservations. The I-CARE project would incorporate the work of NALES (Native American Law Enforcement Summit), which Blake created after the murder of his daughter in 2003 in Wisconsin. Blake says existing data collected the Bureau of Justice Statistics might not be accurate because data is collected by several methods, such as household surveys. Blake and fellow Minneapolis officer Larry Loonsfoot anticipate receiving a two-year, $600,000 grant from the Justice Department to launch the I-CARE initiative, while Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan hopes to provide computers, staff assistance, and space for the project. http://www.twincities.com/mld/twincities/news/breaking_news/16664540.htm
"Harford to Use 'Blue Boxes' on Handcuffs to Foil Escapes"
Baltimore Sun (02/08/07) P. 2B; Mitchell, Josh
The Harford County Sheriff's Office has acquired 25 "blue boxes" that prevent inmates from potentially slipping out of their handcuffs. The devices fit over the chain of each cuff and link both cuffs. Blue boxes limit the mobility of the wrist and also prevents access to the keyhole. Hiatt-Thompson charged $500 for the 25 units, which will provide additional security for inmates classified as escape risks. The sheriff's office decided to obtain the devices after a 31-year-old inmate slipped out of his cuffs, bell chain, and leg irons during an scheduled examination at Upper Chesapeake Medical Center.
"Laptop Law Enforcement"
La Crosse Tribune (WI) (02/08/07); Springer, Dan
Law enforcement officers for La Crosse County, Wis., will no longer be issuing handwritten citations, warnings, and accident reports, but will be printing out reports using on-board computers in their cruisers. Traffic and Criminal Software (TraCS) was originally installed to relay information to the state Department of Transportation faster, but has several secondary benefits. TraCS automatically saves each citation or report and sends it to the clerk of courts office and the state so data never has to be re-entered, and reports or citations will never be incomplete again as TraCS will not allow the officer to print out the driver's copy without filling in every required section. Officers will also be able to draft a reconstruction of the incident with a program on the system. Sheriff's department deputies started using the program in December and have since trained over 100 people to use TraCS, and La Crosse County sheriff's Captain Mike Horstman said that all county officers will soon be fully trained. http://www.lacrossetribune.com/articles/2007/02/08/news/z01police.txt
"Police Data Will Be Shared"
Telegram & Gazette (02/07/07) P. B1; Lee, Brian
In a project funded by the Central Region Homeland Security Council, 20 Massachusetts police departments will share information with each other using a records management system. Through the use of an Internet-based private network, officers from one area, using a computer in either a station or a cruiser, can access data from another area without having to submit a query and wait for a response. The system even uses voice recognition so officers on patrol can run a search while driving. The central region is one of five homeland security districts in Massachusetts, and police officials said that the system may eventually be expanded to include other regions. http://www.telegram.com/apps/pbcs.dll/frontpage
"D.C. Street Cameras Put on Fast Track"
Washington Post (02/07/07) P. B1; Stewart, Nikita; Klein, Allison
The D.C. Council has permitted the use of emergency legislation to hasten the purchase of 24 surveillance cameras. The council had already agreed to allow purchase of the cameras, which will monitor areas where crime frequently occurs, last year. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) said the delay in purchasing the equipment is an embarrassment for the city. Supporters of using the cameras hope that they will discourage crime and lead to the identification of more suspects, but skeptics are doubtful about their potential effectiveness. Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) believes the city could reap greater benefits from increasing the number of police officers on patrol. In addition, he also advocates expanding investment in rehabilitating those released from prison. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/06/AR2007020601694.html
"Devices Could Disable Terror Bombs"
San Francisco Chronicle (02/07/07) P. A3; Davidson, Keay
Police, fire fighters, FBI agents, and other responders could eventually have access to devices capable of disabling nuclear weapons and dirty bombs, according to an announcement from the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). These "Render Safe" devices, which are still classified, would be used by authorities in the field in the event that nuclear experts are unable to reach a threat-scene in time. The Nuclear Emergency Search Team (NEST), based in Nevada, is the first U.S. line of defense against nuclear-based terror attacks. Researchers have spent years creating the Render Safe devices; the NNSA says it will soon begin field-testing the gadgets. Security reasons prevented NNSA officials from detailing how the devices work. In related news, California officials have been proactive about the threat of nuclear terrorism, holding a preparedness meeting in January and working with federal authorities on a statewide plan. The San Francisco Fire Department used federal funding to purchase 150 radiation-detection devices.
"Hamblin to Guide Crime Laboratory"
Wisconsin State Journal (02/06/07) P. B1; Pitsch, Mark
Gary Hamblin, a former sheriff of Dane County, Wis., will monitor efforts to diminish a backlog of cases awaiting testing by the state's Crime Laboratory. Hamblin indicated that the lab will need more crime analysts and training officers to reach the goal. He added that additional improvements may also be required to meet the goal. The crime lab currently has a backlog of more than 1,700 cases awaiting various testing, including examination of DNA and fingerprints. Doyle has committed to hiring 15 new analysts, but the number could increase. The crime lab would reportedly require 20 months to eliminate the backlog of cases based on its current number of analysts and the condition that no new cases are presented. http://www.madison.com/archives/read.php?ref=/wsj/2007/02/06/0702050392.php
"Welcome to Wi-Fi-Ville"
Time (01/15/07) Vol. 169, No. 3, P. 52; Dell, Kristina
Increasingly, cities are planning publicly-accessible municipal wireless Internet networks, though most projects have not been fully implemented. Government officials and citizens remain concerned about the repercussions of publicly-accessible networks, including privacy breaches and how much it will cost to operate the networks. Private network providers that were initially strongly opposed to municipal plans, are now becoming involved as the architects of such networks. Still, many municipalities interested in offering wireless find they do not have sufficient funds to do so, and surveys show that few citizens are willing to pay for government-sponsored wireless access. Free networks funded solely by ads have been considered by some municipalities, but it remains unclear if this idea is economically sustainable over the long term. However, the benefits of these networks could surpass the concerns officials and resident have, particularly if the networks improve government communications during disasters or access to criminal records, building plans, and video surveillance for fire fighters and police officers. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1574164,00.html
"Consumers Tracking Criminals"
Atlanta Business Chronicle (01/29/07); Rubner, Justin
OmniLink Systems recently generated $11 million in venture capital to help introduce several innovative tracking devices, including one that would inform phone clients when a registered sex offender is close by. There are currently 180,000 convicted criminals in this country partaking in alternative monitoring programs, the Department of Justice reports. OmniLink CEO and founder Steve Aninye claims that over 1.1 million criminals nationally qualify for these programs. He thinks firms such as OmniLink can attain a 40 percent share of the monitoring-services market. OmniLink's technology would enable cell-phone users to access criminal monitoring records and get alerts when registered criminals are within a particular distance. OmniLink has already signed agreements with 15 tracking groups, whose agencies have 3,000 offenders sporting the company's tracking technology. In addition, OmniLink is teaming with Sprint Nextel, which employs OmniLink technology to sell services to law enforcement groups. For around $10 per month, Sprint Nextel clients can go through OmniLink to enroll in a tracking service. http://atlanta.bizjournals.com/atlanta/stories/2007/01/29/story6.html?b=1170046800^1408335
Thursday, March 1, 2007
"Camera's Eye New Weapon in Crime Fight"
Philadelphia Inquirer (02/26/07); Fernandez, Bob
A group of about 65 industrial companies in Port Richmond, a one-square-mile neighborhood in Philadelphia, have spent $120,000 to purchase and install high-tech cameras that can detect suspicious activity, photograph faces and licenses plate from three blocks away, and eventually send real-time video straight to a police cruiser. The cameras are the latest effort to eliminate the crime and trash dumping that has plagued the Port Richmond area, driving away potential customers and employees. Port Richmond companies have already spent about $1.6 million over the past decade to replace signs, convert an empty lot into a park, widen corners for tractor-trailers, repair sidewalks, install security fences, and pay for a private company to remove trash. So far the company has removed 20,000 dumped tires from sidewalks, curbs, and yards in the area. Drug dealers and prostitutes populate the area, last year an employee was shot five blocks from his plant, and numerous muggings have happened to others.
"City Sees Early Success in GPS Program"
San Bernardino County Sun (CA) (02/26/07); Nelson, Joe
In March 2006, the city of San Bernardino, Calif., partnered with the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to use ankle bracelets with global positioning system (GPS) technology to monitor high-risk gang parolees. Since that time, nearly 40 gang members equipped with the bracelets returned to jail for breaking their release terms, according to authorities. An average of three parolees per month are being rearrested, says Ernie Bastarache, a San Bernardino parole agent who oversees the program and monitors the parolees. The ankle bracelets constitute one part of the city's 18-point anti-crime initiative released last year by Mayor Pat Morris. He also wants to collaborate with officials beyond the city to reduce instances of violent crime. Meanwhile, Brad Mitzelfelt, the 1st District supervisor for San Bernardino County, says he has proposed expanding the GPS tracking program for gangs across the county. "Just based on our experience with sexual predators, we know it's been an effective tool," said Mitzelfelt's representative David Zook. San Bernardino police officials are still working on issues about sharing information with the Redlands Police Department. Officials note that each GPS bracelet costs about $2,000 and the cost for daily monitoring via GPS costs about $8; in addition, agents who monitor parolees need to be adequately trained and paid. http://www.sbsun.com/news/ci_5306130
"Panel Calls for Funding to Speed DNA Processing"
Inside Bay Area (CA) (02/26/07); Bailey, Brandon
In California, the state has concluded that the state's crime labs are encountering significant delays in DNA processing, and that the state crime lab in Richmond needs emergency funding to hire more technicians. The lab now has a backlog of 150,000 samples from convicted felons as mandated by a 2004 law requiring that the state's DNA database be greatly broadened. The lab also processes crime scene findings for cities and counties. In Santa Clara County, the crime lab says it processes most DNA samples within 60 days or less, and that especially urgent cases can be completed within two or three days. Officials in Oakland say its lab, operated by the city's police department, analyzed just a third of the samples from rape probes in the city in 2005. "Most laboratories are not adequately staffed to provide timely information on investigative level cases," according to Thomas Nasser, director of Orange County's crime lab and president of a statewide organization for crime lab chiefs. The commission, which has been assessing several criminal justice issues for the California Legislature, also wants the new Attorney General Jerry Brown to search for solutions at the state and local levels. Meanwhile, the state Department of Justice has failed to keep pace in creating a statewide database designed to compare DNA samples with those already in the state database. In 2009, meanwhile, state law will require that DNA samples be taken from anyone who is arrested or charged with a felony offense. http://www.insidebayarea.com/dailyreview/localnews/ci_5306860
"Surveillance Cameras' Latest Job: Interpret the Threats They See"
Boston Globe (02/26/07)
Surveillance cameras are increasingly becoming a part of public life, and they are becoming smarter, too. The dawn of the "intelligent video" era is on the horizon, as security companies and researchers are creating algorithm-based camera systems capable of intelligently interpreting the scenes they are monitoring. For example, some cameras under development could eventually uncover suspicious behavior just by analyzing the way a person walks. Other cameras would be capable of determining a person's height or identifying unattended bags in airports. Casinos already use cameras that can detect known gamblers who cheat, and a camera network in Baltimore is capable of taking pictures of vandals and people who engage in illegal dumping, even interacting with them via a recorded message. As camera systems become more intelligent, ideally this would mean that fewer people would be needed to monitor video surveillance screens. Intelligent surveillance cameras can be programmed to look for things that are out of the ordinary--for example, a camera system monitoring a store parking lot can be programmed to focus on people loitering in the parking lot instead of those who enter the store directly.
"With Full-Body X-ray, a Closer Look at Air Travelers"
Christian Science Monitor (02/26/07); Bowers, Faye
A new security device introduced on Friday at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is meant to enable officials to locate weapons, including plastic explosives on passengers, that metal detectors and additional security measures could overlook. The full-body X-ray consists of a scanner around the size of a vending machine, and contains a backscatter than can see through clothing. The device's installation at the Phoenix airport is a test to find out how well it functions, and to determine how passengers respond to its employment. The backscatter will not be used on everyone who comes through the terminal. A passenger would have to trip alarms on the regular metal detector, or be randomly chosen for additional screening. Even then, passengers would have two choices: The new X-ray machine, or a pat-down, which has caused traveler complaints concerning invasiveness. Most of the people who were scanned by the new device at Phoenix were willing to do so. The device costs $100,000 per machine and its pilot project is set to run for as long as 90 days. http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0226/p02s02-ussc.html
"Police Departments Turning to YouTube to Catch Suspects"
Associated Press (02/24/07)
A few police departments have used the video-sharing Web site YouTube.com as a law enforcement tool, erecting videos of suspects and getting assistance from the public in naming them. Though some experts claim the idea is promising, they stress it is too early to determine whether it will last since technology is always evolving. They are concerned as well that it could produce tips that do not lead to anything and could create privacy issues. Law enforcement officials, however, laud YouTube's results: In December, police in Hamilton, Ontario, put up a 72-second surveillance video to find a suspect in a deadly stabbing outside a concert. Messages were dispatched by police on Web sites used often by such fans, informing them of the clip. The video got about 35,000 hits, and police had enough data within a couple of weeks for an arrest. Certain experts note it makes sense for police departments to link with the public through the Internet, particularly among younger users more likely to visit sites such as YouTube. Electronic Privacy Information Center executive director Marc Rotenberg noted that from a legal standpoint, police would be allowed to show surveillance video on the Internet unless they were unjustly accusing or defaming somebody.
"Residents Warming Up to Idea of Security Cameras"
Columbus Dispatch (OH) (02/25/07) P. 4C; Ferenchik, Mark
The communities of German Village and Merion Village near Columbus, Ohio, are voicing support for security camera systems. Bob Leighty, president of the Merion Village Association, says cameras would be beneficial and he intends to discuss security cameras soon with Andrew Ginther, a recently elected Columbus Councilman, who heads the council's safety committee. However, Leighty added that he still prefers the existing Community Crime Patrol and police department's bicycle patrol unit as deterrents. Barb Seckler, deputy safety director for Columbus, says the city lacks the money for cameras. However, some private groups in Columbus are installing them, including the Columbus Compact Corp.; the firm intends to install cameras on buildings near a new shopping and development complex. The city of Baltimore already has 350 surveillance cameras in high-crime areas and the Inner Harbor area. Matt Jablow with the Baltimore police says since the cameras were erected two years ago, violent crime in areas with cameras has fallen by 15 percent. The overall cost for the cameras was $10.5 million, but Jablow says they are a cost-effective way to reduce and record crimes. Jablow says approximately a third of the money for the cameras came from federal homeland security funds, while the remainder came from the general fund of Baltimore and money confiscated from drug dealers.
"Surveillance Cameras Saw Trouble, Police Stopped It"
Redlands Daily Facts (CA) (02/23/07)
A surveillance camera system in downtown Redlands, Calif., recently helped police prevent a potential assault. Police dispatchers were monitoring the cameras from the Police Department's Dispatch Center when they noticed a man in a crosswalk who was aggressively confronting pedestrians. Dispatchers continued monitoring the situation while dispatching officers to the scene who arrested the man for public intoxication. Police say that the pan-tilt-zoom cameras act as "force multipliers" and allow police to prevent a crime in progress or even prevent a crime from occurring. "I would much rather put someone in jail now for being drunk in public than arrest him later after a fight or an assault," said Police Chief Jim Bueermann. The four-camera surveillance system was funded via $75,000 in state and federal technology grants. http://www.redlandsdailyfacts.com/news/ci_5290188
"City Police Will Help Fund Camera System Downtown"
St. Louis Post-Dispatch (02/22/07); Bryan, Bill
The St. Louis Police Department has announced that it will provide $115,000 in funding for a new surveillance camera network that will be installed in the city's downtown area. The department already uses a portable surveillance camera system to monitor events like Mardi Gras and the World Series, but the new camera system will be installed permanently. Police officials visited Chicago, where a similar camera system has proved popular with Chicago police. The St. Louis camera network could be up and running by May. "The cameras will add another layer of security for downtown," said Assistant Chief Stephen Pollihan. "If it's beneficial like I think it will be, we'll expand the program into the neighborhoods."
"The Police Lineup Is Becoming Suspect Practice"
Christian Science Monitor (02/06/07); Jonsson, Patrik
Several states recently targeted the side-by-side police lineup, a venerable tool used by police departments across the country to help victims and witnesses pick out crime suspects, for elimination. DNA testing recently exonerated some suspects picked out by eyewitnesses, who were wrongly convicted, and this fuels initiatives aimed at replacing side-by-side lineups with "blind sequential lineups," which calls for suspects to be shown to eyewitnesses one at a time. In addition, the blind sequential lineup system requires a "blind" lineup administrator--someone who knows nothing about the case--to handle the process. Supporters suggest that a blind administrator would eliminate unintentional influences, such as a knowledgeable administrator suggesting to the eyewitness "take another look at No. 5." Police departments in Boston and Minneapolis, for example, already use "blind" lineups to reduce eyewitness identification errors, which a University of Michigan study indicated accounted for 90 percent of all mistakes in rape convictions posted in 2004. Most police officials and prosecutors resist changes to the side-by-side lineup system, but lawmakers in Georgia, West Virginia, New Mexico, Texas, and Vermont have legislation pending that would mandate these changes. However, some state officials are concerned that changes to police lineups will result in further litigation from convicted suspects claiming eyewitnesses falsely identified them. http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0206/p01s02-usju.html
Washington Post (02/18/07) P. B2; Saletan, William
The future of law enforcement and warfare could revolve around new military technologies that inflict pain without causing bloodshed. The U.S. military recently invented one such technology: a nonlethal weapon that shoots a beam of "directed energy" that penetrates just 1/64th of an inch into the human body, inflaming nerve endings to inflict pain without harming the target. The pain beam technology, manufactured by Raytheon, "allows precise targeting of specific individuals," and the pain immediately ceases if the target flees or the beam is moved off the target. The Department of Defense saw the need for nonlethal weapons about a dozen years ago, noting that military forces were increasingly being used for peacekeeping missions and that enemies had begun melding with civilians. But traditional nonlethal weapons like rubber bullets, tear gas, and pepper spray all have disadvantages and drawbacks. Thus, the DoD called for researchers to develop weapons "to incapacitate personnel or materiel, while minimizing fatalities, permanent injury to personnel, and undesired damage to property and the environment." The energy beams, unlike projectiles, are not affected by factors like wind and gravity, and their effects are uniform from both near and far. Military leaders will soon hold a meeting in London to address the future of directed-energy weapons.
"Driver's License Emerges as Crime-Fighting Tool, but Privacy Advocates Worry"
New York Times (02/17/07); Liptak, Adam
As part of an experiment last year, three facial-recognition specialists in Massachusetts ran a photo from the Web site of America's Most Wanted against the state's database of 9 million digital driver's license photographs. The mug shot closely resembled a driver's license photograph with a different name, and after alerting the authorities, the police were able to track down and arrest the suspect in New York City, where he was receiving welfare benefits under the alias on the driver's license. At least six other states are developing or have already acquired similar driver's license databases which, when combined with facial-recognition technology, can be used as a powerful law enforcement tool. Analysts use the technology to check about 5,000 new driver's license photographs every day using a computer algorithm to check about 8,000 facial points. The computer is unable to make a perfect match and an analysis needs to check the narrowed field after the computer is finished, and the majority of computer matches are rejected. Though DNA and fingerprint databases are better for placing a suspect at a crime scene, DNA samples and fingerprints are not collected from the public. The majority of adults do have driver's licenses, and even though current technology requires a good-quality photo, the potential to link an unknown suspect to a name through their driver's license is promising. Facial-recognition technology can be used to help prevent identity theft and to stop people from obtaining a second driver's license under a false name.
"Crime Fighting Potential for Computerised Lip-Reading"
University of East Anglia (02/21/07)
University of East Anglia researchers will begin a project next month that seeks to create a program that can read lips, possibly for use in law enforcement. Although nearly everyone has some ability to read lips, little is known as to the amount of visual information that is needed for the process. The Surrey University Center for Vision, Speech, and Signal Processing has created accurate face and lip trackers, and will collaborate on the project; so will the Home Office Scientific Development Branch, which plans to use the technology for fighting crime. "To be effective the systems must accurately track the head over a variety of poses, extract numbers, or features, that describe the lips and then learn what features correspond to what text," explains UEA project leader Dr. Richard Harvey. After collecting data for lip-reading, the goal will be to create a system that can turn video of lip motion into text. "This project will also investigate how to use the extensive information known about audio speech to recognize visual speech," says Richards. The number of trained lip readers is currently decreasing as the use of sign language is increasing.
"Sheriff's Office Participates in Automated Information Program"
Houston Business Journal (02/16/07)
The Harris County, Texas, Sheriff's Office is taking part in an automated data-sharing test program with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's US-VISIT program and the Department of Justice/FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services Division. The test program, which was initiated on Feb. 1, permits the sheriff's office access to criminal history data when an arrested individual's fingerprints are entered. The automated procedure also informs federal immigration authorities when fingerprints are the same as an immigration violator. Immigration authorities will then study related information about the individual and take the correct action. The government agencies started the test program in 2005 with the Boston Police Department and the Dallas County Sheriff's Office to try out technology improvements made to their various fingerprint databases. http://www.bizjournals.com/houston/stories/2007/02/12/daily82.html?surround=lfn