Public Safety

  • IrelandQuestions raised about Provisional IRA’s possible return to its violent ways

    It has been assumed that Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) has “gone away,” in the words of Sinn Féin’s leader Gerry Adams. In the wake of the 13 August killing in Belfast of a former IRA operative, police north of south of the border have launched an investigation into whether PIRA is still engaged in violence. Separately, a former member of PIRA, who is now a historian working in theBoston College Belfast Project, has charged that hackers affiliated with Sinn Féin have hacked his and his wife’s communication and leaked some of it to the press. U.S. courts allowed the Northern Ireland police access to portions of the archive, leading to arrests of several prominent Belfast Republicans.

  • EMS personnelCritics question the need to equip EMS personnel with protective gear

    The longer a wounded victim on a scene of a crime must wait for medical treatment, the lower the likelihood of that victim’s survival. Medical personal, however, must wait until the police secure the scene before they are allowed to approach the wounded. More and more EMS units now carry Kevlar helmets and bullet-proof vests with them so they can rush to help the wounded even if the crime scene is not completely secured. Some residents of San Leandro, California say, however, that the decision by the city council to purchase an armored vehicle and convert it into an armored ambulance is going too far.

  • Law enforcementWith 5% of world's population, U.S. had 31% of the world’s public mass shooters in 1966-2012

    Despite having only about 5 percent of the world’s population, the United States was the attack site for a disproportionate 31 percent of public mass shooters globally from 1966 to 2012, according to new research. The study is the first quantitative analysis of all reported public mass shootings around the world that resulted in the deaths of four or more people. “My study provides empirical evidence, based on my quantitative assessment of 171 countries, that a nation’s civilian firearm ownership rate is the strongest predictor of its number of public mass shooters,” the study’s author said. “Until now, everyone was simply speculating about the relationship between firearms and public mass shootings. My study provides empirical evidence of a positive association between the two.”

  • WildfiresHundreds of fires blazing across more than 1.1 million acres in the West

    Wildfires have been ravaging large parcels of land in the West and there seems to be no end in sight for the weary Westerners. There are hundreds of individual fires blazing across at least 1.1 million acres in the West. Both the military and foreign firefighting crews have been called in to help the beleaguered firefighters in the West. Washington State’s firefighters are stretched to the limit, and on Friday the state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) opened centers in Omak and Colville to coordinate offers of help from trained, qualified volunteer firefighters and from people who have and can operate machinery like backhoes and bulldozers to dig fire lines.

  • Nuclear eventWhat if it happened again? What we need to do to prepare for a nuclear event

    By Cham Dallas

    As we observe the 70th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it may seem like the threat from nuclear weapons has receded. But it hasn’t; the threat is actually increasing steadily. This is difficult to face for many people, and this denial also means that we are not very well-prepared for nuclear and radiological events. Any nuclear weapon exchange or major nuclear plant meltdown will immediately lead to a global public health emergency. The Ebola outbreak taught the world that we should have resources in place to handle a major health emergency before it happens. What would a Nuclear Global Health Workforce need to be prepared to manage? For that we can look back at the legacy of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as the nuclear accidents like Chernobyl and Fukushima.

  • Unmanned maritime systemsU.S. Navy champions unmanned systems over, on, and under the sea

    The presence of unmanned systems in the maritime military domain is growing, and the U.S. Navy has decided to make several organizational, and conceptual, changes in order to deal with unmanned systems in a more holistic fashion. Rear Adm. Robert P. Girrier has been named the Navy’s first director of unmanned weapon systems, and Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced in April that he would appoint a new Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Unmanned Systems, “so that all aspects of unmanned — in all domains — over, on and under the sea and coming from the sea to operate on land — will be coordinated and championed.”

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  • Counter-drone technologyCounter-drone technologies demonstrated at DoD’s Black Dart event

    Small, unmanned aircraft systems (UASs, aka UAVs, for unmanned aerial vehicle), or drones, are easy to obtain and launch and they are hard to detect on radar, making them of particular concern to law enforcement and the Department of Defense. Earlier this month DHS circulated an intelligence assessment to police agencies across the United States warning about drones being used as weapons in an attack. DOD says that Black Dart 2015, which began 26 July and ran through 7 August, is the Department of Defense’s largest live-fly, live-fire joint counter-UAS technology demonstration. One of the innovative developers of counter-UAS technologies is SRC Inc., a not-for-profit company formerly affiliated with Syracuse University. The company showed its SR Hawk surveillance radar, which is integral to its layered approach to defending against UASs.

  • Law enforcementPolice more likely to be killed on duty in states with high gun ownership: Study

    Camden and Newark, New Jersey, are perceived as two of the most violent cities in the nation, yet New Jersey’s police officers are among the least likely to get shot on the job. Montana, with its serene landscapes and national parks, has among the highest homicide rates for law enforcement officers. Why? Across all fifty states and the District of Columbia, homicides of police officers are linked to the statewide level of gun ownership, according to a new study. The study found that police officers serving in states with high private gun ownership are more than three times more likely to be killed on the job than those on the job in states with the lowest gun ownership.

  • Emergency communicationDHS S&T licenses innovative communication technology to commercial partners

    DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) last week announced that it has licensed the Radio Internet-Protocol Communications Module (RIC-M) to two commercial partners. RIC-M, used by local, state, and federal responders, is a low-cost, external, stand-alone, interface device that connects radio frequency (RF) system base stations, consoles and other RF equipment — regardless of brand — over the Internet or Private Internet Protocol (IP) network.

  • Visual-information gatheringSandia teams with industry to improve human-data interaction

    Intelligence analysts working to identify national security threats in warzones or airports or elsewhere often flip through multiple images to create a video-like effect. They also may toggle between images at lightning speed, pan across images, zoom in and out or view videos or other moving records. These dynamic images demand software and hardware tools that will help intelligence analysts analyze the images more effectively and efficiently extract useful information from vast amounts of quickly changing data. Sandia Lab and EyeTracking, Inc. will research and develop tools to improve how intelligence analysts gather visual information.

  • SurveillanceBill requiring Internet companies to report “terrorist activity” opposed by digital rights groups

    A coalition of digital rights groups and trade associations last week released a joint letter opposing a proposal in the Senate to require U.S. tech firms to police the speech of their users and to report any signs of apparent “terrorist activity” to law enforcement. The letter says that this sweeping mandate covers an undefined category of activities and communications and would likely lead to significant over-reporting by communication service providers. The letter urged senators to remove the “terrorist activity” reporting requirements from the Intelligence Authorization Act (S. 1705).

  • Iran dealLeading U.S. scientists support Iran deal

    Twenty-nine of leading U.S. scientists – among them Nobel laureates, nuclear weapons designers, and former White House and congressional science advisers – on Saturday sent a letter to President Barack Obama to express their support of the nuclear deal reached between the P5+1 powers and Iran, and to stress that in their professional assessment the deal “technically sound, stringent and innovative.” Most of the twenty-nine who signed the letter have held Q clearances, a top security clearance which grants its holders access to a special category of secret information related to the design of nuclear weapons. The scientists’ letter as describe as “without precedent” the deal’s explicit ban on Iran’s research on nuclear weapons “rather than only their manufacture,” as prescribed in the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

  • Chemical weaponsReversal: UN now calls for identifying perpetrators of chemical attacks in Syria

    The UN Security Council on Friday has unanimously adopted a resolution calling for identifying those using chlorine and other chemical weapons in attacks in Syria. Friday’s resolution is a reversal of Russia’s position, and another indication that Russia is distancing itself from Assad. In 2013, when the Security Council passed the resolution authorizing the removal of chemical weapons from Syria, Russia – which, with Iran, is Assad’s main supporter – conditioned its support for the resolution on adding to it a clause which would explicitly prohibit Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) or the UN from determining who is responsible for chemical attacks in Syria, if such attacks continue. The Friday resolution fills a gap in attributing blame for chemical weapons attacks, allowing for the perpetrators of such attacks to be brought to justice.

  • Chemical weaponsU.K. conducted chemical weapons experiments on “unconsenting participants”

    In 1963 the U.K. Ministry of Defense’s Porton Down military science center carried out the first of a series of tests to release zinc cadmium sulphide in the atmosphere over Norwich. It was one of many examples of secret experiments conducted in the name of military research during the 1950s and 1960s, now chronicled for the first time in a new book. The book provides a comprehensive overview of state military scientific research on chemical and biological weapons by Britain, the United States, and Canada since the First World War. Between 1946 and 1976, “Britain was turned into a large-scale open-air laboratory; her people into an army of unconsenting participants,” the author writes.

  • FirefightingHistoric drought complicates firefighting in California

    The twenty-one wild fires which have erupted in different parts of the state have already cost lives, dozens of homes, and millions of dollars in damages. To fight fires, firefighters need water – and although state water and fire officials say that, so far, there is no danger of running out of water, they are conscious of the state’s water predicament and they are trying to be more careful in the use of water. The persistent drought has forced crews to get creative, using more dirt and retardant on wildfires. Firefighting response to several blazes has been slowed down by the drought, because firefighting helicopters found it impossible to siphon water from lakes and ponds where water levels were lower than in previous years. In the past, property owners whose properties were threatened by fire, would allow firefighting crews to tap water on their property, and would then be compensated by cash reimbursements from the state. Now, many property owners demand instead that the state replenish the water used by firefighters to protect the owners’ property.