Public Safety

  • Wastewater employee charged with terrorism after idling plant

    A 43-year old waste water facility employee was the sole employee during the night shift at the massive Greenfield Water Reclamation Plant in Gilbert, Arizona; last Friday night, armed with a hand gun, the employee walked through the facility alone, methodically turning off major operating systems at the plant; left untreated, the sewage in the system would cause a buildup of methane gas, which could cause a huge explosion; after a 2-hour stand-off, the police arrested the man, allowing other employees to turn on the treatment systems; the employee is being held on a $250,000 bond, charged with terrorism

  • Austin police officers equipped with wearable cameras

    For years, law enforcement has relied on dash cams to record what happens when officers step out of their vehicles; now, that technology is being upgraded to the next level in the form of body cams police officers can wear

  • Portable military barriers help Canadian city in flood fight

    Canada is using a new technology to prevent flood damage in Manitoba; the one-meter-square wire cages can be unfolded and quickly filled with dirt or mud; they can also be linked for a long row that can be set up far quicker than it takes to sling sandbags; the barriers have been used by the U.S. military to protect embassies from terrorist attacks, and have also been used for flood protection in the United States

  • Wisconsin to consider gun-tracking bill

    Lawmakers in Wisconsin are circulating a bill that would revive efforts to require that all semi-automatic handguns sold in the state contain “micro-stamping” technology that allows police to link spent shell casings to gun buyers; similar legislation introduced in 2009 was heavily opposed by gun interests and never brought to a vote

  • New device uses sniffer bees to detect explosives

    The unassuming honeybees have a hidden talent — an even keener sense of smell than anyone first expected — which could make them one of the U.K.’s most ruthless and worst-feared weapons against terrorism; researchers developed a portable handheld sensor that holds thirty-six trained bees gently restrained in six cassettes inside the device; each is taught to recognize a particular odor and associate that smell with a food reward; the researchers have already trained their honeybees to detect a wide variety of explosive compounds and mixtures, including Semtex, C4, PE4, TNT, DMNB, gunpowder, and hydrogen peroxide

  • Ultra-sensitive sensor technology detects explosives, cancer

    Princeton researchers have invented an extremely sensitive sensor that opens up new ways to detect a wide range of substances, from tell-tale signs of cancer to hidden explosives; the sensor, which is the most sensitive of its kind to date, relies on a completely new architecture and fabrication technique developed by the Princeton researchers; the device boosts faint signals generated by the scattering of laser light from a material placed on it, allowing the identification of various substances based on the color of light they reflect; the sample could be as small as a single molecule

  • OSU chemist developing solution to nerve agent exposure

    Scientists are working to develop a new drug that will regenerate a critical enzyme in the human body that “ages” after a person is exposed to deadly chemical warfare agents; the drug will counter the effects of Tabun, VX, VR, Sarin, Soman, Cyclosarin, and Paraoxon, all of which take on a similar molecular structure upon aging

  • DHS grant buys upgrades for MS police department's bomb squad

    The local police department of Tupelo, Mississippi is spending $50,000 to bolster its bomb squad’s capabilities thanks to a grant from DHS; the grant was awarded to Tupelo’s Explosive Ordinance Disposal Team and will be used to buy new equipment as well as a bomb disposal robot; So far Tupelo’s bomb squad has responded to three calls regarding suspicious packages, which all turned out to be false alarms; Tupelo’s bomb squad will also benefit other local police departments in the area and police chiefs are grateful

  • Scientific explanation overturned -- good news for nuclear fusion

    A team of Duke University researchers has discovered, much to its surprise, that a long-accepted explanation of how nuclei collide to produce charged particles for electricity — a process receiving intense interest lately from scientists, entrepreneurs, and policy makers in the wake of Japan’s nuclear crisis — is flat out wrong; the discovery of the error makes nuclear reactors based on fusion more realistic

  • Oklahoma police to get wearable cameras

    Police officers in Owasso, Oklahoma may soon all be wearing video cameras on their bodies; patrol cars already house cameras in their dash board to record a police officer’s actions, but the Owasso Police Department wants each of its thirty-nine agents to wear a camera at all times; the cameras are designed to increase transparency, accountability, and help stop “the constant litigation that police face on a basis, complaints, and false accusations” by providing undisputable video evidence of what occurred; the cameras will cost $900 per unit

  • High School students build Florida police a robot

    In Rockledge, Florida, the local police department just purchased a new remote controlled robot that is equipped with a video camera, night vision, a gas canister launcher; rather than spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase the robot from a defense company, the Rockledge police department turned to local high school students; the robot can handle any terrain, launch grenades, and is strong enough to drag a person; it is also outfitted with a speaker and a microphone to enable two way communications in addition to a police throw phone that can be deployed during hostage negotiations; the robot cost $6,000 whereas similar professionally made robot would have cost more than $100,000

  • Alabama proposes law enforcement technology fund

    The Alabama State Legislature is currently considering a bill that proposes adding a $10 technology fee to court costs in Chilton County; the fee is aimed at offset the rising technology costs of local law enforcement agencies; local police departments are struggling to comply with state mandates that require local agencies to electronically file tickets and other reports; the state has not provided funding to help departments pay for the operation and maintenance of computer systems; if the fee had been in place last year, it would have generated approximately $90,000

  • Spray-on explosives detector

    A chemist at Oklahoma State University has developed a spray-on material that detects explosives made from peroxides and renders them harmless; the material is a type of ink that contains nanoparticles of a compound of molybdenum. The ink changes color, from dark blue to pale yellow or clear, in the presence of explosives

  • DHS grant saves St. Louis firefighters' jobs

    Thirty St. Louis, Missouri firefighters caught a break last week after the city received a $3.2 million grant from DHS; the city had planned on cutting their jobs, but the DHS grant will allow the firefighters to stay employed;the money comes as part of the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program which is aimed at helping local fire departments maintain adequate staffing levels; Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administers the grant and plans to allocate $420 million this year to fire departments across the country that have been hit by budget cuts