Public Safety

  • Detecting criminals coming back to the scene of the crime

    Criminals tempted to return to the scene of the crime may want to resist this impulse; Notre Dame University researchers are developing a tool which will reliably identify criminals who may be hanging out at the crime scene after the event; the Questionable Observer Detector (QuOD) can process any available video clips of groups of people present at the scene of event, spanning different times and locations to pick out any person who appears frequently in them

  • A first: biometrics used to sentence criminal

    A judge ruled that biometric facial recognition could be submitted as evidence marking the first time such evidence has been used in a criminal trial; this move surprised many legal and scientific experts as facial recognition technology does not follow basic legal standards required for evidence; the decision may or not become a legal precedent as it was not made by a California appellate or supreme court

  • Handlers' beliefs affect explosive- and drug-sniffing dog performance

    Drug- and explosives-sniffing dog/handler teams’ performance is affected by human handlers’ beliefs, possibly in response to subtle, unintentional handler cues; a new study found that detection-dog/handler teams erroneously “alerted,” or identified a scent, when there was no scent present more than 200 times — particularly when the handler believed that there was scent present

  • New Jersey's detention center expansion underway

    With the growing number of deportations of illegal aliens from the United States, federal officials expect demand for space to rise within coming years; Newark county officials are awaiting approval by federal authorities to upgrade and expand the Essex County Correctional Facility, significantly increasing its detainee capacity. The county’s proposal would provide a less punitive setting for detainees along with improved medical care, amenities, and federal oversight

  • DHS grant buys gear for Ohio fire department

    A DHS grant will allow the Lancaster, Ohio fire department to upgrade aging equipment and purchase a sophisticated new wireless tracking system; the new system will allow commanders to track firefighters on the scene and can send out distress signals if the firefighter becomes trapped or is impaired; the DHS grant covered $57,000 of the total $62,000; another $300,000 DHS grant will pay for a new fire truck to replace an aging truck that dates back to 1983; Lancaster has suffered from budget shortfalls and was forced to lay off firefighters

  • China's new water cannon is powered by a jet engine

    The Chinese city of Luoyang has paid $456,000 for a jet engine powered water cannon; the cannon, designed for fighting high-rise fires, is capable of spraying four tons of water per minute — fast enough to separate fires from their oxygen supply

  • More than eighty handguns smuggled on passenger flights to U.K.

    An American man successfully smuggled more than eighty handguns aboard passenger flights to the United Kingdom; the man was only apprehended after British investigators tipped off American officials; the suspect transported as many as twenty handguns by breaking them up and placing them in his checked baggage; at one point TSA officials discovered multiple firearms in his bags, confronted him, and allowed him to board the plane with the weapons; U.S. authorities arrested him as he tried to smuggle sixteen handguns on another flight; it is estimated that he took more than a dozen flights in this manner

  • Mexican drug cartels use catapult to launch drug packages across border

    Mexican drug smugglers have tried different methods to smuggle drugs into the United States — double-walled cargo containers, light planes, semi-submersibles, human mules, tunnels, and more; now, there is a new method: U.S. National Guard troops operating a remote video surveillance system at the Naco Border Patrol Station in Arizona observed several people preparing a catapult and launching packages over the International Border fence last Friday evening; Mexican troops dispatched to the scene found a 3-yard tall catapult stationed about twenty yards from the U.S. border on a flatbed towed by a sports utility vehicle; the catapult was capable of launching 4.4 pounds of marijuana at a time

  • U.S. fears cops being targeted as 11 cops shot in 24 hours

    U.S. Authorities are worried a recent wave of police officer shootings may not be a coincidence; in just twenty-four hours, at least eleven cops were shot around the country; “It’s not a fluke,” Richard Roberts, a spokesman for the International Union of Police Associations, said; “There’s a perception among officers in the field that there’s a war on cops going on”; according to National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, an organization that tracks police casualties, there have already been as many officer deaths in January 2011 as there were in January of last year; the organization reported that officer deaths were up 43 percent in 2010 compared to 2009

  • Domestic use of drones make privacy advocates anxious

    The age of Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) UAV is coming; for now, use of these types of drones for high-risk law enforcement purposes is rare, although the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) plans to implement new rules that would allow the routine flying of these drones across the United States by 2013; equipped with high-resolution, infrared and thermal-imaging cameras, these drones could provide police with the accurate monitoring of all types of civilian areas and topographies; privacy advocates worry

  • U.K. changes terrorist surveillance procedures

    U.K. home secretary announces changes in manner in which terrorist suspects may be detained and questioned; modifications are in response to claims of overreaction to 9/11 and the London bus bombings; critics claim changes not enough

  • Enzyme provides protection against nerve gas

    Nerve agents disrupt the chemical messages sent between nerve and muscle cells, causing loss of muscle control, and ultimately leading to death by suffocation; protection against nerve gas attack is a significant component of the defense system of many countries around the world; nerve gases are used by armies and terrorist organizations, and constitute a threat to both the military and civilian populations, but existing drug solutions against them have limited efficiency; a multidisciplinary team of scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, succeeded in developing an enzyme that breaks down nerve agents efficiently before damage to nerves and muscles is caused

  • Ogden, Utah buys its police a blimp

    The mayor of Ogden, Utah, wants to buy a blimp to help the city police fight crime; Mayor Matthew Godfrey says a blimp is “far less expensive to purchase and to operate than the other UAVs that are out there”; Godfrey envisions using a blimp “largely to patrol,” and said that another benefit of the model being developed for Ogden is that its route can be pre-programmed; he also highlights the blimp’s “deterrent factor”

  • Mexico Federal Police Take Delivery of UH-60M BLACK HAWK Helicopters

    The United States has delivered three UH-60M BLACK HAWK helicopters to the government of Mexico’s Federal Police; the aircraft are the first of six advanced helicopters designed to support Mexico’s law enforcement operations as part of the Merida Initiative, a security cooperation agreement between the two countries