Public Safety

  • Mexican drug cartels build "narco tanks"

    In the latest development in Mexico’s bloody drug trade, it seems that rival cartels are building large armored vehicles in their fight against one another; over the weekend, the Mexican Army found two “Mad Max” style “narco tanks” in Ciudad Camargo in the state of Tamaulipas near the Texas border; the two vehicles had inch-thick steel armor and were built on a three-axle truck bed with a heavily armored cabin; the vehicles were capable of withstanding fire from 50 caliber mounted weapons and grenade blasts; so far none of the tanks have been used to confront the Mexican Army and officials believe that they are primarily used in inter-gang warfare

  • Middlesex County, N.J. gets $1 million for mobile tent system

    Local emergency responders in New Jersey recently received a big boost in disaster preparedness from DHS; last week the county unveiled a new 3,000 square foot mobile structure comprised of interlocking tents and trailers; the tents can be quickly set up to treat victims of a radiological accident, terrorist attack, pandemic, or weather emergency; the tent system can also be outfitted with its own water supply, power generator, and heating and cooling systems. They are even equipped with lights, showers, sinks, and a kitchen; for training purposes, the tents were set up at the Middlesex County College campus; the portable structure, called the Gatekeeper system, cost $1 million and was paid for with DHS grant money; county officials also received DHS grants to purchase mobile radiation detection devices for police officers; the tents and the radiation detectors come as part of a broader government effort to prepare local law enforcement agencies within a forty-five mile radius of New York City for a dirty-bomb attack

  • Connecticut addresses children's needs in disasters

    Lawmakers in Connecticut recently passed legislation to help ensure the safety of children during a natural disaster or terrorist attack; on Tuesday, Connecticut’s House of Representatives approved a bill that would require the state to include the well-being of children in its emergency response plans; the bill passed 125 to 1 on Tuesday; under the law, the Commissioner of Emergency Management and Homeland Security is required to file annual reports that address the health needs of children during a biological attack or other incidents; the bill is currently on its way to Governor Dannel P. Malloy who is expected to sign it into law

  • Louisiana parish appoints new emergency preparedness chief

    Ouachita Parish, Louisiana has ended their six-month search for a new director of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness just as hurricane season is about to hit; the parish’s Homeland Security Committee appointed Tracy Hilburn as the agency’s new director; the committee said that it was critical to have a new director in place before 1 June, the official start of the Atlantic Ocean’s hurricane season; as director of the parish’s Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness agency, Hilburn will be responsible for coordinating evacuations for not only Ouachita, which is the largest parish with nearly 150,000 residents, but also the surrounding parishes

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  • WWI, WWII-era dazzle camouflage of benefits in modern warfare

    Warships in both the First and Second World Wars were painted with dazzle camouflage: startling geometric patterns aimed at confusing the enemy rather than concealing the vessel; while dazzle camouflage would probably not have successfully distorted ships’ speeds in the two World Wars, it could play a role in today’s battlefields where fast-moving army vehicles frequently come under attack from shoulder-launched, rocket-propelled grenades

  • Deadly tornado kills four in Massachusetts

    On Wednesday, as many as seven tornadoes tore through Massachusetts resulting in the state’s first twister related deaths in sixteen years; the tornadoes touched down in the western and central part of the state, but hit Springfield, located ninety miles west of Boston, the hardest; more than forty people have been admitted to hospitals after sustaining injuries from the tornado and four people have been confirmed dead so far; emergency responders are currently picking through the wreckage to rescue any survivors trapped in the rubble

  • Police cruiser equipped with streaming video cameras

    To showcase the potential of streaming high-definition cameras, Axis Communications, a Swedish video technology firm, has built a sophisticated prototype police cruiser outfitted with the latest video equipment; the prototype cruiser is equipped with five high-definition video cameras which can allow officers at a command center or even in another police cruiser to monitor events via a live feed over a 4G wireless Internet connection; in the cruiser’s trunk is a network video recorder which functions as both a server to stream video to a cloud network as well as a central repository for the video feeds

  • Analytic software analyzes every word of 911 calls

    Emergency 911 calls contain valuable data, but investigators and call centers have lacked the manpower or resources to manually analyze each call, however speech analysis software has greatly simplified this task; with speech analytics, law enforcement officials and call centers can now automatically pour through thousands of call records to spot developing trends, assist in ongoing investigations, and identify best practices; the software is capable of indexing every word and phrase in a database, so investigators can run comprehensive searches on various 911 calls

  • Raytheon tests decoy drones

    Raytheon reports it has successfully tested two Miniature Air Launched Decoy (MALD); MALDs will be sent into an area covered by an adversary’s air defenses — for example, those parts of Libya under Col. Gaddafi’s control; as the vehicle is noticed, the enemy’s radars light up, thus revealing their location and making it easier to destroy them

  • Floyd County gets additional $75,000 for CBRNE unit

    Floyd County in Georgia has received two DHS grants worth $75,000 to replace and repair equipment for its chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosives (CBRNE) response unit; the bulk of the money, approximately $65,000, will go towards replacing aging equipment, while the rest will go towards repairs; the CBRNE team was originally created four years ago with nearly $350,000 in DHS funding as part of the state’s terrorism prevention initiative

  • Local police in Ohio create joint computer forensics squad

    Last week in Ohio, officials from three law enforcement agencies announced the creation of a joint multijurisdictional technology crimes task force; the new squad will be responsible for a range of crimes including digital identity theft, child pornography, as well as traditional crimes; with the increasing ubiquity of smartphones and laptops, criminals now leave a trail of digital evidence and investigators must be able to properly process this evidence without corrupting the data; officials hope that the new joint task force will allow the departments to share expertise, conduct training, and win state and federal grants

  • Police cruiser equipped with streaming video cameras

    To showcase the potential of streaming high-definition cameras, Axis Communications, a Swedish video technology firm, has built a sophisticated prototype police cruiser outfitted with the latest video equipment; the prototype cruiser is equipped with five high-definition video cameras which can allow officers at a command center or even in another police cruiser to monitor events via a live feed over a 4G wireless Internet connection; in the cruiser’s trunk is a network video recorder which functions as both a server to stream video to a cloud network as well as a central repository for the video feeds

  • Smartphone apps help thousands in latest storms

    In the recent string of natural disasters to hit the Midwest, emergency communication smartphone apps have proven invaluable for contacting family members and first responders; during these natural disasters, telephone lines and cell phone towers are often inundated with traffic, leaving individuals unable to contact their loved ones or even reach 911; thanks to smartphone apps like Life360, individuals have been able to contact family members to let them know they are okay, or alert emergency workers if they are in trouble; during the floods that left Memphis, Tennessee under water, more than 2,400 families used the app to share their locations and confirm their safety

  • Local emergency responders in Michigan could receive new radio system

    Local emergency responders in Michigan could soon be receiving new communication equipment to connect with other nearby agencies; city councils in Grosse Pointes and Harper Woods are currently considering whether to purchase new radios to replace their aging 800 MHz system; a $485,000 DHS grant could help fund the purchase of the new radios which would cost more than $1 million to purchase