Public Safety

  • 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

  • Security cameras to be installed at all DC metro stops

    In response to a rash of crimes near Washington, D.C.’s metro stations, local authorities recently announced plans to install security cameras outside all eight-six train stations; the Metro Board’s Safety and Security Committee released a report several weeks ago that found that last year the number of thefts and robberies had hit five-year highs; the Board has purchased 153 color cameras thanks to a $2.8 million DHS grant; with violent crimes around the Metro on the rise, more residents have begun to push for the installation of security cameras

  • Short-range missile tracking satellite demonstrated

    There are two weapons the weak can employ against the strong: the first is terror; the second are rockets and short range missiles; to operate rockets and short range missiles, though, the weaker side must be in control of some territory and must have a state ready to supply it with these more advanced weapon systems; Hezbollah (in May 2000) and Hamas (in June 2007) came into control of territory, and are being supplied by Iran and Syria with missiles and rockets; Israel last Sunday deployed the first batteries of its Iron Dome short-range missile defense; the United States is not lagging far behind

  • Special rural training for NM park rangers

    New Mexico State Park Rangers are currently receiving specialized training from the state’s Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management; the training is designed to prepare first responders to conduct operations in rural terrain. In particular the program will address the needs of officers working along the state’s southern border with Mexico and in rural areas

  • $200,000 grant for upstate N.Y. fire department

    Last week the city of Tonawanda in western New York received nearly $200,000 from DHS to purchase new firefighting equipment; the money will be used to purchase harnesses, ropes, victim removal devices, enhanced air supply equipment, and a new communications system; funding comes from the DHS Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program; the grant comes at a critical time as the city is struggling with its budget; several local fire departments nearby also received grants last month including those in Rochester, Youngstown, and Ridge-Culver

  • Curry spice could be used to detect explosives

    The main chemical in the curry spice turmeric could be the basis for cheap explosives detectors, say researchers; the curcumin molecule is already well-known in medicine for its anti-cancer and anti-oxidant properties. Now, research presented at the American Physical Society meeting suggests it could replace more complex solutions to spot explosives like TNT

  • Robot swarm to aid rescue teams

    A new system of autonomous flying robots being developed at the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) could establish wireless communication networks to aid rescue teams in the event of a disaster

  • Senators target apps that help drunk drivers avoid police

    Four U.S. senators recently urged Apple, Google, and RIM to remove all apps from their online application stores that could assist drunk drivers or other criminals evade law enforcement officials; in response to the senator’s letter, RIM, announced that it would stop selling apps that help drunk drivers or criminals avoid police detection; the PhantomALERT app taps into a phone’s GPS device and alerts the driver of any active law enforcement zone including checkpoints, speed cameras, and speed traps; since the senator’s letter sales have increased nearly 3,000 percent and downloads were up by 5,000 percent; another similar app has eleven million users

  • Three dolphins found dead after U.S. Navy training exercise

    Three dolphins died this month during a U.S. Navy training exercise using underwater explosives near the San Diego County coast; environmentalists have argued that the Navy’s sonar exercises can deafen and even kill whales and other marine life; the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the military in 2008