• FBI: The number of unhackable devices lower than that reported to Congress

    The FBI has been telling lawmakers that it was facing a serious problem in accessing the encrypted devices seized from criminals and terrorists. For months, the Bureau has claimed that encryption prevented the bureau from legally searching the contents of nearly 7,800 devices in 2017, but on Monday the Washington Post reported that the actual number is far lower due to “programming errors” by the FBI.

  • Using proteins from bones to identify people

    When a team of researchers led by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) developed a new biological identification method that exploits information encoded in proteins, they thought it could have multiple applications. Nearly two years later, they’ve turned out to be right. One possible important application for using protein markers from human bones could be to help determine the identity of partial remains from catastrophic events, such as plane crashes, fires or the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

  • Improving fingerprinting technology

    Fingerprint capture technology has advanced to the point where high-quality rolled prints soon might be obtained without the manual assistance of a trained device operator. These advancements could help law enforcement collect information-rich prints more rapidly and economically.

  • Using sweat to distinguish individuals at crime scene

    An average square inch of skin contains 650 sweat glands. That means our bodies leave small amounts of sweat on everything we touch—whether we’re making a phone call, eating supper or committing a crime. Researchers believe investigators can use these tiny, often invisible skin secretions to their advantage.

  • Improving K-9 training

    Additive manufacturing (AM) has gone to the dogs, thanks to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s (LLNL’s) new approach to K-9 training materials. The process prints 3D objects that contain trace amounts of nonreactive explosives, resulting in several advantages for K-9s and their handlers.

  • Trust worthiness of forensic handwriting in court questioned

    Forensic handwriting specialists are often called on to testify in court about the origins of a few lines of writing, or to determine whether a specific person has written a sentence. A new study indicates that experts are not 100 percent adept at assessing how often specific handwriting features occur in the general population.

  • Spike in London murders can’t be reversed by New York-style police crackdown alone

    A spike in murders in London that saw more people killed in the city in February and March than in New York, has provided newspapers with some sensational headlines. Of the more than 50 murders to have taken place in London so far in 2018, the vast majority are the result of knife crime. While comparisons between murders in New York and London make for a good story, simplistic headlines based on one-dimensional readings of statistics can be seriously misleading.

  • Scientists call for more science in forensic science

    With forensic science facing mounting scrutiny as it plays an increasingly prominent role in the administration of justice, scientists are calling on the scientific community at large to advocate for increased research and financial support of forensic science as well as the introduction of empirical testing requirements to ensure the validity of outcomes.

  • Why bodycam footage might not clear things up

    We are psychology scholars whose research focuses on the legal implications of memory errors. Our research, and that of other psychologists and legal scholars, suggests that bodycams may not be the definitive solution to conflicts over police behavior. Since bodycam footage is unlikely to be the only solution to improve fraught police–community relations, the justice system is going to have to wrestle further with how to handle these problems.

  • Use of face recognition systems threatens civil liberties: EFF report

    Face recognition—fast becoming law enforcement’s surveillance tool of choice—is being implemented with little oversight or privacy protections, leading to faulty systems that will disproportionately impact people of color and may implicate innocent people for crimes they didn’t commit, says an Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) report. Independent oversight, privacy protections are needed.

  • AI profiling: the social and moral hazards of “predictive” policing

    While the use of AI predictions in police and law enforcement is still in its early stages, it is vital to scrutinize any warning signs that may come from its use. One standout example is a 2016 ProPublica investigation which found that COMPAS software was biased against black offenders. Society needs to maintain a critical perspective on the use of AI on moral and ethical grounds. Not least because the details of the algorithms, data sources and the inherent assumptions on which they make calculations are often closely guarded secrets. Those secrets are in the hands of the specialist IT companies that develop them who want to maintain confidentiality for commercial reasons. The social, political and criminal justice inequalities likely to arise should make us question the potential of predictive policing.

  • Using artificial intelligence to predict criminal aircraft

    The ability to forecast criminal activity has been explored to various lengths in science fiction, but does it hold true in reality? It could for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). ) DHS S&T is developing a Predictive Threat Model (PTM) to help CBP’s Air and Marine Operations Center (AMOC) more quickly and efficiently identify and stop nefarious aircraft.

  • Putting statistics into forensic firearms identification

    When a gun is fired, and the bullet blasts down the barrel, it encounters ridges and grooves that cause it to spin, increasing the accuracy of the shot. Those ridges dig into the soft metal of the bullet, leaving striations. At the same time that the bullet explodes forward, the cartridge case explodes backward with equal force against the mechanism that absorbs the recoil, called the breech face. This stamps an impression of the breech face into the soft metal at the base of the cartridge case, which is then ejected from the gun. Researchers have developed a statistical approach for ballistic comparisons that may enable numerical testimony – similar to a DNA expert expressing the strength of the evidence numerically when testifying about genetic evidence.

  • Improving military communications with digital phased-arrays at millimeter wave

    There is increasing interest in making broader use of the millimeter wave frequency band for communications on small mobile platforms where narrow antenna beams from small radiating apertures provide enhanced communication security. Today’s millimeter wave systems, however, are not user friendly and are designed to be platform specific, lacking interoperability and are thus reserved for only the most complex platforms. New program aims to create multi-beam, digital phased-array technology, operating at 18-50 GHz to enhance secure communications between military platforms.

  • A custom-fit app for community policing

    Apps allowing citizens to report crimes or incidents are now commonplace, but they generally fail to adapt local contexts, cultures and sensibilities. SecureU, a new app that addresses this shortcoming, is currently being tested in five European cities.