Category Archives: POLICE EQUIPMENT

TAC suspends police funding after it was revealed that officers faked 258,000 breath tests

iT IS NOT CLEAR IF THE DELIBERATE FALSE READINGS WERE TO SAVE THE MOTORISTS OR GET EXTRA CONVICTIONS FOR THE STATE TO RAISE REVENUE.FORMER IS TRUE,THEN OK. IT WOULD SEEM THAT MORE TESTS WERE DONE BY OFFICERS ON THEMSELVES TO MEET QUOTAS FOR NUMBERS TESTED

The Transport Accident Commission has suspended its funding to Victoria Police following revelations officers falsified more than a quarter of a million roadside breath tests.

The Age revealed that more than 258,000 alcohol breath tests were faked over 5½ years, in what appears to be a rather deliberate ruse to dupe the system.

In the wake of the scandal, $4 million in annual funding the TAC gives to police for road safety measures has been put on hold, the head of Victoria Police’s Professional Standards Command, Assistant Commissioner Russell Barrett, confirmed.

“The TAC have suspended funding of our operations at this point, and we’re currently working through that with them to give them some reassurances,” Mr Barrett said.

Meanwhile, an external investigator has been appointed to probe the breath-testing scandal. Former Victoria Police chief commissioner Neil Comrie will look into how the behaviour was condoned & allowed to occur and what the force could do to improve operational practice in the future.

“I had not heard of our members engaging in such practiceSs. We let ourselves down, we’ve let the community down. It stops now,” Mr Barrett told The Age on Wednesday night.

An audit found that in many situations, officers had blown into breath test units themselves or actually tampered with the test devices.

“Victoria Police doesn’t set quotas at local levels broadly,” Mr Barrett said on Thursday. “If local members, local managers set a target for members, then that’s a matter for local areas.”

The police findings represent about 1.5 per cent of the 17.7 million breath tests conducted.

Police said about 1500 preliminary breath test devices were analysed during the internal investigation.

Police Association secretary Wayne Gatt said the faked tests were the result of “critically under-resourced”, over-worked officers trying to meet unrealistic targets.

“Call them whatever you want, targets, quotas, objectives. It’s no lie, every individual van across the state gets told that they have to target PBTs … it is wrong to say it doesn’t happen. It does happen. It happens every shift,” he told radio station 3AW.

“They’ve had a dramatic increase in the amount of tests required out on the street. Asking the same amount of people to do more, if follows this sort of behaviour is likely to occur.”

He said he did not believe the members who faked the tests should be stood down.

“I dont think it’s criminal. It’s not fraud… no one is paid for the amount of tests they do. None of our members have a direct financial or other benefits from any of this.

“It’s the wrong thing to do, but it’s a far cry from criminality.”

Victoria Police Minister Lisa Neville labelled the actions an “unacceptable breach of trust.”

“This conduct is extremely disappointing and unacceptable — it’s wrong, it’s a breach of trust, and it won’t be tolerated,” Ms Neville said.

While Ms Neville welcomed an independent investigation into the officers’ behaviour, she said there was no evidence to suggest their alleged conduct had affected drink-driving prosecutions.

But opposition police spokesman Edward O’Donohue said the breach raised plenty of questions.

“The integrity, not only of our police but our road safety regime, is paramount and it is up to Daniel Andrews to make sure this is thoroughly investigated,” Mr O’Donohue said.

The Transport Accident Commission raised concerns with Victoria Police after they found an anomaly in data late last year, Mr Barrett said.

It sparked the audit of the past 5½ years of data from the breathalyser devices.

Mr Barrett said the audit found a suspicious number of breath tests were being conducted in quick succession

Usually there should be a space of time between each test, to take into account an officer talking to a driver and breathalysing them, before moving on to the next car, he said.

But the faked tests occurred one after the other.

Mr Barrett said he believed officers were faking the tests to make themselves appear busier.

“The question we all asked was, ‘Why?’ There could be a number of reasons but the main rationale I believe is to hide or highlight productivity,” he said.

“Whatever reason our workforce may come up with, it isn’t acceptable.”

It is believed self-testing was largely undertaken by police on general duties or highway patrol members, with some rural areas overrepresented in the available data.

The practice was not common at supervised drug and alcohol bus testing sites, police stated.

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Researchers state a breathalyzer has flaws, casting doubt on countless DUI convictions

The source code behind a police breathalyzer widely used in multiple states — and millions of drunk driving arrests — is under the spotlight.

It’s a recent case of technology and the real world colliding — one that revolves around source code, calibration of equipment, two researchers and legal maneuvering, state law enforcement agencies, and Draeger, the breathalyzer’s manufacturer.

This most recent skirmish began a decade ago when Washington state police sought to replace its aging fleet of breathalyzers. When the Washington police opened solicitations, the only bidder, Draeger, a German medical technology maker, won the contract to sell its flagship device, the Alcotest 9510, across Washington state.

But defense attorneys have long believed the breathalyzer is faulty.

Jason Lantz, a Washington-based defense lawyer, enlisted a software engineer and a security researcher to examine its source code. The two experts outlined in a preliminary report that they found flaws capable of producing incorrect breath test results. The defense hailed the results as a breakthrough, believing the findings could cast doubt on countless drunk-driving prosecutions.

The two distributed their early findings to attendees at a conference for defense lawyers, which Draeger said was in violation of a court-signed protective order the experts had agreed to, and the company threatened to sue.

Their research was left unfinished, and a final report was never finished.

Draeger said in a statement the company was protecting its source code and intellectual property, not muzzling research.

“Pursuant to a protective order, Draeger provided the source code to both of the defense experts in Snohomish County,” said Marion Varec, a spokesperson for Draeger. “That source code is highly proprietary and it was important to Draeger that the protective order limit its use to the purposes of the litigation at issue.” Draeger says it believes that one of the experts entrusted to examine the source code was using it in violation of the protective order, so Draeger sent the expert a cease and desist letter. Draeger says it “worked with the expert to resolve the issue.”

Of the law firms we spoke to that were at the conference and received the report, none knew of Draeger’s threat to launch legal action. A person with a copy of the report allowed ZDNet to read it.

The breathalyzer has become a staple piece of equipment in law enforcement, with more than a million Americans arrested each year for driving under the influence of alcohol — an offense known as a DUI. Drunk driving has its own economy: A multi-billion dollar business for lawyers, state governments, and the breathalyzer manufacturers — all of which have a commercial stake at work.

Yet, the case in Washington is only the latest in several legal battles where the breathalyzer has faced scrutiny about the technology used to secure convictions.

TRIAL BY MACHINE

When one Washington state driver accused of drunk-driving in 2015 disputed the reading, his defense counsel petitioned the court to obtain the device’s source code from Draeger.

Lantz, who was leading the legal effort to review the Alcotest 9510 in the state, hired two software engineers, Falcon Momot, a security consultant, and Robert Walker, a software engineer and decade-long Microsoft veteran, who were tasked with examining the code. The code was obtained under a court-signed protective order, putting strict controls on Momot and Walker to protect the source code, though the order permitted the researchers to report their findings, with some limitations. Although the researchers were not given a device, the researchers were given a binary file containing the state’s configuration set by Washington State Patrol.

Although their findings had yet to be verified against one of the breathalyzers, their preliminary report outlined several issues in the code that they said could impact the outcome of an alcohol breath test.

In order to produce a result, the Alcotest 9510 uses two sensors to measure alcohol content in a breath sample: An infrared beam that measures how much light goes through the breath, and a fuel cell that measures the electrical current of the sample. The results should be about the same and within a small margin of error — usually within a thousandth of a decimal point. If the results are too far apart, the test will be rejected.

But the report said that under some conditions the breathalyzer can return an inflated reading — a result that could also push a person over the legal limit

One attorney, who read the report, said they believed the report showed the breathalyzer “tipped the scales” in favor of prosecutors, and against drivers.

One section in the report raised issue with a lack of adjustment of a person’s breath temperature.

Breath temperature can fluctuate throughout the day in an individual, but, according to the report, can also wildly change the results of an alcohol breath test. Without correction, a single digit over a normal breath temperature of 34 degrees centigrade can inflate the results by six percent — enough to push a person over the limit.

The quadratic formula set by the Washington State Patrol should correct the breath temperature to prevent false results. The quadratic formula corrects warmer breath downward, said the report, but the code doesn’t explain how the corrections are made. The corrections “may be insufficient” if the formula is faulty, the report added.

Issues with the code notwithstanding, Washington elected not to install a component to measure breath temperature, according to testimony in a 2015 hearing, and later confirmed by Draeger.

Kyle Moore, a spokesperson for Washington State Patrol said the police department “tested and approved the instrument that best fit our business needs,” and believes the device can produce accurate results without the need for the breath temperature sensor.

The code is also meant to check to ensure the device is operating within a certain temperature range set by Draeger, because the device can produce incorrect results if it’s too hot or too cold.

But the report said a check meant to measure the ambient temperature was disabled in the state configuration.

“The unit could record a result even when outside of its operational requirements,” said the report. If the breathalyzer was too warm, the printed-out results would give no indication the test may be invalid, the report said.

Draeger disputed this finding. A spokesperson said the Washington devices check their temperature, the check is enabled, and that the devices will not produce a reading while the device is outside its operational temperature range.

When asked, a Washington State Patrol spokesperson would not say if the breathalyzer was configured to allow breath tests outside its operational temperature range, saying only that the device “has been tested and validated in various ambient temperatures.”

The report also scrutinized the other sensor — the fuel cell — used to measure a person’s alcohol levels. Any fuel cell will degrade over time — more so when the breathalyzer is used often. This decay can alter the accuracy of test results. The code is meant to adjust the results to balance out the fuel cell’s decline, but the report said the correction is flawed. Breathalyzers should be re-calibrated at least every year, but the state’s configuration limits those adjustments only to the first six months, the report added.

“We also note that the calibration age does not account for the use frequency of conditions; a unit that has been used hundreds of times in a day would have the same correction as one used only once or twice in a number of months,” the report said.

Concluding the nine-page report, the researchers say they are “skeptical” that the Alcotest 9510 can & does produce a reliable measurement of breath alcohol.

“Although the apparatus states its output in very absolute terms, we recommend interpreting the results with extreme caution,” the report said.

LEGAL BATTLES

Although Momot and Walker’s code review was limited to devices in Washington, similar concerns roped in other states into protracted legal battles, forcing prosecutors to defend not only the breathalyzer but also how it’s configured.

But the line between Draeger’s source code and each state’s configuration is blurry, making it difficult to know who is responsible for incorrect results.

Draeger said in an email that the “calibration and adjustment procedures depend on the instrument, additional equipment and materials, and the persons performing these procedures.” When asked about the guardrails put in place to prevent calibration errors, the company said, “only trained and certified personnel perform these special instrument certification procedures.”

A Draeger Alcotest 9510 device, with a reading in Dutch.

Washington State Patrol said the device produces accurate results, even without certain sensors fitted.

Draeger’s breathalyzer is widely used across the US, including in California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York. It’s often the only breathalyzer used in the states where they were bought.

In both New Jersey and Massachusetts, defense lawyers raised concerns. By acquiring the devices used by the states, lawyers commissioned engineers to analyze the code who say they found flaws that they say could surely produce incorrect results.

But defense teams in both states largely failed to stop their state governments from using the devices, public records reveal.

New Jersey’s top court found in 2008 that a similar Alcotest breathalyzer — said to use the same underlying algorithms as the Alcotest 9510 — was “generally scientifically reliable” and can be used with a few configuration changes. One such change was to adjust the breathalyzer’s results for women over age 60 — who often aren’t able to produce the minimum breath volume of 1.5 liters required for a test. But defense lawyers argued that these changes were never put into place.

The same court ruled five years later that the breathalyzer “remains scientifically reliable, and generates results that are admissible” in court.

In nearby Massachusetts, a scandal that blew up in 2017 involving alleged failings in the breathalyzer threw thousands of prosecutions into disarray, because “all but two of the 392 machines” examined in the state had not been properly calibrated.

A district judge ruled that breath test results from miscalibrated devices for two years prior to September 2014 were “presumptively unreliable,” said Joe Bernard, a defense attorney who led the case against the Alcotest 9510 in Massachusetts.

Bernard, and his colleague Tom Workman, a computer forensic expert who later trained as a lawyer and consulted on the case, obtained the state’s source code and produced a report.

In a phone call, Workman criticized the Draeger breathalyzer, arguing that it can produce widely inflated outcomes. One section of his report claimed the device had a litany of programming errors, including code that — like in Washington — apparently fails to correct for fuel cell fatigue.

But the court rejected the findings and found the source code still produced sound scientific results.

“THROW CAUTION TO THE WIND”

While legal battles were continuing, Washington waited to push ahead with its deployment, but the ruling in New Jersey case in 2008 was seen as a vote of confidence.

Almost a year later, Washington State Patrol’s toxicologist said in an email seen by ZDNet that the police department should “throw caution to the wind” to deploy the device to police officers across the state without commissioning an independent source code evaluation — though she recommended confirming with the chief of police.

When asked whether an independent evaluation was ever commissioned, a Washington State Patrol spokesperson would not comment further and referred back to the legal filings in the case.

A later email in 2015 confirmed that the Washington State Patrol “never commissioned” an independent assessment.

Moses Garcia, a former Washington state prosecutor who now works for a non-profit providing local governments in the state with legal advice, said in an email that the earlier breathalyzer in the New Jersey case had already been deemed admissible, and that the newer Alcotest 9510 uses the “same basic algorithms and formulas” as its predecessor.

The former prosecutor criticized the defense’s discovery effort as “speculation.”

“In adopting and approving the [Alcotest 9510], the Washington breath alcohol program exceeds, by far, the scientific standards accepted in the scientific community for breath test instrument validation,” he said.

Five years after the contract was signed, Washington State Patrol began deploying hundreds of Draeger breathalyzers in 2014 — sparking interest from defense attorneys in the state.

Not long after, defense attorneys in the state sought access to the devices.

Lantz was granted access to the source code used for Momot and Walker’s code review by a local county court. In one of several recent phone calls with ZDNet, he recounted how he set out to see if there were problems with the state’s device.

“We thought we would find something but nothing like this,” he said.

SETTLEMENTS AND SETBACKS

Hundreds of DUI lawyers descended on Las Vegas in mid-2017 for their annual gathering.

At the event, the two researchers shared their findings, which claimed the Alcotest 9510 having a “defective design.”

Word spread quickly. Draeger sent the researchers a cease and desist letter claiming defamation and alleging the two violated a protective order, designed to protect the source code from leaking.

Draeger and the researchers settled before a case was filed in court, avoiding any protracted legal battle. A court case disputing the fine print of the order could have taken years to resolve.

Draeger said it “remains prepared to provide the source code for use in other litigation in Washington, so long as a proper protective order is in place.”

Beyond a tweet by Walker pointing to a settlement statement on his site, there was little to indicate there had been any legal action against the pair.

The statement said that the two experts “never intended to violate the protective order” and denied any wrongdoing. But the two sides “agree” the draft report was based on incomplete data and not finished — and that “no one in possession of the report should rely on it for any purpose.”

We reached out to Walker with questions, but he referred only to the settlement statement on his company’s website, and he refused to comment any further.

Draeger would not say why the settlement did not include a retraction on the report’s findings.

“There has not been an evidentiary hearing in Washington. If and when there is one, Draeger will cooperate fully,” a spokesperson said.

But Lantz outlines a different scenario. The defense attorney said he believes there “really was no technical violation of the protective order,” because the report didn’t disclose any source code.

“I do believe that [Draeger] is trying to interpret the protective order to be something that it’s not,” he said. “If we could go back in time, I would’ve asked that the report was not handed out — just because of the optics of it.”

Lantz said the protective order is vague, but contends it was framed to prevent the researchers from using the source code or their findings for commercial gain — effectively preventing Momot and Walker from using their knowledge to build their own competing devices. He believes the order gives Draeger near complete control over the code and anything that the company deems “protected” information.

That’s when Draeger “began developing a strategy on how to block” the researchers’ report, said Lantz, because the company didn’t want the “pervasive exposure of these flaws.”

“I believe that interest of Draeger’s to protect their bottom line overlaps with the state’s interest to keep juries from hearing this information about the problems,” he said.

Draeger maintained that it is protecting its intellectual property. The company said in response that it “takes very seriously the proprietary nature of its source code,” and “protects proprietary information as a sound business practice,” which can include various types of communications or agreements for any particular issue.

Momot and Walker are not any more involved with the case, but Sam Felton, a Washington-based software engineer, is set to conduct another review of the Alcotest 9510 code. When contacted, Felton would not speak in specifics about his findings to date, citing his own protective order, except that he found things in the code that caused him “to have some grave concerns.”

And Lantz, now working at a new law firm, is working on starting discovery proceedings in neighboring King County, home of Seattle, the largest city in the state.

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Hi-tech cameras to snag drivers using their mobiles AUSTRALIA

DISTRACTION is one of the leading causes of fatal road crashes in Australia but new hi-tech detection cameras that catch drivers using their mobile phones without them even knowing could soon change everything.

A New South Wales Police spokesman told news.com.au that officers currently “use a variety of methods to detect drivers using their phones while driving”.

“Line-of-site, by trained officers is the primary method of detection, however, long-ranged cameras have been used with success, and helmet cameras in motorcycle police continue to be used,” the spokesman said.

But that technology could soon be replaced by fixed position cameras that automatically issue an infringement notice without the driver even realising they’ve been sprung.

NSW Police Highway Patrol boss, Assistant Commissioner Mick Corboy, told the Nine News there were “emerging technologies coming out”.

“So the way we are going to defeat this is by video evidence, by photographic evidence and we are looking at everything possible around the world at the moment and we think we’ll get something in place fairly quickly,” Mr Corboy said.

His comments came after NSW Minister for Roads Melinda Pavey put out a call on Tuesday for potential providers to present “practical, technology-based solutions to address the problem” of mobile phone use in cars.

“Developing this technology would be a world-first and is one of the priorities of our Road Safety Plan 2021 that we announced,” Mrs Pavey said.

As part of the Road Safety Plan 2021, the NSW Government outlined its plans to implement legislative changes to allow camera technology to enforce mobile phone use offences.

Mrs Pavey said the Road Transport Legislation Amendment (Road Safety) Bill 2018 was introduced into the NSW Legislative Assembly on March 6, 2018. NSW is the first jurisdiction to introduce such legislation in Australia.

Last year, NSW Police handed out about 42,000 fines to drivers caught on their mobile phones, with the distraction increasingly emerging as a factor in fatal crashes over the past decade.

In February this year, serial texter Jakob Thornton, was allegedly engrossed in his phone when he ploughed into a roadside breath test in southwest Sydney, seriously injuring two officers.

Senior Constable Jonathon Wright had his foot and part of his lower leg amputated and Senior Constable Matthew Foley suffered a broken leg.

Alex McCredie demonstrates how the hi-tech cameras that can detect drivers using mobile phones work. Picture: Mark Stewart.

According to National Road Safety Partnership Program (NRSPP) Manager Jerome Carslake, the most common causes of road fatalities and car accidents occasioning serious harm are fatigue, speed, distraction (including mobile phones), and alcohol or drugs.

During the 12 months ending in February 2018, there were 1249 road deaths across Australia. That was a 0.2 per cent decrease compared to the total for the 12-month period ending February 2017.

In 2016, 1300 lives were lost on roads nationwide, which was an increase of nearly 8 per cent on the previous year (1205).

Mr Corboy said in a statement earlier this month that too many people made “poor decisions” while driving. “Every fatal crash is a tragedy for not only those involved, but for the families they leave behind,” he said.

“The most frustrating part about it is that most crashes are preventable if people slow down and take responsibility on our roads.”

In NSW, motorists caught using a mobile phone while driving can be slapped with a $330 fine and a loss of four demerit points, regardless of whether they’re repeat offenders or not.

The Australian Capital Territory has some of the toughest laws in the country, with a fine of $528 and loss of four demerit points for a driver caught texting or using social media behind the wheel.

Like the ACT, Western Australia also has a separate specific offence for motorists caught texting while driving. “WA Police Force is constantly looking for new ways to target offences frequently linked to serious and fatal crashes on our roads, including inattention through mobile phone use,” a WA Police spokesman told news.com.au.

“The penalty for using a mobile phone while driving is $400 and three demerit points.”

This driver was booked by Acting Sargeant Paul Stanford for using a mobile phone while driving in Brisbane City and copped a $378 fine. Picture: Jamie Hanson.

In Queensland, motorists can be fined $378 and have three demerit points recorded against their traffic history if they are caught holding a mobile phone for any reason while driving – that includes when they’re stopped at traffic lights or in congested traffic.

Learner and P1 drivers are prohibited from using hands free, wireless headsets or a mobile phone’s loudspeaker function. “At this time the QPS does not have technology to detect drivers using mobile phones,” a QLD Police spokesman told news.com.au.

Double demerit points apply for second or subsequent mobile phone offences committed within one year after an earlier offence.

A hi-tech camera which can detect people using their mobile phones while driving was trialled in Melbourne last year. Picture: Mark Stewart.

A red-light style camera capable of photographing drivers illegally using their mobile phones was trialled in Melbourne, Victoria last year. The technology – touted as a world first – detected 272 culprits during a five-hour test across just one lane of the Eastern Freeway, the Herald Sun reported.

The trial revealed that 7.1 per cent of the drivers observed infringed phone use laws. And 65.8 per cent of those offences related to motorists actively using their phone by holding it or touching it in a cradle. Authorities said in December last year that they were always looking at ways to improve road safety but had no current plans to introduce the technology.

This driver was booked for using his mobile phone whilst driving in Brisbane. Picture: Jamie Hanson.

A South Australia Police spokesman told news.com.au the state “doesn’t yet have any technologies to assist in the detection of driving while using mobile phones”.

As of November 11, 2017, the fine for using a mobile phone while driving was $327 plus a $60 government levy – totalling $387 coupled with three demerit points. Drivers are permitted to touch their phones only if they are making or receiving a call on a device mounted to the vehicle.

“To avoid doubt, nothing … authorises a person to use a mobile phone by pressing a key on the device, or by otherwise manipulating the body or screen of the phone, if the phone is not secured in a mounting affixed to the vehicle,” the legislation reads.

The SA Police spokesman said it was “lawful to pull over to the side of the road to a place where it is legal to stop and make or receive a telephone call”.

“There is no requirement to turn off the engine,” he said. “Although the rule that relates to mobile telephones does not say that the vehicle must be in an area where it is legal to park, other Australian Road Rules come into play.

“To put that into perspective, it is not legal to park at a set of traffic lights, therefore it is unlawful to use a hand held phone while stationary at those lights.”

Acting Sargeant Paul Stanford speaks to a motorist in Brisbane City.

Henry Sapiecha

West Australian police officers suffer setback in Fremantle Taser damages appeal

Three WA policemen who Tasered a couple during an arrest and were ordered to pay damages have had an appeal setback, with their union not paying security on a crucial court costs bill.

Robert Cunningham and Catherine Atoms were outside the Esplanade Hotel in the early hours of November 2, 2008 when they saw a group of men falling into a garden bed and tried to help.

But police believed they were causing a disturbance and the couple were Tasered during a scuffle.

The University of WA associate professor of law and Ms Atoms sued the state and the three officers involved, Peter Clark, Simon Traynor and Glenn Caldwell, and were awarded $1.1 million in damages.

The 2015 trial judge found the officers were liable for battery, misfeasance in public office, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution.

She also found the conduct caused the couple to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder and a back injury to Ms Atoms.

The officers challenged, arguing on 24 grounds, but were ordered by Justice Robert Mitchell last month to pay $90,000 security on a court costs bill – already estimated to have reached at least $900,000 – by August 23 or the appeal would be dismissed.

On Wednesday, the full bench of the Court of Appeal dismissed an application to review Justice Mitchell’s order.

The court heard the union decided not to provide the security payment, and the judges said “the appeal is arguable, but we … would not put it any higher than that”.

But the officers have applied for a 48-hour extension to make the payment and will find out later on Wednesday if it has been allowed.

In his recent provisional assessment of the appeal, Justice Mitchell said the arguments advanced in support of grounds one to 19 were “far from strong”.

He also noted the officers’ liability for damages and trial costs already exceeded their assets.

Traynor’s wages have been suspended as he is on continued sick leave while Caldwell is unemployed and receives a disability pension but Clark continues to work in the police force.

AAP

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Henry Sapiecha

Phone Surveillance by the FBI & Police is in place already

sweeping-under-the-carpet image www.crimefiles.net

Your local police may use a controversial piece of technology—ominously dubbed a stingray—to track your phone. But, the FBI is taking pains to make sure you never find out. The agency encourages police to find additional evidence so that stingray technology never comes up in court, according to a new memo.

It’s no secret that law enforcement agencies scattered around the country use such devices—known as IMSCI catchers, or colloquially “stingrays”—which mimic cellphone towers and collect data, like phone numbers and location, from everyone in their vicinity. But that’s not because the FBI isn’t trying to hide that fact. The agency is so keen on keeping the devices from the public that it asks local police departments to sign nondisclosure agreements about their stingrays—leading to some cops trying withdrawing cases that rely on stingrays for evidence.>>>>>…MORE HERE >>>>www.intelagencies.com

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Henry Sapiecha

New fingerprinting tech is more than skin-deep

prototype FF-OCT fingerprint scanner image www.policesearch.net

Most fingerprint scanners work the same way – the pad of the finger is pressed against the scanner’s glass surface, light is shone through the glass onto it, and the light that’s reflected back by the minuscule valleys between the print’s ridges is used to create an image of the print. It’s a system that’s usually effective, although it can fail to read prints that have been flattened by age or damaged, plus it can be fooled by gelatine casts of fingerprints. That’s why scientists from the Paris-based Langevin Institute have developed a more reliable scanner, that looks below the skin’s surface.

Created by postdoctoral researcher Egidijus Auksorius and Prof. Claude Boccara, the scanner utilizes a technique known as optical coherence tomography (OCT). This is already used in medical imaging, and involves analyzing the interference pattern that occurs when two beams of light are combined – one of those beams serves as a reference, while the other is shone through a biological sample.

In this way, the scanner can image the “internal fingerprint” located about half a millimeter below the surface of the skin, which has a pattern identical to that on the outside – except it’s unscathed.

Images acquired using the new technology, which also images sweat ducts image www.policesearch.net

Images acquired using the new technology, which also images sweat ducts

While existing OCT machines are relatively big and expensive, the scientists are using a more compact version of the technology called full-field OCT (FF-OCT). As a result, their scanner is currently about the size of a shoebox, although they’re working on making it smaller, faster-operating and able to scan deeper. Its most expensive component is a US$40,000 specialized infrared camera, although they’ve recently had success using a camera worth about one-fifth as much.

Ultimately, they hope to produce a finished product that could be made for just under $10,000. This means that it won’t likely be finding its way into consumer products anytime soon, but would instead be utilized in settings where security is particularly important. That said, scientists at the University of California, Davis and Berkeley are working on an ultrasound-based 3D fingerprint reader that could replace capacitive scanners on mobile devices.

Plans call for the Langevin device to be field-tested on 100 individuals, in Turkey. A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Biomedical Optics Express.

Source: The Optical Society

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Henry Sapiecha

Australian NSW Police to wear guns in court

Police will be permitted to carry guns in court.image www.policesearch.net

Police will be permitted to carry guns in court. Photo: Joe Armao

Police will be allowed to take their guns into courthouses under changes announced by the state government on Tuesday.

Officers were previously prohibited from wearing or carrying their firearms into court buildings under a directive from NSW’s Chief Magistrate.

But under the current terror threat, officers will be able to arm themselves with their full appointment at all times.

Deputy Premier and police minister Troy Grant said the change in protocol will come into effect next Monday, August 10.

“The change recognises Australia’s heightened terrorism alert and the risk posed to the police, judicial officers and the community,” Mr Grant said.

“This is a common-sense approach at a time our nation faces a high terror alert and when we’ve seen police overseas become terror targets themselves,” Mr Grant said.

The Police Association of NSW has been fighting for the changes for their members to be able to wear and carry their firearms in court since September last year.

In May this year, the association’s president, Scott Weber, argued many members were concerned for their safety following a number of terror-related threats and incidents in Sydney and Melbourne.

“We have seen terrorism related offences in Sydney, current heightened security warnings and subsequent direction for police to carry their appointments due to escalating threats,” Mr Weber said.

“Recent events in Victoria involving a direct threat against police officers have meant the risk for police is at the highest levels and all reasonable steps must be taken to alleviate risk.”

He said judges, magistrates and court officials could not always control what happened in the “pressure cooker” environment of court houses.

“Some members of the judiciary must be stuck in the past,” he said. “Tradition does not dictate no weapons in the Local Court.  It is an archaic system from higher courts and times have changed.  When these traditions developed, there were no credit card knives, no ceramic edged weapons, no 3D printed edged weapons or firearms.”

The protocol was signed by the NSW Sheriff and NSW Police Commissioner and was developed in consultation with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Chief Judge of the District Court and the Chief Magistrate of the Local Court.

OOO

Henry Sapiecha

POLICE LOOK AT GETTING THEIR OWN PERSONAL BODY CAMERAS BECAUSE OFFICIAL SYSTEM TOO SLOW TO STORE VIDEO FOOTAGE

Web giants looked to for Queensland police crime footage storage solution

The Next Generation of Cops Will Always Be Recording

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In 2010 the Oakland, CA, Police Department became the first large police force in the country to wear body cameras that record everything the officers see, say, and do. Chief Sean Whent describes the transition:<br />
"There was some skepticism at first, but the officers have been won over. They really see the value in it. The cameras show that they are hardworking and do the right thing consistently. There are other factors to attribute this to as well, but over the last two years we're looking at a more than 50 percent reduction in complaints. Those complaints that do come in, we're able to resolve them a lot faster. And while occasionally we'll catch somebody doing something they shouldn't be, the video evidence used in complaints overwhelmingly supports the police—more than 90 percent support the officer.<br />
"It used to be that you turn on the camera when you get out of the car to walk up to the car you've pulled over. We realized that works great for your routine car stop, but it does not work if it becomes a pursuit. So now, before you even attempt to make a car stop, you turn on the camera.<br />
"The cameras are not perfect. They show a frontal view from the direction the officer's chest is facing, but that doesn't necessarily mean the officer is looking in that direction or that he isn't talking to somebody at his side. Also, nighttime video is not great. The technology may improve, but you don't want better vision than the officer is capable of seeing either, because then there's no way to know what the officer actually saw.<br />
"One of our major goals as a police department over the last few years has been to work on trust within the community. This is the way of the future. Law enforcement going forward has to be dedicated to some level of transparency. The public demands that, and rightfully so."<br />

New York police begin using ShotSpotter system to detect gunshots

New York City police commissioner Bill Bratton, center, speaks during a news conference at police headquarters in New York.

New York City police commissioner Bill Bratton, center, speaks during a news conference at police headquarters in New York. Photo: AP

The New York Police Department has started using a detection system that pinpoints the location of gunfire and sends the information to law enforcement, the latest move to modernise the nation’s largest police force, the department announced Monday.

The system, called ShotSpotter, is used in several major cities. It works by installing sensors – basically, sensitive microphones – around an area to pick up sounds from the street that might be gunfire, and uses the sensors to locate where the shots were fired. It then sends the information to the Police Department.

As part of a pilot program, ShotSpotter sensors are being placed in seven precincts in the Bronx and 10 in Brooklyn, a total area of 15 square miles, where there have been a high number of shootings. The sensors in the Bronx began working shortly after midnight Monday, and sent data on shots fired at 12:49am The sensors in Brooklyn will start collecting data shortly after midnight next Monday.

“Today, we are rolling out cutting edge technology to make the city safer, to make our neighborhoods safer, to keep our officers safer,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio, who appeared with William Bratton, the police commissioner, to announce the initiative. “This gunshot detection system is going to do a world of good in terms of going after the bad guys.”
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Both the mayor and Bratton stressed that ShotSpotter would help the relationship between the police and the communities where they work while also helping officers respond more quickly to shootings. Still, some have raised concerns about how the data might be used.

The city first solicited proposals for a pilot program in 2009, and tested a system from Safety Dynamics, but found that the technology yielded too many false alarms.

In 2014, the city again sought proposals, after de Blasio’s campaign promise to bring gunfire detection software to the city. Bratton has also supported the measure; he sat on ShotSpotter’s board before returning as commissioner, but has since resigned, the company said.

ShotSpotter is used in cities including Washington, Boston, San Francisco and Minneapolis, as well as smaller cities like East Chicago, Indiana, according to Ralph Clark, the company’s chief executive.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announces the use of the ShotSpotter system.

Bratton said that episodes in which guns are fired are vastly underreported. “On average, 75 percent of shots fired called in by ShotSpotter are never called into 911,” he said.

Gun violence in the city has increased this year, with 185 shootings reported, up 11 percent from the same period last year, according to the Police Department. Bratton said ShotSpotter’s data might further raise the numbers, since more gunshots will be recorded and reported to the police.

ShotSpotter works to ensure accuracy by requiring that three sensors pick up the sound of gunfire; additionally, the recordings of any gunshots are sent to ShotSpotter’s headquarters in Newark, California, where analysts determine whether the noises were gunshots or something else like backfiring cars or slamming doors.

The two-year pilot program in New York will cost US$1.5 million (A$2 million) annually, Bratton said.

Some experts and elected officials are raising concerns about how the data, which belongs to the Police Department, is collected and used.

Letitia James, the city’s public advocate, is planning to introduce a bill to the City Council to require quarterly reports on the gunshots recorded, as well as any other data collected by the ShotSpotter system.

Eben Moglen, a privacy law professor at Columbia University, said programs like ShotSpotter have Fourth Amendment implications.

If potentially incriminating evidence is picked up by the microphones, he said, it should not be allowed as evidence, because it constitutes a warrantless search and seizure by collecting public sounds.

Clark said ShotSpotter has received inquiries from those looking to improve relations between police officers and the communities they serve because it can provide more information on cloudy confrontations between police and civilians, like the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri.

Clark said ShotSpotter was able to find that the source of the gunfire in that case did not move over the course of the confrontation.

“This is not about technology, it’s not about law enforcement,” Clark said. “It’s really about how communities and law enforcement can work together to deter gun violence.”

The New York TImes

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Henry Sapiecha