Archive for the ‘Police Tools and Equipment’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Do You Feel Safer…Now?

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President George W. Bush created the Department of Homeland Security, a move that merged several agencies under a single umbrella—Coast Guard, National Guard, FEMA, Customs and Border Patrol, TSA, Secret Service, and a gaggle of other three-letter agencies, with the exceptions of the FBI and CIA.

This move was supposed to create a safer America—“a concerted national effort to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, reduce America’s vulnerability to terrorism, and minimize the damage and recover from attacks that do occur,” according to the National Strategy for Homeland Security.

Well, here’s a bit of Homeland Security news that just might give you reason to scratch your head and wonder…

1. During the past 31 months, over 1,300 Homeland Security badges and official credentials have been lost or stolen. These were not items kept in a warehouse, though. Instead, they were the ID’s and badges issued to active-duty agents. 165 department firearms are also missing (lost or stolen). Antonio Ramos, a muralist, was killed in Oakland last November. The weapon used to commit the murder was stolen a couple of months earlier from an ICE officer in San Francisco.

2. The BioWatch program is an initiative of Homeland Security. Its purpose is to detect the release of pathogens into the air as part of a terrorist attack on major American cities. Now, I’m slightly familiar with this program, and Denene is extremely familiar with it. The concept is great. The program works, and it works well.

What? You didn’t know there are “sniffers” in position all across the U.S., especially in cities that are particularly attractive targets for terrorists? Well, they’re out there and there are plenty of them, you just don’t recognize them because they’re mingled in with all of the other hardware attached to every piece of vacant space on telephone poles and other such city or utility real estate.

Since terrorists seem to set their sites on gatherings of large crowds, such as the Super Bowl, Homeland Security decided to place a few portable sniffer boxes in and around downtown San Francisco in advance of the big game next Sunday. I know, the game will be played in Santa Clara, not San Francisco. Santa Clara, by the way, is actually 40 miles away from San Francisco, a distance that can sometimes take a couple of hours to travel if the freeway traffic is in full bloom.

Anyway, Homeland Security officials placed portable sniffers throughout downtown San Francisco, and they chained the boxes to light poles. To power the units they ran the electrical cords to the power poles and tapped into city current.

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KPIX/CNN photo

Now, I’m no rocket scientist, but I believe anyone who can figure out how to plug-in and unplug a basic toaster could surmise that cutting the cord or pulling the plug on this high-tech toxin detector would be all that’s needed to set an evil plan into motion. And we mustn’t forget that the game, and the crowd associated with it, will be some 40 miles away. Therefore, I’m thinking the only “sniffs” these boxes will detect will be those of wino urine and pot smoke (those of you who’ve visited San Francisco will understand). And that’s if the boxes are still plugged in on the day of the game. Hmm…a pair of bolt cutters for the cables and officials may find a couple of these diamond-plate boxes for sale in local pawn shops or in the back of a contractor’s truck being used as a toolbox.

Hey, I know.  A crook could steal two or three and use them to store all those missing badges and guns.

A final thought…do you suppose the boxes are nothing more than decoys, mere empty shells used to fool potential terrorists. Nah…those cowards wouldn’t care if the boxes were there or not. Besides, by the time the sniffers detected a harmful toxin in the area, the people around it would already be toast (notice how I used “toast” to tie in with the earlier reference to “toaster?”). However, an alert from these mini tool boxes would provide ample time to save the politicians who will probably not set foot anywhere near these things.

So, do you feel safer now?

 

PostHeaderIcon High-Tech Crime-Solving: Morpho’s Criminal Justice Suite

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Biometrics is the measurement/metrics and statistical analysis related to human physical and behavioral characteristics. Typically, biometrics is used for identification and access control, or for identifying people such as criminals/potential criminals who are under surveillance.

Fingerprints are a common use of biometrics. Others include voice patterns, irises, DNA, and facial recognition.

Safran, a company employing 69,000 people, is an international high-tech group whose focus is Aerospace, Defense and Security. One of their many areas of expertise is biometrics, particularly so regarding fingerprints and facial recognition.

Morpho, a division of Safran, is active in the field of biometrics. For example, ABIS is Morpho’s Automated Biometric Identification System. This particular bit of technology is used for fingerprints and palm prints, as well as for iris and facial recognition. But it is their Criminal Justice Suite that is particularly well-suited to aid in crime-solving.

The Criminal Justice Suite is also a crime-solving tool that would work extremely well in crime novels and other stories where high-tech police work is a main feature of the tale. If Morpho keeps this up real-life detectives could become a thing of the past. Looks like those goofy scenes on Castle may not be so far-fetched after all.

Here, see for yourselves.
 


 
 
Morpho also has a cool solution for secure access to restricted areas.
 

 

PostHeaderIcon Cornficker is Alive, Well, and Wiggling Around Inside Police Body Cams

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Body Cameras. The cry for their use by police officers has been loud and strong, along with a demand that they be switched on nearly every second of an officer’s shift, without any means whatsoever for the officer to switch it off. Tamper proof. No access by anyone. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

Well, many of those tamper-proof cameras that are supposed to record every step of an officer’s day without outside intervention, have been hacked.

Yes, many police body cameras are infected with Cornficker, a worm that has infected millions of computers in over 190 countries. Typically, the worm uses the OS system to paw around inside a computer searching for and stealing important data, such as credit card information, passwords, and other personal information.

Body cameras used by police departments, as is the case with any other type of device or item that can be used as evidence in court cases, must be completely tamper proof. Otherwise, the evidence contained within isn’t worth the price of what you paid to read this article.

So far, I believe, the Cornficker virus/worm is limited to the $499 body cameras manufactured and sold by Martel. And yes, Martel has sold these units to agencies all across the country. This particular worm infestation initiates when the data from the cameras is uploaded into department computers via USB. The virus then makes its way throughout the computer system.

A worm eats into the camera, ruining the data inside. The information within is then bad. And we all know what comes next… One bad camera can indeed spoil the whole bunch.

Cornficker is so problematic that it has caused temporary grounding of military aircraft, infection of computers in Naval vessels, including submarines, and the theft of scores of personal and secret data. Just think of the damage other hackers could inflict on a high-profile criminal case that heavily relies on the video evidence captured by an officer’s body camera, such as altering or erasing key parts of the recording.

At the very least, having the Cornficker worm, or other viruses…well, worming its way around the inside of a police officer’s body camera is cause for reasonable doubt. In other words, the dismissal of a very important criminal case.

This information, my writer friends, is excellent fodder for countless plot twists. Imagine the look on the faces of jury members when they view an altered body camera recording. Hmm… What could you dream up for them to see? I wonder…

PostHeaderIcon Investigator G. Nome’s Guide to Developing Fingerprints

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Confused as to which fingerprinting medium is right for the task at hand? Well, Investigator G. Nome has assembled the ultimate guide for the heroes of your tall tales, and keeping it within easy reach, heroes such as Bosch, D.D. Warren, Will Trent, or any of their peers, will never again fret over such details.

Investigator G, Nome’s Guide to Developing Fingerprints

Before attempting to lift a print from any surface, the savvy investigator will first determine the type of surface to be printed. In addition to surface type and texture (porous, nonporous, etc.), other factors must be considered, such as the presence of foreign matters—dust, dirt, perspiration, blood, oils, grease, and moisture, to name a few.

Lighting is important, including the use of alternate light sources and lasers. The latter two can cause the perspiration and oils in found in some prints to fluoresce, making them easy to see without further developing.

Once investigators have determined the surface type and whether or not obstacles exist (foreign matter) it’s time to select the proper method and materials needed to properly develop the desired prints(s).

Surface Types

As always, the first order of business is to try and see the prints using only the naked eye. Sometimes they’re quite obvious.

Porous Surfaces - first attempt the above. If no prints are obvious, then try fluorescence by laser or alternate light source. If that doesn’t quite work, then it’s time to bring out the big guns, such as…

1. Iodine fuming

2. Ninhydrin

3. DFO (1,8-Diazafluoren-9-one)

 

Non-Porous Surfaces - first try to see with the naked eye. If no prints are obvious, then try fluorescence by laser or alternate light source. If those steps do not produce results, then use the following to develop invisible prints.

1. Cyanoacrylate fuming (SuperGlue)

2. Cyanoacrylate dye

3. Vacuum metal deposition (VMD)

4. Powder

 

Still not satisfied with your options? Okay, let’s roll in the specialists…

 

Bloodstained Specimens—Porous Surfaces

1. DFO (1,8-Diazafluoren-9-one)

2. Ninhydrin

3. Powder – amido black

Bloodstained Specimens—Nonporous Surfaces

1. leucocrystal violet (LCV) or amido black

2. Cyanoacrylate fuming (SuperGlue)

3. Cyanoacrylate dye

4. Vacuum metal deposition (VMD)

 Cardboard

1. DFO (1,8-Diazafluoren-9-one)

2. Ninhydrin

3. Silver Nitrate

Rubber Gloves—Semiporous

1. Iodine spray reagent

2. Cyanoacrylate fuming

3. Laser or alternate light source

4. Magnetic powder

5. Cyanoacrylate dye

6. Laser or alternate light source

7. Ninhydrin

Tape—Non-adhesive Side

1. Cyanoacrylate fuming

2. Cyanoacrylate dye

3. Vacuum metal deposition (VMD)

4. Powder

Tape—Adhesive Side

1. Sticky-side powder

2. Alternate black powder

3. Ash gray powder

4. Gentian violet

Dark-colored adhesive side of tape

1. Ash gray powder

2. Liqui-Drox

3. Gentian violet

* Should the investigator decide to use Cyanoacrylate fuming, it must be done on the nonadhesive side of tape first, then both sides can be processed with Liqui-Drox.

Photographs—Emulsion Side

1. Iodine spray reagent

2. Cyanoacrylate fuming

3. Cyanoacrylate dye

4. Vacuum metal deposition (VMD)

5. Powder

Photographs—Paper Side—Semiporous

1. Cyanoacrylate fuming

2. Magnetic powder

3. DFO (1,8-Diazafluoren-9-one)

4. Ninhydrin

5. Cyanoacrylate dye

 

Powder and Other Developer Uses

1. Alternate Black – sticky sides of labels and other tapes.

2. Gentian Violet – adhesive side of various tapes.

3. Sticky-side powder – Duh… This one’s for use on sticky sides of tape.

4. Amido Black (methanol or water based) – prints pressed into bloody surfaces. *water based includes a blood fixative.

5. Cyanoacrylate fuming (SuperGlue) – nonporous surfaces.

6. Cyanoacrylate Florescent Dye – used to enhance prints on non-porous surfaces. Best viewed using alternate light sources.

7. DAB (Diaminobenzidine) – developing prints found in blood. Also useful in this situation are Coomassie Brilliant Blue and Crowle’s Double Stain.

8. DFO (1,8-Diazafluoren-9-One) – porous surfaces; reacts with amino acids in perspiration

*Heating a fingerprint to 40 degrees Celcius forces amino acids to separate from a fingerprint. Add a special chemical to the sample and, with a 99% accuracy, the concentration indicates if the fingerprint belongs to either a male or female. Why? Because females have a different concentration of amino acids than males.

9. Iodine Fuming – porous surfaces containing grease or oils; turns yellowish color/stain

10. Ninhydrin – another product used on porous surfaces. Reacts with amino acids in perspiration.

11. Physical Developer – works on both porous and non-porous surfaces and is especially effective on paper currency.

12. Silver Nitrate – porous surfaces, especially paper. Stains caused by presence of Silver Nitrate cannot be removed. Also, prints developed by Silver Nitrate will totally disappear within a few hours, therefore it is imperative to photograph the prints as soon as they’re visible.

13. Sudan Black – a dye that stains sebaceous perspiration on surfaces contaminated by food items of greasy and oily varieties.

14. Vacuum Metal Deposition – non-porous or semi-porous, such as photographs and magazine pages. Use of VMD causes printed material to become extremely fragile.

15. Liqui-Drox – a fluorescent dye used to develop prints on the adhesive and non-adhesive sides of dark-colored tape.

16. MBD (Fluorescent Dye) – used on various colored surfaces.

17. Safranin O (a florescent dye) – used to enhance prints developed by Cyanoacrylate fuming (SuperGlue). Thenoyl Europium Chelate (Fluorescent Dye) is used to stain those prints. This dye can only be viewed under UV light.

 

PostHeaderIcon Investigator G. Nome: Recovering Indented Writing

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Investigator G. Gnome is in charge of his department’s CSI unit and forensic lab, and he’s made sure his team has the latest technology available. After all, crime victims deserve nothing short of the best. Such as…
 

PostHeaderIcon Cops Can See Through Your Walls…sort of

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Ranger-R, like other handheld radar units of similar design and type, allows officers and other first responders to “see” through walls and other obstructions.

The device works by detecting movement, even an action as slight as someone breathing. Its capabilities include detecting movement behind walls, floors, concrete, steel, concrete blocks, and more.

The technology is quite similar to a contractor’s stud finder, a handheld device used to locate wall studs (2×4’s, etc.), water pipes, and electrical wiring. When a stud finder locates its target it alerts the user with a bright light and by sounding a tone.

Units used by first responders are far more sensitive and are utilized to determine the locations of hostages, assailants, and injured people. Firefighters also use these devices to locate people trapped inside burning buildings and rubble.

Here’s how the technology works.

Of course, as with all products there is a certain margin of error. For example, I’m not so sure my “stud” finder is working properly today. I set it to “stud scan” and it alerted, but…

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NYPD Detective/WPA instructor Marco Conelli

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WPA instructors ATF Special Agent Rick McMahan and Secret Service Agent Mike Roche

 

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