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  • Grants to support digital forensics operations

    Author: Therese Matthews

    Electronic data gathered from cellphones, surveillance cameras, laptop and desktop computers, or other smart technology devices is often critical evidence for solving cases.

    Whether your law enforcement agency is currently operating a digital forensics lab or establishing a unit, you need the right equipment, software and other technology to properly extract, analyze and report on the data. These tools can be expensive and challenging to acquire with limited agency budgets. Fortunately, federal, state or private grant funding may be a great option to cover the cost of your digital forensics tools.

    Here are several funding sources for digital forensics equipment and technology for police investigations.

    Federal Grants

    The Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grants Program (the Coverdell Program) supports grants to states and units of local government to help improve the quality and timeliness of forensic science and medical examiner/coroner services. Two grant opportunities were available this fiscal year: competitive and formula. The funding can support personnel, computer hardware and software costs, training, laboratory equipment, supplies and accreditation. Reach out to your State Administering Agency (SAA) to inquire if formula grant funding may be available to support your needs, or apply directly to the U.S. Department of Justice when the competitive funding becomes available most likely next year.

    If your agency is located in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, consider applying for the Gulf States Regional Law Enforcement Technology Initiative Grant. These grants will be awarded to law enforcement projects in these five states that focus on the gathering, analysis and dissemination of information critical to investigating, reporting, and responding to crimes and suspicious activity in communities. Up to 18 grants will be awarded with a maximum award amount of $150,000. The application period is open now with a deadline of October 4, so act quickly.

    Innovative Prosecution Solutions for Combating Violent Crime grants are part of the Department of Justice’s Innovations Suite of programs that focus on a science-based approach to criminal justice operations. Innovative Prosecution competitive grant funds assist prosecutors to use technology, intelligence and data in innovative ways that enable the office to focus resources on the people and places associated with high concentrations of criminal behavior and crime. Grant opportunities under this program have been available for the past few years and will most likely be available again next fiscal year.

    Are your agency’s officers or investigators assigned to specialized task forces targeting areas such as human trafficking, gangs and guns, internet crimes against children or anti-drugs? Many of the federal grants that support these task forces within and across states encourage applicants to include investigative/analytical technology into their budget request.

    The Department of Justice annually offers competitive grants to support multi-disciplinary task forces to combat human trafficking. Grant amounts average $850,000.

    Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) grants support the work of task forces representing federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement officials, prosecutors and community leaders who identify the most pressing violent crime problems in a community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. Reach out to your local U.S. Attorney's office to speak with the PSN coordinator in your area.

    Combatting internet crimes against children and child exploitation have been supported through grants from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). This agency has funded the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program since 1998. Grants have been awarded to support task forces focused on developing an effective response to technology-facilitated child sexual exploitation and Internet crimes against children. Awards under this year’s program will be as high as $1.5 million.

    Over the past several years, the Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office has provided grant opportunities to support anti-drug task forces under the COPS Anti-Methamphetamine Program (CAMP) and Anti-Heroin Task Force Program (AHTF). Grants are awarded to states with high per capita rates of primary treatment admissions for heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil and other opioids, or a high seizures of precursor chemicals, finished methamphetamine, laboratories and laboratory dump seizures. Technology and equipment for digital forensic investigations can be supported under both of these grant programs.

    State Grants

    Many state criminal justice agencies offer grant opportunities to local law enforcement to target pressing needs within their jurisdiction. Check with your state criminal justice agency or state attorney’s office and inquire what grants may be available. Some examples of available state grants include:

    One of the priority areas for this year’s funding for the Children's Justice Act Program, offered through the state of Texas, is “Improving the Response to Internet Crimes Against Children & Use of Digital Evidence.” Grants between $50,000-$150,000 will be awarded under this year’s program.

    Your state’s banking and insurance regulatory agencies may have funding available to support the investigative and analytical work required to detect fraud. Reach out to your state representative to discuss your needs.

    Private Grant Opportunities

    There is a large pool of corporate funders, private foundations and community giving programs that may be offering grant opportunities to support your digital forensic resource needs.

    Consider grocery stores like Aldi and Safeway that all provide grants aimed at keeping communities safe. Big box stores such as Target, Walmart and Sam’s Club offer grants to support public safety and community wellbeing. Reach out to the larger banks in your area and inquire about their corporate giving program. Mobile carriers like AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile may be able to assist as well.

    Law enforcement trade associations including The Spirit of Blue Foundation have grants available to support your equipment and training needs.

    The Foundation Center is also a great source for finding what community foundation(s) represent your area.

    With a bit of research, strategic planning and creative thinking, your agency can land the grant funding you need to conduct the digital forensic activity that will greatly aid in solving crime in your area.

    The Team at PoliceGrantsHelp is ready to assist. Our grant assistance program includes several options for departments seeking assistance in securing grant funding to support the work you do for our communities every day.


  • 3 ways agencies can effectively implement new technologies

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    Author: Therese Matthews

    Content provided by CentralSquare Technologies via GovThink.com

    By Steve Seoane for PoliceOne BrandFocus

    Law enforcement personnel are exposed to high and frequent stressors every day. They undergo constant exposure to violence, traumatic situations, other people’s distress, threats to their own safety, excessive overtime, fatigue from working irregular hours and a rapid escalation of work duties – just to name a few.

    Adapting to new technology should be the very last thing that adds stress to officers’ lives. Innovation in technology has been extremely beneficial to law enforcement, for example, through reduced response times, data sharing, interoperability and efficiency of administrative tasks.

    However, there’s another side to the story that often gets overshadowed by the promise of shiny new tech. Technology advancements for the public safety sector all contribute to the ultimate goal of keeping both citizens and officers safe. In order for new technology to be as effective as it is designed to be, it’s instrumental that one key piece of the equation is not overlooked: the officer’s ability to use it.

    Adapting to new technology can be an added strain in the already-hectic daily lives of law enforcement officials. When the use of new technology is mandated without any training or guidance, officers may feel as if too many new tools are being pushed onto them, creating an overwhelming burden just to keep up with a variety of devices. It’s important for management to remain aware of how their officers are adjusting to this new technology and do what they can to alleviate the burden of the learning process. If not properly trained and new tech is cumbersome, officers are likely to abandon the tech. This causes losses in both increased functionality and investments.

    Here are three ways law enforcement agencies can help reduce the pressure officers feel from adopting new technology:

    THOROUGH TRAINING

    Technology meant to be helpful to law enforcement officers works only as well as the people who are using it. When properly and thoroughly trained, officers feel more confident and capable with their technological tools and are less likely to be distracted or overwhelmed during their shifts. Today, convenient on-demand training courses are often available via online and mobile applications, and can be helpful in keeping officers updated with the latest features and functionality.

    REDUCED DISTRACTIONS

    Being distracted is hazardous for police officers, who need to be alert and vigilant throughout their shift. If they don’t understand the technology they are using and become distracted trying to figure it out while in the field, their situational awareness is compromised. Ensure that prior to using new tech in the field, officers have the opportunity to learn about it and familiarize themselves.

    STREAMLINED SYSTEMS

    Communities and agencies cannot afford to have officers inhibited by outdated technology in their toolkit. Inefficiencies in their devices, especially when out in the field, increases officer frustration and stress. Software that works smarter and more intuitively can help officers focus on the matter at hand while helping them accomplish tasks faster.

    Police officers have an inherently dangerous and stressful job. It’s important to make sure new technologies empower officers and first responders – and doesn’t hinder them in their day-to-day responsibilities.


  • Memorial to victims of Boston Marathon bombing completed

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    Author: Therese Matthews

    By Philip Marcelo Associated Press

    BOSTON — The memorial to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing is complete.

    Three stone pillars representing the three people who died at the race's Boylston Street finish line were installed early Monday, marking the final step of the $2 million project, which took four years to plan and develop.

    The monument was supposed to be ready least year for the fifth anniversary of the April 15, 2013, bombing but underwent significant redesigns and other delays.

    Bolivian-born sculptor Pablo Eduardo said before this year's race that it was important that the final work reflect the hopes and expectations of families who lost loved ones.

    The monument marks the spots where two pressure cooker bombs detonated, killing three people and wounding more than 260 others. It includes four bronze and glass spires ranging in height from about 17 feet (5 meters) to 21 feet (6 meters) that were installed last month and are meant to illuminate the site.

    Cherry trees to bloom each April have also been planted, and two bronze bricks have been set in the sidewalk to honor the police officers killed in the bombing's aftermath, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Officer Sean Collier and Boston police Officer Dennis Simmonds.

    The pillars installed Monday range in height from about 4 to 6 feet (1.2 to 1.8 meters) and were gathered from places around Boston significant to the bombing victims.

    One representing 8-year-old Boston resident Martin Richard was taken from Franklin Park in his family's Dorchester neighborhood. Another that is fused to it honors 23-year-old Boston University graduate student Lingzi Lu and was donated by her school.

    Around the base of the two pillars is an inscription etched in bronze: "Let us climb, now, the road to hope."

    And the third pillar for 29-year-old Medford, Massachusetts, native Krystle Campbell comes from Spectacle Island in Boston Harbor. Its inscription reads: "All we have lost is brightly lost."

    Boston is also planning a larger monument elsewhere in the city to commemorate the attack.


  • Video shows Calif. LEO shoot knife-wielding man

    Author: Therese Matthews

    By Nate Gartrell and John Glidden Times-Herald, Vallejo, Calif.

    VALLEJO, Calif. — The city of Vallejo has released body camera footage showing an officer shooting a man who began walking toward the officer, knife in hand.

    The officer, Christopher Hendrix, can be seen on the video yelling commands at the suspect, identified as 49-year-old Edward Gonzales, and even warning Gonzales he is about to be shot. Gonzales either ignores the commands or responds with profanity.

    Gonzales survived the shooting, and was charged with several felonies in connection with the incident. Hendrix fired four shots, but it is unknown how many times Gonzales was struck.

    It all started the afternoon of January 6, when officers Hendrix and Rashad Hollis responded to a report of Gonzales trespassing on church property. The video shows them approaching Gonzales on the 400 block of Nebraska Street. He ignores the officers commands and hops a fence, as they attempt to use a Taser on him.

    From there, the officers split up. Hollis gets in his car and drives around the block, hoping to cut off Gonzales’ route, while Hendrix follows Gonzales on foot. On the video, Hendrix can be heard telling Gonzales several times “show me your hands.”

    “F— you,” Gonzales responds at one point.

    Later, Gonzales approaches a large gate with metal spikes, and seems to realize he is cornered. Hendrix continues to yell commands, at one point telling Gonzales, “You’re about to get shot, dude.”

    A few moments later, Gonzales takes a couple steps towards Hendrix, and the officer fires four shots. Gonzales falls to the ground and throws the knife. Then Hollis shows up in his squad car, on the other side of the gate.

    Vallejo interim police Chief Joe Allio said the department was releasing the video in the interests of transparency. Under a recently-passed law, SB 1421, police agencies are required to release videos of officer-involved shootings and other use of force incidents.

    After being treated for his injuries, Gonzales was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer, brandishing a deadly weapon to resist or prevent arrest and trespassing.

    A month after Gonzales was shot, five Vallejo officers shot 20-year-old Willie McCoy roughly 25 times, as he sat in the front seat of his car in a Taco Bell drive-thru. McCoy had apparently passed out in his car, with a stolen gun in his lap, and the officers fired 55 shots at him after he moved forward in his seat. The shooting led to increased scrutiny of the police department’s use of force, and a lawsuit by McCoy’s family asking for federal oversight of the department.

    The Gonzales and McCoy shootings have been the only two officer-involved shootings in Vallejo this year. In addition to Gonzales’ shooting, have released video of McCoy being shot, as well as the 2018 fatal shooting of Ronell Foster by a Vallejo officer who was attempting to stop Foster for a minor traffic infraction.

    ©2019 Times-Herald (Vallejo, Calif.)


  • Deputies find newborn covered in ants on floorboard of van

    Author: Therese Matthews

    Associated Press

    LONDON, Ky. — Police in Kentucky say a mother and grandmother were arrested when deputies discovered a 16-day-old newborn covered in ants on the floorboard of their van.

    News outlets report 32-year-old Rebecca Jean Fultz and 69-year-old Charolette J. Simpson were charged Thursday with criminal abuse of a child and failure to use a child restraint device.

    A news release from Laurel County sheriff's office says the baby was found during a traffic stop.

    The statement says deputies found the baby on the floorboard between the front seats, soiled and breathing heavy. The van didn't have a safety seat and there was no air conditioning.

    The release says the baby was treated for dehydration and is in better condition.

    It's unclear whether Fultz or Simpson has an attorney.


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