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Friday, October 18, 2019

U.S. Attorney General announces $42 million for rural Alaska public safety

U.S. Attorney General William Barr announced a $42 million grant aimed at improving public safety in rural Alaska over a video conference at the Alaska Federation of Natives in Fairbanks on Thursday afternoon. “I think it’s very important that as a society we provide safety and ensure the public safety of people who are living where they want to live in the way they want to live in the traditions they want to live by, and not to force people to move into cities simply to be safe,” said Barr, speaking to conference attendees. Barr, wearing a blue kuspuk that had been gifted to him during his visit to Southwest Alaska earlier this year, sat next to Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan at a conference table in Washington D.C. that was video-streamed to the attendees at the AFN conference. This is really, really, important,” said Sullivan after Barr made the announcement. Alaska has one of the highest rates of sexual assaults and other violent crimes in the country, but many communities don’t have permanent law enforcement.
KTUU-TV ABC 2 Anchorage

Montana puts 2 human trafficking agents in Billings after FBI cuts time dedicated to the issue

Montana’s first full-time human trafficking team will be based in Billings, state officials announced Tuesday. The new two-person team is the result of a law passed during the 2019 Legislature setting up funds for the work and giving law enforcement new tools to crack down on sex trafficking. Division of Criminal Investigation Agent Andrew Yedinak and an unnamed second agent comprise the team, according to a press release from the Attorney General Tim Fox’s office. The Department of Justice said the second agent is an internal hire but has declined to name the person to protect future undercover work. Fox celebrated the news in a press release. “The addition of these new positions means that for the first time, Montana has state-level law enforcement dedicated exclusively to working human trafficking cases,” he said, in the statement.
Billings Gazette

Female police officers reduce use of force, but Oregon lags in recruiting

When Jamie McMahon started her career at the Springfield Police Department in 2015, she knew she had something to prove. She was hired alongside one other female officer as a third woman on the force was preparing to retire and a fourth was on medical leave. “I didn’t want to be considered the female who got hired because the police department was just trying to hire females,” McMahon said. “I knew I was qualified for this position, and I knew I could have beat other males that applied. I just wanted to prove to everyone that I deserve to be here as much as everybody else, female or not.” The FBI reports 12.5% of full-time law enforcement officers are female across the nation. In Oregon, that rate is even less at 9%.
The Bend Bulletin - Metered Site

Kansas says backlog of untested rape kits nearly eliminated

Kansas law enforcement agencies have nearly eliminated a backlog of 2,200 sexual assault kits that had gone untested, including some that dated back decades, authorities announced Thursday. Agencies have had about 2,000 of the kits tested by forensic labs and the remaining 235 should be tested by the end of the month, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation said. Officials said the additional testing allowed 373 biological profiles from the evidence to be entered into a computerized DNA database and resulted in 243 hits, which could provide leads to law enforcement agencies. Two cases linked to the rape kit testing have been successfully prosecuted and a third resulted in an acquittal, they said. The bureau also announced it has launched a television and digital ad campaign and a new website to create greater public awareness about sexual assault.
Star Tribune

West Texas law enforcement agencies roll out the red carpet for girl battling cancer

VIDEO: Law enforcement agencies in West Texas came together on Wednesday to help a little girl's dream of becoming an officer come true. Abigail Arias has been battling cancer since 2017. After her most recent treatment doctors said there were no other treatment options because of how rare her form of cancer is. "I remember always saying to myself I never wanted a daughter. They're too hard, they'll be too hard to raise...I'm glad He blessed me with her. She's amazing. Very amazing," said Ruben Arias, Abigail's father. Abigail's family then decided it was time to make her dream come true of becoming a law enforcement officer. On Wednesday morning Abigal and her family had a police escort from the Midland International Airport heading to Midland where her swearing-in ceremony would be held. Abigal was sworn in as an honorary Midland police officer.
KOSA-TV CBS 7 Odessa

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Lack of police diversity in South Dakota city creates challenges

Mark Blackburn knows the clock is ticking. The Sioux Falls Police Department has talked about the desire to increase demographic diversity on its force for decades, but the numbers don't add up. A lack of racial and gender representation reflecting the growing Sioux Falls community could lead to troubling situations, said Blackburn, who has 20 years of experience as a diversity practitioner and training consultant. "We need to be proactive," said Blackburn, a former University of South Dakota football player who serves as dean of students at Augustana. "We live in a great city and we don't have some of the issues bigger cities do. But if we don't try to bridge those gaps and channels of communication, then we will have a problem."
Sioux City Journal

Radio silence on 911 scanners as Minnesota county sheriff encrypts emergency calls, radio conversations

Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson began encrypting all 911 calls and law enforcement radio traffic Wednesday, meaning the calls and conversations cannot be tracked by the public and news media. The radio silence reverses the decadeslong practice of allowing the public to listen and react to law enforcement calls and activity in real time. The encryption goes beyond the Sheriff’s Office, affecting 25 law enforcement departments that receive 911 dispatch service through the county. The change does not affect fire departments or emergency medical services. Hennepin County is the first known agency in the state to encrypt the calls. The decision was made based on the recommendation of an advisory committee. It’s a reversal in philosophy for Hutchinson, who in 2018 said he would not encrypt the radio and traffic calls. He took office in January.
Star Tribune

Despite new technology, some California police officers do not use marijuana breathalyzers

New breathalyzer products claim to be able to determine if the person used marijuana within three hours. However, Clovis and Madera Police don’t plan to use the new technology until laws and regulations are put into place. “You need to make sure that the technology is direct and you have laws behind it,” said Madera Police Chief Dino Lawson. According to a study by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, from 2019, 14.8 million Americans admitted to driving within an hour of using marijuana within a 30 day period. Unlike Blood Alcohol Content, THC can be hard to detect in the human body at accurate levels. Right now law enforcement agencies conduct field tests administered by specially trained officers. If they find probable cause, a warrant is issued for a blood test.

North Dakota police, SWAT getting armored ROOK for greater protection during critical incidents

VIDEO: In chess, a rook is a fast-moving fortress that can provide a player with a powerful advantage in the right situation. Recently, the Fargo Police Department was given the OK to buy a real-world armored vehicle called a ROOK that is designed to give authorities, such as local SWAT officers and other first responders, a tactical advantage in the tough situations they face. The $377,000 acquisition, which is being made with the help of grant funds from the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services, includes a ROOK tactical vehicle and a trailer. The vehicle, which resembles an armored skid-steer loader and is built from a Caterpillar chassis, also comes with a number of attachments, including an armored platform that allows the ROOK to lift several officers into the air high enough to access a second-story window of a building. Another attachment allows the vehicle to be used as a giant battering ram.
The Dickinson Press

New tool will help Texas police crack down on gun violence

A new piece of technology will help the Beaumont Police Department put a stop to gun violence. They're the newest recipients of the "National Integrated Ballistic Information Network", or NIBIN, an ATF tool. Basically, NIBIN allows law enforcement agencies to create 3D images of shell casings they recover at crime scenes. The image goes to a correlation center in Alabama, where it's matched with other casings in the database. If two casings are connected, officers know they were fired from the same gun. This helps narrow down leads, and collect evidence toward a suspect. Fred Milanowski is the Special Agent in charge of the Houston Field Division of ATF. He said they have 10 NIBIN systems across south Texas, covering all of the big municipal areas. Since 2016, Milanowski said they've 268 arrests of shooters, and 473 open shooting cases were cleared, thanks to NIBIN. Last year alone they took 135 shooters off of the street, and cleared 190 shooting cases.
KBMT-TV ABC/NBC 12 Beaumont

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