Monday, December 17, 2012

School Safety

Following the events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the news is an abundance of stories about the tragedy that ensued the traumatic aftermath it left it behind.  But, if there is one thing this tragic event has done, it has got everyone talking.  The news and social media are abuzz with discussions and debates regarding gun control, access to mental health treatment, and school safety throughout our country.

Leaving political agendas aside, if there is ever a time to institute change, that time would be now.  Short of protesting and writing letters to our congressmen, there isn't much that we can do to bring about federal change in regards to gun control and health care.  However, as parents, teachers, and first responders, we have the ability to ensure that the places we work and send our children to are safe.  To do this, parents and first responders need to work hand-in-hand with the administrators of the schools in their districts.  Schools across the country are asking for additional police presence on their campuses.  Lets go a step further, and make sure they are receiving the training that they need as well.

Take for example this interesting fact.  Schools throughout the nation practice two to four mandatory fire drills per school year.  This is done as a training and precautionary measure to ensure that children will be safe in the event there is a school fire.  However, not a single child has died in a school fire for over half a century!

Now look at deaths from school/campus shootings.  In the last twenty years they have claimed the lives of a couple hundred children and faculty.  This was the third school shooting in 2012 alone.  However, safety drills for incidents like school shootings are not mandatory nationwide (my own child informed me she hasn't done a safety drill in almost two years).  Yes, they are inherently different dangers.  A fire involves removing yourself from the school, while a school shooting involves securing yourself in a safe location.  Although we might not be able to expect statistics that will rival the zero-death-toll of school fires, shouldn't we be giving our students and teachers the training and adequate tools to limit these numbers as low as possible?

Police departments across the country have scaled back their manpower due to budget cuts, but this is an area where every department should be able to spare a few man hours to have a meeting with school administrators to set up a plan.  What should that plan entail?

  • Monitor School Access - Most schools have implemented buzzers that are required to allow persons into the building after the school day begins.  In the case of Sandy Hook this did not keep the shooter out; however, it did significantly slow his entry and alerted a great deal of staff to his presence.  An alert that removed several children from the path of the shooter.  
  • Monitoring of At-Risk Kids - School shooters tend to fit the same psychological profile.  Schools should be aware of kids that meet these behaviors, and efforts should be made to ensure their social and psychological health is progressing along a positive route.  Some schools have implemented organizations and newsletters to join together kids that feel as though they are outcasts from their peers.
  • Student Training - School shooters most often go through an extensive planning phase and will often hint at (or outright announce) their upcoming intentions.  With kids so frivolously posting information on social media, everyone needs to be aware of the lives they could save just by speaking up about something they read online or overheard in the hall.  It might be nothing, but better to be safe than sorry.  Just yesterday police in Tennessee arrested a teen who had expressed on Facebook that he wanted to "go on a rampage like Sandy Hook".  Upon receiving a search warrant, police found multiple guns in his possession.  
  • Unadilla Valley Central School Mock Shooter Drill
  • Have Drills - It's not enough to tell students and teachers what to do when an incident like this occurs.  They should have drills and practice.  This gives the opportunity to learn what works, what doesn't work, and what could be done better.  For the most efficient learning results, these drills should involve students, teachers, faculty, and first responders.
It might be a bit much for the budgets of some departments and isn't quite age appropriate for the elementary grades, but every department and school should check out Tahoma Junior High School in Ravensdale, Washington.  They go all out with their mock school shooting drill, to the point that they have a shooter (or shooters), the drama club as wounded students, and a live police/SWAT response.  From these drills they have learned how to provide a safe environment for the students and how to respond to the event with as little loss as possible.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Nixle: Community Alert Systems

Unless you've spent the last few days isolated from society without internet and news coverage, there's a good chance that you've probably heard something about Hurricane Sandy.

Hurricane Sandy is currently a Category 2 hurricane.  As of this morning, the hurricane is affecting the Florida coastline.  Although there are various projected paths and a bit of uncertainty as to where Hurricane Sandy will be making her debut on land, at this point in time the hurricane is predicted to severely affect almost all of the East coast!

A weather event such as Hurricane Sandy will most likely bring a great deal of rain, thunder and lightning, and extremely high winds (upwards of 100+ mph).

Depending on the location of your department and the severity of the storm, there is a pretty good likelihood that your department might be greatly affected by this storm.

Although it is too late to really institute any new technology for your department at this point in time, every department should look into Nixle for future major weather issues (and major events in general).  Civilian communications are critical to an effective emergency response, and over 85% of civilians can be instantly reached on their mobile phone by text message. In crisis situations, timely information saves lives, and there is no more effective channel to quickly reach large populations than mobile text messaging.

Nixle allows police departments, fire departments and various other city agencies to use them as a publishing system to send alerts via text message and email to the residents of your community.  This information can go out to the community as a whole or it can be targeted toward specific locations within the community, such as alerting residents in a certain section of town that it is recommended they evacuate due to flood waters.

As if the service offered by Nixle wasn't great enough, this program is FREE to public service agencies.  To enroll, you simple need to register your agency on their website.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Dupont Rescue Experience 2012

Those who work in the search and rescue field will tell you that training does not equate to real-world experience.  Learning how to descend and retrieve an injured person at a drill tower does not bear the same risks and adrenaline as doing so in a ravine.  Because of this, it is important to have hands on search and rescue training on location, and not just at your training facility.

The Dupont Rescue Experience 2012 is being held November 2nd-4th in North Carolina.  This is an amazing hands-on location-based wilderness rescue training.  Courses include Mountain Bike use in rescue, Rope Rescue, Land Navigation,Wilderness Management Considerations, K9 Search and Rescue, and All-Hazards Planning. The course involves standard classroom education coupled with hands-on execution of the training.  All hands-on training is done within the state park, making the rescue scenarios as close to real-world events as possible.

Registration for this event is still open for this event.  Interested persons can register for $65 (NC rescue squads or $185 for out of state rescuers).  Registration forms can be found on the Dupont Rescue Experience Website.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Mock School Shootings

Since the mid-1990's a couple hundred child have died from the results of a school shooting.  Although the National School Safety Center has released checklist of characteristics common among students who have acted out as a school shooter, there is really no way to know who will become a school shooter and if/when it will happen.  Because of this, there is nothing better than to be prepared for an event that no first responder ever wants to respond to.

October 21st-27th is America's Safe Schools Week according to the National School Safety Center.  Is there a better way to make sure your schools will be safe in the event of a disaster or shooting than to actually practice for it?

Tahoma Junior High School in Ravensdale, Washington takes their drill quite seriously.  The drama club is actively involved, as they are caked in bloody make up and prepared to ensue chaos when the mock-shooting starts.  The drill has other details of school shootings too, such as the exits being chained shut and a gunman on the loose with a gun (an officer and gun with blanks, of course).  The mock gunman fires (blanks) in the hallways and towards classrooms as students and teachers flee to quickly locked classrooms where headcounts of students begin.  Although that might seem like enough, all of the emergency responders get involved as well.  Police and SWAT storm the school, paramedics set up an emergency triage center.  All in all the treat the event like it was actually happening.  This year marked the sixth year of performing this drill.

It might seem like overkill to prepare kids, teachers, and responders to prepare for an event that might never happen, but you'd be surprised what they've learned...and what they are still continuing to learn.  Prominent points are they are realizing the difficulty of reaching the injured stuck behind locked doors or that they're triage location has the ability to quickly come under rifle fire from second story windows.

Watch the video to learn more, and to see if this is something you should think about executing in your neighborhood.

Friday, September 28, 2012

PSM Group: Public Safety Manufacturers

For those that haven't heard of PSM Group before, they are a group of manufacturers with products created specifically for the public safety realm.  This group is comprised Bates Footwear, V.H. Blackinton & Co., Damascus Protective Gear, Gould & Goodrich, Peerless Handcuff Company, Strong Leather Co., and U.S. Armor.  The goal of this grouping is for the companies to work together...which in turn leads to new product ideas, innovation, and reduced costs for their public safety customers!

The PSM Group's website is a great educational tool to learn more about the various products from these companies.  It is also a fantastic place to enter to win some of the various products from these companies.  The PSM Group does a monthly drawing for a prize package of the latest gear from the companies associated with PSM Group.  Each monthly grab bag is valued at over $1,000.  To enter to win, visit the PSM Group's Contest Page.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

FI Card Apps

Every officer knows what an FI Card is.  For those readers that are unaware, it's a Field Interview Card.  They are utilized when an officer stops and talks with someone on the street, they may not be under arrest though. It is a generally a notebook sized questionnaire that asks name, DOB, address, school, scars, nicknames, tattoos, gang affiliation, and other questions that enable full description of the person. The information is then usually entered into a data bank.  Information can then be retrieved if there is a crime where a victim alerts offers to a nickname or a tattoo.

With the advances in technology there is no longer a need to carry around the little notebook to do FI's.  There are various smartphone apps that allow you to complete the forms on your phone and even upload them directly to the the database that they are stored in.  Doing this interview on a smart phone also allows the opportunity to include pictures of both the person as well as any distinguishing marks (such as scars or tattoos).

Field Contact is one of the top selling FI Card apps for iPhone.  Field Contact is the most technologically advanced and convenient way to document, photograph, search and email all aspects of your law enforcement contacts directly to your iPhone.  The app can be downloaded from the app store (currently it is $4.99).

There are also similar apps for Android phones, such as Police Field Interview FI Card.  Police Field Interview FI Card is currently selling for $5.99 in the Android app store.  It has the same capabilities of Field Contact.

These apps are great for departments looking to save on the cost of paper goods, as well as those looking to upgrade to electronic 'paperwork'.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Tachyon: Tough Tactical Cameras

Tachyon, Inc. are the leading manufacturers of tough tactical cameras. Cameras are not only tough, but cost-efficient.  They are all built with the needs and budgets of law enforcement in mind.  

All cameras from Tachyon, Inc. are wide-angle, date & Time-stamped HD videos.  These have numerous benefits for your department:

  • Increased Professionalism - Knowing that their actions can easily be reviewed because they were recorded, officers tend to be more likely to strictly adhere to the rules and regulations set forth by their department.  No one wants to be the spoof video of what not to do used in training classes.
  • Training - As just mentioned, those videos of what to do and what no to do come from somewhere.  And there is no better way to teach new officers how to appropriately approach and interact with a subject than actual footage that shows what can happen in the field.
  • Officer Safety - Officer safety is two-fold.  By recording incidents as they occur, officers are protected against false claims of overly-assertive force or even abuse.  The cameras also record assaults taken against police officers.  

There are night vision cameras with invisible IR light that are also must-have gear for tactical units, Four-hour plus video recording time and a rechargeable battery meets every policeman's need. 

The Dash Cam plugs into the cruiser's 12V outlet, ensuring that the camera never run out of power. Compatible with 64GB memory cards, you can save up 20 hours of video before they begin to overwrite older footage.

Tachyon, Inc. is currently offering an amazing promotion where you can try their cameras free of charge!  To utilize this promotion, 

  1. Put the items that you want in your cart
  2. Fill in your information (be sure to use the department's information)
  3. Click the "Test & Evaluate (No Payment Needed)" button

adding to your cart, checking out, and filling out your information be sure to click on the "Test & Evaluate (No Payment Needed)" button.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Newest In Search & Rescue

As any person in the emergency services field knows, time is always of the essence...especially in areas such as search and rescue.  Unfortunately, sometimes conditions are unsafe for rescuers to search for injured persons and sometimes it is physically impossible for rescuers (or search animals) to comb through wreckage to find the injured.  And when they are in need of emergency medical help, they don't have hours or days for someone to find them.

Because of this, a team of engineers at North Carolina State University have come up with a solution...and a very unlikely hero!  They have determined that cockroaches (yes, cockroaches) could have the ability to assist in the saving of many lives in rescue missions.

By outfitting the cockroach with a computer chip (much like a backpack) engineers are able to control the movement of the insect through electrical pulses via a computer.  Combine that with the ability to add a small camera and rescuers are able to quickly look through wreckage and rubble for survivors.  A small microphone can also be added to the chip, which would allow rescuers to communicate with survivors when they were found.

Doug Nakama of the San Diego Fire Department said, "Time is critical. The golden hour for victims is critical for the survivability rate.  The roaches could prove important if they can reach areas search dogs and cameras cannot."

To answer the question, "why cockroaches?"...the engineers determined that it was significantly more cost efficient to utilize the insects than it would be to attempt to build a robot that had the size and maneuverability of a cockroach.

Check out the following video to see these cockroaches in action...

Cyborg Cockroaches: The Future of Search and... by NewsyVideos

Friday, August 31, 2012

Facebook As A Crime-Solving Tool

We are large into educating our followers of our blogs about the importance of utilizing a little precaution and thought regarding the information that you post on the internet.  As, what you put out there today, will most likely still be there (somewhere) 10 years from now.  However, there are still lots of people who stupidly post on Facebook and other social networking sites.

A simple Google search will lead you to find hundreds (or even) thousands of news stories where stupid Facebook updates have led police to the capture of criminals.  These stories range from parents thinking a picture of their baby pretending to smoke from a bong is funny to the arrest of a mafia hitman who was so update-happy the FBI were able to track his GPS.

Police departments across the country are becoming more and more wise of the impact of social media.  This goes well beyond a department realizing the need for a Facebook account.  It points to  fact and are beginning to utilize social media as a valuable method of collecting evidence about crimes and criminals.

A recent article by CNN looked at a pioneer in the emerging area of collecting criminal information from social media websites.  It's becoming a big thing the city of Cincinnati.  They are collaborating University of Cincinnati's institute of Crime Science to further understand how to search for and collect information.  They started small, like many departments, and had a few officers who would look for and make note of possible criminal activities.  However, it wasn't until the collaboration that things really took off.  By working with social-media experts, they were able to learn how to more efficiently search for information.  This information (such as a known criminal's friend list) was then placed into a database, which was then able to be cross-referenced against known criminals and records. Officers quickly learned that Facebook was being utilized to set up drug deals, brag about crimes, and even as a place to share videos of criminal activities.

Although the judicial system is still largely playing a game of catch-up with the advances in technology.  However, warrants are available for the official collection of online data from all of the social networking sites out there...and that allows for the appropriate chain of evidence for the information to be utilized in court.

If social media is going to be a means of mass communications among criminals, departments across the country are going to have to become knowledgeable of how to search and acquire that information as well.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

How Dirty Is Your Communication Center?

We've done an article or two about the dirt, grime, and germs that can live in and on your computer.  If you've missed them, your computer can be quite disgusting.

Over time, lots of stuff can accumulate both on and under your computer keyboard keys (as well as your LCD screen, mouse, and your work station).  The majority of what is on and in your computer is comprised of food crumbs, minor drink spills, and generic household dust (which is comprised of everything from dirt to dead skin cells).  This grime can cause your computer to stop working properly or even make you sick.  As for making you sick, the dirt can be harboring a lot of potentially harmful bacteria (such as staph or E.coli).  Some studies have even found that many work stations rival the germ-factor of public restrooms...particularly if they are shared by multiple people.

You can clean your personal computer by gently shaking out crumbs and using a little disinfectant cleaner (always onto a lint free cloth and never directly onto the computer, of course).  But, what do you do about your communications center that is manned 24/7?

Most departments have a janitorial staff that cleans the room.  However, they rarely manage to clean in/under/around the workstations of the employees....and they definitely don't ever touch the computers to clean them.  So, how dirty are your communication centers?

The bottom line, it's pretty dirty.  Getting it cleaned will probably help to keep the employees that work their healthier as well!  A company called Console Cleaning Specialists specialize in cleaning 911 centers, dispatch centers, and other mission critical offices throughout the United States.  Utilizing a team of trained professionals, they (quietly) clean your mission critical offices without affecting your ability to continue to do the essential daily jobs with minimal interruptions.  This is not a regular daily or weekly janitorial cleaning.  A cleaning from Console Cleaning Specialists is a once or twice a year deep cleaning of your work stations.

To schedule an appointment or to get an estimate of the cost to clean your communication center simply request a quote on their website!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Drones: Not Just For Military & Police Surveillance

We have previously written about drones and how police departments are utilizing drones.  When used by police, the drones are not used for constant surveillance of an area.  They are sent into the air when a situation arises that officers on the ground are not able to get a clear picture of.

Firefighters often have the same issue.  When fighting a large fire, such as the wildfires recently in Colorado, it is difficult for firefighters on the ground to have a full understanding of what is happening with the fire around them.  This is where drones have been found to be useful.

Drones are lightweight.  They can fly in virtually any weather situation (without putting a human pilot at risk).  A drone can take off from virtually anywhere (unlike a helicopter or plane).  They are more cost efficient, as they run off a small electric engine that can generally fly for several hours.  This allows a person on the ground to quickly and safely collect information regarding the fire.

The information a drone can collect will definitely vary upon the model being utilized, but drones designed for firefighter use are able to:

  • give a bird's eye view of the scene
  • detect unseen persons (such as those trapped under rubble) utilizing infrared cameras
  • detect dangerous/poisonous gases
The concept of utilizing drones for firefighting is actually taking off quite quickly in European countries.  Check out the following video of one being utilized in Germany.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Claymore Mine of Tasers

This new product by TASER was actually brought to my attention by a police member, and although it might be deemed as overkill for some, it definitely has its place where it will be useful!

This new product is called the TASER Shockwave.  It is essentially a claymore mine of TASERs.  The TASER Shockwave perimeter control system is the first generation of new TASER Remote Area Denial™ (TRAD) technology allowing for both increased safety and stand-off capability during hostile situations through the innovative use of TASER International's field-proven Neuro Muscular Incapacitation (NMI) technology.
  • Stackable, easy to set up platform for Less Lethal perimeter control
  • TASER Shockwave controls a door entrance or other target zone
  • The TASER Shockwave can be mounted to the front of police or military vehicle 
  • The TASER shockwave is remote controlled, allowing officers to utilize the product away from danger
  • Multiple Unit Configuration - The Shockwave ECD can be arranged in vertical and horizontal configurations with up to 12 units on a single control box, allowing up to three salvos.
  • Versatile Mounting System - The TASER Shockwave can be mounted on a variety of objects, such as vehicles, or fencing.
  • Unit Payload - Each single TASER Shockwave unit has a payload of six TASER cartridges, allowing for multiple person incapacitation through Area Denial.
  • Self-Supporting Leg System - The TASER Shockwave system can be deployed in virtually any terrain.
  • Manual Sighting System - Ensures user accuracy.
  • Vehicle Mountable - The Shockwave ECD's versatile mounting system gives it the ability to be fully mounted to vehicles for various situational control.
  • Arcing Six Shot - Each single TASER Shockwave unit has a payload of six TASER cartridges, allowing for multiple person incapacitation through Area Denial.
  • All Terrain Setup - The TASER Shockwave system can be deployed in virtually any terrain.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

IMPACT: Making the world safer through technology

Peace of mind comes with confidence in knowing you can rely on your software provider and that your needs are met.  Mission critical software for police, fire, EMS, public safety and justice personnel is IMPACT's only business.  They concentrate specifically on satisfying the information-sharing demands of first responders.  Their system was built utilizing intimate knowledge of police, fire and EMS the creates have nearly three decades of experience in the field.
IMPACT provides the world's most advanced information-sharing innovations.  Their technologies are engineered to perform under the most demanding circumstances, enabling quick responses.  This keeps officers safe and provides necessary information at critical moments when every second counts.  IMPACT's products include computer aided dispatching, complete records management, mobile tactical field reporting, ticket processing, GPS automatic vehicle location, precision mapping, alarm billing, special interfaces for E-911, NCIC, live-scan fingerprinting technology, jail management systems, and fire/EMS records management systems.  There is essentially a product for every first responder out there!

IMPACT understands that no two fire, police, EMS, or private safety departments are exactly alike.  Because of this, the programs offered by IMPACT are extremely versatile.  The programs offered can be purchased as a whole or just specific programs can be utilized.  All IMPACT programs are completely compatible with one another, allowing a seamless flow of information between multiple agencies within the same area.

A few of the optional software programs include:
  • Alarm Billing: allows law enforcement personnel to track and charge false alarm violators
  • Photo Imaging: Supports mug shots, crime scene photos, evidence photos, digital imagery, sound files, and video clips
  • E911: Enables rapid data entry for immediate dispatch of response units
  • Field Reporting: enables real-time creation and submission of incident reports from the field
To learn more about IMPACT's technology solutions, visit them at or give them a call at (800)871-1244.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Keep Your Toughbook From Draining Your Battery!

If you have a Panasonic Toughbook mounted in one your vehicles, the Dock Master by Copeland Engineering, Inc. is definitely a product you need to put on your wish list!

This product hard-wires to your vehicle, via a simple installation procedure and transfers data via a USB connection.  The Dock Master then prevents the computer from draining the vehicle battery which protects the computer and the vehicle from a wide array of possible technical issues.

For the low price of only $209.95, the Dock Master will:

  • Eliminate computer downtime
  • Prevent laptops from draining batteries
  • Alert the user of low vehicle voltage
  • Monitor vehicle voltage, and adjust accordingly to protect the computer 
  • Allow the user to selectively discharge the laptop battery
  • Automatically shut down computers when battery power is low, to prevent the loss of critical data
  • Includes a 2 year warranty
  • Comes with customizable software that is both Windows XP and Windows 7 compatible

Dock Master can be purchased from a variety of vendors located throughout the United States.  A list of available vendors can be located on the Copeland website.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Hello Minority Report???

For those who haven't seen the movie Minority Report.  Minority Report is a 2002 American science fiction film directed by Steven Spielberg. It is set in the year 2054, where "PreCrime", a specialized police department, apprehends criminals based on foreknowledge provided by three psychics.  It seems a bit far-fetched that people (or a machine) could actually predict crime....however, it is happening.  Our technology, might not be quite as predictive as that shown in the movie, but it is still quite impressive.

A few intuitive developers reformulated the technology that was originally created to predict when and where aftershocks would occur following an earthquake.  This led to a new program called PredPol, which actually predicts where crimes are likely to occur in place-based prediction boxes as small as 500 feet by 500 feet. Officers are briefed at roll call on the highest-probability “hot spots” for that day and devote extra attention to those areas—as they see fit.  Unlike other programs that tell officers where crime has occurred, PredPol tells officers where crime is likely to occur.  It simply gives officers the tools they need to increase their odds of stopping a crime or being in the vicinity of a crime.

The program is remarkably easy to use.  The information that needs to be distributed to officers can be viewed from virtually any technological device or printed out on paper.  The program runs off-site through a cloud-based service, meaning there is no requirement for departments to bring on additional technical staff.  The program is also completely secure, and does not ever collect any information about officers or offenders.

Field use of the program has been successful.  It has been implemented in the Los Angeles Foothills and in the City of Santa Cruz.  The Los Angeles’ Foothill Division saw a decrease of 13% in crimes, compared to an increase of 0.4% in the rest of the city where the implementation had not yet happened.  In the City of Santa Cruz, burglaries were down 27% in July 2011 compared with July 2010.

Check out the following video from CBS News to view the program in action by the LAPD.

To learn more about this remarkable program, contact PredPol.

Friday, July 6, 2012

NuShield Screen Protectors

NuShield, Inc. is the nation’s leading manufacturer and distributor of screen protectors, screen protector kits, and touch screen overlays for electronic equipment. Their inventory is broad, and includes screen protection films for auto and GPS navigation devices, digital cameras and camcorders, electronic games, handheld computers, HDTV, industrial control devices, inventory control devices, laptops and tablets, LCD monitors, marine and aviation equipment, PDAs, Phones, POS displays, signature capture devices, Toughbooks and other electronic devices used in manufacturing and commercial applications. In all, they have screen protectors to fit over 6,000 electronic devices.

NuShield screen protection films are manufactured in the United States and are custom designed. These films are available to fit a wide variety of electronic devices and meet specific user needs.  The anti-glare and DayVue (antireflective) film can fit devices with screens up to 50 inch diagonal. NuShield screen protectors have undergone rigorous tests by the U.S. military to protect the LCD screens of their sensitive electronic equipment from scratching, chemicals, sea salt, dust, and sand.

NuShield screen protectors:

  • protect LCDs from keyboard damage
  • save LCD screens from scratches and sun glare
  • hides fingerprints and reduces screen glare in cars
  • installs easily and lasts indefinitely (with no adhesive film)
  • are super thin
  • can be cleaned easily and quickly without degrading anti-glare properties
  • does not affect touchscreen capabilities
  • are low cost (most are priced under $25.00)
Orders can easily be placed on the NuShield website.  Obtaining the proper screen for you unit is virtually fool-proof, as they are ordered based on make/model of the unit you are looking to protect.  When it comes time for installation, you simply need to follow the detailed installation directions posted on their site.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Rugged Keyboards from Man & Machine

Many departments prefer to mount Panasonic Toughbook CF-19's in their vehicles.  The reasoning behind it is relatively simple.  They are small, lightweight, fast, rugged, portable, and don't require a great deal of space.  However, a common complaint with many officers is the keyboard size on the CF-19.  Because it is a tablet unit, the keyboard on it is significantly smaller than standard-sized laptop keyboard.  Many departments mount the CF-19 as a tablet and then utilize a separate keyboard.

The issue that then arises is finding a keyboard that is going to stand up to the abuse that it will most likely receive in the vehicle.  There are the temperature fluctuations, the possible food/drink spills, and most importantly finding something that will easily work with the existing equipment in the vehicle.

That is where the So Cool keyboard by Man & Machine comes in!  Rugged, tough and built to take whatever the road dishes out.  So Cool is rattle-free, easy-to-clean and dependable as the day is long. 
You get advanced technology with multi-level backlight and great tactile feedback for a die-hard trooper you'll be proud to ride with.  The So Cool is a solid piece of silicone, meaning it is food/drink proof and has no parts to break.  It easily attaches to all major mounting systems, meaning it is an easy addition to the equipment you presently have in your vehicle.  This keyboard is a perfect in-vehicle solution for police, fire, and EMS vehicles.

This product is brand new and is releasing soon to the public safety sector.  You can follow Man & Machine on Facebook to stay up to date on when this product releases.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Product Review: Wired Blue's MyPD App

Wired Blue is dedicated to providing new and innovative solutions innovative solutions to police departments. They also aim to provide new and fiscally responsible pricing models for cities and towns.

Their first product, the MyPD app does just that. Police Departments are using this phone app to provide you with better service and improve communication.

With MyPD you can:
  • Follow the latest tweets from your department
  • Send Crime tips
  • Commend an Officer
  • Submit Feedback
  • Ask Questions
  • Get Directions to the Department
  • Easily find the Police Officers Names and Numbers that you need
  • These are just some of the tools that your Police Department is making available to you here. New features are always being added!
A growing number of Police Departments are utilizing this app for the citizens they serve!  Citizens of your community can use this app to connect with your department, by giving one-stop information from your websites, Facebook, and Twitter right on your smartphone. This puts information on services, contact information, and feedback all into one iPhone and Android app.

This app is completely free to the citizens of your community, and is available to departments at a low price.  to learn more, contact Wired Blue.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Police Security Expo 2012

June 26th & 27th, 2012 will be the 26th Annual Police Security Expo.  The expo is going to be held at the Atlantic City Convention Center.  The Police Security Expo is one of the nation’s largest, oldest, and best attended trade shows for Law Enforcement, Security, Government, Safety, First-Responder and Homeland Security Professionals.  The expo brings over 750 of the nation’s finest companies together to showcase thousands of products and services.  There are also multiple seminars and equipment demonstrations available throughout the two days of the show.

This expo has free admittance to anyone with law enforcement credentials, to include military and correction members.  With the multitude of vendors available, there are ample opportunities for those in law enforcement to learn about new services and products.

This expo gives departments the opportunity to:
  • Visit hundreds of exhibits with thousands of products and services
  • Meet representatives from some of the nation's finest companies, particularly those that focus primarily on emergency services personnel
  • See the latest technological advances for law enforcement agencies.
  • Save money with show only discounts and specials

Bob Johnson's Computer Stuff will be showcasing our discounted refurbished Panasonic Toughbooks in booth 1833.  We look forward to meeting you!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Radar Recorder: Know When And Where To Run Radar

Do you ever wonder if your citizens are becoming aware of your 'regular' places to run radar?  Do you think that people might be avoiding your speed traps?  Do you wonder if there are other places that people are routinely speeding?  Do you receive complaints from residents that people are routinely flying down their street?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you might want to check out JAMAR Technologies, Inc.  JAMAR Technologies has invented a radar recorder that allows you to easily gather traffic information and habits in various locations without dedicating man-hours to the location.  The radar recorder inconspicuously straps to a power-line pole or traffic sign pole, and when recording is complete it is easily removed.  Once installed, it can be set up to record volume data, binned information, or per vehicle data.

Volume data provides only a volume count of the vehicles recorded. It does not provide speed or length data.
Binned information gets its name from the fact that the Radar Recorder sorts the data as it is recorded in the field and stores the results in a specific numerical bin. In this format you can collect vehicle speed and\or length information along with volumes.  Per vehicle data stores speed and length information on every vehicle recorded. This data can be used to provide, volume, speed, length and gap information with the TRAXPro
software. Per vehicle data provides the greatest flexibility in working with your data and as such is the format recommended for data collection.

During any time during the data collection, you can connect the Radar Recorder to a laptop or tablet computer to download the information using the TRAXPro software.  This information is converted into easy-to-read data allowing you to easily determine what areas are in need of further reinforcement.

To learn more, check out the video from JAMAR Technologies.

The Radar Recorder - Complete Online Tutorial

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tri-State Law Expo - June 6-7, 2012

Kelly Simon Trade Shows is hosting the Tri-State Law Enforcement Expo on June 6-7, 2012.  The expo is being held at the Monroeville Convention Center (just outside of Pittsburgh, PA).  Doors are open from 9am-4pm both days of the show.  The location of this expo is relatively easily accessible for those in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and even Western New York.

Entrance to this expo, the seminars, and the training sessions is free to law enforcement, security, corrections officers, federal agencies, state agencies, and military members with proper identification.  Persons looking to attend can register either at the door or online.

There are multiple training opportunities occurring throughout both days of the expo.  With the free admittance, this is a great opportunity to get some hands-on knowledge.  Training seminars are being held by MayoTec,, PDA Safe, and Gang Unit Task Force members.  This is a great opportunity to get information ranging from weapons defensive tactics, to how to keep mobile data safe, and even how to identify street gang members.  A full list of training opportunities can be viewed online.

Along with the many training opportunities, there is a great opportunity to meet with various vendors and to view their products.  Where else can you gather information on everything from refurbished Panasonic Toughbooks to handcuffs to crime scene clean-up?  A full list of vendors can also be viewed online.

If you have time, this is definitely an expo that should take some time to check out!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Cooling Vests for K-9s

It is unseasonably hot and humid in the mid-Atlantic region of the US this week.  And quite frankly, all I can do is sit here and think of ways to get cool....and how much I wish I had a cooling vest to cool me off.  If it's this hot now, I can only imagine what summer is going to bring.

For those of us who spend a great deal of time outdoors, officers who wear heavy uniforms or those who wear second chance vests, your core temperature can get quite warm.  We have the option of locating a cooler place or utilizing cooling vest.  It got me thinking about K-9 working dogs.  They're ability to function is affected just as much as ours when they are suffering from heat exposure.  They are obviously kept in specialized transport vehicles, but how do they stay cool when they are being utilized outside or in excessive heat?

There is actually an option for your K-9!  GlacierTek has developed a vest for dogs.  It is called the RPCM Chilly Dog Cooling Vest.  What is RPCM?  RPCM (Renewable Phase Change Material) is made from high-technology processed fats and oils - it's classified as "food grade" by the FDA. Think of it as "second generation" phase change material for the 21st century. All other phase change material (PCM) cooling vests use old-style petroleum byproducts like hexadecane, which contain hazardous chemicals. If it doesn't say RPCM®, it's just not safe!  

RPCM Cooling Vests maintain a comfortable 59°F (15°C), while ice or gel based systems are too cold at 32°F (0°C) or less. RPCM Cool Packs quickly recharge in only 20 minutes in ice water. They can also be recharged in a fridge or freezer.

GlacierTek has an entire line of cooling vests for people as well....both adults and children.

Friday, May 25, 2012

A Brief History of Memorial Day

We all know that Memorial Day is one of those much appreciated holidays that guarantee us a long weekend the week of May.  It comes at a perfect time when the weather is just starting to really get nice all around the country.  But, do you know why we get that day off?

Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day.  It was actually first celebrated on May 30th, 1868.  General James Garfield made a memorable speech at Arlington National Cemetery honoring both the Union and Confederate soldiers who gave their lives during the Civil War.  Following his speech, nearly 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves the 20,000 fallen soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery.  The holiday was not officially immediately recognized by all of the states, as the Southern states refused to honor their dead on the same day as the Northern States.  That changed after World War I when the day changed from honoring those who died in the Civil War to those who died in any war.

Over time, many people have forgotten the reason behind Memorial Day.  It is a day to honor those who sacrificed their life to uphold the freedoms of their country.  In an effort to remind (and re-educate) Americans of the meaning, Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act in 2000.  It asks that at 3pm (local time) all Americans "To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to Taps."

We hope you all have a safe and enjoyable long holiday weekend, but we also hope you take a moment to remember that it is to remember those who gave their life to protect your country.

A little Memorial Day trivia...
Do you know why they sell the little red flowers on the side of the road during Memorial weekend?
The selling of poppies during Memorial Day by members of the VFW was actually inspired by the poem In Flanders Fields (below).  Funds raised through the selling of these flowers is used to help maintain and fund state and national veteran's rehabilitation programs.  It also helps to support the VFW National Home, which supports the orphans and widows of our nation's veterans.

In Flanders Fields - Lt. Col. John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields were valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
that blood of heroes never dies.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Thinking of Adding A K9 Unit: What You Should Know

The are multiple benefits to having a K9 unit in any police department.  K9s are more agile and have a significantly better sense of smell than humans.  This makes them more efficient at clearing buildings, tracking suspects or missing persons, seeking out drugs or explosives, and even locate accelerants in arson investigations.  However, there is a lot more to starting a K9 unit than having a large police vehicle and getting a dog.

There is a significant start up cost involved in starting a K9 unit.  Initial start up costs include purchasing a dog, equipment, proper transportation, food, vets, and training.  So, what can you look to spend?

  • The Dog - Purchase of a pre-trained adult dog will range between $4500-$15,000.  Reputable vendors will have warranties with their dogs, such as replacement if the dog develops a health issue or is deemed not to be a good fit within a few months of purchase.
  • The Vehicle - You can either purchase a vehicle specifically built for K9 units (which are going to cost slightly more than standard SUVs or cruisers).  These vehicles come with installed kennels, rear cooling systems, spill proof water dishes, heat alarms, and automatic door openers.  These items are essential for keeping your dog safe while in the vehicle (both with an officer and without), and allows the dog to be released from the vehicle in an officer distress.
  • The Vet - K9s are exposed to many more dangers than a common household pet.  They can be exposed to excessive heat/cold and they can be injured in the line of duty (such as through stabbings or gun shot wounds).  It is important that a 24-hour veterinarian who has experience in police dogs is a necessity.
  • The Training - Most K9s will come pre-trained by the company you purchase them from.  However, it is necessary at purchase to train your handler.  This makes sure that the dog and the handler are a good match and that all training the dog has previously received is understood.  K9s also require continuous training, similar to that of officers, to keep their skills fresh.
  • The Handler - Although this officer will still perform regular duties, they will also be required to take full responsibility for the K9.  Many departments have K9s live with their handlers (which is also recommended by many trainers).  If you do not currently have a member of your department who can devote both their on-duty and off-duty time to a K9, you will need to bring on an additional member as a K9 Handler.
It is also important to remember that there are going to be significant costs in maintaining a K9 unit as well. There are obvious expenses such as vehicle maintenance and well-check vet visits.  Often overlooked costs include the extra pay for the handler (as they are working a 24/7/365 job) and dog replacement.  Police dogs are generally around 2 years of age at the time of purchase; on average they are retired around 7-10 years of age.  This means approximately every five years you will need to replace your K9s.  Also, as they age, they are more likely to be prone to health issues (because of the breeds often used, they are prone to hip and knee issues as they age).

However, there are grant opportunities available for the purchase of K9s.  Grants vary on a state-by-state basis, but can significantly off-set the initial and follow-up costs.

If you are willing to dedicated the finances, time, and training to a K9, more information regarding K9 programs can be found through the US Police Canine Association and the North American Police Work Dog Association.  You should also talk with a local department about their experiences as well.