Friday, December 27, 2013

Friday Link Roundup

"Smart car" NYPD cruiser. Source: Wall Street Journal
NYPD unveils high-tech, "smart" police cruiser.

(Wall Street Journal)

Caught on video: Cleveland cops have a snowball fight.

(Fox 8 Cleveland)

Conrad Alvin Barrett, scumbag
Scumbag arrested for hate crime after showing an off-duty cop his "knockout game" video in which he allegedly slugged a 79-year-old man. 

(Associated Press via PoliceOne)

PoliceOne shares its top ten videos of 2013.


Zen and the Art of Panasonic Toughbook Maintenance.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

C-Thru Smoke Diving Helmet Is a Cool Concept, But that's All It Is.

On Friday I linked to what appeared to be an amazing, game-changing firefighter's helmet, the C-Thru Smoke Diving Helmet, designed by Omer Haciomeroglu and written about in the popular industrial design blog Yanko Design. After reading the article, after posting it on the Friday Link Roundup, and after ruminating over it, something seemed a little off about it. The images had a slightly "uncanny valley" feel to them, as if they were perhaps computer renderings, Photoshop composites, or some combination of the two. I couldn't find them for sale anywhere, or find any indication that they were in testing, even though the language of the article implies that the helmets actually exist ("C-Thru is a helmet" rather than "C-Thru is a concept for a helmet," "this is how it works" rather than "this is how it would work, in theory," etc.). At the time of writing, the designer's website is an "under construction" page, which seems odd for a high-tech industrial designer. In some of the pictures, the wire-frame graphics displayed on the visor screens would appear backwards to the person wearing the helmet.
And so on.

Now, there's nothing wrong with reporting on interesting concepts, as Yanko Design often does. In this case, it's a sin of omission. The word "concept" never appears in the article, its tags, its URL, or anywhere else on the page. Still, I'm hesitant to place too much blame on Yanko. Older articles do mention that the project is in its conceptual stages, but that information is easy to miss. FireRescue1 mistakenly refers to it as a "prototype." While it's true that Yanko failed to perform their due diligence, I could say as much for myself, as I posted the link.

C-Thru is a very cool, perhaps very legitimate concept, but it is just a concept. No hardware, no prototype actually exists yet. The images are not, strictly speaking, real.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Friday Link Roundup

NYPD Officer literally gives a homeless man the shirt off his back.

(New York Post)

Cop takes a bullet in fire fight. Vietnam veteran provides cover until backup arrives.


This high tech firefighter helmet concept is would be incredible.

(Yanko Design)

Australian Emergency Services Personnel have started using Twitter's new emergency warning system.

(The Guardian, Twitter)

Factoring in the cost of ownership, Panasonic Toughbooks actually cost less than other laptops.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Knightscope Introduces Robotic Security Guard


On December 5, 2013, Silicon Valley robotics startup Knightscope unveiled its K5 Autonomous Data Machine prototype. We'll just call it the Knightscope, for short. It's a security guard robot that they hope will cut crime by 50%, an ambitious goal for a machine that can't speak or summit a curb. It has so far invited a lot of comparisons to R2-D2. Personally, I think it looks kind of like a Slap Chop.looks like a Slap Chop looks like a Knightscope robot

The story goes that, after Sandy Hook, Knightscope's developers came to the conclusion that there would never be armed security in every American school, and that something else had to be done to prevent future tragedies. I'm sure that it also didn't hurt that the project is projected to make over a billion dollars, easily. It will be rented out to malls, corporate campuses, and other facilities that would otherwise require security personnel. With a fee of $1000 for a month's worth of 8-hour shifts, the Knightscope works for way less than minimum wage. As it patrols, the Knightscope records its surroundings with various high-tech cameras and sensors, pumping terabyte after terabyte of raw data to local servers or onto the cloud. An analytic system parses the data to generate maps of crime hot spots, then passes alerts on to the authorities and the local community. Able to "see, feel, hear and smell," it is likely to stir up controversy over privacy concerns and mass surveillance. Obviously, it's not meant to spy on people, but that doesn't mean it couldn't be used that way. Here's the rundown of a few of its features and limitations.

Things the Knightscope can do:

  • Create a 3D map of its surroundings using a lidar (it's like a radar, but uses lasers)
  • Geolocate with GPS
  • See in the dark or other adverse conditions using night vision and thermal imaging
  • Monitor and record sound with to detect ambient abnormalities, like screaming
  • Go an entire shift on a single battery charge
In the future, they plan on making it able to detect radiation, chemical and biological weapons, and airborne pathogens.

Things the Knightscope can't do:

  • Stop an attack or break up a fight
  • Make an arrest
  • Give someone directions to the bathroom
  • Stairs
What do you think, is this the best answer to America's security woes? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Amazing World of Exoskeleton Technology

Science Fiction: The Mother of Invention

In 1898, and again in its 1938 radio adaptation, H.G. Wells' The War of The Worlds captivated audiences with its tale of Martian invasion. Throughout the 1930s and '40s, Buck Rogers space exploration stories filled comic book pages, pulp magazines, movie theaters and radio airwaves. Moviegoers in the early '50s devoured films like The Day the Earth Stood Still and Destination Moon. In 1953, Abbot and Costello went to Mars. In 1957, the Soviets sent Sputnik I into space. It was the starter's pistol to the Space Race and the onset of a new technological revolution. In 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space and, in 1969, television sets that had earlier shown Lost in Space and Star Trek showed Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon.

A 1928 issue of the Amazing Stories comic book featured a hero zipping around in a jet pack, a fictional technology reprised often in popular culture, including the 1954 film The Rocket Man. A decade later, a real jet pack took flight at the California State Fair.

In 2000, Honda created ASIMO, a humanoid robot whose name pays homage to sci-fi author Isaac Asimov, the man who coined the word "robotics."

Captain Kirk's handheld communicator inspired the invention of the cell phone.

Art and fiction populate our imaginations, inspiring new technologies. So, the question now is, in humanity's ongoing effort to make reality and fantasy overlap, who's going to build the first real Iron Man suit?

Iron Man and the Bionic Woman: Technology to Enhance the Human Body

So far, the closest real-life analogs to the Iron Man suit are powered exoskeletons -- wearable machines consisting of an outer framework that uses motors or hydraulics to deliver added energy to the body's movements. In recent years, several exoskeleton variations have emerged for a variety of purposes. The greatest efforts seem to be for medical and military applications, but there are also exoskeletons whose purpose is less specialized. All are made to enhance the human body, whether that means enabling a paraplegic to walk away from his wheelchair, a soldier to carry heavy supplies for miles without getting tired, a rescue worker to lift heavy debris, or an action hero to fight aliens in space.

Medical exoskeletons
Ekso Bionics
Argo Medical Technologies
Rex BionicsIn the 1970s TV series The Bionic Woman, tennis pro Jaime Sommers is saved by surgically implanted bionics after a near-fatal skydiving accident. Although medical exoskeletons neither require a scalpel nor allow the wearer to run at 60 miles per hour, they can give those who have suffered paralyzing injury the ability to walk again. While the technology is not yet perfect, devices like Argo Medical Technologies' ReWalk, Rex Bionics' Rex, and Ekso Bionics' Ekso (formerly Berkley Bionics eLEGS) have already had some success helping people who had previously been restricted to wheelchairs to walk.

Each exoskeleton has its limitations. The Ekso and ReWalk both require the wearer to use crutches, and the Rex is controlled using a joystick not unlike a motorized wheelchair. Merely the sensation of being upright and at eye level with others, however, can make a profound impact on the wearer's physical and emotional well-being.

Honda's Walking Assist device has recently begun clinical trials
Not every strength and mobility issue is due to paralysis. For those who do not necessarily require wheelchairs, but nevertheless suffer from limited or deteriorating mobility, there are some less intensive bionic solutions in the works. By far the smallest and sleekest exoskeletal mobility booster is Honda's Walking Assist device. It is not a wheelchair replacement, but rather a rehabilitation tool for those with limited mobility. The device, which uses a combination of hip sensors and motors to improve stride, has recently begun clinical trials on stroke survivors, 80 percent of whom have difficulty walking.

I get by with a little help from my bionic exoskeleton

The Titan Arm is being developed by students at the University of PennsylvaniaFocusing on the upper body, students at the University of Pennsylvania are currently developing the Titan Arm, a bionic arm to be used both therapeutically and as a strength augmenter to assist in labor and rescue missions. While most powered exoskeletons are bulky and expensive, Their goal is to develop an ergonomic and affordable device.

Perhaps the most technologically advanced exoskeleton is Cyberdyne's HAL 5 (Hybrid Assistive Limb) "robot suit." By detecting faint biosignals on the surface of the wearer's skin, this "cyborg-type robot" is able to pick up on instructions the brain sends the muscles, allowing it to move based on the wearer's intentions rather than moving in response to muscle activity.

Cyberdyne HAL 5Cyberdyne, as you may have noticed, derives its name from the fictional tech corporation in the Terminator franchise and, like Honda's ASIMO, the robot suit's name makes a sci-fi reference, alluding to Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Storm-trooper white with glowing blue rings at the joints, HAL 5 looks like something out of a science fiction movie.

Lockheed Martin HULCRB3D HerculeHAL 5's function, like that of the Titan Arm, is not as specialized as powered exoskeletons that are strictly medical. Configured for everyday activities and motions, like standing up, sitting down, walking and climbing stairs, as well as heavy lifting and labor, its uses are potentially broad and yet to be fully seen.

Exoskeletons for badasses

If the previously mentioned powered exoskeletons were the Bionic Woman (or, for that matter, the Six Million Dollar Man) -- made to compensate for those who may otherwise be at a physical disadvantage -- The following are Iron Man. This is where AC/DC starts playing. These are exoskeletons built for intense action.
Raytheon XO 2
The technology behind Lockheed Martin's Human Universal Load Carrier, or HULC derives from the Ekso robotic legs. The (incredible) HULC, however, adapted for military use, applies the technology completely differently. Using and onboard microcomputer to correlate its movements with the wearer, it's flexible enough for the wearer to squat and crawl, and powerful enough to lift 200 pounds effortlessly. Lockheed Martin also plans to design similar exoskeletons for industrial use as well as mission-specific operations.

Activelink Power Loader LightCommissioned by the French Directorate General of Armaments, the RB3D Hercule, which looks a bit like a headless android riding piggyback, is a light-weight, lithium-ion battery-powered "collaborative robot." It has been designed to work intuitively, requiring no special training to use. Like the HULC, it is designed to enhance the wearer's endurance and assist with heavy lifting. It can go for 12.5 miles on a single charge, and while it's a bit bulkier than the HULC, it has a slightly better carrying capacity (about 220 lbs). In addition to military operations, the Hercule may prove useful in fire fighting, construction, logistics, and medical applications.

Other than the HULC, the only exoskeleton under development for the US military is Raytheon's second-generation XOS 2. In some ways, it's one of the more impressive robot suits out there. In demonstrations, soldiers have used it to punch through solid wooden blocks. With an actual weight to perceived weight ratio of 17:1, a 100 lbs. crate of supplies would feel like less than 6 lbs., essentially like carrying an empty box. Unfortunately, the XOS 2 currently needs to be tethered to a power source to work. An untethered version is expected to be fully operational by the year 2020.

Not to be left behind, Panasonic, under their affiliate company Activelink, is currently developing the Power Loader Light, a real-life version of the Power Loader from the movie Aliens. Like its movie counterpart, it is designed for industrial and logistics work. Unfortunately, Activelink has abandoned the massive robotic arms of their earlier prototype. In its current form, it seems unlikely that the Power Loader could be used to defeat space monsters, but who knows what the future holds?

Friday Link Roundup

Every Friday, we'll post a few links to interesting and relevant content we've come across during the week. Seen something online worth sharing? Send an email to our tip line

Ulysses S. Grant. Get it?

New York City crime map

Panasonic partners up with Avnet
Panasonic expands Toughbook distribution in Australia

Comedian bakes iPhone shaped cookies to prank cops, ends up getting arrested for an outstanding warrant

Friday, December 6, 2013

K-Max Unmanned Helicopters Transport Cargo in Afghanistan

(Thanks to Richard from Facebook for pointing out that the video shows them using a Getac laptop, and not a Toughbook. Thank goodness we have readers who are more attentive than I am!)

Since December 2011, under contract with the United States Marine Corps, Lockheed Martin has been operating a new kind of "drone" in Afghanistan. Converted from a cargo-lifting machine and operated using a Toughbook Getac computer, the K-Max can fly up to 15,000 feet carrying up to 6,000 pounds -- its own body weight. Over a 15-month period, the two units currently in operation carried three million pounds of supplies. Given the K-Max's success thus far, Lockheed is hoping to strike a formal deal with either the Marines or the U.S. Army to put at least six more unmanned helicopters in the air.

For more information, check out the article at AIN Online.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

GPS "Bullet" Tracks Fleeing Suspects

StarChase GPS Tag

High-speed police pursuits, as readers are well aware, are dangerous and unpredictable. When a suspect makes the decision to flee, he or she—realizing it or not—leverages that danger against the pursuing officer's duty to uphold the law. The vast majority of chases are the result of non-violent crimes, a large percentage of which are traffic violations, but that doesn't mean an officer can simply let every suspect go. When engaging in a high-speed pursuit, an officer follows his or her obligation to enforce the law, even as it poses a clear risk to public safety (42% of those killed or injured in police pursuits areinnocent bystanders. One in every hundred high-speed pursuits results in a fatality). Research has shown that most suspects drive more slowly and are less of a hazard on the road if they believe that they are not being chased. In a perfect world, officers would never have to engage in dangerous chases, but as suspects continue to flee, they continue to be a part of police work.

The StarChase System aims to reduce or eliminate the need for high-speed pursuits using a projectile GPS device that would be right at home in a spy movie. An air cannon mounted to the front of the patrol vehicle launches the projectile, or tag, which adheres to the suspect's vehicle. The tag, which is a bit smaller than a can of Coke, transmits a signal via satellite to a web server that can then be accessed remotely to monitor the suspect's location and movements. The officer is now able to drop back, allowing police to strategically intervene at lower speeds, reducing the risk to human life.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Rookie SideKick

The Rookie is such a suitable name for this new fire department tool.  Rookie's are often subject to the brunt of the physical labor and unpleasant jobs around the firehouse.  One of the biggest and most tedious jobs? the fire hose.

The Rookie SideKick is a portable, motorized fire hose roller system.  There are several Rookie SideKick's available, with products that are especially geared towards municipal, wildland, and industrial fire departments.  Based upon the usage, the Rook SideKick can roll hoses up to six inches in diameter.  In the process of rolling the hoses, it also removes all water from the hose.

Why should you consider a Rookie SideKick?
  • It's state-of-the-art!  The Rookie SideKick is the only motorized hose rolling system available.
  • It's safer!  The Rookie SideKick is ergonomically designed to cause less physical strain on your firefighters.  It is significantly safer than physically carrying the load of the hoses as you roll them.
  • It's efficient!  The Rookie SideKick will roll a hose in about 50% less time than it would take a firefighter.  This leaves your firefighters with time for additional work and well rested when they're on-scene.
  • It's versatile!  Roll everything from 3/4" to 6" hoses on the same Rookie SideKick.
  • It's guaranteed!  The Rookie SideKick comes with a 100% no risk, money back return policy!
Check out the following video to see it in action!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Extendobed - Get More Storage Out Of Your Vehicle!

Extendobed has be designing and distributing products to business and law enforcement professionals for over 25 years.  Their custom designs are suitable for all different types of professionals.  However, their primary market is fire departments and law enforcement agencies.

Extendobed is the original manufacturer of the expandable truck bed liner.  Extendo Bed is a truck bed extender that will carry a full cargo load over 1200 pounds & extend 100% beyond the length of the truck bed or SUV cargo area. These patented truck bed drawers are ideal for fire and police departments as a command center and emergency or first response, contractors, the military, farriers, or anyone else who needs easy access to their truck bed and tools.

Each bed extender is also extremely rugged and durable.  Not only are they built to withstand a great deal of weight and cargo, they are durable enough to withstand every use and abuse.  Extendobed actually boasts that many of their units, including the first one built in 1987, are still in service today.  Now, that says a lot about the durability and life expectancy of one of  these units!

Extendobeds come pre-designed for command centers, search and rescue, SWAT, equipment storage, crime scene, or they can even be custom designed.

Check out an Extendobed in action!

Extendo Bed Time Lape from Chris Ennis on Vimeo.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Friday, August 9, 2013

Should Your Department Have Mobile Biometrics?

Technology is constantly evolving and changing.  It seems as though every day there is a new or updated version of a product designed to make policing easier, deciding whether or not to buy in to the new technology can often be a lofty decision.  Is the technology going to be around for a while?  Is it going to be be widely used?  Is it going to work?  Is the advertised increase in efficiency going to be worth the initial purchase costs?

Fulcrum Biometrics FbF Mobile One
Should your department invest in a mobile biometric scanner?  A what?  A mobile fingerprint scanner about the size of a cell phone.  Whether or not this investment makes sense for your department might be highly dependent upon the size of your jurisdiction.  If you're a small town and know your residents, there's probably no need for this type of technology.  However, if you are a large city or a tourist destination, being able to accurately identify individuals can save you a great deal of manpower in the long run.

The Richmond County Sheriff's Office (Georgia) deployed the use of seventeen mobile fingerprint scanners in throughout their department in 2012, and were looking to add ten addition units this year due to the success of the initial purchase.  In an interview with the Augusta Chronicle, Capt. Scott Gay said of the mobile fingerprint scanners, "They're a valuable tool.  They help us ID folks who try to be misleading."

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has had similar findings.  The use of these devices saved a great deal of man hours in the long run.  In particular, it drastically reduced the number or mandatory rebookings due to paperwork issues.  For example, if a person was apprehended and gave their name as John Doe, that is the name that would be placed on all paperwork associated with their booking...until finger print identification returned that their true name was John Smith, causing the arresting officer to need to completely redo all paperwork associated with that booking.  With the use of the mobile fingerprint scanner, the arresting officer can determine that John Doe's true name is John Smith prior to ever getting him back to the station...well before filling out mounds of paperwork with the incorrect information.  It has allowed their officers to spend more time patrolling the streets and less time in the office performing administrative duties

Monday, July 1, 2013

Wireless Signal Used For Radar?

You are well aware that your wireless router is used to help you broadcast your internet connection throughout your home or place of business.  But, did you also know that the same wireless router can be used much like sonar to detect whereabouts of persons within your home or place of business?  Neither did we!

British engineers from University College London have recently devised a way to use wireless signals from wireless routers as a passive radar system.  The system simply requires a computer about the size of a suitcase with two antennae and a wireless router that is broadcasting the wireless signal.

1. Suspect, 2. Wireless Router, 3. Antennae, 4. Antennae, 5. Signal processing unit

The radio waves emitted by the wireless router are altered when they come into contact with a moving object.  Therefore, this passive radar is able to detect a person's location, speed and moving direction through a brick wall up to a foot thick.  Unfortunately, one can easily thwart this passive radar system by simply being still.  Without movement, the radio waves are not altered and will not alert anyone of your location.

Karl Woodbridge and Kevin Chetty, the creators of this new technology, are hoping that they will be able to fine tune this technology to the point that it will be able to recognize the movement of your rib cage that occurs naturally as you breathe in and out.

Although there are some possible commercial grade aspects to this technology, such as a whole home radar to be aware of what young children are doing when you leave the room, the majority of applications for this technology are focused around military and law enforcement applications.

To learn more about this developing technology, check out the following video:

Friday, May 31, 2013

The BEAR from BEAR-iatrics

It is no secret that our country is getting larger and that more and more of our population is becoming overweight, obese, and morbidly obese.  The issues that come with being a significantly larger size aren't just limited to the overweight person, their weight can also greatly affect the ability of the first responder who needs to get them to the hospital.

Many ambulance companies have begun to add bariatric ambulances to their fleets.  These ambulances are specially designed to carry wider stretchers that more adequately support the size and weight of obese and morbidly obese patients.  Unfortunately, these specialty ambulances come with two major obstacles.  There are substantial costs involved in the purchase of or transformation to a bariatric ambulance.  Finding out after arrival that a bariatric ambulance is required can drastically increase the amount of time that it would take to get a patient to the hospital.

BEAR-iatrics Inc has a cost-effective solution for this growing problem....The BEAR Unit.  BEAR is short for Bariatric Equalizing Abdominal Restraint.  This simple device allows you to turn virtually any ambulance stretcher into one that is safe to transport obese persons with.  The BEAR is attached directly to the stretcher, and it is then secured around the obese patient.  It works by stabilizing the abdominal mass, which makes the patient feel more secure, decreases the likelihood of them being pinched by the stretcher, and allows for ease of transport.

To learn more about the BEAR unit, check out the following video:

There is also a smaller AirBEAR available for when larger patients need to be transported by air flights.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Mess-Free Fire Extinguisher Training

Most families have a fire extinguisher in their home.  This extinguisher can be utilized to quickly and safely extinguish the majority of fires when they start in their home.  Unfortunately, most adults have not had fire extinguisher training.  This means that in an emergency, they won't know how to use the tools they have to help put out the fire before it quickly spreads.

Many fire departments offer training for their local residents.  But, between the fire extinguishers and their discharge, the cost of such trainings can be quite expensive and messy.  With the BullsEye Extinguisher Training system, those issues are soon to be in the past.

The BullsEye is a state of the art training tool that uses digital flame generation and patented sensor technology to demonstrate proper fire extinguishing techniques.  It senses the location of the trainee, if the trainee has properly aimed the extinguisher and if the trainee is properly sweeping the nozzle of the extinguisher. The system varies the digital flames in response, only extinguishing the fire if the proper technique is used.

So, how does it work?  The BullsEye unit uses hundreds of LEDs and an on-board microprocessor to dynamically generate digital flames. Depending on the class of fire and level of difficulty selected by the instructor, the flames will grow, diminish and respond as the trainee attempts to extinguish the simulated fire.
Trainees can fight the digital fire using either a laser-driven infrared extinguisher or a pressurized air/water SmartExtinguisher. The sensors on the BullsEye unit allow the system to interact with the trainee and detect where and how the trainee is using either style of training extinguisher. In each case, the system responds by increasing or decreasing the size of the flames in the area the user is targeting, relative to the trainee’s technique and efforts.  To successfully extinguish the fire, the trainee must sweep the extinguisher across the base of the fire. If the trainee aims just below or just above the base, the flames will diminish, but will not be extinguished. If the trainee aims at only one s
ide of the fire, that side will be extinguished while the other side continues to grow.

Because the BullsEye does not utilize real flames or actual fire extinguisher discharge, it can safely be utilized for training in virtually any location and with people of varying ages.  It also allows departments to easily train numerous people without having to worry about refilling standard extinguishers.

To learn more, check out the following video:

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Emergency Vehicle Kit

You never know when you are going to be in or come upon an emergency situation.  For that reason it is important that you have a first aid/survival kit in your car and ready to go at all time...because you never know when you're going to need it.

The big question is often, what do I put in it?  Or, what should I have in my car?

  • Seatbelt Cutter / Window Punch - These are sold separately and as a single unit.  Considering there is a great possibility of needing both for the same emergency, get the single unit!  Unlike the rest of your emergency kit, this item should not be kept in your trunk.  This item should be kept in the center console of your vehicle...where you can easily access it if you need to cut your own seatbelt to get out of your vehicle.
  • Charged Cell-Phone - Generally, this item is kept on your person, not in your emergency bag.  However, it is important to make sure that it is well-charged, if not fully-charged, when you get in the car.  Battery life in your cell phone could mean the life or death difference of contacting 911 in an emergency.
  • First Aid Kit - Your first aid kit should contain band-aids, gauze pads, adhesive tape, and antibacterial spray/ointment.  If you would stop to help a vehicle on the side of the road, you might also want to include a few pairs of latex gloves and a CPR mask so that you can safely provide assistance to others.
  • Fire Extinguisher - The chance of using an extinguisher on your own vehicle is probably a little on the slim side.  But, it could happen.  Or you might need it for another person's vehicle.  Any extinguisher should be rated for Class B or Class C fires.  

  • Flashlight - You should have a flashlight and extra batteries in your kit.  To ensure that your flashlight will work in various situations, it should be waterproof.
  • Reflectors - To keep yourself safe while changing a tire or to keep others from crashing into an accident, you should set up triangle reflectors.  Safety officers recommend placing 3 triangles about 35-50 feet apart so that motorists have warning they are approaching an emergency prior to being on top of them time to slow down.
  • Blanket - Although many people might only think to put a blanket in their personal winter emergency vehicle kit in case they got stuck on the side of the road, it can be useful during summer months as well.

These are must haves for any first responder to have in their personal vehicle in case they come upon an accident.  If you are looking to pack your personal emergency kit, you should also include a non-perishable food item (like protein bars), water, jumper cables, tire sealant, and a tire gauge.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

C.O.P.S. - Concerns of Police Survivors

Although it's not something that is talked about, every police officer knows that each and every day they go to work it could be the last day that they get to see their family.  Statistically, every 53 hours a police officer is killed in the line of duty.  That is a little over 150 police officers a year that leave behind a family.

C.O.P.S. knows that it isn't just the officer who is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, the families they leave behind do too.  Because of this, C.O.P.S. was founded in 1984, with the purpose of providing resources to help the families of the fallen to rebuild their lives.

The founding organization consisted of 110 members in a small local chapter.  Today,

C.O.P.S. has over 50 chapters nationwide and is comprised of over 15,000 families.  Members include spouses, children, siblings, significant others, and co-workers of those killed in the line of duty.  Together, these local chapters offer peer support groups, national counseling programs, kids/teen programs (such as outward bound experiences and summer camps), scholarships, and assistance in attaining death benefits.

C.O.P.S. also offers extensive training opportunities for local police departments.  This training gives them the tools to best handle situations such as death notifications and assisting the family.

Bob Johnson's Computer Stuff is proud to be a supporter of C.O.P.S.  We work directly with police officers every day and we firmly believe that your families should be greatly assisted should they have to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Those interested in donating can contact their local chapter or donate online to the national organization.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

National Police Week 2013

Next week is National Police Week begins next week.  This event began back in 1962 when President John F. Kennedy officially made May 15th Peace Officers Memorial Day, a day to remember fallen officers from around the nation.  The week in which this memorial day falls has been since designated as Police Week.  

Presently, tens of thousands of officers from around the world and families of fallen officers visit Washington D.C. during police week to participate in events that centered around honoring officers who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty.  There are honorary events such as the memorial service and candlelight vigil at the National Law Enforcement Memorial, which last year drew in nearly 40,000 viewers.  There are also support group meetings for family's who are dealing with the loss of a loved one.  There are also activities in place to raise money for fantastic organizations such as National Peace Officers' Memorial Fund and C.O.P.S.  

Along with the national events that take place in Washington D.C., many departments throughout the United States put on smaller Police Week events in their city.  Local events here in Dover, Delaware are being hosted by the USAF 436th Security Forces Squadron.  They are going to include:

Saturday May 11th, 2013Opening Ceremonies (State LEO Memorial on the Mall--Dover, DE)

Statewide Law Enforcement Parade (Dover PD to State LEO Memorial)

Law Enforcement Field Day (Show off Patrol Cars, Recruitment, Police Demos, and family and friends field day--The Greens Dover, DE adjacent to the capital)

Monday May 13th, 2013Trip to D.C. For the Official NLEOM Candlelight Vigil (Washington, D.C.)

Tuesday May 14th, 2013Police Week Golf Tournament (Eagle's Nest Golf Course--Dover AFB)
$45.00 entrance fee (team golf)

Wednesday May 15, 2013Law Enforcement Fitness Challenge (Obstacle course--Dover AFB)
$10 per person entrance fee (4 person teams)

Run in Remembrance (A mile for every LEO killed since 15 May 2012-present--Dover AFB)--Donations only.

Thursday May 16, 2013Law Enforcement Handgun Marksmen Competition (Walking Dead themed course of fire--Dover AFB CATM Firing Range)
$10 per person (Singles)
$20 per team (Doubles)

Friday May 17, 2013Closing Ceremonies
Retreat/DSP Pipes and Drums (Dover AFB Headquarters Flag pole)
4 p.m.

Law Enforcement Ball (Statewide--Dover Downs)
Rollins Center Ball room
7 p.m. To Midnight
$45 tickets (Black Tie)

Proceeds from all local events are being donated to C.O.P.S.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Cost of Fire...and How to Bring it Down!

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the cost of fire fighting has gone up monumentally over the course of the last thirty years.  Even with numbers being adjusted for general inflation, the cost of fire is 38% higher in 2010 than it was in 1980.

It is estimated that fire costs about $328 billion per year.  That number covers everything from economic loss (such as property damage), to human loss (such as loss of life, medical care, or pain and suffering), to the actual cost of preventing fire (such as fire departments and equipment).  A significant bulk of the costs stem from prevention.

That should leave every fire department questioning what they can do to help their department save money.  So, how can you save money?  And how can you help other departments save money too?

Companies like Fire Dog Services deal in donated turnout gear.  Working with a company like this allows you to acquire newer gear for your department, keeping you up to date with safety regulations, even if you don't quite have the funding to do so.  Donating your older gear to Fire Dog Services can greatly impact the budget of smaller less funded departments!

Fire Equipment
Any fire department will tell you that one of their biggest expenses is their trucks and pumpers.  New vehicles are expensive, but frequent repairs on aging vehicles isn't always much cheaper.  As an alternative to buying a brand new truck, look at a company like Adirondack Fire Equipment.  They buy and sell well-conditioned used emergency service vehicles.  You can assist in the funding of your new vehicle by selling your old one, or upgrade to a newer vehicle by purchasing used.

When it comes to buying rugged computer equipment most departments deal with a moment of sticker-shock.  By looking to purchase refurbished Panasonic Toughbooks, you can essentially outfit your entire fleet for the cost of purchasing one new unit.

One of the most underused forms of funding purchases for emergency service agencies is grant funding.  Grants are essentially free funding to assist smaller, financially needy departments with the ability to get the newer equipment that they so desperately need.  And grants are available for practically, tools, apparatus, turnouts, hoses, and the list goes on-and-on.  Grant writing services are even available for those who aren't quite sure if they can properly write up a grant!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Protect Your Department From Hackers

As a government agency your department is at an excessively large risk to the damage that can be caused byRedbull quickly typing random jargon on their keyboard; most hacks actually come in a much more discreet form, viruses.
hackers.  By now you've probably read, or at least browsed the headline, of an article or two about foreign governments and radical groups attempting to gain access to various American infrastructures to either cripple their systems or gather sensitive information.  It's not quite as dramatic as the movies make it seem, with computer obsessed techies chugging

It is important that your department take the appropriate steps to deter the chance of your department falling vulnerable to their attacks.  There are a few simple steps you can take to keep your department safe.

  1. Secure Your Network:  You need to do this at home and at your department!  Having an unsecured wireless network is the equivalent of leaving your front door wide open when you aren't's an easy way for criminals to just walk right in unnoticed!  Locating an unsecured network can be done by looking for wifi on a smartphone or driving around with a laptop.  Once they find one, it's not too difficult to access the information you have on any computer on your network.  All of this can be prevented simply by applying a password to your network!  If you don't know how, call your internet provider or your local computer dealer or repair service to come out and help you secure it!
  2. Passwords: There are two major password recommendations for your safety (for these passwords we are referring to opening your computer, accessing your online banking, or your email account).  The first is to have a strong password, which can be created by using a combination of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols in every password.  The second is a bit more of a hassle, but it is recommended that you change your password around every 90 days.
  3. Be Cautious of Email:  Obviously all email is not bad.  But if an email address, name, or subject line seems suspicious, do yourself a favor and just delete it.  Don't even open it first!  Just put it straight in the trash!  If you do open all of your emails, be extra cautious with attachments.  If you aren't expecting a .zip file from someone, chances are it's a pretty bad idea to open it.  While we're at it, the "you have to see this video/photo/article/etc" emails are generally also virus laden. 
If you'd like more tips, check out A Hacker's Tips To Stay Safe Online.  Who better to give tips than a reformed security-breaching hacker?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Binder E-Z Lift

It is no secret that our country is getting larger and that more and more of our population is becoming overweight, obese, and morbidly obese.  The issues that come with being a significantly larger size aren't just limited to the overweight person, their weight can also greatly affect a first responder who needs to come to their emergency aid.

When dealing with and handling obese persons, there is a great risk of lifting injury to the first responder.  To help combat this problem, there is the Binder E-Z Lift.  The Binder E-Z Lift is a non-mechanical apparatus designed to assist patients with non-traumatic injuries.

What makes the Binder E-Z Lift a wise investment for every department?

  • Reduces first responder lifting injuries
  • Reduces patient injuries, as there is no need to put pressure on arms or shoulders
  • Allows for non-invasive "team" lifting, handles allow up to six lifters 
  • Eliminates the need for invasive body-to-body contact required to lift a larger person
  • Compact, portable and only three pounds
  • Easy to attach
  • Comes in two sizes (expandable from 34" to 82" chest)
  • Polypropylene webbing is exceptionally sturdy and will not stretch
  • Nylon fabric rated to support over 500 pounds
To learn more about this product, check out the following video

Binder EZ Lift Commercial from Megan Westvig on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Social Media & Your Department

There are many jobs where your job in a position of authority causes you to give up a little bit of your personal life.  It's always been pretty true, as officers have always been expected to maintain a certain moral code both on- and off-duty.  However, as our lives have become immersed in social media the line of what constitutes as private is becoming significantly more and more blurred.

Officers post comments and pictures about things they are doing on-duty and off-duty to places such as Facebook and Twitter.  And all too often you can look at the news and read about an officer who has been placed on administrative leave or fired for something they posted online.  Why?  What they post privately has the ability to affect not only their reputation but the reputation of their entire department as well.

The Social Media and Internet in Law Enforcement (SMILE) Conference reviewed several issues that relate directly to officers and social media....specifically steps that can be taken to ensure that officers stay out of trouble.

1.  Develop a Departmental Policy - Clearly outline acceptable/unacceptable online behaviors and have a set course of action to deal with with online behavioral issues.  Continuously modify your departmental policy as technology changes.

2.  Keep Up To Date With The Technology - Technology and social media advances are continuously evolving.  It is important to keep up to date with these changes.  If you are not technology savvy, it is recommended that you enlist the support of a younger more tech-savvy officer to help you out.

3.  Create a Training Plan - Teach officers how to keep their personal lives private.  Go above and beyond giving them a set of rules to follow; teach them that these guidelines are too keep them out of trouble and in a job.  It's about keeping them from making a mistake that will possibly cost them their career.  Many people are not aware of the reach of social media...or the fact that once something is on the internet it's there forever.  Teach your officers so that they aren't an uneducated victim of the dangers of social media.

4.  Teach Social Media Ethics - It goes without saying that police officers have their own sense of humor that the general public might not always find funny.  A prime example: trophy photos.  Will you and your fellow cop buddies find an arrest photo like the one pictured funny? Maybe.  Will your civilian friends find the same photo funny?  Maybe not....they might even find it offensive.  And that is when the trouble starts.  Definitely do not share trophy photos on your social media pages!