Keeping up with crime
Published: Monday, November 7, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, November 22, 2011 20:11
As criminals learn new ways to commit crimes, police must find new ways to prevent them. By developing new technologies, law enforcment officials around the world are coming up with fresh ways to fight back.
In its second installment, The Oracle looks at some groundbreaking techniques being used to prevent crime.
3D Computer-generated Crime Scene
As soon as 2012, jurors will have an all-new, in-depth way to view evidence from the courtroom. A new combination of laser and camera technology developed for the Chattanooga Police Department scans crime scenes to reproduce 100 percent accurate 3D images, allowing viewers to see crime scenes from multiple angles and perspectives, according to timesfreepress.com.
The Lecia ScanStation C10 works with a laser that "travels over every square inch within a roughly 900-foot-diameter area, collecting 50,000 measurement points per second." After a camera takes panoramic shots of the area, the photo pixels are assigned to the different laser points to create an interactive 3D image that measures distances to the nearest quarter inch.
Officials quoted in the article said this technology won't just benefit police, but also prosecutors and jurors with a more accurate way to view evidence.
The U.S. Supreme Court will soon commence hearings over whether law enforcement officials should be able to track criminals' vehicles with global positioning systems (GPS) in a public space without a warrant. The hearings will decide whether using GPS tracking without a warrant constitutes an unreasonable search.
This Fourth Amendment issue has been subject to debate. Proponents believe that, because criminals can use all the latest in technology, then so should law enforcement. On the flip side, some believe that allowing government agencies to attach devices discretely on vehicles parked in driveways without a warrant is just another step toward the complete destruction of privacy.
The current case, the U.S. vs. Jones, might settle a dispute over a previous case in which DEA agents attached a tracker to a suspect's car. A year ago, the 9th Circuit Court ruled that agents did not violate an Oregon man's Fourth Amendment rights by attaching a tracking device to his car, which was parked in his driveway. Agents used data collected over the next four months to arrest the man for illegally growing marijuana.
"This has become a huge issue, far beyond police putting GPS on your car, because we are all carrying around portable GPS devices," said Chris Calabrese, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, to the Los Angeles Times.
While USF's on-campus networks don't allow file sharing programs to even open, many students off-campus probably download tons of free entertainment through files called torrents. Though mostly used to obtain TV shows, movies and music files for free, these programs are also used by child predators.
According to the Scientific American, engineers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed technology that allows law enforcement to track down the source of obscene material that spreads through person-to-person networks.
In the past, torrents have caused problems for law enforcement because the more a file is shared, the more Internet Protocol (IP) addresses are attached to it. Police tasked with investigating these cases were left with very long lists of IP addresses, most of which provided nothing more than a time-wasting dead end.
With this new technology, police will be able to prioritize that list of addresses to narrow their search for child predators. According to the article, the federal government estimates that more than five children per day die from child abuse, and that law enforcement has the resources to work on less than 1 percent of these cases.