In the future, witnesses to crimes may simply be able to report wrongdoing by uploading videos taken from their mobile phones.
According to Ian Readhead, director of information for the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), the technology to allow such reporting is already being looked at by the force.
“In future it is not bizarre to think that people will not just contact the police to say there is a robbery happening but will say ‘Can I send you through the video?’,” he said at the recent launch of the Unisys Security Index.
“It is not unreasonable to think that the service will change its capabilities to receive this sort of information from the public. That is the sort of tech developments that the service is looking at and considering how we would make those investments,” he told ZDNet UK’s sister site, silicon.com.
According to Acpo, police now routinely check YouTube to gather evidence during criminal investigations. “Certain criminal activity can now be posted on YouTube far quicker than we would find it ourselves,” Readhead said.
“We have staff search YouTube for evidence of incidents. That could be inappropriate activity by police officers or criminal activity. It is just another way of detecting evidence of crimes.”
There have already been UK motorists convicted of dangerous driving after posting footage of themselves breaking the speed limit on YouTube.
Readhead added that police forces are also experimenting with image-recognition technology that gives officers the ability to scour through hours of video captured on CCTV systems and quickly pick out suspect objects or vehicles.
“For example, say we were looking for a white transit van on the M1 between 6am and 3pm. If we had to view all the video to find that van it would take us hours to find,” he said.
“If we know that the van is white and its other distinguishing features then there is tech that will search through the footage of every van of this type.”
Readhead said the use of image-recognition technologies by police is still in its early stages, but predicted their use will increase among forces.
Three police officers received officer of the year awards Sunday–two for investigating the 2007 drowning death of a town boy and one for confronting an armed Pemberwick grandfather just minutes after he allegedly killed his ex-daughter-in-law in 2008.
The awards were handed out during a ceremony honoring dozens of officers held by the town’s police union, the Silver Shield Association.
Detective Sgt. Tom Kelly and Detective Jeff Stempien were awarded officer of the year for 2007 after they worked to charge David Lionetti, owner of Stamford-based Shoreline Pools company, with second-degree manslaughter. According to police, the pool company knowingly flouted safety precautions that could have prevented the boy’s death. Both officers were saluted as officer of the year for 2007.Officer Brian Tornga, a relatively new member of the force, was honored as 2008′s officer of the year for his response to a Sept. 2008 incident in which Pemberwick grandfather Gerardo Lombardi allegedly shot and stabbed to death his ex-daughter-in-law.
Tornga confronted Lombardi, who had a gun in one hand and a knife in the other. Within a matter of minutes, Tornga got Lombardi to surrender.
The award ceremony, held at the Western Greenwich Civic Center, takes place every few years to recognize officers who went above and beyond the call of duty. Nearly 75 officers were honored at the ceremony.
Also honored were a handful of detectives who were part of the Andrew Kissel homicide investigation, including three detectives from Worcester, Mass., who helped police.Detectives Pasquale Iorfino and Pierangelo Corticelli were singled out and given the investigative medal for their work on the case which lead to two arrests. Other awards were handed out to officers who helped save lives during medical emergencies, like Lt. James Heavy, Officer Thomas Huestis and Officer Danielle Petruso who were credited with saving a man’s life after he suffered a heart attack and fell unconscious at Greenwich Point on July 14, 2008.
Other officers were honored for chasing suspects down who had fled after motor vehicle stops and rescuing animals form a burning building. Some civilians were honored as well for their observations that helped officers solve crimes and save lives.
Police Chief David Ridberg said Sunday was a day to acknowledge the service his officers perform everyday.
“What I like best is the narrative people get to hear and they realize a lot goes on in Greenwich as opposed to the frequent perspective that nothing much goes on here,” said Ridberg.
Sgt. James Bonney, president of the Silver Shield Association, said the event was a great opportunity for officers and their families to come together to celebrate their accomplishments.
“We don’t often get a chance for families to come together and this is a great opportunity for officers to be recognized,” said Bonney.
Walter and Doug Gist were like father, like son.
Walter Gist was a police officer in Kensington, Calif., and later became its chief before retiring in 1977. He had been an avid collector of law enforcement badges and historical police items since the 1950s.
His son, Doug, became a Washoe County sheriff’s deputy, retiring recently as commander of patrol operations after 25 years. In 2000, he received the Bronze Star for his work.
He also had collected and displayed police artifacts since the 1970s, in a hobby that continued after his father’s passing in 2005. Now, with the help of other law enforcement officers and supporters, Doug Gist is spearheading the opening of the Silver State
Peace Officers Museum scheduled later this summer in the 1876 Storey County Jail at 26 South B St., in Virginia City.
A large part of the collection will include exhibits from Nevada law enforcement agencies, especially from the northern region. Also planned is a room dedicated to fallen peace officers, with a searchable, touchscreen database with pictures,
biographies and stories from family members. Restored law enforcement vehicles also will be displayed.
Volunteers are developing the museum, with the support of police executives, associations and private donations.
Next month, volunteers will start the demolition process and then work to develop the interior and build the exhibits.
“We have, what i believe, is the largest and finest law enforcement memorabilia that exists,” Gist said of the exhibits, some dating to the 1700s.
Gist said the museum will be the result of marrying a father and son effort.
“It was his lifelong passion as it has been mine and it was his dream to see the items on public display,” he said.
Exhibits include a vigilante badge from 1861 from the now ghost town of Aurora, Nev.
When police were not handling problems in the town, citizens formed their own vigilante crews. Gist said it’s the only existing vigilante badge. Also on hand is a death mask of notorious bank robber John Dillinger.
Museum board member and Reno police detective Adam Wygnanski said the museum is a tribute to law enforcement everywhere.
“It’s going to be a great information tool to for everyone to see how law enforcement has evolved,” said Wygnanski, also a member of the police honor guard. “It will be a learning tool for future police officers.”
Storey County Sheriff James Miller said the museum is an opportunity for visitors to learn about police history. He said it’s also child-friendly with exhibits that allow children to dress up in old police uniforms and take photos with the artifacts.
The Storey County Jail last was used in the 1980s, said Miller, also a museum board member.
“It’s a great idea and has been a long time coming,” Miller said. “It’s a great opportunity to put the facility back to its original state and share it with people.”
Sitting up straight with his muzzle parallel to the asphalt below, Kovu presented himself professionally next to his new handler, Officer Scott Pierson Sr., of the Lindenwold Police Department.
The Czech Republic-born and trained German shepherd remained calm before the humming engine of one of the borough police department’s newly retrofitted cruisers labeled “K-9: Stay Back.”
At the other end of the car, prancing around and interested in everything going on, Tino, another Czech German shepherd, panted and glanced anxiously at his new handler, Ray Benevento, a detective with the Lindenwold Police.
“The decision to bring on a canine unit was unanimous,” said Lindenwold Mayor Frank Delucca Jr. “Everybody’s in favor of it.”
The idea was so popular the school district budgeted for and pitched in $20,000 toward the start-up costs of the new canine unit.
The total initial cost is $176,800, which includes the retrofitting of police cars, purchase of two canines, two replacement police cars, training, equipment and veterinary care. The police department also received a Justice Assistance Grant for $101,000.
“This is just the initial cost for the start-up,” said Lindenwold Police Chief Michael McCarthy. “It will be significantly less next year.”
Said Renee Blizzard, Lindenwold School District business administrator, “We work jointly with the Borough of Lindenwold on many shared services. It’s just another logical step for the school and borough for shared services that will benefit not only the community, but the school district as well. This is just one item of many services we share.”
Because the canines are used to do searches of the high school, the school district felt it was only right to help fund the start-up of the new unit, Blizzard said.
The two canines were delivered April 10 to the department. However, Pierson and Benevento have been in the New Jersey Police K-9 Association training school since April 6.
“I can’t wait to be on patrol with him,” said Pierson, dressed in military pants and a gray T-shirt with “K-9″ on the back. “Wherever they go, we go. We are working with the dogs day in and day out.”
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Pierson and Benevento were selected from nine applicants through an interview process conducted by representatives of the New Jersey Police K-9 Association.
“They knew what to look for,” said McCarthy. “I’m really looking forward to the statistics and reductions in crime. It will be great to see the benefits.”
It has been more than 20 years since the Lindenwold Police Department had a K-9 unit. Now, with the increase in crime and drugs the borough needed a new tool, police said.
The canines will not hit the streets for several months. They must complete a 16-week course, take a two-month break and then return for a 10-week specialty training course to learn narcotics detection.
“The dogs know what to do,” Benevento said. “We just have to learn to handle them. I’m always amazed by what canines can do. When I found out they started talking about a K-9 unit, I wanted it bad.”
Both Benevento and Pierson own family dogs that are German shepherds, but knew the police dogs would be different.
“These are not pets,” said Pierson, a 10-year veteran of the department. “But I did let my children help me pick a name. Kovu is from “The Lion King II.’ He was one of the bad guys.”
The dogs will help officers apprehend suspects and decrease the number of foot chases they must pursue.
“People see the dogs and take a second look,” Pierson said. “They’re going to be such a help to the department and our guys.”
Leonard LaBonia’s grandfather was a Connecticut state trooper in the 1950s, and the 36-year-old father of three can’t remember a time when he didn’t want to be a police officer.
So after nearly 13 years on the job in Danbury, this is just part of what LaBonia has done:
He’s saved two people, one who was choking on food at a restaurant and the second who was threatening suicide by holding a knife to his own throat.
He’s earned two Medals of Bravery, the first for capturing the gunman from a shooting outside a Mill Plain Road restaurant in 1997 and the other for helping rescue people from a burning building after an explosion on Wildman Street a year later.
He’s been the recipient of several departmental citations and awards, and enough letters of commendation and appreciation to stock a small post office.
On May 7, LaBonia will add the Police Officer of the Year award from the Danbury Exchange Club to the list.
“It’s an honor,” said LaBonia, who lives in Southbury with his wife, Tanya, and their children, twin daughters Isabella and Natalie and son Robert. “It feels good to be recognized.”
“We believe is important to honor our police and firefighters, especially since 9/11,” said Joe DaSilva, chairman of the Exchange Club dinner.
LaBonia will also be recognized along with other police officers from across Connecticut at a dinner hosted by the statewide Exchange Club at the Aqua Turf in Southington later next month, DaSilva said.LaBonia grew up in North Haven and “had a pretty good idea of what I was getting into” when he joined the Danbury department in May 1996.
The people he’s worked with also have a pretty good idea of what to expect from LaBonia, Capt. Thomas Wendel said.
“He’s an intelligent, hardworking, compassionate officer who has risen to every challenge presented in modern law enforcement,” Wendel said.
In addition to serving on the crime scene unit and as an evidence technician, LaBonia has been a member of the Bike Patrol, teaches at the Citizen’s Police Academy, and is a volunteer liaison to the Homeless Youth Coalition of Danbury, among other jobs.
He’s also been a guest speaker at Western Connecticut State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in criminal justice.
LaBonia’s most recent lifesaving incident, which also earned him a Real Heroes Award from the Red Cross, occurred at Jim Barberie’s Restaurant on Padanaram Road in June 2007.
A patron was choking on a piece of lobster, and LaBonia, who was on patrol about a mile away, was the first emergency responder on the scene.
The man was too big for the Heimlich maneuver and was seconds from death when LaBonia donned a rubber glove and, after two failed attempts, managed to dislodge the food and save his life.
“It’s an indescribable feeling to be able to help save someone and give them a second chance,” LaBonia said. “That’s a lot of what this job is. It’s not just going out and arresting the bad guys.”
The May 7 dinner is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Anthony’s Lake Club. Tickets are $25 and can be obtained by calling DaSilva at (203)744-4136.
Contact John Pirro
The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department recently made some additions to its staff, both of whom have four legs and a nose for stopping crime.
Two dogs recently joined the ranks of Jackson County’s finest as part of the K-9 Unit. Ice, a 5-year-old German shepherd, and Daisy, a 1-year-old bloodhound, joined Nash, the department’s K-9 for tracking and narcotics detection.
“These dogs are very valuable to the department and very valuable to what we do,” said Chief Deputy Mark Moan. “We as humans cannot duplicate what these dogs do.”
In operation since 2001, the K-9 Unit is made possible through donations and support of Jackson County residents. A total of five dogs have now served the department as part of the K-9 Unit.
Nash is the veteran of the current K-9 Unit. Specializing in narcotics detection, evidence searches and tracking, he has been with the department and handler Deputy Matt Koran for three years.
Nash, like the other K-9 dogs, lives with Koran and spends almost 24 hours a day with him. Out on the street, he is trained to protect himself as well as Koran if things happen to go bad in the line of duty.
“He is pretty much my best friend,” Koran said. “Nobody else in that department is responsible for him but me.”
Koran and Nash go through about 16 hours of training together each month to keep Nash’s drug-searching and tracking skills up to speed. Not only does Nash go through training within the department, but he works with trainers at Bachbett Kennels in Mindoro alongside dogs from Iowa and other Wisconsin counties.
Out on the street, Nash knows when its time to go to work. Koran said Nash has several successful drug tracks on his record and is often just as successful in locating evidence.
Koran said it’s important to know that while K-9 dogs can often be portrayed as vicious, Nash is a friendly dog. While he can apprehend a suspect if Koran instructs him to, he can go to a school and interact with children as well.
“He’s trained to protect me and himself, but he’s a big baby,” Koran said. “He is one of the few force options the department has that we can actually call off. You can’t call back a taser or a gun if the suspect complies.”
Joining Nash is Ice, a German shepherd new to the department. Ice also specializes in narcotics detection, tracking and protection. Although Deputy Nick Gray, Ice’s handler, is not new to the department, he is new to the job of K-9 handler.
“Through my experience working here, I’ve got to work closely with all of our previous units,” said Gray, who has been with the department for six years. “I’ve always liked dogs and it seemed like a natural fit.”
Ice came to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department from Necedah. He now lives with Gray, and the two are still getting used to one another.
“Basically, there’s a lot of stuff we’re still figuring out,” Gray said.
Ice also has to go through training every month with Gray to make sure they are proficient as a team. The duo will be attending a six-day drug detection course this week to earn their certification in drug detection.
After only two months of working together, Gray said Ice has already become a member of his family. Ice spends a majority of his day with Gray. He sleeps in Gray’s room at night and goes to work with him in the morning.
“It’s hard not to fall in love with him,” Gray said. “The big guy is with me more than anyone in my family.”
Gray said Ice is a valuable asset to the department because with his canine senses, he is an important tool to fighting drugs in the county. Gray said Ice and other members of the K-9 Unit also give him and other handlers the chance to do more in the community through public events with the dogs.
“They give the officers a chance to go out in public and do things for the community,” Gray said. “It gives people the chance to see officers in another role other than a negative contact.”
The second new addition to the K-9 Unit is Daisy, a 1-year-old bloodhound. Daisy, who was already a member of the Moan family, was brought to the department by Moan to replace Clyde, his 5-year-old bloodhound who lost a battle with cancer in February.
Moan, who was training Daisy for eight months to assist in missing-persons searches prior to joining the department, said she is doing very well in her training. Although she is technically still a puppy, Moan said, she is doing a fantastic job.
“It’s more me than it is her at this point,” Moan said. “It’s me learning how to read her and know what she’s doing when she’s tracking.”
Daisy had the chance to prove her skills last week when she assisted the department with an attempted armed robbery at the Black River Crossing Oasis Cenex gas station in the town of Brockway. Moan said based upon her tracking and actions, it led him to the conclusions that the suspects had left the area.
“For her age, I think she is progressing as she should be,” Moan said.
Daisy specializes in tracking missing persons, and Moan said a K-9 Unit is essential to missing person searches. Using their strong sense of smell, Daisy is capable of locating a missing person much quicker than a human search party. This will help reduce the amount of manpower used in a search and also reduce the amount of trauma to a victim or a victim’s family.
“We may go three or four months without using Daisy, but if one person is lost, the quicker we can find them and the better the outcome is going to be,” Moan said. “A dog using its nose is the quickest way we’re going to find someone.”
Two other dogs have served their time with the K-9 Unit and have since moved on. Morris, a German shepherd, is now retired. His handler was Deputy Mike Johnson. Grondo, also a German shepherd, moved to Iowa. His handler was Deputy Mike Ring.