How Smart Buildings Can Assist Public Safety Response

The outside incident commander directly managed and received the information feeds from all sensors as opposed to the direct response teams. (Center for Innovative Technology)


It is Fall 2021, and everyone is relieved life is returning to a post-COVID pandemic norm. A local university is welcoming its incoming class with a free concert in the basketball arena. Several thousand students take a break at intermission to go up to the concourse, grab some popcorn and socialize. Suddenly shots ring out, and two people fall to the ground. Everyone in the vicinity scatters; some head outside, others hide, still more go back down to the arena floor where the band is readying for its second set. A wave of panic sweeps the arena as more shots are heard.

The two university police officers on duty in the command center at the arena realize something is wrong. One calls for backup while the other runs in the direction of the gunshots. Within minutes several more campus patrol officers arrive on scene and are sent to join the first officer moving around the concourse. Within the next five minutes, backup from the local city police force arrives. The second team of officers pivots in the other direction around the concourse to intercept the moving target. Fortunately, the campus police locate and neutralize the shooter before the two groups converge.

But the incident is far from over. Answers to many other questions are needed:

  • Is there more than one shooter?
  • How many people are injured and need attention?
  • Might there be explosives or incendiary devices hidden in the building?
  • Who is in charge?


In the next few minutes, a local special response team arrives and begins to sweep the building. The team sets up a command center in the parking lot, and EMS support swoops in. University police set up a warm zone on the south side of the arena and support the medics working to locate and treat victims as areas clear. Some city officers and campus police engage in crowd management, seeking to calm the situation, find eyewitnesses and look for a possible second shooter. A public affairs officer coordinates with the university and begins to interact with the gathering press corps. It takes 37 minutes to find the last of the dozen victims, hiding behind a trash receptacle, but it is too late by then. The on-scene commander gives way 90 minutes later to a state response team that engages to help clear the building.

SMART BUILDING EXERCISE

This nightmare scenario was the basis for a major training exercise at the EagleBank Arena at George Mason University (GMU) in November 2019, which was led by GMU’s Special Response Team and included approximately 80 law enforcement and fire and rescue personnel from a variety of state, local and university organizations. Many had never had the opportunity to train in such a large facility or interact with such a large number of students, each playing various roles including the shooter, members of the crowd and victims.

But this exercise was even more unique and consequential than just the scale and scope. The Department of Homeland Security Science & Technology (DHS S&T) Directorate supported the exercise. GMU faculty and administrators, as well as industry teams led by the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) and Smart City Works guided the drill to explore and research smart building technologies’ effectiveness to help save lives and improve response.

Many leading-edge sensors, including video and audio, shot detectors, particulate sensors, WiFi detectors, occupancy detectors and others, are wired into the arena. The sensors are packaged in an EXIT sign’s footprint and brought into a display on a “single pane of glass,” including both typical building management systems and the public safety sensors.

The technology allows for 2D and 3D visualizations in the command center and tablets in the incident command center. These sensors need to provide value to the building owner on a day-to-day basis, including cost efficiency, among other things. They have a proven ability to help reduce energy consumption, manage the facility, and reduce insurance costs. If an incident occurs, these same sensors are the ones available to help manage the incident.

LESSONS LEARNED

In the debriefs, command-level and tactical responders and technologists commented that this was the first time they had ever joined together to think about how to improve the technology. The lessons were numerous.

The highest value sensors were the real-time occupancy detectors that were viewable on an interior facility map. Understanding where response team members are within the structure in real-time is critical for incident management, particularly where responders from different organizations interact. These sensors effectively help guide the response to where people are and locate all of the 12 scenario victims significantly faster than the search teams. These same sensors can also help building owners reduce energy consumption, helping to cover the costs of installation.

The outside incident commander directly managed and received the information feeds from all sensors as opposed to the direct response teams. This tactic reduced the overall response time and allowed response teams to focus on the direct mission and utilize their standard training and procedures.

Video and audio were most useful on map-based displays rather than the typical panel of 12- or 16-video feeds, which provided only limited situational awareness for people unfamiliar with the building.

The video was most useful forensically, with some analytics able to verify that there was only a single shooter in this scenario. Specialized shot spotters were not much more helpful than simple audio. The response teams were too focused on heading for the stimuli presented in action to manage this kind of external information. The response team leader suggested red/yellow/green visual cues on EXIT signs might indicate where recent activity has triggered sensors within the last minute.

The evolution of these technologies in this and other in-building testbeds continues as part of the ongoing DHS S&T SCITI Labs program with CIT. For scenarios such as a chemical release or secondary incendiary devices, particulate detectors come into play. For example, during installation in the arena, these secondary sensors could detect fresh paint residue in the building. They even could identify popcorn machine activity. Newer versions will have the sensitivity to detect a range of chemical signatures including fire ignition and biological molecules such as COVID-19.

The SAFETY Act may help incentivize building owners to install these systems by reducing their liability and changing building codes to allow IoT-enabled EXIT signs. Normal equipment replacement cycles will help increase adoption over time so these sensor capabilities become more common.

Drone-based versions of the occupancy sensors could fit easily inside an arena to help significantly speed search and rescue. Portable versions of the full sensor and electronics suite are also in the works for protective service types of missions or special event gatherings.

Technology is changing rapidly. The public safety technologies tested in this exercise are proven to reduce risk, increase public safety response effectiveness, and save lives. These capabilities can be most effective when the responder community is actively involved in the design, trial and use of new technology from its inception. We encourage you to look for ways to engage!

For more information contact CIT at SCITI.Info@cit.org and visit www.cit.org/vasmart.

​By David Ihrie | Police1.com​
 
About the author
 
David Ihrie is the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) in Virginia, a non-profit that creates technology-based economic development strategies to accelerate innovation, imagination and the next generation of technology and technology companies. He has over 40 years of industry experience as a direct innovator in the fields of satellite and terrestrial communication, computing and information science. He has been a principal in seven startup companies in industries including nuclear power, digital broadcast and analytic software for the intelligence community.

He has used the CTO position as a platform to help build four breakthrough enterprise-scale innovation organizations. The National Technology Alliance brought non-traditional technology companies to help solve hard problems for the intelligence community. MACH37 is the first vertically focused business accelerator for cybersecurity. He leads a program with DHS Science & Technology Directorate to bring leading-edge innovation to the first responder community and has partnered with Smart City Works to create the world’s first infrastructure-focused business actuator. Currently, he leads Smart Communities initiatives for Virginia and is helping bring this new generation of capability to all Virginians.

The Lone Holdout

After Anand and Kourtney Torres, ages 41 and 29, were found dead in their Lake Ozark condo in November 2019, the community mourned the loss of the couple for months. Kourtney had been a nurse at the local hospital, and both were dedicated to coaching kids sports. Adding to the tragedy, they also left behind three young children. Nearly half a year later, the Camden County sheriff’s office revealed the cause of death: fentanyl-related overdose.

The toxicology results shocked Kourtney’s mother, Kris Benecke.

“She was so much more than just her tragic … she was about life,” she says. “She brought passion to everything. She was a nurse. I did not know her to be a drug user at all.”

Kourtney’s is the second opioid-related death in the family; Benecke’s son Justin died from a heroin overdose over a decade ago.

“I never expected it to happen once, and definitely not twice.”

It is an all-too-familiar story. In 2018, 1,132 Missourians died of opioid-related overdoses. Opioids include heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and legal prescription pain relievers such as OxyContin, Vicodin, codeine, morphine, and others.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Missouri ranks 14th in the country in opioid deaths, with approximately 19.6 per 100,000 people. It’s a public health crisis that everyone pays for. By the most recent estimates, the Hospital Industry Data Institute claimed that the opioid epidemic cost Missourians $12.6 billion a year, or $34.5 million every day. That breaks down even further to an astonishing $24,000 per minute. According to a report from the institute, the costs associated with the opioid epidemic include increased consumption of healthcare, law enforcement, and social services, as well as lost productivity. By the time you finish this sentence, the epidemic will have cost another $399 dollars. Most deaths are clustered around the state’s urban centers, but rural counties are not immune, either. Nearly everyone knows someone whose life has been touched by opioid addiction.

The statistics are staggering. What can be done? What should be done? These questions have plagued state lawmakers for nearly a decade.

One solution may be a statewide prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP). This digital medical record system tracks patients who fill opioid prescriptions and makes that information available to healthcare providers. Its uses are multiple—for example, when patients can’t report or remember their prescriptions, doctors can refer to a PDMP to prevent mixing medications that might result in accidental overdose. In relation to the opioid epidemic, it can be used to identify behaviors like doctor shopping and prescription history. PDMPs have been enacted in every state but Missouri, despite support by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Missouri Academy of Family Physicians, Missouri American College of Physicians, Missouri State Medical Association, Missouri Pharmacy Association, and the nation’s most trusted medical organizations, including the American Medical Association (AMA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls these databases one of the most “promising state-level interventions” to improve opioid prescribing and patient care. But year after year, legislative PDMP efforts have been thwarted, making Missouri the lone national holdout.

“People ask me all the time, ‘You’re from Missouri. Why haven’t you all passed a PDMP?’ And the answer I give is that it has not made it through the Senate in a form that’s acceptable to the House,” says Dr. Randall Williams, the director of Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services. “I’m not pretending to be the expert on legislative intent, but my sense from my four years here is it’s not been one thing; it’s just been different things.”

Republican Representative Holly Rehder has sponsored a PDMP bill in the Missouri legislature for years.

“Over the years, PDMP has become a political football for both sides of the aisle. It doesn’t make sense. Missouri’s lack of a PDMP is a front row seat to politics at its worst,” she says. In 2018, Republican Governor Eric Greitens tried establishing a statewide PDMP via executive order, but the legislature refused to fund it.

A year earlier, the St. Louis County Health Department had launched a voluntary program available to any jurisdiction that wanted to participate. Today, more than 75 jurisdictions out of about 129 jurisdictions (counties plus several city jurisdictions) have opted in. Walmart, Walgreens, and Medicaid also track prescription history. Overall, around 85 percent of Missouri’s population is covered by some form of prescription drug monitoring, but it’s still a patchwork system.

So why not make an end run around the legislature and recruit the remaining counties that include the 15 percent of the population not covered yet? Many jurisdictions are afraid of being sued, Representative Rehder suspects. For example, Newton County officials voted to join the St. Louis County’s voluntary program, but then postponed implementation, planning to await the results of a lawsuit against St. Charles County by United for Missouri, a limited government advocacy group that claimed the program violated privacy. But Newton County officials changed their minds and decided to proceed.

The patchwork system is also far from ideal for healthcare providers like Dr. David Barbe, a family health practitioner with Mercy Clinic in Wright County.

“You can get certain pieces of info from one database and other pieces from PDMP, but that only applies to certain people. If that doesn’t scream at you, ‘we need a coordinated statewide PDMP,’ then nothing will,” says Barbe, who is also the former president of the American Medical Association. “Until we get all of the counties on, all of the pharmacies on, and all of the payers on, it won’t accomplish what we can accomplish for the patients. This is for patient safety, patient care, to identify those that are misusing so you can get them the help they need, and so you can potentially ID those getting prescriptions and diverting them.”

By diverting them, he’s referring to medications that get stolen or distributed to family and friends. A PDMP would help track unusual habits—people seeking multiple refills within a month or visiting multiple doctors to obtain prescriptions.

“The PDMP by itself doesn’t completely solve that but is best at identifying patients getting scripts from more than one provider, and you can use that to infer other things,” Barbe says.

His county, Wright County, has not opted into the St. Louis County PDMP, which means anyone can come there to fill prescriptions at a nonparticipating pharmacy without ever leaving a record of their opioid use patterns.

The current system’s weaknesses are a glaring problem to Jim Marshall, the founder of Cody’s Gift. “It’s not working if you’ve got a county next door that’s not using it,” he says. “It’s why Missouri has been one of the biggest states in prescription doctor shopping. The US Drug Enforcement Agency calls us the ‘pill mill’ of the United States.” Cody’s Gift is a nonprofit organization that primarily works in public schools to educate and prevent substance use disorders by raising awareness about mental health issues and alternative coping skills besides drug use. Marshall’s son, Cody, died in 2011 from an overdose.

Some emergency rooms see opioid-related problems during nearly every shift, from overdoses to drug-seekers. Dr. Howard Jarvis, the medical director of the emergency department of Cox Health in Springfield, says, “I can assure you that there are patients who are well aware of what pharmacies are participating and what pharmacies are not participating. We literally get patients from out of state coming here to get prescriptions filled. It’s an everyday problem. People sometimes tell me they’re getting prescription narcotics, and I look them up and can’t find evidence of it on the St. Louis County PDMP. It’s because they live in a municipality that doesn’t participate.” While Springfield and Greene County are currently enrolled in the St. Louis PDMP, five of its six adjacent counties are not.

PDMP opponents such as Republican Senator Denny Hoskins often question efficacy. “Just look at the data. Obviously, Missouri is the only state that does not have a statewide government prescription drug tracking system, and therefore you’d think that we would be number one in opioid-related deaths. However, we’re somewhere in the middle of the pack. Many of the supporters say the PDMPs will stop doctor shopping. Well, doctor shopping accounts for less than 5 percent of the people illegally obtaining opioids. The real reasons for the opioid crisis is we’ve seen an increase in deaths related to fentanyl. The PDMP has no effect on illicit fentanyl. PDMPs simply don’t work. At best, they focus on 5 percent of the problem and not the other 95 percent. I equate it to sticking a band-aid on a broken ankle and saying, ‘At least we did something.’ ”

Republican Senator Cindy O’Lauglin adds, “For those who despise PDMP, the main argument is the intrusion on personal decisions by outside interests and the state maintaining a database. On the other side, we do understand that doctors and pharmacies would like to know if a patient has been subscribed [sic] opioids before then issuing another prescription.”

While these medical databases are no magic bullet, there is evidence they can affect positive change. One year after New York required prescribers to check the state’s PDMP before issuing prescriptions, doctor shopping dropped by nearly 75 percent. In states like Connecticut and Rhode Island, doctors reported that PDMPs helped identify opioid drug abuse and intervene with patients who needed help. In Ohio, the National Institutes of Health credited the PDMP with reducing opioid-related deaths thanks to a 41 percent decrease in opioid prescriptions after implementation. Florida reduced oxycodone deaths by more than 50 percent after just two years with a PDMP. While encouraging, these numbers still don’t shift political opponents of PDMPs.

“When you get to a public policy discussion or debate, people use data to support whichever position they believe in,” says Dr. Williams, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. “Any time in medicine we try to prove something, the gold standard is a double-blinded, randomized controlled trial. That’s where you take a group of people and do something, take another group of people just like that group and don’t do it, and look down the road to see if there’s a difference in outcomes. With a PDMP, it’s very hard to find two populations that you can do that for. When you compare two states, you get into confounding variables, and different things might change other than just a PDMP.”

In short, correlation does not always equal causation. “Every year, people testify very much that PDMPs make a difference, and then other people get right up and produce data that says it doesn’t make a difference.” Dr. Williams explains that his department has chosen to support a PDMP based on the number of state medical associations and physicians asking for one. “We want to be responsive to our physicians’ opinions and give them every tool to help them individually with their patients, to help them prevent opioid abuse diversion and addiction and deaths.”

Of course, not every prescription leads to abuse, and plenty of patients responsibly manage pain with prescription opioids. The thought of additional policies and regulations sometimes sparks fears about access and harming the very people opioids are meant to help. Republican Senator Cindy O’Laughlin reports this “is a huge concern expressed by chronic pain patients” within her constituency.

“I don’t think it’s going to affect them at all,” says Jarvis, the Cox Health emergency department medical director. “Most people who require chronic opioids for cancer or other things like that, they’re usually getting those from a single prescriber. They’re not going to multiple places to obtain narcotics.”

Some argue that since PDMPs make prescription medications harder to access, people who abuse pills often turn to heroin or fentanyl, which is cheaper, easier to find, and far deadlier. In fact, Missouri’s recent surge in opioid deaths was largely due to the introduction of inexpensive, highly potent synthetic opioids like fentanyl. These numbers ​​grew from 192 deaths in 2015 to 448 in 2016. In November 2019, more than 20 arrests were made relating to a drug trafficking ring accused of distributing heroin and fentanyl in Springfield. Kris Benecke suspects it may have been this ring who sold the drugs that took her daughter’s life. Would a PDMP take fentanyl off today’s streets? Of course not. But it might deter a future generation’s drug-using habits.

“To stop the problem, you have to limit the number of people who get addicted in the first place,” says Jarvis. “The PDMP is helpful. There’s no question. It’s just a tool. It’s not a panacea.”

Drug monitoring legislation has long been caught in the cogs of the Missouri state government. When initial efforts by Republican Senator Kevin Engler failed in 2012, it was largely due to vehement opposition led by Republican Senator Rob Schaaf, a family doctor who cited privacy concerns and described the proposal as “the heavy hand of government taking away your liberty.”

Even though the US Supreme Court ruled PDMPs constitutional in Whalen vs. Roe (1977) and the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that PDMPs do not inherently violate Fourth Amendment rights as recently as 2019, many Missouri legislators still cited concerns over privacy and voted no.

The current sponsor of the latest series of PDMP bills, Republican Representative Holly Rehder, is still optimistic about the debate’s slow progress. “We’ve really gotten somewhere in the last seven or eight years in regards to the stigma of addiction, but we still have a small handful of people who are just vehemently opposed,” she says.

Further complicating the issue, opponents of PDMPs suggest a link between digital medical databases to the theoretical infringement of Second Amendment arms rights. The concerns aren’t entirely baseless—in 2013, Missouri Highway Patrol handed over a database of concealed weapons permit holders to a federal agent seeking links between disability claims and gun ownership. Even though the agent never actually used the files, according to the highway patrol, the story was used as evidence of database abuse in the hands of big government.

For frustrated doctors on the front lines, tying PDMPs to guns makes no sense. “It’s frightening,” says Jarvis. “There is no connection.”

While concerns over privacy, personal liberty, and even Second Amendment rights may be sincere, at its heart, opposition seems to stem from the long-held conservative penchant for personal responsibility. In the early days of PDMP legislation, Schaaf was widely criticized for saying about drug users, “If they overdose and kill themselves, it just removes them from the gene pool.”

In the medical community and for families of drug users, addiction is a medical crisis, not a moral failing. As Christa Harmon puts it, “I hate this term, ‘junkies.’ They are someone’s someone, and that matters.” For Harmon, founder and president of Mid-MO Addiction Awareness, desire for legislative action against the opioid epidemic is personal. Her daughter began abusing prescription opioids in high school. By her early 20s, she was seeking heroin in St. Louis. “It was pretty bad. I knew nothing. I knew nothing about it. I didn’t even know people did pills, snorted pills, I was clueless. It hit me like a brick wall.”

That feeling of cluelessness is why Harmon founded the organization. By breaking the stigma of silence around a family member’s drug abuse, she can at least encourage people to speak up and share information. Hers is just one organization out of many across the state that has stepped up to try to address the many layers of the opioid epidemic.

Jim Marshall, the father who lost his son and founded Cody’s gift, has spoken at hundreds of schools and conferences for the last nine years.

“You never know when a kid walks away from an assembly whether they’re going to make better choices or be more sympathetic to people in their families who have these issues,” he says. “I’ve been doing this for a long time and I have to think that one thing about kids that hasn’t changed is that they will listen to people like me who have a real story to tell.” All he can do is try.

“We have to start at the front end of the problem, where they get their drugs to start with,” he says. “Maybe if we shut the front door, we’ll prevent them from ending up as addicts or in jail when they walk out the back door,” he says.

But no one organization has the power or money that the legislature does to affect statewide change, and advocates say a PDMP shouldn’t be politicized. But again and again, it is.

“It’s an electronic medical record. It’s technology. At some point, it became a political banner, and a lot of lives have been harmed by that,” says Representative Rehder. She has been fighting for a PDMP since her first year in office in 2013. It’s an issue close to home. Her mother was addicted to prescription medications. Her stepfather was a dealer. Her sister used. Her cousin died of long-term drug abuse. And for over a decade, her own daughter struggled with drug abuse—an addiction that began with a legal prescription for Lorcet after an injury at age 17.

“I’ve been the bill’s sponsor for the last seven years and have really poured my heart and soul into it,” she says. “As a child growing up in it, as a mom trying to fight it, I’ve got a little more perspective than probably a lot of legislators.”

For years, Rehder’s bills passed the House only to be rejected by the Senate. This year, she collaborated with Republican Senator Tony Luetkemeyer to craft a compromise with the conservative caucus of their party. HB1693 expanded privacy protections by restricting law enforcement access to data, deleted patient data every three years, and most controversially, assigned oversight to a privatized task force instead of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. Though imperfect to House Democrats, it was still a PDMP, and in February, it passed 98-56. But once in the Senate, additional provisions to increase fentanyl penalties were added, upsetting the already fragile support from key House Democrats. This dissatisfaction surprised Rehder.

“These increased penalties had already passed on several other bills, so I never thought that this would become a problem,” Rehder recalls.

It was. Many Democrats, including House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, felt that they had made significant compromises to pass a PDMP that Republicans could support, but that the fentanyl penalty provisions were just too much. In a May 11 Facebook post, Democratic Representative Peter Merideth told constituents he’d already been on the fence with the initial negotiations, but that he’d opposed the language of the proposed fentanyl laws all year. “It would take an addict that possesses a substance that has been laced with any traceable amount of fentanyl (whether they knew it or not) and make them subject to a trafficking felony with a penalty equivalent to that of first-degree murder. Amazing that even in a bill that’s supposed to be about trying to help prevent addiction early, they can’t help but add massive over-criminalization of drugs at the same time.”

Sensing an opportunity to advance other, unrelated legislation, Democrats sent the bill back to committee for review. At best, it was a political maneuver. The plan backfired. The Senate was furious with what they referred to as “House shenanigans” and filibustered, killing the bill on the floor. The harsher penalties were added to another bill that was passed and signed into law anyway, but still no PDMP.

“We just ran out of time,” Rehder says. Her term limits are up in the House, although she’s running for a Senate seat in the November election. “It’s awful. It’s politics. It was just one thing after another. It was being used as a political football, and they killed it. It was just sad. Sad for the people of Missouri and for the families that have struggled with trying to fight this awful epidemic.”

It would be nice if all it took was a big burst of will power to kick an opioid addiction. But that’s just not how it works. Thanks to the history of addiction in her own family, Rehder understands that intimately. “With my DNA, it takes me one to three days to become addicted to something. My husband has no drug addictions in his family line, and he can take an opioid for a week after an injury and stop it immediately without any problems.”

Her point is everyone is different. At the height of dependency, addicts can rarely advocate for themselves. Too often, it’s the parents left behind to pick up the pieces. Some become activists, like Jim Marshall and Christa Harmon. Many just steel themselves and go on, coping with their grief in private silence.

In Camden County, Kris Benecke, who lost her son and daughter to drug overdoses and is now raising her 9-year-old grandson, had never even heard of prescription drug monitoring programs until this year, but she supports the concept now. Her county is not enrolled, although its two Republican representatives both voted in favor of HB1693. Her son died from a heroin overdose at age 19, but his drug use started in high school, when a friend shared prescription opioids stolen from his father’s medicine cabinet.

“If something like a PDMP had been in place, maybe there would’ve been a totally different outcome,” Benecke says. Maybe a doctor would have noticed a prescription was being refilled too soon.

Maybe.

By Rose Hansen | Missouri Life Magazine | missourilife.com

Jackson County, Federal Courts Cancel Jury Trials

The Jackson County Circuit Court has cancelled all jury trials through the end of the year in response to a significant increase in COVID-19 cases in the region.

“Every day is a new day in the fight against this pandemic,” Presiding Judge David M. Byrn said in a statement on Nov. 18. “Unfortunately, the recent significant spike in cases, hospitalizations, deaths and increasing concern about community spread has led the court to determine that jury trials should be cancelled through the end of the year.”

So far, the court has held five criminal jury trials, all in the Eastern Jackson County Courthouse in Independence. The court had been unable to resume trials in downtown Kansas City because of court employees’ COVID-19 cases.

Under the Missouri Supreme Court’s operational directives, the circuit court is required to move to either Operating Phase Zero or One, limiting in-person proceedings, if court employees contract COVID-19.

In circuits with multiple buildings, like Jackson County, some buildings may remain in a more advanced operating phase while others revert back to a more restricted phase.

In a news release, the court touted positive feedback it had received from jurors, noting that the majority of respondents said they felt safe during their service.

The court has implemented several health and safety procedures, from revamping the jury selection process to bringing in fewer jurors at a time to sanitizing public spaces multiple times a day.

“The court is pleased that our efforts to maintain the health and safety of citizens called to serve as jurors were successful and jurors felt safe while fulfilling their civic responsibility,” Byrn said. “However, changing circumstances have led to the decision to temporarily postpone additional jury trials.”

The court follows decisions to suspend trials in Missouri’s federal courts as well.

On Nov. 6, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri announced it would postpone all civil jury trials through the end of the year.

The court limited in-person proceedings to criminal hearings or trials in which an in-person appearance was necessary and closed in-person access to the clerk’s offices in St. Louis and Cape Girardeau. A subsequent order extended the closure of the clerk’s offices through Nov. 25.

The U.S. District Court for the Western District followed suit on Nov. 13, issuing an order continuing all civil and criminal jury selections and trials through Jan. 4. All courthouses will remain open to the public, however, under the current order.

 
By: Jessica Shumaker | Missouri Lawyers Weekly | molawyersmedia.com

Using Technology to Mitigate Mass Violence: Before, During and After the Call

A King County Sheriff bomb disposal unit officer walks near a robotic device near the scene of a shooting involving several police officers in downtown Seattle, Thursday, April 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)​

 

This article briefly describes some technologies for handling mass shootings and other mass violence events based on lessons learned from over 50 after-action evaluations, including the Virginia Tech shooting, the Aurora, Colorado theatre shooting and the Boston Marathon bombing. In the Marathon bombing incident, thermal imaging found one of the two suspects. In the Aurora theatre shooting, a robot disarmed a complex explosive device left in the shooter’s apartment that was intended to booby trap officers investigating the location.

For technology to be useful, it must be available quickly, and officers have to be trained in its use. In some incidents, officers had not practiced sufficiently to use the interoperability features of their radios. Or even more basic, could not quickly remove shotguns from their car mounts.

In this article, we will review technologies that can be used before, during and after the active phase of an incident.

PREVENTION TECHNOLOGY

The best intervention is one that is averted before it starts, such as identifying bad guys and stopping their entry.

Magnetometers and radiometers are being used more frequently to screen building entrants, but are far from common in places of public assembly such as shopping centers and stadiums. Israel, which is under continual threat of terrorist attacks, has widespread entrance screening, which has been successful, though at considerable expense.

Artificial intelligence software that processes video from surveillance cameras can detect weapons with high probability, and then alert law enforcement. This can replace more unwieldy magnetometers.

Facial recognition technology is another form of surveillance-camera processing. Following mass shootings, some schools in Florida installed the technology to screen for students, teachers and approved visitors. This can identify persons of interest to LE, such as those with outstanding warrants or restraining orders. However, the technology is raising concerns about civil liberty and racial equity. And sometimes the potential harm-doer is authorized to be present, such as someone who plans to attack fellow students or co-workers. [1]

Where several buildings are involved, like a college campus or industrial site, it often is desirable to order an immediate lockdown. One approach is an electronic emergency lockdown system where a security officer or other authorized person can push one button to lock all doors on all buildings at the same time. We saw this demonstrated in a large city university, which prefers anonymity.

Other physical security technologies include access control readers on buildings or rooms in-office or in-classroom video broadcast capabilities, and of course vehicle barriers.

EARLY WARNING TECHNOLOGY

The goals for early warning systems are to alert law enforcement that an incident has started, and to alert the people at risk of an immediate threat, and what to do.

Technologies can provide real-time information and instructions using visual and audible communication modalities, both indoors and outdoors, through personal and public means. There ideally should be capabilities for two-way communications for event reporting and message verification, and an audit trail for post-alert analysis. Such warnings are commonly used on cell phones for weather events and amber alerts and can be used for other threats as well.

Traditional loudspeakers and megaphones also can alert those in danger, and relay instructions on what to do, especially for those without a cellphone on, or who have not registered for alerts. Some agencies have reserved use of public safety vehicle “hi-lo” sirens as a rudimentary but readily available warning system. One of the latest versions of loudspeaker technology allows messages to be broadcast from an LE cellphone to an area. This super-powerful loudspeaker system, known as an LRAD or Long Range Acoustic Device, can be mounted temporarily at a rally or rock concert or staged at the scene. It is louder and clearer than most loudspeakers.

Outdoor fixed or mobile electronic messaging signs are old technology but can be effective to supplement broadcasts.

Shot detectors can discriminate shots from other noises. These systems can be fixed (e.g., on telephone poles, as in Washington DC), or mobile (e.g., on SUVs) that can be parked at outdoor events like rock concerts and demonstrations. The detectors immediately report that a shot has been fired. They can also pinpoint the source for larger munitions, such as RPGs.

INCIDENT OPERATIONS AND MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGY

For an active shooting, current protocols call for the first officers on the scene to go to the shooter. The most basic technology is for officers to wear ballistic vests with rifle plates inserted and be equipped with long guns. Endoscope attachments to officer cellphones can help see around a corner without being exposed. Extensions of this are optical fiber technologies that enable officers to see into rooms through existing or drilled holes.

“Black box” systems can link building security cameras directly to police commanders. [1] To trigger the linkage, an authorized person in the building hits a “panic button” or turns on the system via a coded cellphone call. Police then have real-time views inside the event building via its surveillance cameras, to help guide their response. Again, some schools have installed such systems following mass shootings of schoolchildren.

Drones with cameras are increasingly inexpensive, and usually faster and cheaper to deploy than helicopters, but they need to be quickly available and operated by a trained user. Drones can give an excellent command view, check rooftops, examine bomb damage, and look for suspects and victims.

Digital files of building plans should be readily available to incident commanders. Even better is 3-D imagery of the interior and exterior of complex building sites. They can be produced with rotating laser survey scanning instruments.

GPS tracking software that shows the path used by a patrol unit or officer on foot to get to the scene can be installed in cellphones. They can show follow-on units where to go. Think of a complex of buildings or an outdoor setting where the street address alone may not be enough to find the specific location of the incident.

Live bodycam video and images can be relayed to an incident commander to improve situational awareness.

Large incidents requiring mutual aid can be managed better with compatible regional CAD systems, so the incident commander knows who is where and can track their assignments. Responder locations can be shown graphically.

Portable license plate readers may be installed or staged at locations from which suspects, witnesses and victims may be fleeing, to assist with the investigation.

Interoperable communications are critical in a large incident. They enable responders to communicate with sister agencies such as fire and EMS, neighboring jurisdictions, and state and federal agencies. Many “black boxes” can handle frequencies of other agencies interoperably. Interoperability worked well by and large at the Boston Marathon bombing across local law enforcement, and to FBI and National Guard units.

Often a large incident requires calling up off-duty officers, which can be done with software that is an extension of daily attendance systems.

Some incidents pose a concern about chemical, biological or radiological threats. There are good static and mobile CBR detection systems. For large, potentially problematic events (e.g., the Boston Marathon, or New Year’s Eve), the detection units can be pre-positioned. Many local agencies rely on nearby National Guard or federal CBR detection units for this purpose. CBR detection monitors were critically important immediately after the bombs went off at the Boston Marathon; they showed that the bombs were ordinary explosives and not contaminated with worse stuff, key information on proceeding with rescues and the investigation.

Robotics are increasingly available for analysis of packages, disarming bombs and even interdiction, but they are often expensive and require considerable expertise to use. Since time is of the essence, some agencies like to have several inexpensive, simple robots that have a mounted camera, can shake a package, and operate almost like a toy. As mentioned earlier, robotic bomb dismantling reduced casualties in the Aurora theatre shooting – not in the theatre, but at the shooter’s apartment, which he had booby-trapped. The robot used to snip wires on the explosive device actually was operated by an FBI expert in the DC area! As a side note, nearby military units are often relied on for EOD assistance, but they may not be trained to collect and preserve evidence.

Armored vehicles often take too long to get to a scene unless there is a prolonged incident, and may appear too militaristic to purchase these days if you do not already have one. A dual-role rescue vehicle may be more acceptable. They can be invaluable in rescuing citizens and LE personnel.

AFTER THE VIOLENCE STOPS

Every patrol vehicle should have a medical first aid kit with tourniquets and occlusive dressings for sucking chest wounds. Many lives have been saved by officers not waiting for the first ambulances to deliver care, or where the wounded are in a hot zone.

Immediately after an MCI, police departments often are overwhelmed by families and media seeking accurate information about the people killed and wounded, and where to get assistance. Often victims are spread across multiple locations. Public assistance software can be used to centrally track the location and status of victims, and information such as where personal effects have been taken.

A host of facial recognition and other picture analysis algorithms can be used to identify a shooter or bomber. The FBI did a masterful job in going through cellphone and security camera recordings to quickly identify the Boston Marathon terrorists.

It is beyond the scope here to go into DNA and other technologies available to crime labs, but it is a good idea to have the crime lab that you use to review the state-of-the-art technology.

CONCLUSION

We hope this article gives you some ideas about the technology that you might consider for dealing with mass casualty incidents. More are in the pipeline, such as small robotic devices that can scurry ahead of officers to search for perpetrators and victims; remote-controlled scoop stretchers to retrieve victims from hazardous environments; more advanced drones for use indoors; and technology (other than TASERs) to disable without killing perpetrators. Most important, however, is to make sure that your officers know how to use the technologies you already have.

Police1 readers: If you know of successful technologies in practice not noted in this article, we would appreciate hearing from you. Email editor@police1.com.

Reference

1. An excellent report on technology that can be used in schools and elsewhere is “A Comprehensive Report on School Safety Technology” prepared for The Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice by The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in cooperation with The Johns Hopkins University School of Education, Division of Public Safety Leadership. The research described in this report was sponsored by the National Institute of Justice, 2016.

By Philip Schaenman and Hollis Stambaugh | Police1.com

About the authors
Philip Schaenman is founder of TriData LLC, which specializes in public safety consulting and research. He has advanced engineering degrees from Columbia and Stanford Universities. He led over 50 after-action reviews of mass casualty incidents and has written articles and reports on advanced technology for public safety, and technology for improving the efficiency of police and corrections.

Hollis Stambaugh, a former senior project manager at TriData, heads HS Management Consulting. She has been the project manager for many after-action reports, consulted on improving arson investigation in over 50 communities, and helped lead a series of focus groups across the nation on technology needs for counterterrorism. For further information, email pschaenman@tridata.com.

Police ‘Reform’ Survey

With all the talk in the media and in society about the need for “police reform,” it is obvious that many people have no idea what would work, wouldn’t work, is possible, affordable, etc. That recognized, we at the Officer Media Group thought it would be beneficial to get the opinions of people who actually do the job – law enforcement professionals.

To that end we built a VERY shot (four questions) survey that takes less than one minute to complete. If you’d be kind enough to give us that one minute of your time, we appreciate it. And when all of the answers have been compiled in a couple weeks, we’ll disseminate the information.

Here’s the link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/C23W5PT

By Lt. Frank Borelli (ret) | Officer.com

Technology Procurement: Why Community Buy-In is Key

Citizens don’t like the government using technology that potentially impacts their privacy without knowing how they benefit. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

 

In late 2003, the State of Utah joined a handful of other states in a pilot project aimed at helping law enforcement agencies fight crime. The project involved analyzing confidential databases in multiple states to obtain and share information on Americans who may be planning acts of terrorism or mass violence. It was a well-intentioned approach to using technology to make law enforcement efforts more efficient and productive. And it failed miserably with Utah citizens. The state pulled out of the project in early 2004.

The project failed because of how Utah went about getting involved in the initiative. There was no public knowledge or discussion of the program – the Utah governor just signed up the state’s residents for the program without ever informing them. After learning about the secret program through watchdog groups and media reports, many of the state’s residents, including lawmakers, were upset that the government could randomly comb through their personal information without their knowledge or permission. And it probably didn’t help that the program was referred to as MATRIX, an acronym describing the Multi-state Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange. But, at that time, Matrix was also the title of a famous movie franchise about technology running wild and eventually conquering and enslaving humanity. (An IJIS summary of lessons learned from the failure of MATRIX is available below.)

Fast-forward to today. Technology has advanced, and its use to prevent and respond to acts of mass violence has expanded. For example, agencies use data analytics, predictive software and information-sharing platforms to help uncover potential offenders. Public safety surveillance cameras, gunshot detection systems, automated license plate readers (ALPR) and cell phone tracking help law enforcement prevent and investigate acts of mass violence. And unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) provide an expanded view of potential or real mass violence crime scenes.

But at least one thing has remained constant in regard to law enforcement’s use of technology: Citizens don’t like the government using technology that potentially impacts their privacy without knowing how they benefit. And law enforcement efforts to implement technology without public buy-in, meaning a public understanding of the need for and benefits of the technology and the support of its use, will likely be hindered by public resistance and may ultimately fail.

The following are some actions law enforcement agencies can take to help the public understand the technology the agency uses or is considering using, ease concerns about privacy and other rights, and increase public support for the agency’s efforts to protect them from mass violence.

TIE TECHNOLOGY TO A STRATEGY

Agencies should begin a search for technology by considering what problem they are trying to solve or what efficiency they are trying to gain by implementing the technology.

A 2016 study on the impact of technology on policing strategy showed that, in general, law enforcement agencies do not acquire technology in line with a policing strategy. Instead, they appear to adopt technology based on factors like executive staff decisions and available funding. Often the scenario is that an agency member sees a demonstration of the technology somewhere and thinks, “Wow! That is awesome! We could use that at our agency. I didn’t even know we needed something like it.” Then they build a case for “needing” the technology to justify its purchase. Essentially, the purchase becomes a solution looking for a problem to solve.

This type of thinking is backward and may lead agencies to acquire technology that is ill-suited for their actual needs. And the justification for these types of purchases may not hold up under scrutiny because “problems” or “opportunities” presented to justify them tend to be exaggerated.

A better approach to acquiring technology is analyzing your agency’s strategy and needs and then evaluating technologies that align with the plans and needs. Agencies should first ask themselves, “What problem are we trying to solve?” or “How can we improve performance in a particular area?”

The answers to these questions help the agency develop goals that they can use to evaluate available technologies and find those that will help them accomplish established objectives for both current and future operations. Agencies will have an easier time gaining support for technologies identified as well-researched solutions or efficiency multipliers than those purchased for a problem or goal to be determined later.

INVOLVE THE RIGHT PEOPLE EARLY ON

Once agencies have identified problems or strategies where technology may contribute to successes, it is essential to involve the right people, in the beginning, to research available technologies and find the best fit for the organization and its budget. While administrative decision-makers, such as executive staff, will likely be involved in program development from the start, consider including others who can significantly contribute to the program’s success.

For example, suppose your agency is considering a UAV program. In that case, someone from within the agency who has a passion for and experience with such technology can provide valuable perspective and support in searching for technology and developing the program. This person can also be an internal “champion” for the technology, providing information about and endorsement of the technology to agency members who may have questions or concerns about the technology.

Similarly, involving existing agency-community liaisons, such as city council or county commission members, legislative representatives, or community leaders, early on in the technology selection and program development process is beneficial. Doing so can create external champions who can help raise community support for the technology, address public concerns about the program, and advocate for program funding. These external champions must understand the cause behind the technology to better communicate the program’s benefits to community members and governmental entities.

Finally, agencies should involve their legal counsel at the beginning of the decision-making process to ensure that the considered technology can be used legally in their jurisdiction and identify any policy implications that need to be addressed before considering or using the technology. It would certainly be frustrating and disappointing for an agency to travel a significant distance down the road of technology acquisition and discover they can’t even use the technology because of legal restrictions.

DEVELOP SOLID POLICY FOR TECHNOLOGY USE

Agencies need to create sound policy that requires operators to use technology in a way that balances public safety benefits with protecting the privacy and other rights of the public. Involving decision-makers, internal and external champions, government members, community leaders, and agency counsel in policy development will help create policies that protect both the agency and the public. It will also improve the chances that the technology will be accepted by the public and successful in its intended purpose, while at the same time decreasing the likelihood of the public misinterpreting the program and perhaps ascribing an ill-intent to it. Existing policies should also be reviewed for any impact or guidance related to the proposed program.

Sound policies should include information on the following:

  • Intended purpose and scope of technology use.
  • Program administration and personnel requirements.
  • Approved and restricted uses of the technology.
  • Data collection, use, retention and release requirements.
  • Program accountability measures, including data security procedures, access control methods and regular program inspections or audits.
  • Required training for technology users or operators.

PRE-LAUNCH PUBLIC EDUCATION

After an agency has followed the above recommendations for developing a technology use program, and the use of the technology has been approved through appropriate channels, they should begin a campaign to educate the community about the program.

There is a marketing adage that goes, “Good companies have customers. Great companies have an audience.” Agencies should remember who their audience is when attempting to obtain public buy-in for the program. They are not trying to educate law enforcement personnel at this point. Instead, they are marketing the program to the public and key stakeholders.

Program administrators and champions should work with agency public information personnel to:

  • Introduce the technology.
  • Share information on the intended purpose and benefits of its use.
  • Communicate what policies and safeguards are in place to protect the public’s privacy and other rights.
  • Explain the cost and funding sources for the program.
  • Provide points of contact for additional information about the program.

Social media posts and agency webpage content can be powerful tools for educating the public about the program in an engaging and entertaining way. Agencies can post stories from other organizations that have used the technology successfully. These stories can be particularly compelling if the technology has been successful in a range of cases. For example, a UAV can help catch a fleeing offender and, a few hours later, find a lost child.

Agencies can also post and share information (as seen in the ABC report on Sacramento’s use of mini-drones) on how they anticipate the technology will help the community, such as by preventing mass violence incidents or reducing the time it takes to apprehend known offenders. And agencies can share videos of the technology, such as those provided by the technology manufacturer, that show the technology being used in various scenarios. Posts should also include information on agency contacts for community members who have questions or concerns about the program or who may want to provide support for the program.

Live displays and demonstrations of the technology can also be impactful ways to educate the public. Agencies should take the new technology on tour. Show it to kids. Present it to civic groups. Give lots of demonstrations. Some of the available crime-fighting technology, such as UAVs or ALPRs, can seem pretty amazing to members of the public. And the amazement they feel when seeing live demonstrations of the technology can translate into increased support for the use of the technology. Agencies just need to be sure not to use confidential data or information during technology demonstrations to ensure that no one’s privacy is compromised.

Agencies should also remember that public education and demonstrations may allow potential offenders to learn about prevention and response protocols and adjust their planning to avoid or defeat the demonstrated technologies. As such, agencies should be careful not to disclose information during their public education efforts that may compromise future technology deployments.

ONGOING PUBLIC EDUCATION

Sometimes a technology program starts strong, but public support and program funding deteriorate or disappear over time. This deterioration can be the natural result of the diminishing effectiveness of the technology. But sometimes, the adage “out of sight, out of mind” rings true, and support for the program dwindles because its benefits aren’t regularly communicated to the public and key stakeholders.

If a technology program continues to provide benefits for the agency and public over time, agencies should continuously share information about program successes with decision-makers and the public. Keeping stakeholders up to date with information on recent program accomplishments can help garner ongoing support for the program, especially when agencies can share impressive images or video footage generated by the technology. Agencies should also be sure to regularly verify or update information related to program points of contact so related inquiries reach the correct parties.

CONCLUSION

Agencies seeking public buy-in to acquire and use mass violence prevention and investigation technologies should remember that maintaining public trust is the primary goal. Some law enforcement technology programs have failed because they were implemented in secret or misused or abused by the police. When agencies follow a sound, transparent, and legal process for acquiring and using law enforcement technologies, and implement appropriate oversight and accountability measures, they are more likely to earn the public’s trust and support for the use of current crime-fighting technologies, and for those that arise in the future.

By Rex Scism and Kerry Gallegos | PoliceOne

About the authors

Captain Rex M. Scism (Ret) is a 32-year law enforcement veteran and former director of research and development for the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Within that capacity, he was responsible for policy management, organizational accreditation initiatives, and statistical analysis. Mr. Scism also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Criminal Justice for both Columbia College and the University of Central Missouri. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy – Session 249, and currently serves as a content developer for Lexipol.

Kerry Gallegos serves as a content developer at Lexipol. He is a retired chief investigator of the Utah Attorney General’s Office and has over 20 years of law enforcement experience. He is a Certified Public Manager and has a master’s degree in accounting, a bachelor’s degree in business management, and is a graduate of the International Association of Chiefs of Police Leadership in Police Organizations (West Point Leadership) program.

The 2021 Community Policing in Action Photo Contest Ends Soon

The deadline for the seventh annual “Community Policing in Action” Photo Contest is quickly approaching​. Entries must be submitted by 7 p.m. Central Time, ​Monday, November 16​ to be considered.

All state, local, territorial and tribal law enforcement agencies are invited to send in submissions for an opportunity to be featured on the COPS Office website and on Twitter and Facebook​​ headers for one month during the 2021 calendar year.

Each winning law enforcement agency may also be featured in the COPS Office e-newsletter, the Community Policing Dispatch, and a COPS Office-issued press release.

Complete Submission Quick Tips

Make sure your submission is complete with these steps:

Snap your photo

Photo should depict positive community engagement that promotes community policing and trust building with community members, stakeholders, local government, and others.

Only ONE photo may be submitted (no collages). Photo should be visibly clear.

Fill out all forms (submissions without these forms will not be accepted)

Privacy Consent, Waiver, and Release Authorizing Use and Disclosure of Photographic Image Form(s): Submission must include an original, signed Notice, Consent and Release waiver for EACH recognizable individual in the photo.

Permission and Release to Law Enforcement Agencies Form: Submission must include Permission & Release form signed by an authorized law enforcement agency representative.

Include a description of the photo and why it exemplifies community policing in action (don’t forget to include photo credit).

Review your forms to ensure they are signed and complete.

Send submissions to TELLCOPS@USDOJ.GOV by ​7 p.m. Central Standard Time on Monday, November 16.

More Questions?

​V​isit http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/photocontest for all the required forms, FAQs and the complete contest rules, terms and conditions.

Former Sheriff Passes

Former Laclede County Sheriff Joel Richards died on Monday, November 10. He was sheriff in Laclede County from 1969 to 1972. After serving as sheriff, he took a job with the Lebanon Police Department, working up the ranks to sergeant, lieutenant and in 1984 he was promoted to chief. He retired as police chief in the mid-1990s.  

Too Fast For Conditions: A Conversation on Speeding

​J​oin the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) on Thursday, November 12 from ​2 to 3 p.m. Central Standard Time​ for a roundtable discussion on speeding trends during the pandemic, state and local efforts to address this issue, and the opportunities and challenges presented by automated speed enforcement. 

This webinar is sponsored by Redflex. 
 
Moderator: – Russ Martin, Senior Director of Policy and Government Relations, GHSA 
 
Sponsor Remarks: – Mark Talbot, CEO, 
 
Redflex Panel Discussion: 
– Jonlee Anderele, Ph.D, Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Region 5 
– Daniel Farley, Chief, Traffic Operations Deployment and Maintenance Section, Pennsylvania DOT 
– Jonathan Nelson, Assistant to the State Highway Safety and Traffic Engineer, Department of Highway Safety and Traffic, Missouri DOT  
 

Recruiting and Retaining Officers in Small and Rural Agencies

In December 2019, the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services held a day-long forum to discuss the challenges of law enforcement recruitment and retention and specifically focused on th​​ese issues in relation to smaller and more rural law enforcement agencies. The 32 participants included police chiefs, captains, lieutenants, academic experts, researchers, and agency directors of state police standards.

The forum’s small size allowed for a wide-ranging discussion that focused on the qualities that make an effective police officer, an in-depth examination of why people leave a department, the most significant challenges to recruiting and retaining officers, and a brainstorming session on the range of strategies these departments use to attract and keep officers. The result was an exchange of ideas and success stories that reflected the unique regional and size differences between the departments.

– Click here to view the publication –

The COPS Office publishes materials for law enforcement and community stakeholders to use in collaboratively addressing crime and disorder challenges. These free publications provide you with best practice approaches and give you access to collective knowledge from the field. By clicking on this link, you can find our recent and featured publications, and you can also search the Resource Center or our Community Policing Topics pages for specific issues or call the COPS Office Response Center at 800-421-6770.