News from the Field

Only Online! Study on counterterrorism initiatives; and 2011 EPIC School.

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Study explores the benefits and challenges
created by law enforcement’s counterterrorism initiatives

“Nine years after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, one challenge facing law-enforcement agencies is how to balance these new investments with traditional law-enforcement priorities,” states a press release from the RAND Corporation, a non-profit research organization.

The RAND Center on Quality Policing recently released a study, supported by the U.S. Department of Justice, titled Long-Term Effects of Law Enforcement’s Post-9/11 Focus on Counterterrorism and Homeland Security. The study compiles in-depth case studies of five large urban law-enforcement areas: the Boston Police Department, the Houston Police Department, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and the Miami-Dade Police Department.

“September 11 changed how state and local law enforcement do their jobs, particularly those departments located in or near urban areas, or in jurisdictions where the terrorist threat is considered high,” said study author Lois M. Davis, senior policy researcher at RAND. “Law enforcement saw the need to keep their constituents safe by developing counterterrorism and homeland security capabilities, including specialized units and bureaus, and developing the required expertise.”

One change that the study report focuses on is the adoption of a fusion center model—a concept that takes an all-crimes, all-hazards approach to intelligence collection, information-sharing, and analysis. These centers have helped formalize the information exchange between local and state law-enforcement agencies, and has proven a great benefit to smaller agencies that are now able to tap into a wealth of information.

The study identifies several trends that underlie this ship toward an all-crime, all-hazards approach, including:

  • Fusion centers are using information technology to organize virtually and to share information, allowing more agencies to coordinate, reducing the resource commitments required.
  • The focus on counterterrorism and homeland security has promoted the use of technology that provides a means to identify the nexus between different types of criminal activity and potential terrorist-related activity.
  • Federal funding has encouraged a regional, multi-jurisdictional approach to improving coordination among law-enforcement agencies.

The information in this study may prove useful to law-enforcement managers interested in learning more about how other agencies have utilized counterterrorism and homeland security funding; the current and potential trends in fusion centers; and the need to develop a career track for those with counterterrorism and homeland security expertise.

Downloadable PDFs of the full study (as well as a summary of the study) can be found at:

2011 evidence photographers’ school to be held
January 16-18 in San Antonio, Texas

The Evidence Photographers International Council (EPIC) School is set to take place January 16-18, 2011 in San Antonio, Texas. The school is run in conjunction with the Imaging USA photographic convention and expo.

The EPIC School provides a unique opportunity for attendees to learn evidence photography techniques and strategies through interactive sessions in a logical, continuous format. The programs include lectures from experienced practitioners and instructors.

A pre-convention class, focusing on “Forensic Imaging from Camera to Court,” held January 14-15, will be instructed by forensic digital-imaging expert David Knoerlein. Unlike other typical courses that teach techniques for capturing images, this course discusses what happens to images after they are captured, how to manage and archive those images, and how to present them in court. The two-day pre-convention course will explain every aspect of image management and processing, with an emphasis on understanding image management databases; chain of custody issues with digital images; creating standard operating procedures for managing digital images; image enhancement procedures and techniques; preparing images for courtroom presentations; testifying to digitally processed images in court (including a moot-court simulation); and archiving images for long-term storage and retrieval.

Other courses during the regular EPIC convention include:

  • High Dynamic Range Photography for Crime Scenes with instructors King Brown and Dawn Watkins
  • Integrity, Continuity, and Presentation of Evidentiary Photography with instructor Gary Green
  • Fundamentals of Forensic Digital Image Processing with instructor David L. “Ski” Witzke

In addition to the training opportunities, attendees receive access to the Imaging EXPO, one of the largest professional photo trade shows in the United States.

Founded in 1968, EPIC is a non-profit educational and scientific organization dedicated to the advancement of forensic photography and videography in civil evidence and law enforcement.

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