Controversy surrounds law enforcement’s use of drones

Controversy surrounds law enforcement's use of drones

Controversy surrounds law enforcement’s use of drones

Although it depends on where individuals complete their law enforcement training and end up working, there is a chance they could serve and protect the public alongside robotic drones. While it may sound like something out of a science fiction movie, this scenario is already a reality in some parts of the country.

While drones are designed to enhance the work police do on a daily basis, there are those who are not entirely comfortable with these machines patrolling the skies.

Concerns over public safety and privacy
While those who hold law enforcement jobs may see the value in using police drones, many members of the general public are more skeptical. According to Fox News, police agencies have said the drones can be used during search-and-rescue operations, when conducting surveillance of suspects and collecting details on damage in the aftermath of natural disasters.

However, there are lawmakers who do not think people would be too pleased with drones collecting information on their lives without their permission.

“I do not think our citizens would want cameras to fly overhead and collect data on our lives,” Montana Senator Matthew Rosendale recently told a legislative panel, as quoted by the news source.

In Montana, lawmakers from both political parties are joining forces to restrict drone use in their state. Meanwhile, Virginia lawmakers recently approved a two-year moratorium on police and government agencies’ use of these machines.

“The use of drones across the country has become a great threat to our personal privacy,” Niki Zupanic, the policy director for ACLU of Montana, told the news outlet. “The door is wide open for intrusions into our personal private space.”

Fear of drones
If law enforcement chooses to use drones, they also need to realize that many people may actually be afraid of these machines and, as a result, the police as well. Based on the results of a recent Associated Press-National Constitution Center poll, more than a third of Americans have concerns over their privacy as long as police use drones, The Associated Press reported.

Furthermore, 35 percent of respondents said they were “extremely concerned” or “very concerned” that the use of police drones would cause them to lose their privacy. At the same time, almost as many people reported they were “not too concerned” or “not concerned at all.”

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Snow: An unlikely police ally

Snow: An unlikely police ally

Snow: An unlikely police ally

When weather reports warn of an major snowstorm, many people stock up on supplies, hunker down and watch the snowflakes fall and accumulate. While schools may close their doors, and businesses may tell their employees to work from home, police officers cannot take the day off.

Those who hold law enforcement jobs in areas that tend to get a lot of winter storms are no doubt aware of all the trouble falling snow can bring. Whether motorists are skidding into one another on slick roadways, or criminals are choosing to engage in illegal activity in blizzard conditions, cops have their work cut out for them when wintry weather strikes.

However, there are also several cases in which freshly fallen snow can actually help law enforcement do their job, rather than hinder it.

For example, a construction site in Lehi, Utah, was recently the location of an attempted robbery, KSL TV reported. While patrolling the site, Sgt. Kenny Rose of the Lehi Police Department stumbled upon a parked vehicle and footprints in the snow at 2 a.m. in the morning. Rose followed the footprints until he came upon two men he suspected of criminal behavior. Rather than surrendering, they made a run for it.

A chase followed that lasted for 30 to 45 minutes. As parts of it took officers and the suspects through three feet of snow, all parties involved were exhausted. In fact, the deep snow tired out the suspects so much that they were willing to surrender.

Just as footprints led Rose to criminal activity, they can also help skilled police officers track down burglars who are not smart enough to cover their tracks. This was the case in Bristol Township, Pennsylvania, where a burglar recently tried to get away with robbing his neighbor’s home, the Courier Times reported.

When police arrived at the scene of the crime, they discovered a set of footprints that led from the side of the home to its front door. There was an additional set of footprints that began at the house’s rear door and continued for several blocks. This is exactly where police nabbed their suspect, who allegedly confessed to breaking into the home.

If anything, these two examples show that police need to possess the knowledge and skills necessary to think on their feet and sometimes use unconventional methods to solve a case – each of which they may be able to acquire through law enforcement training.

Police learn how to contain shooters on the loose

Police learn how to contain shooters on the loose

Police learn how to contain shooters on the loose

Recent months have seen a number of horrific shootings dominate the news, proving that armed individuals can spread violence anywhere at any time. As the actions of shooters can be so unpredictable, it is essential that police officers complete law enforcement training so they can bring dangerous incidents to a swift and safe conclusion.

With recent tragedies like the 2012 shootings at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater, and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, still fresh in people’s memories, many police departments are looking for ways to improve their officers’ response to similar incidents. Here are how two departments are preparing for the worst:

School serves as setting for quick response training
This past Martin Luther King Jr. Day, while students who regularly attend Illinois’ Casey-Westfield High School had the day off, approximately 20 officers from the Casey and Marshall police departments, as well as the Clark County Sheriff’s Office and the Illinois State Police went back to school to learn, the Journal Gazette & Times-Courier reported. However, rather than working through complex math problems, these law enforcement officials were training to take down a fictitious shooter wreaking havoc in the school’s hallways.

Over the course of their training, officers divided into teams of two as they learned how to move through long hallways, stairwells, doorways and other areas safely. In a world where school shootings happen too frequently, Mark Jenkins, the chief of the Casey police department, told the news source this type of training is something that “should be a big priority” for everyone in law enforcement.

Police head to court for training
As court was not in session on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, local law enforcement and court officials participated in a training session at the Winnebago County Courthouse in Wisconsin, The Oshkosh Northwestern reported. In this imaginary incident, a court hearing went terribly wrong, with a man shooting his ex-wife during a child custody hearing gone awry.

“Something like this has never happened to us,” David Keck, a family court commissioner, told the news outlet. “But now we’ve thought through some things and now if something like this would happen, we would know how we would handle it.”

The police officers who took part in the training session had worked through similar scenarios in school and business settings, but this was their first time navigating the halls of a courthouse.

Law enforcement must store valuable equipment in a safe place

Law enforcement must store valuable equipment in a safe place

Law enforcement must store valuable equipment in a safe place

Whether people have had their homes burglarized or have been robbed at gunpoint, they typically turn to the police after a crime has been committed. However, cops are not immune to these types of criminal activity themselves.

For instance, in Kansas City, Missouri, seven unoccupied automobiles were recently burglarized, six of which were law enforcement vehicles, KCTV reported. Police are not saying what exactly one or more thieves made off with, but weapons are among the items missing.

Kansas City Major Anthony Ell told the news source that whoever broke into the vehicles was probably looking to steal weapons, uniforms, bullet-proof vests and police radios.

“… I try not to keep a lot of things in my vehicle of value because you never know what may happen,” Ell said.

These types of robberies are certainly not uncommon, which makes law enforcement training focused on the safe storage of dangerous and valuable equipment so important.

This past December, The Laredo Sun reported that a member of Texas’ Laredo Police had an $8,000 bomb squad uniform he kept in his vehicle stolen. During the same month, the sheriff deputy of La Crosse County, Wisconsin, lost two firearms, a taser and a police radio when his home was burglarized, the La Crosse Tribune reported.

Law enforcement’s New Year’s resolution is to keep people safe

Law enforcement's New Year's resolution is to keep people safe

Law enforcement’s New Year’s resolution is to keep people safe

New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are 48 hours in which police may have to rely on the full breadth of their law enforcement training. After all, the final hours of the year are a time when many people fill a glass with alcohol, loosen up and make poor decisions.

Members of law enforcement are responsible for making sure revelers enjoy a safe end to the year and are able to start 2013 on a positive note. For this reason, police will be out in full force across the country so that people have a chance to fulfill their New Year’s resolutions. Here are a few measures law enforcement will be taking this New Year’s Eve:

Cracking down on drunk drivers
While people can get behind the wheel of an automobile under the influence of alcohol any time of year, this is much more likely to happen on New Year’s Eve due to the high volume of parties that take place. As a result, law enforcement agencies nationwide, such as the South Carolina Highway Patrol, are prepared to do everything in their power to keep drunk drivers off the road.

All of our troopers will be on the road on New Year’s Eve,” Lance Corporal Bill Rhyne of the highway patrol, told the Anderson Independent Mail.

On New Year’s Eve, the highway patrol will continue to promote its “Sober or Slammer” campaign, in addition to having officers stationed in areas known to be DUI hot spots.

Keeping drivers buckled into their seats
Drunken motorists are not all police will be on the lookout for on New Year’s Eve. In Illinois, for example, police across the state will promote smart driving with safety belt enforcement zones, The Associated Press reported.

The increased police presence on Illinois’ roads is the result of the “Drive to Survive” campaign, a collaboration between the Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois State Police and close to 300 police agencies.

Stressing the importance of gun safety
When the clock strikes midnight, some gun owners grab their weapon and fire it into the air in celebration, according to KMIR-TV. While these individuals may think their actions are harmless, the bullets fired into the air have to come down at some point, which puts lives at risk.

This is why California’s Riverside County Sheriff’s Department wants people to have a good time without using firearms. Keeping guns locked up can prevent the loss of life and prevent individuals from starting the new year behind bars.

Awards highlight law enforcement officials’ hard work

Awards highlight law enforcement officials' hard work

Awards highlight law enforcement officials’ hard work

A special type of person has an interest in law enforcement jobs. A police officer’s commitment to enforcing the law and responding to calls, as well as his or her willingness to enter into high-risk situations, means this line of work is reserved only for the best and brightest.

Those who feel they still have a long way to go before they can truly say they are the best they can be can pursue law enforcement training. Beyond expanding their knowledge and skills, police officers can look to the accomplishments of their peers around the country, many of which are being recognized for their achievements as 2012 draws to a close.

Here are just a few members of law enforcement who have been singled out for their outstanding work in the line of duty:

Sergeant Jeff Dodson – Inspiring the next generation of police officers
Virginia’s Culpeper American Legion Post 330 recently named Sergeant Jeff Dodson of the Culpeper Police Department its Law Enforcement Officer of the Year, the Star Exponent reported. The local veterans group recognized Dodson for the work he has done with the Culpeper Law Explorers, a program designed to teach youths about law enforcement careers.

“Sergeant Dodson embodies all that we seek in our officers,” Culpeper Police Chief Chris Jenkins told the news source. “His desire to give back to the community through his work with the Explorers does not go unnoticed.”

Jenkins, who nominated Dodson for the award, said the sergeant spends countless hours educating today’s youth about the work law enforcement officials do. In return for his efforts, Jenkins said Dodson receives the “self-satisfaction that he may be helping a young person mature.”

Police Chief Randy Scott – Building a stronger police force
At the recent Strom Thurmond Awards for Excellence in Law Enforcement luncheon in Columbia, South Carolina, Columbia Police Chief Randy Scott accepted the 2012 City Officer of the Year Award, the Columbia Star reported. In the eyes of many, the recognition is well deserved.

“Chief Scott has built a first-class law enforcement agency for the people of this city,” Steve Benjamin, the mayor of Columbia, told the news source. “Under his leadership, the Columbia Police Department is smarter, stronger, friendlier and more effective than ever before.”

Scott’s accomplishments are directly related to his philosophy for the Columbia Police Department, which centers on goals in the areas of community partnerships, customer service and crime fighting.

The Milford Police Department – Making roads safer
Rather than spotlighting the efforts of a few members of law enforcement, AAA Southern New England chose to recognize the hard work of the entire Milford Police Department, the Milford Mirror reported. At the AAA Southern New England Community Traffic Safety Awards, the Connecticut police department received the AAA Gold Award for the work it has done in the areas of traffic safety education and community enforcement programs.

AAA Southern New England did reserve a special honor for one member of the Milford police force, as Patrol Officer First Class William Simpson received the Traffic Safety Hero award. Simpson, who has been honored in the past by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, continues to take action when it comes to impaired drivers.

The chance of winning awards should never be a reason for pursuing a career in law enforcement, but these honors do show that many police officers’ hard work does not go unnoticed. Special awards also shine a light on the efforts of law enforcement officials who others in their profession can aspire to emulate.

Law enforcement works to keep the season merry

Law enforcement works to keep the season merry

Law enforcement works to keep the season merry

People across the U.S. are in the thick of the holiday season, which means many of them are crowding malls and airports, attending festive parties and enjoying everything else the month of December has to offer. As this is an especially busy time of the year, those who hold law enforcement jobs need to be extra vigilant to ensure that people enjoy the holidays without putting their lives, or the lives of others, in danger.

While there is still some time before Christmas, many police departments around the country are wasting no time getting themselves, and people in their local areas, ready so their year ends on a safe note. Here are two examples of what steps law enforcement are taking this holiday season:

Police provide holiday safety tips
For many people, the holidays that take place throughout December provide an excuse to throw a party. As a result, the odds that someone is leaving a gathering late at night under the influence of alcohol only intensifies when libations are freely flowing and guests are feeling festive.

Officials from the Department of Maryland State Police are ready for trouble on the roads, and recently issued a press release detailing the ways partygoers can reduce their risk of spoiling the season for themselves and the drivers they share the road with. The department urges motorists to not drive drowsy, drunk, drugged or aggressively. In addition, they should not text or make phone calls behind the wheel, follow other vehicles too closely or make unsafe lane changes.

Police encourage safe holiday shopping
Battling through crowds at the mall is already enough of a challenge for holiday shoppers. Alabama’s Troy Police Department want to make sure this seasonal activity does not take a turn for the worse, The Troy Messenger reported. Unfortunately, something as harmless as picking up a few presents can become quite dangerous, as there are always thieves ready to steal pricey items.

“Lots of people are out shopping at this time of year,” Sergeant Benny Scarbrough of the Troy Police Department, told the news source. “Something we all need to remember is it is best to shop in numbers. Know the place where you are going and know the entrances and exits. Also, remember where you park so you aren’t wandering around with packages.”

Of course, it is impossible for police officers to prevent everybody from getting behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated, or mugging a shopper in a dimly lit parking lot, but with law enforcement training, they may be better equipped to respond to these incidents when they occur.

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