Two eleven-pound battery-operated drone helicopters are being added to the tools at the disposal of the Arlington Police Department, intended for use in damage assessment and search operations as well as for complex crime scene investigation and tactical operations. These helicopters must remain within line of sight of the pilot at all times and must stay lower than 400 feet from the ground, per FAA regulations, and are only to be operated by licensed pilots. The Arlington pilot program has been working to develop standards for law enforcement use of drone helicopters since 2011, both for purposes of public safety and individual privacy.
Army Major General Lynn A. Collyar, former director of the Defense Logistics Agency and current head of the Army’s Aviation and Missile Command, was part of a panel discussion with several industry representatives on “Optimizing the Global Supply Chain” at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Winter Symposium last Saturday.
The former head of Army logistics tried to assure a nervous audience of defense industry executives that the expectation of massive budget cuts was “not all doom and gloom” with an expected remaining budget of almost $500 billion for military expenditures. “That’s a lot of money,” Collyar said of the budget. “We can’t afford to just throw money around, but there is still a lot of money out there.”
The three executives who sat on the panel stressed the urgency of the “brand new reality” faced by a step-down of military activity and put out a request for “more affordable” methods to “execute the missions we have within the budgets we’re given.” How this affects military readiness for future conflicts remains to be seen.
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta announced yesterday a lifting of the ban on female military servicemembers in combat roles, with plans to open most jobs to women by May 15th. Senior commanders will have until January 2016 to ask for exceptions. View the full story here.
For those who thought being in the correctional industry couldn’t get any stranger, this is a reminder that humans aren’t the only things that have to be searched upon attempting to enter prison grounds. Guards at the prison of Arapiraca were surprised to witness a white cat with tape wrapped around its body passing through the main gate of the prison. Upon further examination, they discovered that the feline had been carrying a saw, drills, a mobile phone, a phone charger, a memory card, an earphone, and batteries. The cat was temporarily ‘detained’ to remove the contraband items, and was then discharged to an animal disease center to receive medical care. Currently, all of the prison inmates at Arapiraca are suspect of complicity in the smuggling operation, as the cat was unable to give information regarding its intended destination. In the words of a prison spokesperson, “It’s tough to find out who’s responsible for the action as the cat doesn’t speak.”
2013 means a new year of challenges, opportunities, and a new budget for those necessary equipment expenditures you’ve been putting off until next year. With the winter cold settling in, if you haven’t already gotten yourself some of our wonderful Refrigiwear coats, boots, and gloves, now is an excellent time to do so. For those of you who need to protect your workers and customers from slip and fall accidents at entranceways due to the weather, we recommend industrial matting to absorb snow and water and remove debris that would otherwise be tracked through your workplace. Don’t forget a good carpet dryer to blow-dry those wet carpets quickly and efficiently!
Law enforcement operatives, police SWAT teams, and border patrols have been taking advantage of thermal imaging cameras in helicopters and other support roles for years. However, technology always advances, and thermal imaging systems are now small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and weigh less than a pound, while capturing high-resolution video of events as they unfold. This is obviously a significant advantage for law enforcement, as it effectively gives them the ability to see in darkened areas without making their quarry aware that they’re looking. Night vision equipment can preclude otherwise dangerous chases that might put the lives of law enforcement officers, innocent civilians, and the criminals themselves at risk, and give officers advance warning of concealed threats that could otherwise become major hazards.
While the costs of an individual unit still preclude arming every patrolman with their own FLIR monocular, surveillance task forces and sniper teams, in particular, have a unique responsibility to be able to clearly distinguish a target under any conditions, including under the cover of darkness. The continued advancement of night vision cameras and night vision optics only means that the shadows are becoming less of a safe hiding place for the criminal element.
With advances in digital optics technology, the field of night vision and thermal vision is always expanding and improving. Visit our ATN law enforcement optics page for more interesting developments!
With December 21st, 2012 only three weeks away, zombie apocalypse cults, ufologists, religious advocates, Red Menace marginalists, and other fringe are all expecting, not to say hoping, some sort of major calamity to occur to disrupt any remaining order and goodwill in the world. Of course, if there is really anything to worry about on that day, it will be far more from our fellow man than from any cosmic coincidences or mystical convergences. With that said, there are those who doubtlessly would prefer to keep a clear head — and be ready, ‘just in case’ things go sour. So with that in mind, let’s look at what you can do, just in case you are concerned about what might happen on December 21st, or any time you think society might break down, or just the next time a natural disaster happens upon your neighborhood.
First and foremost, you must have plans – plans for waiting out a situation, and plans for leaving if a situation is more than you can handle and you have the opportunity to evacuate. For example, trying to brave the wilderness without proper camping equipment or even a compass can be equivalent to suicide even without the threat of disaster going on. Every home, meanwhile, should have a well-stocked first aid kit, pantry, and toolbox, if only to deal with the fact that sometimes the lights go out and the phone lines get cut and people get hurt. We live in a wonderfully well-connected modern world, but that does not give us the excuse to ignore some basic tenets of self-reliance and preparation.
Second, if you are firmly convinced that the end of the world is coming and are dead set on avoiding it, pack your bags. Have everything you need in your choice of vehicles, including a fully loaded tent and backpack for yourself and each of your family members and a full tank of gas, and be prepared to take the backpack out and walk if necessary – after all, the roads might become blocked. They don’t call it the apocalypse because everything works out well for everyone, after all.
Finally, once you’re ready… relax. Watch the news and stay aware, but relax. Glibly waiting around and hoping for the end of the world really isn’t going to do you, your family, or anyone else any good and is just going to make everyone around you nervous. Decorate the Christmas tree, have a candy cane or two, watch a few Christmas specials and enjoy a cup of eggnog. On December 22nd, 2012, in all probability, the world will keep right on chugging, and you’ll have a good laugh about how worried you were — but you’ll feel better knowing that you did have things ready. Just in case.
Law enforcement agents in Amherstburg, Ontario, have made a drug bust of over $2.1 million as a result of a routine traffic accident.
Uniformed police officers responded to a vehicle that had gone into a ditch while backing down a driveway, and found several pounds of what they suspected was marijuana in the vehicle. With probable cause given, the police received a warrant to search the property for narcotics and discovered several hundred pounds of suspected marijuana, an alleged outdoor growing operation, and what police described as a processing plant.
After a complete search of the premises, they received a search warrant to make dynamic entry into another location in Windsor, where they seized an additional quantity of marijuana, a vehicle, a large quantity of cash, and a loaded handgun. In total, seven people were arrested on various firearms and drug-related charges, and two more are wanted in connection to the investigation. As they often say, law enforcement’s job is often made easier by careless or foolish criminals.
Now that the election is over, a subset of Americans are very deeply concerned that the apocalypse is nigh, whether because of the classic ‘Mayan apocalypse’ of December 21st, 2012 – more accurately, the end of the Mayan calendar cycle of creation, although no actual prophecies exist regarding an apocalyptic event to take place on this date any more than a millenial celebration has any particular significance – or because their favorite politician lost their candidacy and cut off their credit cards in the middle of the night and they just realized they don’t have a job now, or because they get twitchy after reading one too many Youtube comments. We’re not here to judge, but we are here to make sure that whether you’re planning for the zombie apocalypse or just expect your neighbors might take their threats a little too far one day, we’ve got the supplies you need.
First and foremost on our list of things you need is a good set of bags and backpacks to keep your stuff in – something that’s light enough to carry while on the move, but won’t rip away in case you’re dealing with hungry hordes of Wal-Mart shoppers (the living or the undead kind). Personally, I prefer this optimized buttpack I picked up at one point — it’s likely to last longer than I will, inside and out, and it’s a great way to stash and carry gear in a simple grab-and-go pack (although mine looks about as well organized as a sock drawer at this point.) The multiple attachment points mean I can easily attach it to a larger backpack, and it holds to capacity without straining the seams.
Once you’ve got a sturdy bag to hold what you need, you should pack it with anything you’d actually need in an emergency – medications you regularly take, first aid supplies you may have repackaged from a professional kit, a Swiss army knife, paracord, signalling gear, light, a compass, materials for starting fires, and other items practical to your personal situation. Bear in mind that whatever goes in there has to be something you’re willing to carry around all the time if necessary – every ounce of unnecessary weight will count against you. Don’t forget that with the colder temperatures and worsening weather around the corner, any blackout situations would create a need for cold-weather apparel as well!
Above all else, if you are concerned about the possibility of a survival situation in the near future, preparation in advance is key — start researching your options now so that you can be prepared for any possibility to come.
In light of Hurricane Katrina and the damage caused to New Orleans, the reputation of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) seemed permanently tarnished, and it seemed impossible for the federal government to handle an emergency on a state-wide scale. And yet…
Seven years later, we on the East Coast (especially those of us in New York and New Jersey) have had the misfortune of being introduced to Hurricane Sandy. Though Katrina was a much stronger Category 4 storm, the reach of Category 1 Sandy was over one thousand miles wide, affecting seventeen states. The New York Stock Exchange was closed for two days in a row for the first time since 1888, though as all affected agencies had several days’ advance notice, no economic disaster unfolded. Subways flooded; the Jersey Shore and its islands were ravaged; power lines fell, trees were shattered, and fires were sparked from North Carolina to Toronto; thousands are still without power; dozens lost their lives.
In seven years, though, it appears that the art of disaster management has taken strong lessons from Hurricane Katrina – on a local level, on a state level, and on a national level.
On a local level, New Jersey communities had established hurricane preparation plans based on last year’s extreme storms, which they quickly put into practice, alerting residents up to a week in advance and preparing shelter, supplies, and bracing where needed. New York City Michael Bloomberg sent uniformed city workers to help evacuate NYU Tisch Hospital after its backup generator failed. Newark Mayor Cory Booker responded to citizen requests for help via Twitter.
On a state level, our governor Chris Christie was already arranging evacuations of the Jersey Shore days before the storm hit, declaring a state of emergency in advance and coordinating the response to the hurricane in the hours before and after it made landfall. While politically, Gov. Christie is often contentious, few can argue that he did exactly what a governor should do in a time of crisis.
On a federal level, when President Obama picked his replacement for head of FEMA, he chose an experienced disaster management expert by the name of Chris Fugate, previously a director of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management, to reorganize and improve the agency. In addition, FEMA had received high levels of funding in the wake of Katrina, in understanding that preparation for emergencies was not an ‘optional’ expense. When the hurricane was detected, instead of continuing political campaigning, the president decided to focus on actually handling the emergency and coordinating management efforts, focusing FEMA assistance and making contact with Governor Christie (as we’ve heard) on several occasions throughout the storm. Emergency workers are still conducting search and rescue operations as well as providing supplies and assistance to those in need.
As we recover from the biting chill of the hurricane winds, snows, and rain and pick up the pieces, we are glad that our government has learned the lessons harshly taught by previous storms.