Advances in Firearm Identification Using GelSight

Several recent studies have called for improved imaging technology and matching algorithms to support firearm identification. The author investigated and developed a novel, accurate, and low-cost system for structural 3D imaging and comparison of cartridge cases.

He was able to demonstrate the system’s potential for increasing the quality and reducing the cost of forensic analyses. The project, named Top-Match, combines the recently developed GelSight high-resolution surface topography imaging system with state-of-the-art algorithms for matching structural features.

Compared to competing technologies, the author’s GelSight-based system is fast, inexpensive, and not sensitive to the optical properties of the material being measured. The project aimed to extend the system to measure and compare striated toolmarks (e.g., aperture shear), to integrate these marks into the scoring function, and to investigate matching algorithms for comparing 3D surface topographies captured using different imaging modalities (e.g., GelSight vs. confocal microscopy).

The author developed a robust algorithm for extracting the linear profile of aperture shears. This method is able to extract profiles from curved, flat, or arced shears. Manual examination of the extracted profiles shows informative profiles can be extracted for approximately 88 percent of Glock casings.

These linear profiles can then be matched as part of a matching algorithm, which demonstrates a significant improvement in Glock matching ability when the shears are considered.

The author created an open file format (X3P) for the free exchange of 3D surface topography data. This format allowed collaboration with his colleagues at National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). They demonstrated that cross-modality matching is possible and that, in many cases, it works extremely well.

To achieve these results, the confocal scans required simple preprocessing (mainly interpolation of drop-outs and denoising with a low-pass filter). The system is able to accurately identify known matches when scans were acquired with GelSight or Confocal scanning systems. The algorithm was also able to identify known matches where one scan is a GelSight scan and the other is a Confocal scan.

View Source

Community helps Mountain View police arrest shoplifter

Mountain View CA Aug 30 2015 Mountain View police thanked the community for helping officers track down a suspect in an assault on a Walmart security guard, after anonymous tips led to the man’s identification and arrest.

The suspect allegedly put on a pair of new shoes and left the Walmart store on Showers Drive without paying.

The man entered the store early in the afternoon on Sunday, Aug. 16, and reportedly put on the shoes and started to walk out without paying, according to police. When Walmart security tried to detain him, the man swung his arms multiple times and hit one of the security officers in the face, according to police spokeswoman Shino Tanaka.

The Walmart security officer declined medical treatment.

Police later arrested Gabriel Zuniga, 26, of Mountain Vie in front of the 7-Eleven at 276 N. Whisman Road after posting his photo and asking for help identifying him.

“Thanks to our community for helping us track down this suspect who was arrested for a warrant related to this incident,” Mountain View police wrote in the department’s blog on Aug. 27.

View Source

Shoplifting incident leads to felony identity theft charges

BELTON TX Aug 26 2015 — A Killeen woman was arraigned Thursday on a charge of fraudulent use of identifying information.

Jodi Marie Schimek, 28, of Killeen, was arrested Wednesday after police responded to 1400 Lowes Boulevard in Killeen.

According to an arrest affidavit, Schimek was caught on in-store cameras shoplifting at the location and, when police arrived, Schimek handed officers a New York driver’s license with another woman’s name.

Apparently not knowing the woman was Schimek, police said in the affidavit they arrested her and took her to the Killeen jail.

Later that day, the affidavit said, a New York woman called the Bell County Jail “and advised that a female who verbally identified herself as (name withheld) called and advised that a female in the Killeen jail was using her name and information and that a closer check by jail staff of the driver’s license provided by the female did not match the female in custody.”

The affidavit said the New York female identified herself and told jail staff she had not been to Texas for years and that Schimek did not have permission to use her ID.

Police later spoke with Schimek who admitted that she and the New York woman had been friends for years and that she previously had used the ID to buy cigarettes.

Schimek was arraigned by Justice of the Peace Garland Potvin, who gave her a $50,000 bond.

View Source

Virginia fraternity suspended over banners slammed as ‘offensive’

What’s nu?

A Sigma Nu fraternity has been suspended, making the second in one week, after they were seen greeting returning students with sexually suggestive banners.

“Rowdy and fun/Hope your baby girl is ready for a good time,” one message, scrawled across a bed sheet near the Old Dominion University campus in Norfolk, Va., read.

“Freshman daughter drop off,” read another with an arrow pointing at the off-campus fraternity house’s front door.

“Go ahead and drop off mom too…” added a third.

The crude welcome mats quickly paved the way for a likely enlightening semester for the culprits with the university’s president vowing to punish anyone found having violated the school’s code of conduct.

“Our students, campus community and alumni have been offended,” John R. Broderick wrote in a scathing letter sent out to the campus community on Saturday.

“A young lady I talked to earlier today courageously described the true meaning of the hurt this caused. She thought seriously about going back home.

“But she was heartened, she explained, when she saw how fellow students were reacting to this incident on social media. She realized this callous and senseless act did not reflect the Old Dominion she has come to love,” he continued.

Broderick was joined in outcry by Sigma Nu’s executive director, Brad Beacham, who also chided the banners as “offensive.”

View Source

Less-lethal weapons get new interest amid police shootings

FITCHBURG, Mass. (AP) — Police in more than 20 North American cities are testing the latest in less-lethal alternatives to bullets — “blunt impact projectiles” that cause suspects excruciating pain but stop short of killing them. Or at least that’s the goal.

Police have long had what they considered “nonlethal” weapons at their disposal, including pepper spray, stun guns and beanbag projectiles. But even those weapons have caused deaths, leading to a search for “less lethal” alternatives. The quest has taken on new urgency in the past year amid furor over a string of high-profile police shootings of black men.

Micron Products Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Arrhythmia Research Technology based in Fitchburg, makes the new ammunition, which are much larger than rubber bullets and have silicone heads that expand and flatten on impact, enhancing the pain and incapacitating a suspect. One executive of the company that patented the technology was a guinea pig and described experiencing the business end of a BIP as the “equivalent of being hit by a hockey puck.”

“It was like, ‘Ow!’ I had to shake it off,” said Allen Ezer, executive vice president of Security Devices International, a defense technology company that hired Micron to make the projectiles, which were developed by a ballistics engineering company in Israel.

Sixteen law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and six in Canada have purchased the projectiles, including SWAT units of the Los Angeles County and Sacramento County Sheriff’s Departments in California, and police departments in East Hartford, Connecticut; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; and Los Alamos, New Mexico.

“They want an option that bridges the gap between baton, Taser and their service weapons,” said Salvatore Emma, Micron’s chief executive officer.

The projectiles do not penetrate the skin, like conventional bullets, but they do cause pain and discomfort. Officers are trained to shoot the projectiles at arms and legs. A person hit in the torso at close range during a disturbance in Canada got a large bruise but no lasting injury, said Gregory Sullivan, SDI’s chief executive officer.

No one has been shot in the head with the projectiles at this point, and Sullivan acknowledged the possibility of a serious or deadly injury in the event of a close-range shot to the head.

But “because of the accountability factor that exists today in the law enforcement field … it just makes good sense and good risk management to use something that’s safer and the officers can have confidence in,” said Sullivan, a former Toronto police officer.

Read More

Man arrested in shooting incident at Richmond school

RICHMOND, Texas – Rosenberg Police arrested a man after a shooting incident Sunday morning at an elementary school in Fort Bend County.

Police arrested Christian Pieper, 20, after he allegedly fired shots in an unknown direction around 8 a.m. Sunday while standing on the roof of William Velasquez Elementary School in the 400 block of Macek Road in Richmond.

Pieper and another man were initially taken into custody, but police determined one of the men was not involved in the incident and was later released.

Police say there were no injuries during the incident, but they did discover some property damage.

Although the incident happened on a school campus, officials do not believe the suspect had intent to harm the school or students.

Lamar Consolidated Independent School District officials sent an e-mail to parents of Velasquez Elementary School students informing them of the incident.

Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office deputies determined the gun the Pieper had was later reported stolen.

Officials said Pieper faces charges of trespassing and criminal mischief, among others.

Investigators said there is surveillance video and Pieper never actually made it into the school. Officials said this was an isolated incident and there are no threats toward students and faculty of the school.

View Source

Police: Portland man arrested after trying to meet 10-year-old for sex

PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -A man faces a number of sex crime charges after he attempted to meet a 10-year-old girl for sex, police said Friday.

Officers responded to the girl’s home around 3 a.m. Thursday after receiving a report that an acquaintance of the family was sending the girl nude photos of himself.

Police said Michael Bowen, 22, planned to meet the girl at noon near the Springwater Corridor trail and Southeast 82nd Avenue.

When Bowen arrived at the arranged location, police took him into custody.

During their investigation, police said they identified two other underage female victims.

Bowen was booked in the Multnomah County Jail on charges of online corruption in the first degree, luring a minor, attempted sex abuse in the first degree, attempted rape in the first degree and attempted sodomy in the first degree.

View Source

Armored truck company made deliveries in UHauls

Detroit MI August 21 2015 Armored truck drivers say they have been forced to make their deliveries in moving vans leaving them unprotected.

Employees say the company’s marked trucks have already been targeted by thieves several times and they’re afraid for their safety.

A video shows a day at work for employees at Total Armored Car as a courier loads bags of cash getting set for delivery.

This is me and my partner he’s loading the money while I am recording it,” said a Total Armored Car employee.

But on the day of the video, the truck they are using isn’t as armored as the name would suggest – it’s a U-Haul truck.

“We had guys that worked there every day that would come in and find out what truck they were in,” said the employee. “They would call their girlfriends or wives and let them know it’s not an armored vehicle and if anything happens to me you know who to sue.”

“It’s crazy, it’s dangerous,” said another employee who wished to remain anonymous.

At least those are the allegations from two anonymous whistleblowers.

“I feel like they don’t care about my safety or my life,” the second employee said. “It’s about profit and business as usual.”

Read More

TSA joins the pages of Yelp

SAN DIEGO CA Aug 20 2015— Watch out TSA: You’ll be joining the ranks of beauty salons, taco stands, and other services reviewed on Yelp, and Uncle Sam says it will take the online ratings into account to improve what the government calls “customer satisfaction.”

Under a deal with Yelp, the government will officially recognize the public’s star ratings on its federal agencies, from the Transportation Security Administration to national parks.

Frustrated travelers have already been turning to the popular site for years to vent about long, slow-moving airport security lines and what some have said are intrusive body scans. Now the public will be able to do it in real time, and the government says it will respond to the comments and use the feedback to improve. People can, among other things, rate bathrooms at national parks, review their experiences with the Internal Revenue Service, or assess the efficiency of the local post office.

“In some ways, it augments our democracy,” said Luther Lowe, Yelp’s vice president of public policy. He said the platform could shine the light on both what works and what doesn’t in the federal government — just as it directs people to the yummiest Indian restaurant in town or the best nail salon.

The General Services Administration made the announcement on digitalgov.gov in a page that resembled a typical Yelp page with the title “Best Public Services and Government in Washington D.C.” It said: “Adding customer satisfaction ratings and reviews to public services just got easier now that Yelp offers a terms of service for official government use.”

It touted how the platform “hosts insights from real people giving their honest and personal opinions on everything from restaurants and spas to coffee shops,” and added that with the government joining in under the Yelp umbrella, federal agencies can find new ways to better serve taxpayers.

Lowe said there’s no need for TSA agents or other federal officials to worry: Positive reviews already outweigh negative comments on Yelp for businesses, and he doesn’t expect that will change with people reviewing federal agencies. It’ll still take weeks before it is up and running.

Read More

Gov. Nikki Haley OKs armed guards at S.C. National Guard sites

Gov. Nikki Haley has approved armed guards at S.C. National Guard sites as a response to last month’s ambush-style killings of four Marines and a sailor near Chattanooga, Tenn.

Haley signed an executive order Monday that calls for a variety of security upgrades at recruiting, armory and depot sites around the state.

Additionally, S.C. Adjutant General Robert E. Livingston Jr. has changed S.C. National Guard policy to allow personnel to carry a weapon while in uniform under certain circumstances.

Among the areas covered in Haley’s order are increased hard-site security, protection training to be coordinated through the State Law Enforcement Division, and assigning and arming individuals who successfully complete training for station at all guard facilities in the state.

The long-term effect is that all National Guard locations will have permanent protection measures in place, the governor’s office said.

The announcement came after lone gunman Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, 24, drove to a military recruiting office and to a Navy-Marine operations center outside Chattanooga, opening fire at both places. Four Marines were killed, and a sailor wounded in the attack died, as well. Abdulazeez also died.

Read More