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Crime Technology

Using Wearable Tech To Track Gun Use 264

An anonymous reader writes: A debate has been raging recently over whether or not to equip police with body cameras so that instances of violence in the line of duty can be monitored. It's an important discussion to have, but we should also look at other technologies that could help provide hard data on gun incidents. A new paper was recently published in PLOS ONE about the use of wristband accelerometers to detect when the wearer has fired a gun. Study author and criminology professor Charles Loeffler said, "A gunshot is pretty distinctive. You're typically at rest because you're trying to aim, and in a split second, your hand, wrist, and arm experience an impulsive transfer of energy." Loeffler suggests a suite of sensors including GPS and the wristband accelerometer could be given to convicts as a requirement for their parole. Not only would this help with police response in case of recidivism, but it could provide additional deterrent to further crimes. It could also be helpful to police departments, both for accountability and for integration between the police and the courts.
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Using Wearable Tech To Track Gun Use

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  • by PPH ( 736903 )

    That's OK for potheads and other non-violent criminals. But for someone who may have used a firearm in the commission of a crime, just keep them in. Please. For the good of society.

    • Because people who smoke weed never rob anyone to get money or drive around stoned out of their gourd and wreck into people.

      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        The vast majority of people who go to prison for weed are non-violent offenders.

        Frankly, non-violent offender shouldn't go to jail. They should be fined, work weekend crews and be monitored. But they didn't hurt anyone, so don't lock them up. It's just a huge waste of money and potential.
        The goal should be to get them so they don't do it again.

        • The vast majority of people who go to prison for weed are non-violent offenders.

          Can you provide a citation for that? I've known a few guys that got busted for minor possession, not a one resulted in even an overnight jail stay.

          Frankly, non-violent offender shouldn't go to jail. They should be fined, work weekend crews and be monitored. But they didn't hurt anyone, so don't lock them up. It's just a huge waste of money and potential. The goal should be to get them so they don't do it again.

          Totally agree here. Jail should be for violent offenders who are a physical danger to society. That said, what do we do with the Bernie Maddoffs of the world?

          • That said, what do we do with the Bernie Maddoffs of the world?

            My solution would be simple. Confiscate their wealth. ALL of it. Even the stuff squirreled away in Trusts and whatnot. People should not be able to hide illgot gains in trusts. Their kids and grandkids should make it in the world just like all the other kids that aren't trust babies.

          • ... what do we do with the Bernie Maddoffs of the world?

            This is a prime example of how our system of justice and punishment completely fails to satisfy the human need to "see justice done". We need a points system, like many states have for the drivers license, with different offenses and injuries having different point values. This way, a "non-violent" offender who has managed to damage the lives of thousands of people can be seen to be worthy of a very public execution, to demonstrate to everyone - good and bad alike - that society doesn't want this behavior

            • by harrkev ( 623093 )

              We need a points system, like many states have for the drivers license, with different offenses and injuries having different point values. This way, a "non-violent" offender who has managed to damage the lives of thousands of people can be seen to be worthy of a very public execution, to demonstrate to everyone - good and bad alike - that society doesn't want this behavior, and excises it like cutting off a wart.

              So, the president of companies who use or promote DRM will be drawn and quartered? After all,

          • My solution:
            Determine the average person's earnings over their lifetime.
            Take the white collar criminal's stolen earnings and compare them to the this. If they exceed it, then they have effectively stolen the equivalent of a lifetime's work. Thus, they need to pay it back, with their own life.

            So, if the average person working over their life earns ( I'm making this up, I don't know what it is) 2 million dollars and the Bernie Madoff wannabe embezzled more than that, then it's a death sentence.

          • by nbauman ( 624611 )

            The vast majority of people who go to prison for weed are non-violent offenders.

            Can you provide a citation for that? I've known a few guys that got busted for minor possession, not a one resulted in even an overnight jail stay.

            I had a few friends who were busted in college for small-time grass dealing and served terms of about 6 months.

            More recently, in New York City, the stop-and-frisk laws, which a court found was illegal, were used to sweep in thousands of people busted for possession. The cases were almost impossible to get dismissed. I don't believe that it was an accident that the prosecutors scheduled a hearing at the same time the arresting officer was unavailable on "vacation." As a result defendants get worn down and ta

        • by nbauman ( 624611 )

          The vast majority of people who go to prison for weed are non-violent offenders.

          Frankly, non-violent offender shouldn't go to jail. They should be fined, work weekend crews and be monitored. But they didn't hurt anyone, so don't lock them up. It's just a huge waste of money and potential.
          The goal should be to get them so they don't do it again.

          Why should people who go to prison for weed get fined, work weekend crews and be monitored?

          We don't do that to people who sell tobacco.

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      That's not for the good of society. Not at all.

      There was a time where rehabilitation is the primary focus. Recidivism was lower, people get skills to function in society.
      It s was cheaper and safer for everyone.

      But the privatization of prison gave incentive to companies to spend money to get longer sentences, more crimes, and cut rehabilitation.
      3 strike is harmful to society as a whole, but through a massive advertising and political backing form private companies and prison guard unions everyone now has thi

  • By all means (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 10, 2014 @11:14AM (#47871635) Homepage Journal

    Let's put accelerometer watches on cops to track when they fire shots. Then we can correlate that data (given a useful timecode) with the footage from the cameras that we also need to make them wear if we're going to ensure that they operate in the public interest. They've been telling us all along that if we have nothing to hide, we should not fear scrutiny. Well, them first.

    • by gfxguy ( 98788 )

      Cops should have always on wearable cameras and tech that wirelessly streams to servers. Who watches the watchers? We should all be watching.

      • Cops should have always on wearable cameras and tech that wirelessly streams to servers. Who watches the watchers? We should all be watching.

        I doubt that would even be possible, streaming wirelessly inside buildings may be difficult, a building on the edge of town forget about it, then there is also the privacy issue when police enter people's homes. The videos should be encrypted and only prosecutors can decrypt them, so police can't alter their story to fit with the evidence.

      • by harrkev ( 623093 )

        Cops should have always on wearable cameras and tech that wirelessly streams to servers. Who watches the watchers? We should all be watching.

        Not a good idea for privacy reasons -- not the privacy of the police, but the privacy of the public. Do you think that the footage should be available for the officers who responded to the suicide of Robin WIlliams? That serves absolutely no public good. The footage should be available and published in the event of a fatality caused by the police or accusations of p

  • Why just guns? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 10, 2014 @11:16AM (#47871663)

    I know the libs wet their panties about gun crime and only gun crime to the exclusion of all other crime, but why do we only treat gun owners like they are a threat? More people were killed with someone's bare hands than the "scary black rifles" that the Democrats can't stop howling about.

    I want a tracking a registration list of all the little thugs who didn't do nuffin someone with a knife, or their fists too. Shouldn't we fear those criminals even more? They meant it more.

    • by Agares ( 1890982 )
      Lets not forget how countries that have gun bans tend to have massive stabbing sprees. So the issue isn't guns or even weapons in general, it is people. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-... [bbc.com]
      • by RobinH ( 124750 )
        I don't follow this logic: in countries that ban guns, violent offenders use knives? Doesn't that prove that it works? The total damage inflicted by a deranged lunatic with a knife has to be, on average, a lot less than a deranged lunatic with a firearm. That chinese guy who went berzerk with a sword on the same day as the elementary school shooting a little while back... didn't it end up that nobody actually died from that?
        • by gfxguy ( 98788 )

          So what you want to do is ban guns because of the TINY, ITTY BITTY fraction that were gun "sprees?"

        • by OhPlz ( 168413 )

          You can do a lot of damage with box cutters.

      • by nojayuk ( 567177 )

        The US has a murder/homicide rate about five times greater than the UK and ten times that of Japan, both nations which are effectively firearm-free.

        • I wouldn't trust your statistics. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/ne... [japantimes.co.jp]
          • by nojayuk ( 567177 )

            Murder/homicide is not suicide. The rate I quoted for Japan is for murder, over ten times less than the US.

            • by OhPlz ( 168413 )

              You're suggesting that gun laws are the only difference between the US and Japan? There's no reason to assume that access to firearms is the primary cause of murder. A firearm is not a motive.

              • by nojayuk ( 567177 )

                The open availability of firearms is a key factor in the US murder rate that is missing from other advanced Western nations which are not in a civil war or otherwise in turmoil. Murder rates for Sweden: 0.3, Australia: 1.1, Germany: 0.8, Switzerland: 0.6, Finland: 1.6, the US: 5.7. From Wikipedia, data from the past few years.

                There's also the glorification of violence in US culture, TV and movies, the militarisation of the civilian population programmed to bend the knee to their uniformed overlords, a large

                • We also have a level of wealth disparity far greater than those listed countries.

                  Remove the inner city murders, and you'll get a much more fair comparison.

                  None of those countries have a detroit, newark, south central LA, gary, or camden to skew statistics. What's the US murder rate in middle class suburbia? What's the murder rate in rural areas (where lo' and behold, the gun ownership rate is likely north of 90%).

                  Really comparing the US to western nations in general becomes more of a social commentary about

                • Switzerland has a shit ton of guns. It's more or less as easy to buy a gun there as it is in most of the US
            • I guess you didn't read the part where Japan has been listing murder/homicide as suicides so they don't have to investigate them? "According to the NPA, since 1998 there have been 45 cases of murder initially ruled by police to have been due to natural causes or suicide."
        • Unless your figures are adjusted for population that would make it about a 1:1 ratio with the UK as the US is five times more populous. [wolframalpha.com] That and correlation != causation and all that.
          • by nojayuk ( 567177 )

            I used the word "rate". That does correct for populaton. A quick look on wikipedia shows the 2012 murder rate in the US was 4.7 per 100,000 people, the UK was 1.0 per 100,000. Japan was 0.3 per 100,000 in 2011.

            No I don't know why the organisations that report these numbers use 100,000 rather than a round million. Not many countries have less than a million population.

        • But now compare the violent crime rate.
          • by harrkev ( 623093 )

            But now compare the violent crime rate.

            Australia had a big gun-grab back in 1996. I want to know what effect
            this has had, so I will start at 1995.

            **Australia, 1995**
            Population - 18,100,000
            Murders - 321
            Attempted Murder - 301
            Manslaughter - 30
            Robbery - 16466
            Assault - 101149
            Sexual Assault - 12809
            Kidnapping - 469
            Total Violent Crime - 131545
            - - - - -
            Murder, per million - 17.73
            Violent Crime, per million - 7267.68

            **Australia, 2010**
            Population - 22,300,000
            Murders - 260
            Robbery - 14,582
            Assault - 171083
            Sexual Assault

        • The US has a murder/homicide rate about ten times less than Venezuela, which is also "firearms-free"....

          The murder rate has far more to do with cultural issues than with availability of weapons of any particular type.

  • Even if it does detect a gunshot, the police will have to find the person, get them checked for gunpowder reside, if no crime was committed is that going to be enough evidence to charge them? What if they are right handed and just use their left hand?
  • "Loeffler suggests a suite of sensors including GPS and the wristband accelerometer could be given to convicts as a requirement for their parole. Not only would this help with police response in case of recidivism"

    If ex-cons are suffering from recidivism you the public are doing it wrong.

    Get to the gun range and get your grouping a little tighter and for God's sakes, even though they are more expensive these days, don't be stingy with those 100% effective anti-recidivism devices (aka bullets).

  • Why not just add a small camera attachment to the gun (i.e. on a picatinny rail where flashlights are commonly mounted) and have it automatically activate whenever the gun is held? Seems simple, cost effective, and would show exactly when and what is being aimed at and what was happening.

    • Why not just add a small camera attachment to the gun (i.e. on a picatinny rail where flashlights are commonly mounted) and have it automatically activate whenever the gun is held?

      Because the idea in the summary is to tag parolees, so unless you're thinking of issuing each one their own gun to monitor (and superglue it to their hand), the unremovable wristband would seem to be the better option.

    • Privacy violation.
  • by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Wednesday September 10, 2014 @11:26AM (#47871787)

    So they realize that Microphones are a lot cheaper than wrist bands and Guns tend to make a loud noise when used right?

    • Why not fit the guns with cameras?

    • Microphone will pick up *a* bang, and thus will give an information when *some* gun was fired in the vicinity of the police.
      It could be any gun on the scene, might by the police worker's own gun just as it could be the gun of the suspect/criminal.
      (Though if there are multiple police worker, with multiple microphone, maybe one could triangulate a probable point of origin for the shot)

      This wrist bands pick up vibration, and thus will give an information when *the gun held in the hand wearing the wrist band* h

  • Even stupid criminals can learn to shoot with their off hand.

    Regardless, this strikes me as a horse-has-left-the-barn issue. "No jury in the world" is going to convict Joe Felon on a murder because of detected acceleration that feels like a gun. What's a gun feel like, anyway? You're just as dead if Billy Thug puts a .22 short (essentially recoiless) into the back of your head as you are if he blasts away with a 9mm.

    And here's my alibi, officer: I was at the gym and took a swing at a punching bag.

    S
    • And here's my alibi, officer: I was at the gym and took a swing at a punching bag.

      It seems pretty obvious that the tracker would also have GPS to correlate the time of the event with the location.

      • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Wednesday September 10, 2014 @11:42AM (#47871975)
        OK, then. "You see, officer, I've been thinking of studying Gaelic, and after just a few minutes of trying to figure out how to conjugate in future imperfect, I got so frustrated that I punched a wall." [takes out pocket guide to Gaelic] "I'm guessing that dead guy over there must have gotten into a fight with someone else about pluperfect usage or perhaps gerunds, and it just went bad. That's a shame."
    • And here's my alibi, officer: I was at the gym and took a swing at a punching bag.

      From the summary:

      Study author and criminology professor Charles Loeffler said, "A gunshot is pretty distinctive. You're typically at rest because you're trying to aim, and in a split second, your hand, wrist, and arm experience an impulsive transfer of energy."

      Let's not just assuming Loeffler is wrong (not impossible, of course, but I see no reason to assume he is).

  • by CaptainDork ( 3678879 ) on Wednesday September 10, 2014 @11:42AM (#47871973)

    ... for all cops.

    Then we could do product placement.

    Tasers, guns, radios ... help pay expenses and provide documentation for courts and some reality shows.

  • All of this is vanity. We see more and more attempts to "scientifically" control human behavior, instead of setting humans up to succeed in the first place, by having simple, sane laws and what not. End the war on drugs, and you will radically improve relations between the police and the policed in a generation.
  • This may slow them down a bit, but they will learn how to trick it... they will learn to shoot off-hand; they will use lighter, lower velocity ammunition; they will drill ports in the top of the barrels; they will add weight to the front of the gun; they will learn to shoot with the gun inverted using the pinky to pull the trigger (I saw it in one of the Bourne movies so it's real)...
    • This may slow them down a bit, but they will learn how to trick it... they will learn to shoot off-hand; they will use lighter, lower velocity ammunition; they will drill ports in the top of the barrels; they will add weight to the front of the gun; they will learn to shoot with the gun inverted using the pinky to pull the trigger (I saw it in one of the Bourne movies so it's real)...

      I can already fire a handgun ambidextrously, with almost the exact same accuracy for any target within 10-15m. So they had better put these on both wrists.

    • So ... an innovation driver?

  • As a thought experiment, I've been pondering how we need to change our police and how we can with some of this technology. Wearables seem novel and like they could very easily be factored in as evidence in certain crime situations, it seems like it has to be after the fact though. More fundamentally, with cameras and the different recognitions and perhaps a few other sensors, I cannot imagine a case where we wouldn't be able to detect weapons in a crowd in a public space, maybe within the next 15 years.

    • We (CCW-ers) only get upset about people knowing because then they raise a stink about it. Where I live, there is a huge proliferation of guns and hunting, so even if people knew they'd shrug and go about their day. In a major coastal city (say in California or the New England areas) everyone would flip a shit, call the cops on me, and accuse me of being a baby-killer.
  • The wrong problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bmajik ( 96670 ) <matt@mattevans.org> on Wednesday September 10, 2014 @12:08PM (#47872313) Homepage Journal

    A cop firing a gun is morally ambiguous. Sometimes its justified, sometimes it isn't.

    Deciding when it is vs. isn't justified is the problem. Knowing that the gun was fired is usually pretty obvious.

    Knowing the entirety of the situation when a cop fired is considerably more important than if the cop actually fired.

    Pervasive, tamper proof cameras on officers and their vehicles, that police cannot withhold from the public without a pretty serious conversation with a judge. That's the starting point.

    Let's see what problems remain after we've had that running for 5 years.

    • by asylumx ( 881307 )
      Um... The summary talks about fitting this on people out of jail on parole. Those (generally) aren't cops. The idea of putting it on cops themselves is an afterthought in the summary.
  • Loeffler suggests a suite of sensors including GPS and the wristband accelerometer could be given to convicts as a requirement for their parole

    Tagging a parolee to keep them within a certain area, or to make sure they don't stay out too late... not such a bad idea. Worried they might go around shooting guns? Maybe don't let them out yet.

  • Pretty much anything that involves catching a ball would set it off as easily as shooting a gun. This really sounds like a solution (smart watch) in search of a problem.
  • ... or chronic masturbators.
    • Dude, it's an accelerometer ... I'm pretty sure they can also measure something oscillating continuously for a duration.

      Your honor, if my client's hand was shaking like that while holding a gun, there's simply no way he'd have been able to shoot the victim. ;-)

      Of course, as with all things ... I'm sure people would be posting fap-graphs on the interwebs trying to out do one another.

  • Accelerometers on parolee's wrists?

    Sounds like - depending on how sadistic their parole officer is - it would at least force them to masturbate with the other hand.

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