The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

June 25, 2013

Grant helps police buy high-tech imager

By Joe Wiercinski
Herald Staff Writer

SHARON — Sharon Police Department is spending a federal grant and some of its own money to buy new imaging equipment that will improve criminal investigations.

Chief Mike Menster said the department is buying an  imager that will help detectives gather evidence more efficiently, process it more quickly and get it to the state police crime laboratory faster than current procedures do.

The unit uses ultraviolet light instead of powder to detect fingerprints and other evidence. Its high resolution camera photographs prints and converts them to an electronic image file that can quickly be e-mailed to state police technicians for identification.

The imager, used with a blood detecting chemical, also can photograph blood evidence at crime scenes. It can record high resolution images of bites, bruises and wound patterns that might be part of an investigation.

“The old days of throwing powder around and lifting fingerprints are over,” Menster said. “This equipment can do that job much cleaner and faster and it has other applications that will be useful for our investigators.”

Detectives saw an earlier design a couple of years ago at a seminar but knew the department could not afford the imager that cost more than $30,000.

Since then, the design has been improved while the cost has been cut about in half, putting a better version of the technology within reach of city resources.

On Thursday, city council authorized use of $10,438 from a federal grant toward the $14,350 cost of the equipment and training in how to use it. The balance will be made up from the city’s share of a drug crime forfeiture fund.

The department has to clear paperwork through the U.S. Department of Justice and expects to have the imager by fall, Menster said.