Charlottesville Police Gets New Tool To Fight Crime

By: Venton D. Blandin
By: Venton D. Blandin

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Committing a crime in Charlottesville and getting away with it just got a little tougher. The city's police department unveiled a new tool to help them track down criminals.

The tool has a lot of advantages, among them is allowing crime scene investigators to stay out of a dark room developing photos, and on the scene collecting crucial evidence.

The job of those in the forensics unit of Charlottesville's Police Department just got a little easier thanks to a grant from the Department of Justice. Receiving a grant made way for crime scene investigators here, to step onto the "cutting-edge," when looking for fingerprints by using a high-tech scope.

"What it will do is allow us to look at fingerprints and bodily fluids in a daylight environment," said Sergeant Steve Dillon of the Forensics Unit within the Charlottesville Police Department.

The scope leaves the old way of searching for evidence, using a dark room and black powder, in the dust.

Called KrimeSite Imager, the device uses a projected ultraviolet light which is thrown onto a source, and examined by a night vision filter combination. Costing almost $20,000, the department feels fortunate.

"I don't know many departments of our size to have such equipment, so it does keep us on the cutting-edge to a certain degree," said Sgt. Dillon.

The grant to get the device did not just fall into the hands of Charlottesville Police. It took several tries to get it just like it took several tries to get a suspect who's been on the run for almost a decade. Now, his run may be coming to an end.

"If we do get struck again by the serial rapist, we can use this technology to very thoroughly examine a scene, and hopefully be able to obtain more fingerprints," said Sgt. Dillon.

Police have been practicing their work with the new scope since the end of January, so they can be better prepared when the time comes to put the scope to work. Police admit, there's more to it than just looking through a lens.

While the KrimeSite Imager was given as part of a three year grant, it will remain in Charlottesville much longer, as the city will own it after the three years have elapsed.

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