Pueblo Police Turn to Technology to Catch Criminals

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Police detectives look at hundreds of pieces of evidence to try to solve crimes. Years of experience, combined with the latest technology, now can help them find criminals faster. It can also make sure officers have the "right person."

KKTV 11 News Crime Stoppers reporter Jeannette Hynes recently got the chance to look at the Pueblo Police Department's new identification equipment.

An electric typewriter is a "dinosaur" next to the other high tech toys you'll find in the Pueblo Police ID department. But officers have a few toys in their bag of tricks to figure out who the bad guys are, like the latest photo and video capturing equipment. "We can clean them up a little bit, lighten them, darken them, get some close ups," says Sgt. Robert Keller.

It's a handy tool to use when surveillance video isn't exactly crystal clear. "We can freeze frame the video, go frame by frame and capture still images off of the frame," he says.

Every person who is arrested gets fingerprinted. But now, rolling a set of prints doesn't require any ink. As you roll a suspect's fingers across the screen, the laser beams read the differences in the prints, transfers that image digitally, and prints out on a laser printer. The image also is stored digitally and can be sent anywhere in the world in seconds.

Soon, Pueblo Police will be connected to databases operated by the Criminal Bureau of Investigation and the FBI. That means, if someone's been arrested before, Pueblo Police will know right away. And what may look like an ordinary refrigerator is actually called a "fuming" cabinet. What officers do is bring in evidence and place it inside. Then they'll take super glue, boil it on a hot plate, and close the door. The super glue will turn to vapor, and stick to what's inside, and then officers can lift a good set of prints. The cabinet seals in the vapor and the glue makes the print permanent.

The latest toy for Pueblo Police is a new laser imagining system. Officers use it to draw crime scenes. "Rather than have to measure that point to the door with measuring tapes, you just shoot the corner of the door," says Keller. The data is recorded and turned into a 3D picture, stored forever.

Officers can go back years later and reconstruct the scene. "The better the technology, the better evidence we can assemble at a crime scene," says Deputy Police Chief John Ercul. That means---catching the bad guy faster. "We've seen great improvements in technology over the past few years, and that has helped us tremendously," he says.

Most of this high-tech equipment was paid for by federal grant money. Every year, the police department tries to come up with more money in its budget to get state of the art technology.