Lee County Sheriff Tracy Carter continues to add tools to his department in efforts to fight crime. The AFIS, brought online in February 2009, is just one of a handful of new crime scene investigation, or CSI, tools employed by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, which has been the beneficiary of more than $65,000 in federal grants for just this purpose.
People “want to see what they see on TV and they expect that,” said Capt. Jeff Johnson, chief detective at the Lee County Sheriff’s Office. “We’ve come a long way.”
This technology update started back in 2007 when Deputy Matt Rosser was employed to helm the intricate work. They have since added a backup for Rosser in Detective Sgt. Clint Babb. Both Babb and Rosser are certified in CSI by forensic leaders International Association for Identification.
Along with the AFIS, which ranks likely matches from a local fingerprint database, investigators now use several devices designed to pull and identify prints from many surfaces, including weapons, as well as a quick test to identify various drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, marijuana and MDMA.
The machine, called the “NarTest,” works by dissolving drugs in water or ethanol, then using a speedy spectral analysis to identify the measurements unique to various narcotics.
Law enforcement personnel need to be able to identify narcotics to prove their case in court, Rosser said.
Then there’s what Lee investigators call the “fuming chamber,” a contraption that heats Superglue to spot latent fingerprints. When heated, Superglue becomes a gas that adheres to fingerprints, although the gas is toxic.
The enclosed chamber allows investigators to heat the glue and stay safe, Rosser said.
Lee County also owns a down draft table that pulls dust off of items like paper that detectives are scoping for fingerprints.
All of the instruments, which are housed in a small room at the Sheriff’s Office, offer a clean, safe and efficient environment for investigators to perform their tests.
“We can sit here now and within 20 minutes have a suspect,” Babb said.