“We’ve come a long way over the past four years; and we look forward to the next four,” Sheriff Tracy Carter told the Lee County Commissioners, whom toured the facility on Tuesday.
The primary focus of the day was to showcase the technological upgrades the the Sheriff’s Office has made in recent years. The changes have affected every aspect of law enforcement in Lee County — from the jail to crime scene investigation. Sheriff Carter estimates that about 80 percent of the technological improvements were grant funded. The balance, he said, was supplemented by seized drug funds that come back to the county from the state and federal level.
The Sheriff mentioned to the new Commissioners that three years ago, his department didn’t have a crime lab. Sgt. Matt Rosser demonstrated how he processes fingerprints and compares samples for potential matches.
“We have the ability to analyze our own prints here,” Carter said. “We don’t send any prints to the SBI lab.” "We're using a new, state-of-the-art system known as Livescan, “it's one of the best crime-fighting tools in the nation.” Livescan takes the place of the former ink-and-paper fingerprinting method, while an Automated Fingerprint Identification System, or AFIS tracker, helps officers match unidentified prints with their owners. NarTest, another tool, is a drug-detection device that differentiates among various narcotics. By dissolving samples in water or ethanol, the machine can identify properties unique to certain drugs.
The jail has also benefited from grant-funded improvements over the past two years. Approximately $235,000 through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act has funded installation of a padded cell, a new metal detector and two new staff positions, while also partially paying for the jail’s own Livescan machine and video equipment for the first appearance system.