The Rolla Police Department hosted an educational seminar on Friday, January 18 to discuss the opportunities mobile evidence collection and tracking technology hold for the future of law enforcement.
Law Enforcement Officers, the Missouri Highway Patrol and Federal agencies, including the County Prosecutor's Office, received first hand educational exposure with eTWIST, or Evidence Tracking With Information Systems Technology. The demonstration was the culmination of a partnership bringing Primary Marking Systems, Inc.'s new eTWIST technology to the area by the Technology Business Group, LLC. a local Rolla business.
This new proprietary software application utilizes Win Mobile, and/or Browser based platforms and "smart" hardware to allow Law Enforcement Officers be completely mobile while processing a crime scene, including capturing pictures, geospatial information and atmospherical conditions while assigning bar codes to evidence and tracking it from start to finish.
During the seminar detectives and agents learned, hands on, a new method of how to capture evidence data at a crime scene using "smart" mobile handheld devices. They took pictures of evidence, tagged the evidence, built a map of the crime scene and input notes, on the spot. The evidence was collected with barcoded tags and packaged for transport and storage.
"I was hooked from the start," says Detective Derrick Dillon of the Rolla PD. "eTWIST, will help us instantly, reducing man hours and making us far more efficient, while helping us in court. I like the idea of protecting the truth. It just makes sense to bring technology to bear when working a case. I'd rather work a lot smarter than harder."
The typical processing of a crime scene takes hours of meticulous photographing and note taking, the result is 'double processing'—a very expensive practice that inserts time and cost into processes and impacting constituency satisfaction. With eTWIST, automation of evidence collection and the elimination of paper forms reduces the errors associated with legibility and manual data entry. As a result, data accuracies increase; reducing risk as well as the high cost of errors.
At the scene, photographs are automatically appended with a geo-stamp, providing proof of the evidence location. Further, as pictures are compiled, eTWISTbuilds the crime scene, mapping out the location of each item via satellite linkage technology.
With each picture taken, the latitude, longitude and altitude are locked in. The date, time, barometric pressure, temperature, wind speed/direction, cloud cover and all other weather conditions are secured as well. This information capture builds the geo-spatial map for Prosecutors to use in court.
"We were a little skeptical of the technology and didn't know if it would have application for the Rolla PD, but once we got the opportunity to actually use eTWIST, it certainly has merit for our detectives," says Rolla PD Chief Mark Kearse.
Once back at the station, the detective simply processes evidence into the Evidence Room for security. There is little to no further action required, thus eTWIST reduces the detective's time to a fraction of time spent manually processing a crime scene. Field and supervisory officers learned that while the detective is in the field collecting evidence, eTWIST is also linking to the station server, providing constant updates to senior commanders. It is critically important in a rapidly developing environment for leadership to be able to track real time occurrences providing access and responses as conditions warrant.
Page 2 of 2 - Once in the evidence room, eTWIST documents every move of the evidence, ultimately blocking the opportunity to tamper with evidence. When defense attorneys or others request evidence, the evidence is scanned in and out employing dual authentification methods, and is even assigned a specific space in the room for storage, these features significantly reduce the opportunity for evidence tampering or misplacement.
Crime scene evidence can be shared electronically to multiple agencies through permission based access for review of evidence files, or in some cases, transfer evidence or files to higher agencies as required.
At the conclusion of a trial, evidence can then be assigned a disposal date with electronic or written notifications/letters provided to all respective parties in a timely fashion.