Police department gets new toys

Published 9:46 pm Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Suffolk Police Department is celebrating Christmas in March this year.

Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation donated $19,800 in 2009 to purchase equipment and training for the Suffolk Police Department — the second police department and first Virginia department to benefit from Firehouse. The new equipment, which will help officers record crime and crash scenes for later review, has arrived, and investigators are spending this week training.

“I’ve trained thousands of police officers on how to use this equipment all around the world,” said Bobby Jones, who is training Suffolk officers on how to use the equipment. “The technology is catching on rapidly because of the demands of the public. The magic of CSI on television is that they can solve a crime in an hour. It puts pressure on these guys to perform, and these tools will help them do that.”

Email newsletter signup

The equipment was purchased through William Jones, Bobby Jones’s brother. The brothers are both public safety veterans with more than 40 years of cumulative experience.

“We’ve been in law enforcement all our lives,” William Jones said. “I started working with this equipment years ago. We’ve used it in the field, and I believe in it. It works.”

“They’re the best trainers I’ve ever worked with,” said Bert Nurney with the SPD. “They know what they’re doing.”

Nurney has worked with a pad, pen and measuring tape doing crime scene investigative work since 1976 and has experience with civil engineering, as well.

“This is the best equipment you can get,” Nurney said.

When analyzing distances and angles, instead of using measuring tapes, the new equipment will measure various factors by a laser and record them. The information can then be transferred to a computer and used to recreate a scene — whether it be a crime or a crash.

The benefits and advantages of the equipment and training are numerous.

“It’s going to make things a lot easier and less time consuming,” said Mark Erie, a crash investigator.

“The scenes created will give the Commonwealth Attorney’s office a better idea of what they’re dealing with and also help people during trials understand what things looked like,” said Shane Everett. “However particular you want a scene to be is how particular you want to make it. Using this equipment and the computer program, we can make a 3D drawing of everything at the scene from a shrub to a street. It’s like telling a story with evidence. You can make people see everything from the blood spatter to the bullet holes.”

Additionally, Everett explained, it will make recording a scene more convenient for the officers and the public.

For example, if there is an accident in a high traffic area, such at U.S. Route 58 or Interstate 664, the officers can close down the lanes, treat the victims, get the most pertinent information, clean up, reopen lanes and then come back later to get additional information pertaining to the lay of the land.

“It’s not only faster, but it will be more accurate,” Everett said. “Human error is greatly diminished.”

John King, owner of Suffolk’s Firehouse Subs and auxiliary officer, is a former Suffolk police sergeant. His wife, Pam King, is co-owner of the business, a former police officer, and currently assigned as an investigator by the Suffolk Fire Marshal. They worked with their corporate office to get Suffolk the law enforcement Firehouse Grant.

“We can’t express our appreciation enough for them working with Suffolk Police and Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation to get this funding,” stated Captain Stephanie Burch, in a press release. “It is going to make a significant contribution to how we investigate and document crime and crash scenes.”

“Not every jurisdiction has this equipment,” said Megan Woody, of the police department. “The fact we were able to get this equipment and trained on it is very exciting.”