Police share $530,000 for forensic tools

… Federal grant spread among eight agencies …

baltimoresun.com

By Yeganeh June Torbati, The Baltimore Sun

6:49 PM EDT, October 15, 2010

Eight Maryland police departments will share more than $530,000 in federal funds as recipients of a grant meant to aid police forensic investigations, the Governor’s Office on Crime Control and Prevention has announced. The money will be used for fingerprinting, drug analysis and other crime-fighting tools.

Local police departments applied for the grants, part of the Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grants Program, and state officials then determined their eligibility for the money, said Bill Toohey, a spokesman for the crime control and prevention office. All eight departments that applied, Toohey said, were deemed eligible and received funds.

The Maryland State Police received the biggest chunk of the money, with two grants totaling almost $160,000. Police spokesman Greg Shipley said about $67,000 will be used for technology that will allow police to collect fingerprints from “sometimes difficult areas,” including rough surfaces.

In addition, he said, a satellite state police laboratory in Hagerstown will use some of the funds to pay overtime for chemists, who largely work on analyzing evidence for drug cases in Western Maryland.

Baltimore County police will use part of their approximately $50,000 to pay for overtime, said police spokesman Robert McCullough. Some of the money will help buy three new cameras for the laboratory microscopes that examine firearms.

“These cameras allow us to do better comparisons, and it also will allow us to do better documentation of those comparisons,” McCullough said.

Capt. Bill Lynn, commander of the forensic services division of the Prince George’s County police department, said its $25,000 will be used to pay for overtime for fingerprint examiners. The examiners will analyze cold cases — including homicides and burglaries — from before 2008, using new technology in hopes of finding previously undetected matches, Lynn said.

Baltimore police also received about $70,000 in grant money.

Maryland received slightly more than $600,000 in Coverdell grants in fiscal year 2009, according to the Department of Justice. The program is named for Paul Douglas Coverdell, the late U.S. senator from Georgia and director of the Peace Corps.

jtorbati@baltsun.com

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