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Sheriff's office receives $350,000 in grants

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By Jenny Arnold

A crime scene unit and new fingerprinting system will soon be helping the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office – and other agencies nearby – to solve crimes.

The sheriff’s office has received almost $350,000 in grants from the S.C. Department of Public Safety Office of Justice Programs.

A $241,833 grant will pay for a two-officer crime scene unit. The grant covers salaries, training and equipment for the crime scene technicians.

The largest items of the grant include $66,000 for salaries; $45,000 for a crime scene van equipped with a basic evidence collection kit; $30,000 for video and audio enhancement workstation and software; and $18,000 for a forensic alternative light source.

The video and audio enhancement equipment will enable officers to transfer video for surveillance cameras from banks and stores, for example, and enhance the video to identify suspects and create exhibits for court.

The alternative light source will help crime scene technicians to find blood or other bodily fluids that cannot be detected through normal lighting. The sheriff’s office will be getting two of these – one for the department’s existing crime scene van and a second for the new van provided under the grant.

“We depend on the State Law Enforcement Division to help us process scenes,” Sheriff Barry Faile said. “Once we get this in place, we can process them and save some time.”

A $104,935 grant will pay for an Automated Fingerprint Identification System, or AFIS, for the sheriff’s office.

The system costs $97,000, which includes installation and a T1 line, which transports fingerprint information to and from a SLED database to help match fingerprints collected from suspects or at crime scenes.

The sheriff’s office AFIS will be used by the Lancaster Police Department and other law enforcement agencies in surrounding counties, Faile said. The grant will pay for a sheriff’s deputy to receive AFIS training.

“The AFIS – that’s a big deal for us,” Faile said. “The AFIS and crime scene unit will assist other counties, but Lancaster County comes first.”

The grants are 100 percent, and require no match from Lancaster County.

The sheriff’s office has also received $13,000 from the Stevens Foundation to buy four in-car cameras.

Faile said his department applied for other grants for a street crimes unit, a white-collar crime unit, a fire investigator and a drug analysis technician that would have bought equipment and paid for a chemist to work at the York County Sheriff’s Office drug analysis lab, but those grants were not awarded.

Contact senior reporter Jenny Arnold at jarnold@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 283-1151