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New computer tracks tossed evidence in police pursuits

December 16, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Law enforcement finds a high-tech solution to a problem it's been dealing with for some time: how to track down evidence that's tossed out of a suspect's car. The answer is a Geotech computer, and the L.A. County Sheriff's Department has one.

It happens all the time during pursuits: A suspect throws evidence or a gun out of a fleeing car. And with only the officer's memory, later on it can take hours to find the evidence, if ever.

That may soon become a thing of the past for L.A. County sheriff's deputies. They have a new computer that can help pinpoint where a weapon or drugs were tossed out of a pursued car.

"As you're driving and you see someone throw something out of the car, you can press a button and what that will do, that will mark that on a map, and give you a date and timestamp of wherever it was that you saw somebody toss something from the car," said Sheriff's Lt. Ben Hollowell.

The computer then will let everyone know where the object was thrown out. Computer-generated stickpins would show up on the map. The pursuing officer can continue the pursuit and other deputies can use their own maps to locate the contraband.

It also increases the likelihood that whatever was thrown out, be it drugs or a gun, isn't found and misused by someone, especially children.

There is another advantage to the new computers: The suspect can be made to give an electronic fingerprint at the scene.

"If he's got a record in L.A. County, it pops up with his photograph and his booking information," said Hollowell.

It's much faster and more comprehensive than the old system. Information and photos of missing children can easily be transmitted.

The Geotech computer brings the sheriff's department into the 21st century. It's going to be in 2,500 vehicles in two years.

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