Local forensics lab gets national recognition

April 7, 2009 3:15:06 PM PDT
A Delaware County forensics lab is officially going national. With the help of the latest high-tech gadgets and a little intuition, authorities are making a science out of solving crime.On Tuesday the FBI and six local police departments came together to celebrate. After years of hard work, their joint digital forensics lab has earned the gold standard of national accreditation.

"This accreditation signifies quality it signifies excellence," said FBI agent Janice Fedarcyk.

At the Radnor lab all digital evidence is sealed in anti-static wrap to ward off degeneration.

A high-tech audio visual center makes grainy video from places like street cams and ATMs enhanced and clear. At workstations, agents can reconstruct damaged computer drives and crushed PDAs.

The lab can even rip material from some surprising places.

"Your refrigerator has memory in it, you've got microwaves that have memory in it, your copier has memory in it," said FBI Unit Chief Brian Tepper.

But a lot of the lab's attention is focused on cell phones.

"This actually stops the cell phones from communicating with the network," said Detective Scott Schillinger. "People don't even go on the computer anymore because you can do everything right from the cell phone."

But where the new accreditation will help most will be at the courthouse.

"Credibility is always challenged in court by defense attorneys," said J.P. McDonald, who is the laboratory director.

"And when we go into a court of law, it will allow us to at least have a little more confidence maybe the courtroom will have a little more confidence that we are following the standards and there is no problems with our examinations."

The lab is staffed by officers from the six local districts.

The partnership makes sense not just in crime fighting but also in economics police departments just pay the salaries of their men while the federal government picks up the tab for the lab.

"If each of these departments were doing it on their own they would only be able to achieve a certain level of success," said Lt. Ed Monaghan, the deputy lab director.

But together, they're ready to hack and splice with the best of them.

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