“When we go to a crime scene, the first thing we look for is cameras,” he said. “It’s become one of the greatest tools for police in the last 10 years. It’s an opportunity to capture a crime, or elements of a crime. We see people fleeing, we see the vehicle. We see clothing, mannerisms, the way suspects walk. We’ve even solved crimes based on videos of tattoos.”
His department has two detectives dedicated to video forensics and a lab in a converted closet with $20,000 worth of cutting-edge computer equipment used to bring out the finest details in what might be an otherwise grainy video, which can then be used to tie a criminal to a crime.
In one case, the officers, Capt. Denis Pierce and Det. Barry Desjardins, were able to enhance a video to show the reflection of two youths as they climbed into a house to commit breaking and entering. Using that video, the two boys were arrested and now faces charges in court.
In North Andover, use of video has also been credited with solving crimes, according to Lt. Charles Gray, head of the town’s detectives division.
“Video evidence is crucial,” he said, noting that the video, as well as still images, are easily transferred into digital image or video files which are then emailed to an area-wide detectives’ organization. Police officers from around the region can view the moving or still shots to see if they can identify the suspect.
“If they know who it is, they let us know, or if they have similar incidents, they let us know,” he said. That’s how the suspect in the Stop & Shop bank robbery was linked to crimes in other communities in the area, he said.
In Haverhill, video has been used successfully on a number of occasions to apprehend suspects in various crimes.