Apr 19, 2013 7:29 PM by Andy Koen

Crime fighting in a digital era

They were nameless faces in a set of F.B.I. photos Thursday afternoon, but by nightfall police were closing in on terror suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The speed with which events unfolded in the Boston area showcases the benefit that instant information sharing can give to law enforcement.

"We definitely see a benefit to where technology is now, how quickly it can be moved, how quickly we can share information," said Lieutenant Jeff Kramer of the El Paso County Sheriff's Office.

He says even simple cell phone cameras can play a huge role, especially for crimes at high profile events where people naturally want to take lots of pictures.

"The pictures that are being taken initially are simply pictures intended by that person to simply maybe put in their own scrap book or for their own memories of the event not recognizing then that that photo later could have tremendous value."

What's more, he says smart phones can also help officers in the field. For example, a patrol deputy may call and ask for a booking photo of a potential fugitive.

"We might take a quick photograph on a mobile device of a booking photo on a computer screen and send a quick text message of that image helping that officer in the field within minutes."

However, Kramer says the speed of modern communication can also impede an investigation if the wrong information gets out too soon. So, to keep from inadvertently tipping off a suspect, officers will always be very cautious about the details they release in any given case.


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