Why Bridgeport? City Doesn't Need Sherlock Holmes Thanks to Police Staff's Work and New Technology

By Jon Griffith on September 16, 2023 from Why Bridgeport? via

How are your detective skills? Do you have a keen eye for detail? Does your memory retain copious amounts of data and information? I am good with details. My memory is still good, although maybe not what it used to be. Yet, after recently binge-watching all seven seasons of the CBS series Elementary, featuring Sherlock Holmes (Johnny Lee Miller) and his partner Dr. Joan Watson (Lucy Liu), I realize my
skills are no match for those of the fictional Sherlock Holmes.
That same disparity was revealed years ago when I watched the Sherlock Holmes movies starring Robert Downey, Jr. from 2009 and 2011. Thankfully, very little detective work is required of a retired teacher/coach or current Bridgeport City Council member.
I can confidently leave the detective work to our outstanding local law enforcement professionals. The Bridgeport Police Department is fortunate to have in their employ some excellent detectives. They make up the department’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID). They are tasked with doing follow-up investigations of crimes and criminal activity reported to the department by community members or our patrol officers.
The cases investigated by the CID vary in scope and severity. We are blessed to live in West Virginia, particularly in Bridgeport. While crime does occur here, it is nowhere near the frequency or intensity that Sherlock or real-life detectives find in New York or other large cities. Even so, our detectives are busy. Our CID detectives primarily focus on violent crimes, property crimes of substantial loss, and recurring pattern crimes.
In addition to these cases, they spend significant time pursuing internet crimes, especially those against children, as a member of the West Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force. Working alongside the West Virginia State Police and other agencies from around the state and nation, the Bridgeport Police Department has been a statewide and regional leader in bringing pedophiles and child pornographers to justice. However, that is a topic for another day.
Violent crimes, property crimes, and pattern crimes have one thing in common. They occur somewhere. That somewhere is the crime scene. Almost everyone has seen a crime scene in a movie or on TV. Yellow caution tape surrounds the perimeter of the area. Numbered markers stand next to shell casings, footprints, tire marks, or other fragments of evidence. Dozens of officers and crime scene investigators (CSI) comb through every aspect of the site. Investigators can return to the scene days later to look for additional clues and evidence.
Reality is much different than entertainment. Actual crime scenes are much more complex and detailed. The real world is cluttered. It can be confusing and overwhelming. Some pieces of information are relevant, while some are not. Filtering through it all is time-consuming and difficult. Especially when you only have the help of a few officers and a limited amount of time to examine the scene. As well-trained, intelligent, dedicated, and professional as our detectives in Bridgeport are, they can still use a little assistance.
Let me give you an example. Imagine an automobile accident. Two cars collide. Initially, when the first officer arrives, he must attend to the occupants of the vehicles. Once they are in the capable hands of EMTs, the officer can begin to look at what happened. Not long after, the detective arrives on the scene. The location is chaotic and messy. Witnessed statements contradict. There are tire marks. Some are new, some old. The road is littered with debris: car parts, leaves, gravel, trash, etc. It is quickly getting dark as night approaches. It is starting to rain. The officer, the EMTs, and the occupants of the vehicles have been walking all through the scene. Wreckers are arriving to remove the damaged cars. Traffic is backing up as they wait for the road to be cleared.
The officer and detective collect as much evidence as possible with limited time and assistance. They photograph everything they believe to be critical and sketch the scene as they see it. They measure the length of tire skid marks, look at the amount of damage to each car, identify the final resting spots of each vehicle on their drawings, etc. This information can all be critical in determining the cause of the accident. Or potentially the liability of the drivers involved. Because it is almost impossible to come back later for more information or look at the scene as it is right now, they must do their best to get it all and get it correct. At the same time, they must work quickly to get the road reopened as soon as possible.
At least, that is how it used to be.
In this age of technology, Bridgeport detectives now have a new and powerful tool at their disposal. The FARO system, purchased by the department last year, has significantly impacted how investigations are handled. FARO utilizes laser capture technology to quickly create and store a digital 3D model of a crime scene down to the tiniest detail. All of the captured data can be revisited and studied for as long as needed by the investigators. The system’s speed also allows for a crime or accident scene to be reopened much sooner than traditional evidence collection would allow.
In our example above, every facet and measurement of the accident scene can be collected and stored in minutes with unbelievable accuracy and no detail missed. The crime scene model and data are preserved exactly as they were that day and available to detectives forever. They can return to the model and check measurements or make new ones. Aspects overlooked on first inspection can be found hiding among the myriad details of the complex and cluttered scene. In the hands of our qualified, hard- working detectives, the FARO system is a game-changing technology tool.
Additionally, when it is time to present evidence in a courtroom, the FARO system’s ability to accurately recreate a crime scene can be crucial. Judges or jurors can see 3D renderings of the crime scene or video reenactments of what transpired. This can help them understand the relevant facts of a case. They can see, feel, and experience what occurred on the day in question.
So, “Why Bridgeport?” We are not graced with the services of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. However, the men and women of the Bridgeport Police Department do a fantastic job and constantly strive to find ways to do it better. Acquiring the latest technologies, staying up-to-date with law enforcement best practices, and taking the most current training available allow the members of our police force to serve and protect our community at the highest possible level.
The FARO system is just one example of Chief Mark Rogers and his outstanding staff’s commitment to be their best. When crime strikes here, we don’t have to knock on the door at 221B Baker Street, the fictional home of Sherlock Holmes. We know that the Bridgeport Police Department is up to the task.
Editor's Note: Top photo shows Bridgeport Detective Jason Carey handling the city's handheld FARO system, while Bridgeport Police Officer Austen Zorick looks on. Second photo is of another FARO system and the bottom image is a generated look at Sherlock Holmes' Not 221B Baker Street.

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