Technology is more and more critical to investigating crimes, says the Kansas City Star. It couldn't save the abducted Kelsey Smith in Kansas but it was crucial in identifying her alleged killer and locating her body within a matter of days. Said Merriam, Ks., Police Lt. Mike Daniels, “Going from a possible abduction to finding her body, to arresting and charging a suspect in five days is just phenomenal.” Technology has limitations despite expectations encouraged by fictional crime dramas such as “CSI.” “I think there is a perception, probably gleaned from movies and television, that law enforcement has a multitude of information about people that is instantaneously available,” said Jeff Lanza, an FBI spokesman in Kansas City. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
Bill Hagmaier of the Virginia-based International Homicide Investigators Association appreciates the new tools. “Science has given us so many new gifts that positively impact on investigations, whether it be in a laboratory through a test tube or tracking cell phones or surveillance cameras,” Hagmaier said. “In Europe, surveillance cameras probably capture an individual hundreds of times a day,” said Carl Kriigel, chairman of the Scientific Working Group on Imaging Technology. “In the U.S., it's probably 15 times a day, at the gas station, the grocery store or the bank. But we're moving more and more to surveillance cameras.” Joe Polski of the International Association for Identification said, “Video enhancement is an area that's just developed hugely over the last five years. Cameras have gotten better, and enhancement has gotten better.” Retailer Target Corp. operates two forensic labs that examine video, computer, audio, and latent fingerprint evidence. The program was started to protect the company against theft or fraud but it also has assisted 75 local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, free of charge, in more than 100 cases. Most of those involve violent felonies or other special circumstances.