BGPD to receive funds for technology

Hannah Finnerty and Hannah Finnerty

Through the assistance of two recently-awarded grants, the Bowling Green Police Department is making necessary improvements in its use of technology in policing.

The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant is a $10,867 grant made available by the United States Department of Justice and administered through the Ohio Criminal Justice Services office. It is used to supplement state and local funding for law enforcement projects.

The Office of Criminal Justice Services reported the projects must involve “technical assistance, training, personnel, equipment, supplies, contractual support and information systems.”

The Bowling Green Police Department is planning to use its grant to install in-car video cameras in three department-owned cruisers.

“We have been working on upgrading the video systems in our cars since 2015. We have 18 marked cars, and to replace all of (the cameras) at one time would have been a very costly prohibitive [sic],” Police Chief Tony Hetrick said at Bowling Green City Council on Monday night. “The assistance of the grant and by spreading it out over a three-year period, we will be able to complete that project this year. All of our 18 cars will have brand new cameras in them.”

The department was offered another grant opportunity to provide officers and detectives with the skills and technology needed to fight crime on a digital front.

The grant was a two-part project: a training session and equipment.

The training session was provided through the United States Secret Service National Forensic Institute. Last week, Detective Brian Houser graduated from the mobile device examiner course offered at the institute. The course focused on the recovery of digital evidence, legal issues and hardware utilization in modern policing.

“Almost every…investigation has a criminal component due to the proliferation of cell phones, tablets, GPS and other mobile and digital devices. In fact, investigations and prosecutions rely heavily on the ability to extract, analyze and present digital forensic evidence to a court of law,” Hetrick said.

The grant also included a $46,000 grant in software and hardware necessary for the department to extract digital evidence during investigations.

Hetrick reported that the equipment will be housed at the Bowling Green Police Department, but they are making it available to regional law enforcement to assist in other investigations throughout this area.

“This is just one of many instances of collaboration with federal law enforcement agencies that is going to result in tangible benefits for the citizens of Bowling Green and Northwestern Ohio,” Hetrick said.