Tuesday, September 19, 2000

City gets crime-scene van

Equipped vehicle makes Hamilton police more efficient

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — City police hope that a new “crime scene unit” van will help them collect evidence more efficiently.

        “We had all of this stuff stored in a room,” Lt. Steve Isgro, investigations commander, said Monday, gesturing toward shelves of equipment that detectives use at crime scenes. “It makes it much more convenient to have it all in one place, so you're not scurrying around to get it and do your job.”

        Police also hope the van will serve as a rolling advertisement of sorts. On the van's back doors, lettering in English and Spanish tells potential witnesses what phone numbers to call to assist investigators.

        The van was first used Friday to collect evidence at a home in the 400 block of Sycamore Alley, where a man had been found dead, presumably of natural causes, said Sgt. Tom Kilgour, Hamilton police spokesman.

        Although a number of other Greater Cincinnati police agencies have crime-scene vehicles, the van is a first for the Hamil ton Police Division, Sgt. Kilgour said.

        “The benefits of having a crime scene van and properly trained personnel, you can't put a price on it,” said Maj. Anthony Dwyer of the Butler County Sheriff's Office, which has used a crime scene van for many years. “In the city of Hamilton, they've had quite a few big cases, and I'd think that (van) would be a big asset.”

        The Hamilton police van, which was previously used for other police work, was outfitted with about $3,000 in shelving and other equipment, Lt. Isgro said. The money came from a larger federal anti-crime grant, he said, adding: “So it's costing local taxpayers nothing.”

        He said the van was made possible through the joint efforts of Officer Dave Crawford of the department's public affairs section and members of the investigations section.

        For now, the van contains only basic equipment, such as fingerprint kits and containers used to preserve evidence. New, higher-technology items could be added as the need arises, Lt. Isgro said.


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