R.I. State Crime Laboratory awarded $109,650 federal grant
to help police fight domestic violence
Lab to provide departments with digital cameras, computers
KINGSTON, R.I. -- Feb. 5, 2001 -- The Rhode Island State Crime Laboratory
at the University of Rhode Island has been awarded $109,650 from the federal
Violence Against Women Act to provide more advanced equipment and training
in the battle against domestic violence.
The grant, administered by the Rhode Island Justice Commission, will
equip the state's 38 municipal departments, the State Police (2 units),
the State Fire Marshal's Office the Department of the Attorney General and
the State Crime Laboratory with digital cameras, high-speed computers and
photo-quality color printers.
The equipment will replace Polaroid cameras that departments now use
to capture evidence of bruises, cuts and other injuries suffered by victims
of domestic violence.
Dennis Hilliard, director of the state crime laboratory and co-director
of the URI Forensic Partnership, said the equipment will allow law enforcement
agencies to review the quality of images captured, to make copies of photographs
quickly and easily, to transfer images faster and to better archive images
for future use in court.
"We want to give each department the ability to take digital images,
so they can make them readily available for court cases," Hilliard
Each department and agency will be provided with:
o An 866 Mhz Pentium III computer: $1,450
o A photo-quality color printer: $250
o A Kodak zoom weatherproof DC5000 digital camera, which is built for
mountain climbers, engineers, and construction managers: $545.
o Cables, memory cards, rechargeable batteries and camera case: $205.
o Training in the use of the equipment: $100.
Training is scheduled for the week of March 12, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30
p.m. at the College of Pharmacy's Smart Media facility in Fogarty Hall on
URI's Kingston Campus.
Hilliard said each of the computers would have the ability to create
custom compact discs with the captured images of domestic crimes and the
ability to copy these images to other CDs. The CDs will be used to archive
the images, because the images take up large amounts of space on the hard
"For archival purposes, the CD is easier to store and maintain than
photo prints," Hilliard said. "They have a relatively long shelf
life and are less susceptible to aging and environmental impacts when stored
He said the crime lab is purchasing Kodak Gold Series CDs that are expected
to have a 100-year shelf life. Each disc can also have a built in viewing
program, so that the photos can be viewed regardless of the availability
of image software on a user's computer.
"The technology to capture digital images from just a few years
ago has improved dramatically," Hilliard said. "In fact there
is no visible difference between a digital image and one that has been scanned
from an actual print when viewed side-by-side on a computer monitor."
Each digital camera will hold a compact flash card, which can store the
equivalent of four rolls of film, Hilliard said.
"Like a Polaroid photo, you can see the results of your photography
immediately with the digital camera," Hilliard said. "The cameras
are simple to use; we want officers to be able to just point and shoot.
"But there is also an ease of copying that doesn't exist with photo
prints. You can download these images to any computer, and you can transmit
by email, floppy disc and even super disc."
Hilliard said such ease in transmitting and copying digital images would
be helpful in serial victim cases. As part of the training and equipment
package, officers will be trained in and encouraged to use the internet
for information sharing. The University will supply internet connections
for those departments that do not already have one.
For security purposes, Hilliard said he will recommend that the information
be shared on the internet only by modem rather than a LAN or cable connection.
He said each department will be responsible for securing their own information.
In addition, the College of Pharmacy, through a gift from American Power
Conversion in South Kingstown, will donate 43 Power Managers to the departments
receiving the computer equipment. The Power Managers will provide each computer
and printer with surge protection.
"This is a bonus and not part of the grant award," Hilliard
During the training in March, each department and or agency will send
two officers to learn how to set up the computer and printer, how to use
the digital camera and how to store the images on the computer, create their
own compact discs for image storage and print pictures in different sizes
Hilliard said the program will give police the ability to capture as
much evidence of injury and trauma as effectively and efficiently as possible.
"You want to capture as much of the evidence as you can, because evidence
in a domestic case disappears over time. A trial might not occur for several
months to a year and by that time the victim has healed, the defendant is
sitting there in a suit, and it is hard for the jury to visualize the violence
if they can't see the pictures," Hilliard said.
"Victims should know that this equipment is available, and if it
is not used during an investigation, they should ask for it. We would encourage
victims of domestic violence to report incidents, so that police can fully
document them. "One of the most valuable pieces of evidence is a photograph,"
For Information: Dennis Hilliard 401-874-2893, Dave Lavallee