Westchester County forensic unit to debut advanced print detection technology

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Westchester County’s Forensic Investigation Unit is now using vacuum metal deposition technology to make fingerprints clear as day.

Until recently, fingerprints were often undetectable on items such as paper, wood, ammunition and clothing for the county’s Forensic Investigation Unit. However, with the new vacuum metal deposition device, it can detect prints on the unthinkable.

Westchester County Public Safety Commissioner Thomas Gleason adding, “The VMD machine can also obtain latent prints from items that were submerged under water, fired ammunition, plastic bags, thermal paper, money, wood and articles of clothing.”

News 12 is told this new technology uses metals and heat to expose fingerprints, including those that may antedate years ago.

"We believe this technology will be valuable, not only in current investigations, but in reprocessing evidence associated with cold cases," says Gleason.

With the new device, detectives have a higher chance of solving cold cases.

"You're taking evidence, you're putting it in the chamber, you're reaching a specific vacuum pressure and you are evaporating a small piece of metal that would adhere to everything except the sebaceous materials which are left behind from the pores in your fingerprints," says Detective Rich Van der Meulen.

The $160,000 machine was purchased using money seized from criminals and serves as the second of its kind in the state. The county expects to debut the device next week.

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