COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — From cold cases to officer-involved shootings, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation responds to requests to assist local law enforcement agencies across the state.
For larger agencies, like the Columbus Division of Police, the outside help provides a layer of accountability. For smaller agencies, which may not have as many people or resources, BCI can act as a “force multiplier” – as Ohio Attorney General David Yost puts it — harnessing the latest technology to solve crimes.
From the moment BCI’s Crime Scene Unit is called out, the state-run agency places technology at the forefront. For example, a three-dimensional laser scanner, which Special Agent Supervisor Josh Durst calls a “game changer.”
“We can hit the start button, and this will take millions of measurements in just a matter of seconds, and it also takes photographs,” Durst said. “We can do virtual walk-throughs, even use (virtual reality) headsets if we want to do a walkthrough of the scene.”
The 3D images can give investigators and juries an accurate, to-scale perspective of what the scene of a crime looked like in the moments after it happened.
Once the evidence is collected from the scene and brought back to the lab in London, technology helps DNA analysts process it faster and more accurately.
“The robotics help us process more samples at a time, and kind of eliminate any potential of human error working with all of those samples in small amounts,” DNA supervisor Malorie Kulp said. “The robotics system that we’ve had for DNA extraction and DNA throughput in the lab have increased our ability to work more cases.”
BCI also recently expanded its National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) program. Technicians use advanced imaging to link a spent shell to the weapon that fired it, possibly connecting multiple gun crimes across jurisdictions.
“Somebody might be doing something bad in Toledo, and be in Detroit or Ft. Wayne next month,” Yost said. “So the national database creates benefits not just for Ohio, but this is going to help fill out the data for the entire country.”
In a series of upcoming reports, NBC4 will demonstrate how BCI puts technology to work to solve previously unsolvable cases, keep up with a rapidly evolving drug epidemic, and train the officers who might be patrolling your neighborhood.