Baltimore police to enlist 'vampire' in crime fight

Baltimore police plan to enlist a vampire to help solve cases.

The city is expected to approve spending $30,000 at Wednesday's Board of Estimates meeting to purchase five "Vampire Forensic Tactical Devices" through a sole-source contract from a company listed as Information Technology Solutions.

The handheld devices, slightly larger than a smartphone, allow police to conduct fingerprint analysis and search for a match quickly at the scene of a crime.

Booz Allen Hamilton unveiled the devices in October at the International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference in Orlando, Fla., saying they would allow police to conduct fingerprint analysis in "just seconds."

Steven O'Dell, director of the Baltimore City Police Department Crime Laboratory, called the devices "cutting edge." He said they can be loaded with the fingerprints of hundreds of known offenders in Baltimore to check for leads at the scene of the crime.

He said the Vampire devices, which the city is purchasing using federal grant funds, also will be useful for quickly eliminating a property owner's fingerprints from an investigation.

"What this device is capable of is improving our real-time intelligence," O'Dell said.

More than 6,700 burglaries were reported in Baltimore in 2014. Police made 952 arrests on burglary charges.

O'Dell said the devices, which will be carried by crime scene technicians, could improve the closure rates for burglaries, thefts, robberies and other crimes. If they prove useful, he said, the city will consider purchasing more.

"The faster you get your prints inspected, the more likely you are to solve a crime," he said. "We're excited about it."

lbroadwater@baltsun.com

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