High Tech Tools - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Monday, February 7, 2005

High Tech Tools

On the hit show"24" you just saw law enforcement using the latest advances in modern technology to track the bad guys. Is it a thing of the future or the reality of the fast paced world we live in?

You'll be surprised to find out how many high tech crime fighting tools exist right here in our area. Fox 29's Tara Cardoso shows us who's watching, from where, and with what.

On Fox's 24, technology keeps special agent Jack Bower one step ahead of the crooks--just barely. But what about here?

TARA ON BOAT: More than 1300 miles of coastline here in Florida, it's our soft-spot--making us vulnerable to criminal activity, terrorism, and drugs. So, keeping you safe is a high speed combination of manpower and modern technology.

An extra set of eyes and hands, the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office Marine Patrol just got one of the latest advancements in crime fighting tools.

"We can go down a search like a diver and not endanger a diver."

The video ray creeps below the surface in low light. At the Port of Palm Beach, it can zip by the bottom of ships looking for drugs. On to the rear, two cameras operated at a safe distance. The 45-thousand dollar machine recently scanned a local sewer line underneath Sen. John Kerry's podium. It was looking for explosives

At sea and in the air, surveillance is taking on a whole new meaning, with the most high tech crime fighting flying machines ever. Palm Beach County's super chopper is equipped with a satellite tracking system, pinpointing exact location. Then, turn on the night vision: infrared cameras. White represents heat, making the invisible visible again.

"Should the bad guys be dropping contra-ban as they flee we can see that."

Check this out: crooks on the run in the woods. Here, Martin County's Sheriff Chopper catches the bad guys on their infrared camera.

"I think I got somebody in the tree right there."

They can run, but they cannot hide.

"We've got two more in custody."

"Ten-four. Good job man."

Back on the ground, identifying criminals is more than just skin deep. Palm Beach County is installing a new fingerprinting system. It's the the wave of the future, with touch screen machines making old fashioned ink a thing of the past.

"Apply pressure to the palm. It brings out the detail."

Detectives can scan and store an entire handprint, but only need to lift a small section from a crime scene to make a match.

"Now we can search any latent against the whole hand. Its definitely going to increase our hit ratio."

You can touch a button and pop up a record and at their fingertips--everything detectives want to know about the person behind the print. But don't forget modern science, picking up where the criminals leave off.

"This tells us there is possibly semen present on this paper."

Palm Beach County has one of the most high tech DNA labs in the country. DNA doesn't lie. Each case is individual and national databases don't forget. Evidence from different crimes scenes all across the country can be compared. Connected by technology, today and tomorrow.

In the hit show '24' - the sky's the limit for what the Feds can do to keep tabs on you. In reality, nothing is out of the realm of possibility. In the near future, almost all Palm Beach County traffic lights will be remote control operated from traffic engineering headquarters here in West Palm Beach. That means the technology exists to turn an entire intersection RED to stop a crook in his tracks. It's never been done before, but who knows how far investigators will go in the future.

So, a reminder to all criminals: the next time you think about committing a crime, think about who might be watching. We spoke with the FBI about using Satellite technology to track criminals. The government won't tell us much, saying there's just some things they don't want criminals to know about.

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