Forensics goes digital for Bristol County

(Madeleine Wright, WPRI-TV)

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — With the amount of high tech gadgetry we use in our lives these days, it’s now necessary for police detectives to know how to examine the computers we have everywhere, and the Bristol County District Attorney’s office showed off a new digital forensics crime lab Thursday now being used for that.

Four Massachusetts State Troopers have been certified to process digital evidence, and two more are in the process of being certified, according to District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III.

The lab, located on the fifth floor of the D.A.’s office building, will process digital evidence from crimes from all over the county, or the lab’s troopers can head out to the field with some portable examination technologies.

Photos and media can be extracted from cell phones. Video from home or business surveillance cameras or smartphone video can be enhanced. Data can be recovered from laptops and desktop computers. Evidence can also be stored for trial.

Quinn declined to comment on the cost of the lab, or where the funding is coming from; he’d only say it ranged in the thousands of dollars.

Digital evidence is becoming crucial to help secure convictions, Quinn told reporters. In the case of former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez, convicted of killing semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd, surveillance video at Hernandez’s home was a linch-pin in the case. Pending cases are also using digital evidence, including the case of Michelle Carter accused of manslaughter involving text messages leading to her boyfriend’s suicide.