The College Station (Texas) Police Department's detectives were honored with the Excellence in Criminal Investigations award at the 2011 International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP).
The detectives solved three capital murder cases in 2010, apprehending the suspect in each case within 14 hours of the crime being committed.
The award is sponsored by the Risk, Fraud and Investigations business of Thomson Reuters, whose solutions include CLEAR, a powerful public and proprietary records platform that helps thousands of law enforcement and government agencies find essential information on people and businesses.
"Despite being chronically understaffed and having a caseload that exceeded 1,900 in 2010, the detectives in College Station pursued these cases with dogged persistence, using the new technology procured by their department in tandem with solid, exhaustive police work," said Chief Mark A. Marshall, IACP president. "When faced with challenges, such as how to preserve a crime scene that needed to be transported over a long distance, these detectives proved why they're the best of the best in investigative innovation. IACP is proud to recognize the College Station, Texas, Police Department's Criminal Investigation Division for its industry-leading example of law enforcement excellence."
After they were tasked with solving three grisly murders, the College Station CID used time-honored detective work such as canvassing neighborhoods and interviewing witnesses, as well as state-of-the-art technology such as video enhancement equipment and a device that allows investigators to capture images of microscopic evidence, which are compatible with iPad and iPhone devices carried by officers across the department.
In one particular case, officers were tasked with moving a vehicle that was part of a crime scene and full of important evidence back to College Station for processing from where it had been recovered. The distance was about four hours of travel time. Concerned that vital evidence would be contaminated or destroyed in transit, the officers decided to shrink-wrap the vehicle to protect it from the elements. This novel idea was successful and evidence later recovered from the vehicle proved to be vital to the case.
"The Criminal Investigative Division of the College Station, Texas, Police Department showed remarkable ingenuity in the ways in which they merged traditional investigative tactics with technological devices which had only recently become available to them," said Steve Rubley, vice president and general manager, Risk and Fraud at Thomson Reuters. "Their quick thinking and creative problem-solving skills enabled them to use every resource at hand to make sure no stone went unturned in the task of bringing murderers to justice and restoring a sense of safety within their community. The Thomson Reuters Risk, Fraud and Investigations business is thrilled to partner with the IACP in lauding such innovation and excellence. The outstanding investigatory techniques modeled by the department in College Station can serve as a model for law enforcement agencies across the nation."
The first runner-up, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations division in Washington, D.C., was honored for conducting a campaign to seize Internet domain names used for selling counterfeit goods. From June 2010 through March 2011, this effort, which occurred in four separate phases, resulted in the seizure or freezing of 169 domain names, as well as the seizure of 16 bank, advertising and brokerage accounts. In addition, a large amount of pirated movies, music, sporting event and television show content was seized as well.
The second runner-up, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Special Problems Unit, Transit Services Bureau, was recognized for fighting graffiti and vandalism throughout Los Angeles County by deploying several novel investigative tactics, among them the database TAGRS (Tracking and Automated Graffiti Reporting System) that is the first of its kind. These efforts led to a total of 183 felony and 173 misdemeanor arrests in 2010.
The IACP Award for Excellence in Criminal Investigations is given to a law enforcement agency, law enforcement unit, task force or inter- agency task force in recognition of exceptional innovation and excellence in the area of criminal investigations. Judging focuses on contributions to the advancement of the art or science of criminal investigations, and innovations in the development or enhancement of investigative techniques.