Waterbury police utilizing new tech to help identify suspects

Waterbury police are using new technology to help identify suspects.
Published: Mar. 30, 2022 at 7:06 PM EDT
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WATERBURY, CT (WFSB) – A new piece of technology is being called a game changer for Waterbury police.

The technology is helping them identify potential suspects faster.

It’s already been used to make an arrest.

Police said under normal circumstances, the steps to find a burglar can take some time.

“We would’ve obviously used fingerprint technology first, which could take a long time. You need someone to look at the prints, who’s a certified fingerprint examiner,” said Lt. Joe Rainone, Waterbury Police Department.

Then officers look at surveillance video and hope cameras recorded a suspect.

“This provides the investigative lead,” Rainone said.

Now with the RapidHit ID System in Waterbury police’s forensics lab, those steps are replaced.

Once DNA is found and collected, it’s put into a cartridge and into the machine.

It’s run against a state database of convicted offenders.

The RapidHit technology recently helped in the arrest of Juan Roman. Police said they found his DNA from an object he used trying to break into top shelf liquor. After submitting his DNA into the machine, in less than an hour, he was already identified as a suspect. When officers took him into custody, he admitted to six other burglaries throughout the city.

Waterbury police have only had the tech for several weeks.

They said they’re the first police department in the state to get one.

The state’s forensic science lab plans to get more of them out there.

“We do struggle with backlogs, and we do struggle with giving out answers in a timely manner,” said Sevasti Papakanakis, asst. director of DNA and Forensic Biology Sections. “So, I think it is really important that we’re able to give investigative leads a little more quickly.”

When it comes to their policing, Waterbury police said they make it a priority to keep their tech as current as possible.

“We’ve got a lot of brilliant young minds in the police department that are very interested in technology, and again with our state partnerships it’s just, it’s great for us,” said Chief Fernando Spagnolo, Waterbury Police Department.

To not only solve cases faster, but to help victims move on.

“Whether it be a burglary, all the way up into a robbery, sexual assault or homicide, you’re giving closure to them. before it would take possibly days, months, and even a year to get a DNA hit,” Rainone said.