Sheriff putting technology to use

PARKERSBURG – Wood County Sheriff’s Office has experienced technological advancements during the last several years.

Chief Deputy Shawn Graham with the WCSO said with the technological age a lot of evidence can be recovered off cellular phones.

Greg Brogdon, IT system administrator with the sheriff’s office, said he uses a device that pulls data from cell phones on a daily basis.

The sheriff’s office has received $5,000 in upgrades within the last month to make extracting data from the phones easier and more effective, Graham said.

“I use the cell phone machine probably the most,” Brogdon said. “I went through training for computer hard drives, discs, thumb drives; it doesn’t matter if it’s been deleted or not I can get it back.”

Graham said the funding is money well spent but most of it comes from grants. He said in a recent case involving the Wirt County Sheriff’s Office, deputies asked Brogdon to help them in extracting data; his efforts helped them with a major break in the case.

Afterward, Wirt County Sheriff Keith Wilson donated $2,500 to the Wood County Sheriff’s Office equipment through its concealed weapons fund.

“He saw how effective it was,” Graham said of the technology. “(Brogdon’s) able to search phones faster and more phones with the new equipment.”

Graham said not only does Brogdon spend time on important cases for various agencies, including the Ripley, Vienna, Ravenswood and Parkersburg Police departments, he also oversees computer operations for the sheriff’s office.

The eight-year veteran of the department graduated from West Virginia University at Parkersburg at the top of his class from several forensic computer training programs. He has aided investigators in obtaining crucial evidence from suspects in criminal cases.

“He has a lot of responsibilities here and does an outstanding job,” Graham said of his colleague. “He’s a very valuable employee.”

Brogdon said the radio transmission was recently changed to IP-based traffic. The advancement allows for the radios to transmit digitally as opposed to analog using IP addressing.

This process makes for the radios to be heard more quickly and clearly. The process has become about 40 times faster in recent years, he said.

With many more people using cell phones, he said, sometimes extracting the data can be a long and tedious process.

Other upgrades the department will see in the near future or has received recently through federal grant funding are:

* Surveillance system upgrade in the Wood County Circuit Court’s office.

* Infrared helicopter transmission, including a hand-held device for deputies to see what the helicopter sees.

* A fingerprint based identity check system deputies will be able to use to identify suspects who don’t have proper identification or lie about their identity.

* Upgrade to radio towers to allow the department’s backup transmissions to reach surrounding communities, including Vienna, Boaz and Williamstown.

* S.W.A.T. armored vehicle that will be able to withstand a .50-caliber weapon, to be used in hostage situations and drug busts.

“I’d say we’re moving toward the future more everyday,” Graham said.