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Island County sheriff will get money for new crime scene gear

Island County Sheriff Mike Hawley hopes to do some serious shopping in 2006 to upgrade his office's crime scene investigation capabilities.

And with President Bush's OK, Hawley will have $150,000 to buy new technology and forensic tools.

Thanks to the efforts of U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., a spending bill that will help fund law enforcement tools in Island, Whatcom and Skagit counties is just a president's signature away from passage.

"This is phenomenal. We didn't think we had a chance," sheriff's spokeswoman Jan Smith said.

If the president does sign the bill, Hawley says he will be quick to get his orders in for the new police gear.

On Hawley's list is new radio equipment, which will allow deputies to receive fire, medical, health department and law enforcement radio traffic.

Like some of the tricks of the trade the investigators have at their fingertips on the television show, "CSI," Hawley hopes to buy an automated fingerprint identification system. Known as AFIS, it helps a deputy "lift" fingerprints from a crime scene, and can scan and match those prints to known criminals.

In addition, Hawley will be able to purchase thermal image cameras, a forensic video enhancement system and other needed crime scene technology. 

"There is a long, long list of equipment that this funding will purchase to help deputies better protect lives and property," Smith said.

Larsen was able to secure funding for Snohomish, Whatcom and Island counties, as well as the Washington State Meth Initiative.

"We need to give our local law enforcement every possible tool to keep us safe," Larsen said.

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