The Dunwoody Police Department officially hit the streets April 1, 2009 and is celebrating a decade of service this year at its headquarters located at City Hall on Ashford-Dunwoody Road. The police department relocated to City Hall in December 2018 from its old space at the former City Hall on Perimeter Center East.
Sgt. Robert Parsons, the public information officer who has been with the department since Day One, said the new headquarters created space for some state-of-the art equipment.
The Forensics Lab, for instance, includes software to unlock cyber materials during an investigation as well as specialized equipment that allows officers to drill into cellphones and laptop computers to retrieve passwords and other data that may be necessary to solve a crime. The equipment can also dig out memory chips from phones to extract data, Parsons said.
Other agencies often call on Dunwoody Police to break into phones and computers because the department has that specialized equipment, Parsons said.
The department also has its own Automated Fingerprint Identification System, which looks like an oversized printer. A fingerprint is placed on paper and entered into the machine, where it is processed and compared to millions of other fingerprints to identity a suspect. Sometimes a suspect can be identified in the same day, Parsons said. By having its own AFIS, the department also does not have to send fingerprints to the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, where it can take weeks and even months to get back information, he said.
“It took a lot to get this and we had a lot of training with the GBI on how to use it,” he said. “It helps us close cases a lot faster, identify perpetrators a lot faster.”
More than 20,000 items are currently stored in the department’s evidence room, according to Evidence Technician Vanessa Ollee. The evidence includes hundreds of backpacks and purses gathered from people who were arrested. The city is required to hold onto the items for at least three months in hopes the owners will return for them, she said.
There is also a sealed off room for “high-risk” evidence, including dozens of firearms and boxes of confiscated drugs. The odor of marijuana fills the small space, but Ollee said she doesn’t notice it anymore. Once a case is closed, the drugs are burned by the GBI.
Sybil Warner is a civilian crime scene investigator. Her lab includes a large box where she can retrieve latent fingerprints from evidence such as credit cards. The equipment works by warming superglue until it creates vapors that adhere to the oils left behind from a suspect’s touch.