Plaster molds of shoe prints along the police investigation trail are old school, thought Fairfax County Police officer Terry Leach. Then he took the practice into the digital world, by incorporating a new camera that the county had acquired.
Leach's progress with the camera led to Fairfax County Police to create a new position on the investigation team at each district station. Now each of the eight stations will have a station-level crime-scene technician, armed with the latest digital camera.
"With a good camera, you can reproduce that footprint," Leach said.
Leach was recently recognized with seven other officers by the Fairfax County Crime Solvers at an annual awards ceremony.
"We were just trying to get better equipment out on the street," Leach said.
Officer Shelley Broderick works exclusively with the Crime Solvers program. She was aware of Leach's progress with the cameras.
"He decided to take it a few steps further on his own. It was a lot of initiative on his part," Broderick said.
Fairfax County Police chief Thomas Manger was appreciative of all the officers’ efforts.
"They do a terrific job every day," he said.
The Crime Solvers is a group of business leaders that work with the police and local television stations to publicize local crimes. The most recent assistance the Crime Solvers program provided was a series of burglaries in Centreville, and robberies in Langley, according to Broderick.
"Somebody watched that on the news and called in. We had videoed them," Broderick said of the Langley case, in which two males and a female were later arrested.
"As a result of a Crime Solvers tip, we were able to make arrests," she said.
Crime Solvers started in 1979, and 1,800 cases have been solved as a result of the program. In addition, $202,710 has been paid out in reward money, which was made possible through donations.
"We are a civilian organization working with the police," said Charlie Smith, the group's chairman.
Fairfax County Channel 16 is one of the vehicles Crime Solvers uses to reach the public. The channel is exclusively county-oriented and made possible through an arrangement with Comcast Communications at no expense to the taxpayers. Board of Supervisors, zoning and various county government material is shown on the channel, according to Frances Guastadisegni, assistant producer.
"We do it as a news show. You don't see news shows like these," Guastadisegni said.
At the Fairfax County Crime Solvers awards ceremony, one officer was honored from each police precinct in the county. Awardees included officers Abe Gelabert from Sully, Greg Bender from Mount Vernon, Garrett Polowy from McLean, Joseph Millirons from Mason, Michael Pritz from Reston, Greg Malarkey from Franconia, Terry Leach from West Springfield and Eric Becker from Fair Oaks.