Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $2,500,000)
Currently, Luzerne County has only five trained digital device analysts and even fewer departments equipped for such analysis. Their State Police have only two Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Specialist (CARS) units, one covering the northern part of the county and the other covering the southern portion, and each unit has only two members. These units are shared among seven counties. Unfortunately, many times CARS is prevented from responding to incidents due to their policies. In addition to aiding in these areas, the Emergency Service Units (ESU) would assist with accident reconstruction when PSP is unavailable. Luzerne County is in the midst of a collaborative effort to create a county-wide unit of first responders from multiple jurisdictions to respond to emergencies, handle complex investigations, and assist smaller departments with major cases. This combining of resources maximizes efficiency in purchasing equipment, vehicles, technology and training to assist the ESU police and counselors. ESU would be comprised of major case investigators, accident reconstructionists, digital device analyzers, a crisis intervention team to focus on mental health emergencies, and training for high-risk incidents including barricaded gunmen and active shooters.
Luzerne County lacks a central processing center requiring departments to process arrestees all over the county. This center will apply uniform procedures to confirm identities of arrestees, record and verify fingerprints and transmit information instantly to the PSP Staff Services Laboratory. A Central Processing Center will raise processing rate which, along with the aforementioned aspects of ESU are an invaluable asset to the citizens to protect the public from violent incidents, enhance our law enforcement community, aid in criminal investigations, and prosecute criminal cases.
Finally, this grant would allow the District Attorney’s Office to assist local departments suffering the effects of the pandemic with the purchase of badly needed new patrol cruisers for multiple full-time municipalities.