Cell Phone Scanning Technology Purchase Approved

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The Athens Police Department will be buying special software and hardware used to scan cell phones for potential evidence during the course of a criminal investigation.

The City Council approved the $17,000 purchase in a unanimous vote during Monday night's meeting.

The police department will use the funds to purchase three software and hardware combination units to analyze cell phone data.

“$17,000 is a small price to pay for the security of our community,” Athens Police Chief Tom Pyle said.

Investigators will only be able to analyze phones if they are given permission, have a warrant, or are otherwise collecting evidence as part of an investigation. Pyle said data not important to the case will be thrown out, destroyed, or returned to its owner by a judge.

Pyle said any information taken from the phones would be stored remotely and treated carefully like any other piece of evidence.

According to Pyle, the department runs into situations where this technology could be used two or three times per week. 

Currently, the department has to drives phones to Columbus. Pyle said the analysis process can take up to four weeks, but with the new software the same work could be done in-house in under 24 hours.

“When we’re talking about crimes of passion like domestic violence or stalking, four weeks is an eternity,” Pyle said.