New center helps fight crime in Niagara County

Posted at 12:53 PM, Feb 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-29 12:53:42-05

Law enforcement unveiled a new tool to make fighting crime in Niagara County a lot easier. The Niagara Crime Lab Analysis Center provides an example of just how much technology is helping investigations move forward.

Previously, analysts and investigators had to make phone calls to track down information. In many places that still is often the case. Law enforcement say that way has not been efficient, and not always fast enough to catch suspects.

However, a new split screen monitor and specially trained analysts can now keep track of parolees, check surveillance video and access databases from across New York State.

The center is "not just for break-ins" explained Sheriff James Voutour. The analysis center can help track down drug traffickers coming across the Canadian border and link police with federal officials to fight terrorism.

The center in Niagara Falls can also databases from throughout the county as well as state-funded databases already established in Erie, Monroe, Onondaga, Broome and Albany counties. In addition, the center can access certain federal information and databases in West Chester, Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Authorities believe this could also be a big asset if there was an emergency at a school.

"We'd be able to remotely access cameras in schools," Voutour explains. "So if there was an active shooter in the school, we could go to a live feed. Eventually we want to be able to feed that right to the police officer who's responding."

The centers in Erie and Monroe counties helped catch Antoine Mattox in March of 2013. Mattox beat his wife to death and set her on fire. Analysts in the centers tracked him to a bus station in Rochester, leading to his arrest just a few hours after the killing.

The state invested $164,000 of technology and equipment into the Niagara Crime Analysis Lab.

New analysts were hired to track data and trends.