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Cummins Allison Image Management Systems

Written by Esterbrook, Tim

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, based in Phoenix, Ariz., has never been shy about strict law enforcement. Led by Sheriff Joe Arpaio, often called “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office prides itself on tackling crime efficiently and effectively.

Toward that end, Maricopa County utilizes procedures and tools that support efficient law enforcement, and thus decided to trial a Cummins-Allison JetScan iFX™ to process evidence currency.

Like most law enforcement agencies, Maricopa County must carefully document money that is seized during an arrest—a painstaking process that takes time and diligence to ensure an accurate count and a strong evidence chain.

In fact, many agencies spend hours photocopying all confiscated currency so they have a picture of the serial number of each and every note. Maricopa County had kept all seized currency in an evidence warehouse until trial. But this still consumed significant time and manpower.

Evidentiary Protocol Demanded Several People

“Our evidentiary and security protocol required that seized cash be counted multiple times, by multiple people,” said Lt. Brian Stutsman, Special Investigations Division. “Each time the confiscated currency was accessed, multiple administrative personnel and detectives had to again sign off on the currency. When dealing with significant cash seizures, the amount of time involved was incredible.”

Using the Cummins JetScan iFX, Maricopa County Sheriff’s personnel can now process seized currency within minutes. Mixed notes are stacked into the iFX hopper and accurately counted at 1,200 notes per minute.

The Solution: JetScan iFX

“A few months ago, we had a huge seizure of $919,000, which we were able to process quickly and accurately using the JetScan iFX,” reported Lt. Stutsman. He goes on to cite several other important benefits.

“The serial number of every single note is digitally imaged and recorded at the same time the money is being counted,” he said. “Our County Attorney now has an additional level and form of evidentiary value—and nobody had to spend hours at a photocopier!”

Since the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department also opted for Cummins Image Management System (IMS) software, these serial numbers are readily accessible for retrieval from a database, which can be labeled by officer, case number, batch number or any classification of their choice.

Flash money is also run through the JetScan iFX and serial numbers are stored in the IMS software. Seized currency can then be compared to the flash money for serial number matches.

Serial Number Tracking Provides Stronger Evidence

Lt. Stutsman chuckled at one interesting case where serial number capture had a rather unusual, but powerful benefit: “Thousands of dollars were found in a mattress during a drug bust,” Lt. Stutsman recalled. “The perp claimed he had so much cash because he had been saving steadily over the past 10 years. However, we were able to prove that none of the bills had a serial number older than four years. The defense case was crushed.”

Maricopa County also uses the serial number capture feature in the field, using a small Cummins printer attached to the JetScan iFX to generate a print-out detailing the count and serial number by denomination and leaving it with the search record.

“The JetScan iFX unit is portable, only weighing about 20 pounds, which allows our officers to bring it into the field and count the currency right at the scene,” stated Lt. Stutsman. “Plus, if the seizure takes place during a banking day, we can deposit the currency immediately and start earning interest. This also avoids the time and manpower involved in taking the evidence to the warehouse.”

Speaking of interest earnings, Maricopa County had over $3 million sitting in their evidence warehouse for nearly four years awaiting the trial. Once they had the JetScan iFX run the currency and image the serial numbers, they were able to finally deposit the cash into the bank and begin earning considerable interest income.

The counterfeit detection capabilities of the JetScan iFX have also proven advantageous. Intercepted cash is generally good money, as drug dealers don’t want to take chances with counterfeits. However, Det. Edd Cason, who worked closely with Lt. Stutsman in evaluating the JetScan iFX, cited a sting, which resulted in a $130,000 seizure.

Counterfeit Detection—an Added Bonus

The JetScan iFX kept stopping on notes as “suspect.” Thinking that the machine may have been misreading, since again counterfeits are rare in drug busts, the officers kept re-processing the suspect notes.

“We finally examined the $100 notes closely,” Det. Cason recounted, “and saw Abraham Lincoln’s image in the watermark. Of course, Lincoln is on the $5 note. We found $30,000 of counterfeit bills. I guess the JetScan iFX was doing its job!”

Lt. Stutsman added a final observation: “The entire system—JetScan iFX and the IMS software—is extremely user-friendly and simple to understand. I like the fact that I can go several weeks without using it, but then can easily pick it back up.”

Bringing time savings, labor savings, better accuracy, superior counterfeit detection, and serial number documentation to evidence currency processing, the JetScan iFX has become a valuable contributor to the renowned efficiency of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. To learn more, or to set up a free demonstration, contact Cummins-Allison.

Tim Esterbrook is the Director of National Accounts for Cummins Allison.

Published in Law and Order, Jun 2014

Rating : Not Yet Rated


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Confiscated CurrencyCounterfeitCummins JetScan iFXDocumentationEvidenceEvidence DocumentationEvidentiary ProtocolImage Management SystemsJetScan iFXSeized CurrencySerial Number Tracking
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