With $50,000 worth of new computer forensics equipment in place at the new crime lab at the Town Hall Annex, the Weston Police Commission wants to dispel a rumor that the room is a “man cave.”
The forensics lab was discussed at length at a meeting of the Police Commission on Tuesday, Oct. 2, followed by a tour of the facility.
Beth Gralnick, commission vice chairman, who was conducting the meeting in the absence of Chairman Rick Phillips, said someone in town had started a rumor that the lab was a “man cave,” because it contained a conference table, sofa and television screen — all of which were donated — in addition to forensics equipment.
After touring the lab, the commissioners were satisfied that it is a high-caliber, professional facility, and not what would be deemed a “man cave,” or male recreational sanctuary.
“It’s a very well-equipped forensics lab, and the commission has no issue with it. The conference table will be used for meetings when other departments visit the lab, and the television is being used for projections,” Ms. Gralnick said.
The lab is located in a room at the Town Hall Annex, the portable building near the Board of Education’s central office. The annex also houses the school’s finance and human resources departments and town land use offices.
“It’s a fantastic space, and the forensics lab puts our department at the forefront of this kind of technology,” Mr. Phillips said.
The room contains specialized computers and supporting equipment acquired through a grant from the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection as part of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC). The lab is being used for evidence recovery in computer crimes such as child pornography, sexual assaults, cyberstalking, and other electronic crimes.
Weston police Officers Matt Brodacki and Joe Mogollon were specially trained by the U.S. Secret Service to conduct computer forensics investigations at the lab.
While the forensics equipment was purchased with a $50,000 grant, Sgt. Brodacki donated the table, sofa and television screen. “It really cost the town nothing,” Mr. Phillips said.
After the meeting, First Selectman Gayle Weinstein, who initially located the space for the lab at the annex, said she has not yet seen the new facility. “I have not been invited to see it, so I have no comment,” she said. However, she did mention that the schools may have had concerns about it.
But schools Superintendent Colleen Palmer said she welcomed the lab at the annex and had no concerns with it. “We have a great working relationship with Chief Troxell and Sgt. Brodacki. The school district requires forensics investigations, so we agreed to take a training room offline to make room for the lab. We value the work of the Police Department, and consider ourselves partners working together for the well-being of the district and the town,” she said.
Assisting other towns
As part of the town’s memorandum of understanding for accepting the ICAC grant, Weston will assist other towns with their forensics investigations.
“I’m very proud of our department. Weston is at the forefront of this very important crime-fighting tool,” Mr. Phillips said. “I’m also very proud of the initiative the officers took to get the forensics training. Each one could get a job at the FBI, but they are choosing to use those skills in Weston. To me, that says a lot about their initiative,” he said.
As for the “man cave” rumor, Ms. Gralnick said it was unfounded and nothing more needed to be done by the commission. “It’s a professional computer forensics lab and a feather in the town’s cap,” she said.