Who still uses film cameras? The Miami Police Department

The Miami Police Department's crime scene photographers will soon dump their film developer fluid for the last time.

They're finally going digital: replacing their 35mm cameras, chemical batches and darkroom with digital Single Lens Reflex cameras, computers and a server.

And the federal government will pick up the tab, thanks to $400,000 in funding from the fiscal year 2009 federal appropriations bill.

Police Chief John Timoney, who attended a Tuesday news conference to discuss the changes, said the technological upgrade will improve investigative work. Photographs taken at crime scenes will be sharper, clearer, receive automatic time stamps and they will not deteriorate with time. And best of all: distribution of pictures to detectives will be a simple click -- not a lengthy printing process.

"It makes life that much easier," Timoney said.

Miami police crime scene investigators admit the department was slow to embrace the technological shift from film to digital, which began in police departments nationwide about a decade ago.

Lazaro Fernandez, the forensic investigations supervisor, offered a reason for the delay:

Courts were initially reluctant to allow digital photography to be admitted as evidence because they wrongly feared the images could be easily manipulated, he said.

U.S. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who helped secure the funds and attended Tuesday's news conference, said she would seek similar funding next year.

"This money will go a long way to catching the criminals," she said.


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