Upper Saucon Officer Will Head Digital Forensics Lab
Upper Saucon detective Joseph Pochran will head the Petzold Digital Forensics Laboratory; Lehigh County will compensate township to cover salary, benefits.
As of March 1, Upper Saucon Det. Joseph Pochran will be assigned full time to Lehigh County's Petzold Digital Forensics Laboratory -- named for a township officer who died in the line of duty.
The assignment was presented to the Upper Saucon Board of Supervisors as a Memorandum of Understanding by Lehigh County DA Jim Martin and supported unanimously. Pochran, who had been running the lab 12 hours a week, will now be assigned full time to the laboratory, which processes all manner of digital information for county crimes.
"Det. Pochran has done an outstanding job," Martin said at Monday's supervisors meeting, noting the township will be reimbursed for Pochran's salary from the DA's forfeiture funds account. "This isn't a unique situation [to reimburse a township for a detective]. We have similar arrangements for three other task forces in Lehigh County."
The reimbursement will go toward hiring another full-time police officer for the township, said township police Chief Robert Coyle. Most likely, a new detective would be selected internally, freeing up an officer's spot.
Coyle acknowledged the importance of the laboratory to the county.
"Everything today is digital," Coyle said. "It's not just child pornography; it could be anything from property crimes to homicides."
The lab has proved to be a boon for county investigations, which is the reason Pochran needs to go full time to the lab. "If you build it they will come," Coyle said. "Since the lab has opened, so many agencies are using it, and the hours are becoming too burdensome for Det. Pochran to do [in addition to detective work for Upper Saucon]."
Martin said the Petzold Foundation -- named, like the lab, for the late township Officer David Petzold -- approached him with the idea of funding a digital lab.
"They came to the table with $64,000, I added $32,000 in forfeiture funds. We also had a grant of $32,000. DeSales [University] donated two classrooms and renovated them at no cost to the county."
Martin said 12 officers from 10 municipalities currently are assigned to the lab on a part-time basis, as well as Assistant District Attorney Matt Falk.
Pochran and Martin spoke about local cases that were solved as a direct result of the Digital Forensics Lab. "Last summer, a young woman [later identified as Kimberly Cardona] was found murdered on the Salisbury-Upper Saucon border," said Martin. "With the help of the lab, we were able to find information in text messages that directly related to the apprehension of of the suspect."
Township solicitor Jeffrey Dimmich reminded the supervisors of possible liability for the township. "I'm not saying I'm against [Pochran's assignment]. I just want the supervisors to be aware of potential issues like workers' compensation that could arise down the road."
In the end, the board unanimously voted to allow Pochran to run the Petzold laboratory full time.