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David Nichols, Associate Chief of Operations at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Woods Hole Science Center in Woods Hole, MA, has received a Certificate of Appreciation from the Falmouth Police Department for assisting an investigation by providing geographic-information-system (GIS) and topographic maps of the local area.
The maps were requested for use by search teams in a missing-persons investigation, which became a homicide case when the victim's remains were discovered buried beneath jetty rocks in Woods Hole. The case began in September 2003, when the victim was first reported missing, and ended in October 2004, when the murderer was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.
At a ceremony held April 8, 2005, Falmouth Police Chief David F. Cusolito presented awards to those involved in the murder case, saying that if he remembers nothing else from his years of service, he will remember how officers and agencies came together and gave "everything they could give in order to solve a crime."
Dave was asked early in the case if the USGS could provide maps for search teams composed of the Falmouth Police Department, the Massachusetts State Police Special Emergency Response Team, and the Barnstable County Sheriff's Department. He contacted GIS specialist VeeAnn Cross, also of the USGS Woods Hole Science Center, and facilities manager Ernie Charette of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for help in locating current GIS and topographic information. Fortuitously, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution was in the middle of a construction project and could provide updated topographic data that Dave passed along to the police.
The USGS Woods Hole Science Center has received various requests for assistance from the community over the years. Typically, the center is asked to help search for downed aircraft or sunken boats using sea-floor-mapping tools such as sidescan sonar. Dave recalls a few such cases in the past 20 years, including one in the early 90s in which he used sidescan sonar to locate a fishing vessel out of New Bedford that sank off Martha's Vineyard in a northeast gale. Notes Dave, "We feel that this is a good way to support our local community by being responsive neighbors, and we try to lend assistance where needed."
At the recent awards ceremony in Falmouth, Chief Cusolito expressed his appreciation for such responsiveness, saying, "The investigation of this incident serves to illustrate a high spirit of cooperation between State, local, and civilian entities that are more than willing to pool their collective resources" to achieve a common goal.
in this issue:
Employee Recognized for Providing Maps to Police
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