Buffalo Police Likely to Get New Cell Phone Data Device

BUFFALO, NY - The Buffalo Common Council is set to approve new technology for the Buffalo Police Department that can extract information from cell phones.

While digging for answers for this story, 2 On Your Side learned that the department has been using this practice for years.

The device is called a UFED.

And for the past six years, the department has had a similar version of the device that can take data from cell phones and even retrieve information that's been deleted. The cell phone needs to be hooked up to the device for it to work.

Usage of the technology was discussed during a Common Council finance committee Tuesday.

"It aids in our investigation for getting call logs, text messages and video and pictures off of the phone," said Captain Joseph Gramaglia of the Buffalo Police Department.

Police want Common Council to approve the purchase of an upgraded version of the technology.

Currently, police don't have the data devices in their vehicles. Instead there's only one of these devices in the department and it's kept indoors.

If during an investigation police need to use the data device, they need to get a search warrant.

Police say they can't walk up to anyone and demand your phone and that the device cannot be used to spy on people.

"I want them to have this type of equipment because this really processes information that will help solve crimes," said Council Member Rich Fontana.

Police say only a few homicide detectives are trained to use the device. Fontana says police will do its own auditing of who uses the device and what numbers are searched, to make sure police are using the technology correctly.

"I'm comfortable with the police using this device as I said it's a secure device, it's in one location and a search warrant needs to be obtained before they can plug the cell phone in," said Council Member Michael LoCurto.

On Tuesday, the Common Council finance committee approved the purchase of the upgraded device.

The purchase now moves to the full council next week, where it's likely to pass. Police will probably get the new version of the device in the fall.


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