Foundation helps pantry and police

Donated technology helps keep track of everything from food to cybercrime

The Steven W. Crowe Foundation donated laptop computers to the Peterborough Food Pantry and Monadnock Regional Law Enforcement Project.

The Steven W. Crowe Foundation donated laptop computers to the Peterborough Food Pantry and Monadnock Regional Law Enforcement Project. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

PETERBOROUGH — Feeding the hungry and tracking down cell phone data in criminal investigations may not seem related at first glance. But one thing both tasks have in common is the need to take advantage of the latest computer technology in order to be effective.

That’s why the Steven W. Crowe Foundation has donated powerful new laptop computers to both the Peterborough Food Pantry, which helps about 300 people every month, and the Monadnock Regional Law Enforcement Project, a cooperative effort by local police departments to provide training and equipment so officers can share resources and stay current about using technology in drug and cybercrime investigations.

The food pantry got one machine and MRLEP now has three, which will be used by police officers in Peterborough, Antrim and Greenfield, three of the towns now participating in the program.

“This is our first computer ever,” said Chris Mann, president of the food pantry’s Board of Directors, as she thanked Ron, Mike and Rick Crowe, the father and brothers of Steve Crowe, in whose memory the foundation was formed. “We’ve been using a hand count since 1966.”

Mann said the computer will let volunteers more easily track how many people visit the food pantry, which is located in the Community Center on Elm Street. It will also be used to prepare reports for the N.H. Food Bank, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and analyze data for food pantry volunteers.

“We can now do a much more accurate job,” Mann said.

The Monadnock Regional Law Enforcement Project will find a number of ways to use the machines, according to Sgt. Rick Nelson, the Peterborough officer who started the project.

“These are the fastest computers in our station,” Nelson told the Crowes. “We’ve used them to analyze cell phone data and to investigate pornography cases.”

Nelson said the Peterborough Police Department has a powerful proprietary computer that can download and extract all the data from cell phones or computers that have been seized by police during an investigation. But that material still needs to be analyzed, which often is done on an investigator’s computer.

“When I processed files, my laptop couldn’t handle it,” Nelson said.

The computers also help officers link to the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which provides assistance in child pornography or enticement investigations.

Nelson said the department’s technology recently helped him successfully prosecute an identity theft case, after analysis of a suspect’s cell phone calls confirmed his location at the time he made several withdrawals of money using stolen financial information.

“It’s another nail that helps make a good case,” he said.

The laptops will also help Nelson expand the reach of the MRLEP. He said Hancock and New Ipswich police are also participating and he wants to add more towns. The group already sponsored a training class on meth lab investigations and Nelson hopes to be able to do more.

“Classes take time and manpower. That’s why we’re coming together. We’re trying to get the equipment and training to serve the whole region better. Crime doesn’t stop at the borders.”

The Steven W. Crowe Foundation was started by the Crowe family 25 years ago, after Steve Crowe, who grew up in Peterborough, died in an auto accident in Connecticut.

“We started as a scholarship fund at [ConVal] high school,” Mike Crowe said. “We’ve expanded over the years. It’s really to support all types of community programs. These two were good fits.”

For information on the Peterborough Food Pantry, call 924-3008 between 9 a.m. and noon, Monday through Friday. To learn more about the Monadnock Regional Law Enforcement Project, contact Nelson at 924-8050.

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