Police rely heavily upon fingerprints as they try to solve crimes.

"If we can obtain fingerprints, it just helps the investigation go that much quicker," said Erie Police Chief Spizarny. 

Now, thanks to a donation from the Siebenbuerger Club, Erie police have new machines to uncover those prints. 

"They help us find latent fingerprints, which basically are invisible fingerprints you can't see with the naked eye," said Lt. Christopher Crawford. 

Detectives used to have to use a fish tank to uncover hidden prints. They'd put an object inside along with super glue and hot water. Then they'd heat it up, and wait for the fumes to uncover prints.

That method worked.

Sort of.

"You got fumes and humidity, but you didn't know how much you were getting," Crawford said. "And you couldn't really control the time either because you might get called out on a call while something's processing, and it would overprocess."

Not only are the new machines more accurate when detecting prints, they also make solving crimes faster.

"Now we can have three different officers working on cases at  the same time, rather than standing in line to use the fish tank," Crawford said.  

But the biggest benefit isn't to police officers.

It's to the people of Erie. 

"When you can identify a person who committed a crime, obviously the quicker you can do that, the quicker you can get them off the street, so it's definitely gonna benefit all the citizens of Erie," Crawford said. 

That's one less fish tank.

One safer city. 

Ethan Kibbe.

Erie News Now.