Thursday, October 8, 2009

White Collar: Local Law Enforcement Lack High Tech Investigative Capabilities

As crimes and the means of committing them have become more technologically advanced, so too have the skills necessary for investigation. While federal agencies such as the FBI have cutting edge computer technology skills, the same is not true for many local law enforcement agencies. Only those in the nation's largest cities and some states have the cyber skills necessary to facilitate criminal investigation of cyber crimes and other crimes in which cyber investigation would be helpful.

Increasingly, high tech investigation and evidence can be helpful in the investigation of almost any type of crime. However, most localities are not equipped to bring such resources into the investigation of local crimes. Considering that 90% of all the nation's felony crimes are local matters, the lack of technological skill and resources creates a yawning gap in effective crime fighting. Quite simply, most local law enforcement offices lack the budget to support the very expensive equipment and training necessary to employ high tech investigative measures.

Localities that do have such capability have used cyber investigation techniques in crimes such as identity theft, child pornography, and extortion. Much as traditional white collar investigation often involves following an audit or money trail to unlock the mystery of the crime, high tech investigation often involves following a cyber trail to the computer used by the high tech criminal. Once investigators are able to identify the computer used in the crime and seize it, they are able to extract significant evidence from the computer.

One of the potential means of extending cyber investigative capability to localities that would not otherwise have access to such resources is for state law enforcement agencies to function as cyber investigation resource centers. This would be a role similar to that played by these agencies in areas such as forensic laboratory or document analysis.

For more information please see the following Wall Street Journal, article discussing cyber investigation and providing anecdotal discussion of various successful cyber investigations,

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