In-house computer forensics capabilities invaluable for Sidney PD

By Blythe Alspaugh - [email protected]

SIDNEY — The Sidney Police Department now has two detectives on the force well-versed in computer forensics.

“Pretty much, anything and everything now is either a cell phone or a computer or a tablet of some sort. It seems like everybody is doing everything electronically, and we needed a capability in-house to do this,” Detective Rob Jameson said.

Computer forensics is a field of technology utilizing investigative techniques to identify and store evidence from computer devices. The practice of computer forensics is used to uncover evidence that can be used in a court of law.

Both Jameson and Detective Cody Nelson have received computer forensics training from the National Computer Forensics Institute (NCFI), based in Hoover, Alabama. NCFI is partnered with the United States Department of Homeland Security and the United States Secret Service, and routinely offers training courses to state and local law enforcement, prosecutors and judges through funding from the federal government. Both Jameson and Nelson were able to take computer forensic courses at no cost to themselves or the Sidney Police Department because of this.

“For me, I think this opportunity for state and local law enforcement to attend such training when an agency our size, the cost — it’s almost prohibitive. Because of this partnership with the Secret Service, Homeland and the Alabama Attorney General’s Office — it’s an unbelievable experience and opportunity to be able to go to something like this and come back with the equipment and the training necessary to do what we need to do with electronics,” Jameson said.

The courses Jameson and Nelson have taken cover the parts of a computer, how the computer works, and how to examine a computer forensically and soundly. Prior to Jameson and Nelson’s training, the department would utilize Miami Valley Crime Lab, which had a joint task force with the FBI, according to Jameson.

“They only had so many people and so many pieces of equipment, so if we took something down there, it would be months before we would get any results back,” Jameson said.

Jameson found out about the training through the crime lab and contacted the local secret service office to get more information and ended up getting to attend the courses for computer forensics.

“It was very interesting. For me, I’ve been here 25 years, and I don’t believe I’ve ever been to a training facility as technologically advanced and as nice as the facility in Alabama,” Jameson said.

Both Jameson and Nelson took a five-week training course while in Alabama; Jameson also attended a week-long first responders’ course.

“Hopefully in the future, we’ll have the opportunity to send more officers down there to have the same training,” Nelson said.

Now, with Jameson and Nelson able to examine computers for evidence and data within the department, there are times where they can turn cases around in two to three days — a dramatic difference from before.

“It’s huge. Speaking for myself, having the capability to do this in-house is invaluable. Having a piece of electronic equipment in front of you—to be able to examine that and pull evidence off of it and prove your case in sometimes less than a day, is invaluable,” Jameson said.

By Blythe Alspaugh

[email protected]

Reach the writer at [email protected]

Reach the writer at [email protected]