Police Computer Forensics

Police computer forensics is a fairly new development in law enforcement. In the first years local and state law enforcement agencies performed forensic examinations of technical devices and digital media, there was a need to respond to newer hi-tech offenses. Because technical devices were being used to commit criminal offenses, they oftentimes also became repositories for evidence. Law enforcement had to react. Police computer forensics is what was the result.

Responding to More High-Tech Crimes with Police Computer Forensics

Today, law enforcement has to respond to more than hi-tech offenses. Law enforcement has to be prepared for any type of criminal offense that involves technology, computers, and digital media. For law enforcement, the recent crime trends show an increase in property-related offenses including identity theft and fraud, as well as an increase in online child exploitation. Threats, harassment, online dissemination of obscene matter, hacking, and intellectual property theft continue to be problematic. But law enforcement computer forensics has changed. Now, oftentimes, drug deals are arranged by computer or text message, cell phones are frequently encountered by police at homicide scenes, crimes are being captured by digital surveillance systems, and suspects post information about their criminal offenses on social networking sites. Computer forensic examiners must adapt to these changing circumstances. State and local law enforcement officers must analyze devices in all of these cases.

Hiring Individuals from Within Police Departments and Training them in Computer Forensics

Within the public sector, there have been two trends for the career paths of computer forensic examiners. State and local law enforcement agencies employ both sworn and civilian computer forensic examiners. Traditionally, law enforcement agencies have chosen computer forensic examiners from the ranks of their already employed agents, officers or detectives. A technology background or degree will typically help catapult these examiners into a full-time position, but the trend has been to identify and train experienced officers capable of performing the job.

Hiring Individuals Already Trained in Computer Forensics

More recently, law enforcement agencies are identifying the need to recruit officers or agents that are already trained and experienced in computer forensics. This includes now the recruitment of civilian examiners and civilian contractors capable of conducting examinations and audits as well as advising on information security issues. Prior experience, whether by internship or prior employment, combined with a technology degree, specifically computer forensics, and certifications are all key selling points for examiners looking to break into the public sector. Other skills and abilities coveted in the public sector to complement the above are legal experience, investigative experience, and the ability to communicate both orally and in writing.

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