Digital forensics in law enforcement: A need based analysis of Indiana agencies
Cyber crime is a growing problem, with the impact to both businesses and individuals increasing exponentially, but the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and successfully prosecute criminals for these crimes is unclear. Many national needs assessments were conducted in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), which all indicated that state and local law enforcement did not have the training, tools, or staff to effectively conduct digital investigations (Institute for Security and Technology Studies [ISTS], 2002; NIJ, 2004). Additionally, there have been some studies conducted at the state level, however, to date, none have been conducted in Indiana (Gogolin & Jones, 2010). A quick search of the Internet located multiple training opportunities and publications that are available at no cost to state and local law enforcement, but it is not clear how many agencies use these resources (“State, Local, & Tribal” for FLETC, n.d.; https://www.ncfi. usss.gov). This study provided a current and localized assessment of the ability of Indiana law enforcement agencies to effectively investigate when a crime that involves digital evidence is alleged to have occurred, the availability of training for both law enforcement officers and prosecuting attorneys, and the ability of prosecuting attorneys to pursue and obtain convictions in cases involving digital evidence. Through an analysis of the survey responses by Indiana law enforcement agencies and prosecutors’ offices, it is evident that Indiana agencies have improved their ability to investigate crimes with digital evidence, with more than half with employees on staff who have attended a digital forensic training course within the past five years. However, a large majority of the agencies still perceive their abilities to investigate crimes with digital evidence in the mid-range or lower. The results support the recommendation that a comprehensive resource guide needs to be made available that the agencies can use to locate experts, obtain assistance with standard operating procedures, learn about free training courses, and find funding opportunities to increase their capabilities in investigating crimes involving digital evidence.
Spafford, Purdue University.
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