and understand how to do things like computer forensics investigation, for example.

"I don't have to tell you, with the proliferation of the Internet and now specifically with wireless devices -- which most, if not all, store different types of digital media -- there's going to be an exponential increase in the need for investigators."

DeCarlo meticulously chooses students for crime-lab internships. He looks at their grades, majors, projects in which they have participated, and he talks with their advisers.

"I take a close look at background, what the student has done outside of school, the types of classes the student is interested in, and I take a very close look at cover letters. I'm examining what the student wants to do with him- or herself."

Cardona provided her academic adviser with a list of agencies for which she'd like to intern. The adviser then contacted CSL, which set up the internship with the New York State Police.

Lt. Ron Stevens, senior investigator at the New York State Police Computer Crime Unit's Forensic Investigation Center, said the paid CSL internship allowed the State Police to pick someone with the capability of taking on an important project.

"That allowed us to interview people," he said. "We were able to go through a selection process and select a person that came in and had the ability to pick the ball up and run."

Stevens said capable interns can help officers do their homework on key issues when time is scarce.

"They give you the ability to research, which you often don't have time to do because you're doing your police function," he said. "Research is something you would like to do, but if you have someone who follows directions and works with guidance, they're a huge asset."

Sometimes interns provide the agency with technical expertise that is otherwise hard to acquire, according to DeCarlo. "Typically police agencies get X amount of funding per year based on whatever their town or city or state allocates them. Anything outside of that, they basically have to bite the bullet on."

Training, he said, is one of those areas.

"We're providing these cop shops, these police agencies, with eager young minds that want to assist them in technical areas that [the agency] may not have the training for."

DeCarlo tries to match the needs of the agency and the student, and determine whether the student will function well in that type of environment.

"I basically try to gauge if they're interested in working in a laboratory environment, which may entail a great deal of sitting at a desk in front of a computer," he said. "But there really aren't any typical functions. It depends on the host agency."

Mazur said Secret Service interns work on various projects depending on their location in the country. "Some of the stuff they've worked on is credit card skimming research, database enhancements, and internal assignments and projects."

DeCarlo said interns are often sought for technical support.

"We've had interns that actually designed or developed different types of cyber-crime fighting software. We've had them author different types of manuals."

Cardona is helping develop a standard operating procedure manual for the New York State Police Computer Incident Response Vehicle -- a new crime-fighting weapon that will pull up on a crime scene and provide the forensic capabilities of a laboratory.

"It's a manual that explains everything from starting the vehicle to examining the computer, doing analysis, etc.," Cardona said.

Critical Importance

The NW3C is a federally funded, nonprofit organization that provides high-tech training so state and local law enforcement have the resources and skills to tackle computer crime, including

Jim McKay, Justice and Public Safety Editor  |  Justice and Public Safety Editor