A partnership with the U.S. Secret Service is giving the police department access to new training, technology and funding to investigate electronic evidence. The new gear is expected to be in place in fall 2020.
(TNS) — Chief Sean Ladson likes to say “It’s an exciting time” for the Moultrie Police Department and with the announcement of a partnership with the U.S. Secret Service, he might be right.
The partnership will take the form of an electronic forensic crime lab, which Ladson said will open a world of possibilities and solutions.
“We live in a computer age — a social media age — and a lot of important evidence can be extracted off the devices that we use,” he said.
These devices include cell phones, computers and other similar technology.
Ladson built a working relationship with the resident agent-in-charge for Albany’s Secret Service soon after being named acting chief in 2017. Through that, he was made aware of a Secret Service program that funds training and $350,000 in electronic equipment.
Investigator Shavarye Anderson started the training in Fall 2018. Anderson said it’s a series of digital forensics courses with an ever-expanding course-load done through the Secret Service’s federal school in Hoover, Alabama.
He’s found that the classes are having an immediate effect on his skills as an investigator.
“Lately, I guess my role has slowly transitioned into the digital forensics world which consists of writing search warrants for cell phones, location data for cell phones and things like that,” he said. “All of those courses help with all of that.”
So far, Anderson has finished three courses which include social network investigations, basic computer evidence recovery (B.C.E.R.T.) and advanced forensics. The training has taken more than 400 hours and has cause him to leave for weeks at a time, but he still has more to go.
“[It’s] some of the toughest training I’ve ever been through,” he said. “That’s including college and everything else.”
Anderson will be taking major courses through the first quarter of 2020, which include a mobile device examiners course (involving cell phones) in January, a network intrusion course in February or March, and smaller advanced courses (like back forensics and digital currency) in the months after.
The training was expected to take two years, so he’s on track to finish late in 2020.
Once done, the crime lab equipment will be given to the MPD. It will be used for cases investigated by the city police, Colquitt County Sheriff’s Office and agencies from surrounding counties.
Local law enforcement agencies currently have to send electronic forensic evidence to Thomasville for processing. Ladson said this will be a welcome change.
“Part of the agreement with that is not only are we going to utilize it here, we will utilize it for surrounding counties and cites as well as federal agencies,” Ladson said. “Of course, if the Secret Service needed something, we would stop what we were doing and work whatever case that they needed.”
Finishing the training will give Anderson the option to apply for a position with the Electronic Crimes Task Force, which would deputize him under the Secret Service and give him federal jurisdiction in some cases.
“It allows me to change and evolve, learn new things and just expand my knowledge on the forensics world,” Anderson said.
The MPD doesn’t have this technology yet but could have it by fall 2020, according to Anderson’s start date. Ladson is looking forward to the day.
“I’m excited for the future,” he said. “I’m lucky to have good professional people that see the vision I see for the department and are willing to work hard. I think it’s their passion like it’s mine.”
©2019 The Valdosta Daily Times (Valdosta, Ga.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.