Written by The Business Journal Staff
During a press conference held at Fresno State, Harris and Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer discussed the prevalence of cyber crime throughout the nation and specifically in the Central Valley and the need for greater tools in law enforcement to aid in decoding information on mobile devices and computers.
There are five components to the C4 initiative, Harris said. First, there is a new Cyber Accelerator, which focuses on research and development and finding new ways to obtain and process digital evidence. Second, there is a new digital forensics training protocol for investigators and officers. Third, there is increased network security so local departments are trained not only on obtaining data from evidence but on protecting their own data to ward off hackers who may want access to law enforcement records. Fourth, the initiative has synergy with the established eCrime program, which works to investigate and prosecute large scale identity theft and technology crimes. Lastly, the fifth component of C4 is the Bureau of Forensic Services digital evidence program, which creates accredited crime labs for local law enforcement to use for evidence analysis.
All these tools, Harris said, make it easier for local officers to collect and analyze digital evidence and ultimately it will help to deter those seeking to commit technology crimes. Harris said that translates to greater security for government agencies, businesses and individuals who may be the targets of cyber crimes.
“Cyber crime is occurring, it is very real and we know it presents one of the biggest threats to national security and it presents one of the biggest threats to our personal security. So we in the California Department of Justice decided to get on this from the beginning and be a leader,” Harris said. “What we have also been determined to do is understand that it is not only about detecting a cyber crime when it has occurred, and it is not only about collecting the evidence and analyzing it, it’s also about ultimately holding wrong-doers accountable, which means prosecuting and making sure there will be serious, severe and swift consequences and accountability.”
The largest tool now available to local law enforcement through this initiative is a mobile crime unit called Cyber Response Vehicle, a digital forensics lab on wheels. Harris said it was clear a mobile unit was needed after surveying departments throughout the state. Those departments, she said, indicated they needed greater access to digital forensics tools.
“We asked local law enforcement what they need and they said they need support in how to deconstruct a cell phone, a laptop and mobile devices and they also said they need it in real time,” Harris said. “They also said it needs to be accessible to us near the crime scene because the time and the geographic distance that is otherwise required to cover in order to get stuff tested sometimes works against an investigation. So we came up with the Cyber Response Vehicle. Essentially it is a repurposed mobile command vehicle retrofitted with state-of-the-art mobile technology and it’s basically a digital forensics lab and it can go anywhere throughout our state to support local law enforcement.”
Dyer said the vehicle, as well as other aspects of the initiative, will allow the Fresno Police Department to operate more effectively when dealing with crimes involving technology.
“We have been very fortunate to have the Department of Justice here in Fresno,” Dyer said. “We have relied on them historically for the processing of evidence and the analysis of evidence for drugs, for DNA and for ballistics, and this is another step in terms of the analysis of digital information. We know that time and time again out in the community when a criminal act has occurred, oftentimes it is facilitated by the use of technology, whether that is a cell phone or a computer. We also know when an incident occurs in Fresno and a crime is committed, oftentimes it is captured on an iPhone or smartphone video. For us to be able to have the ability out in the field to download that data to our officers is critical and that is how it helps us in local law enforcement to be more efficient and more effective.”