Technology is all around us and cell phones and computers are changing every day. A special unit in the Naperville Police Department focuses its attention on the ever-changing world of technology and uses it to solve crimes.
When an officer comes across a child pornography, solicitation, or financial crimes case they often need to crack into a cell phone or a computer to find the evidence they’re looking for. That’s when they turn to the officers in the Computer Forensics department.
“We would start with talking to the investigator who’s in charge of the case,” said Detective Daniel Ragusa. “We’ll find out what they’re exactly looking for. There’s a lot of data that’s on the different pieces of evidence. We try to narrow it down to try and make it quicker to find what we’re looking for.”
“We get calls every day about different devices that need to be analyzed,” said Sergeant Tom Kammerer. “And you never know from device to device what you’re going to find or what the investigators are going to be looking for.”
Christopher Berard started working in the forensics unit when it first started back in 1998.
“When we first started our office was literally a roll top desk in a closet with cinder block walls and a telephone wire was dragged in from the hallway,” said Berard.
Over the years the unit has expanded and they recently moved into an unused room in the bottom floor of the police department. They now have their own computer sections and even a server, worth $60,000 which was donated to them by the Will County Sheriff’s Department.
“We have a lot of expensive equipment that really didn’t cost us anything,” said Chief David Dial. “We used seizure money, grant money and donations from Will County. Our detectives partner with the ones in Will County and the investigations. It’s working out to be a tremendous partnership.”
Even with the updated equipment, going through all the data in a computer or cell phone isn’t as quick as they make it seem on TV.
“You can get flash memory cards up to 32 GB, a lot of stuff can be stored on that,” said Berard. “It all depends on what the officer is trying to do. If we’re trying to track somebody, find documents, whether it’s encrypted, it all depends. Some cases can be done within in a day; computers on the other hand usually take longer. Some take weeks, some months.
The changes in technology means the officers are constantly training for the newest device.
“The average is about every three days a new cell phone comes out,” said Kammerer. “That’s more technology that we have to keep up with. Phones are getting smarter they’re like computer. It’s not as simple as plugging in a chord like it used to be. It’s a lot more forensic analysis.”
Not a day goes by without an investigator knocking on their door asking for their help in a case.
“I like to take things apart, find out how they work, and figure out how to get the evidence that our investigators are looking for and get that to them,” said Ragusa.
“For me it’s the big picture, it’s being a part of the justice system,” said Elizabeth Guerrero-Davis, Crime Scene Technician. “It’s either exonerating someone or putting them away it’s just that feeling of being part of that big picture.”
The Naperville Police Department often helps surrounding jurisdictions with cases since they are one of the only computer forensics units in the state.
WANT MORE LOCAL NEWS?
Get daily news headlines delivered to your inbox!Sign Up Today!