Daviess County’s Sheriffs’ Department has added new technology to investigate crimes using cell phones, computers, and surveillance cameras.
Last year the State Department of Homeland Security awarded the Sheriff’s Department a $ 51,300 grant to purchase a new computer and several new software programs to conduct phone and computer investigations to preserve evidence. Major Barry Smith, assistant director of the sheriff’s office, said all the software had been ordered.
Special Representative Cheryl Purdy, Computer Analyst and Director of Cybersecurity Certification at Owensboro Community & Technical College, conducts telephone and computer forensic investigations for the Sheriff’s Office. Purdy said Monday that the phone and computer searches could not be carried out without accurate searches describing exactly what investigators are looking for. Warrants are reviewed and approved by a judge.
With the new software, Purdy can search for evidence contained in a smartphone’s cloud-based backup system. The software can look for evidence on a person’s iCloud, Google Drive, or on social media, Purdy said.
Information deleted from a phone might still be on a backup system like iCloud, Purdy said, and “the same goes for Google Drive for Android devices.
“Sometimes when you feel like you can’t see things on a phone, it’s possible they are in a backup file.”
Purdy, who did forensic work on a phone last year that resulted in a man pleading guilty in exchange for 30 years in federal prison on child pornography charges, said other software acquired under the grant added to it will help keep a more accurate record of a phone’s location when it was used to send text messages and make calls.
Cell phone locations are currently only roughly determined by the cellular power that “pinged” the call. In addition, new software acquired under the grant will allow detectives to display surveillance footage from camera systems that use proprietary technology on Windows-based computers.
The ability to capture video from proprietary systems means investigators can easily show these videos in court.
At the moment, “we cannot see them without taking the entire (proprietary) system to court,” said Purdy.