To keep up with technology, law enforcement agencies in Madison County have acquired a new tool to assist in obtaining evidence from electronic devices, according to Madison County State's Attorney Tom Gibbons.
Using funds from the State's Attorney's Office federal drug asset forfeiture program, Gibbons approved the purchase of Cellebrite equipment, software and associated computer equipment that will assist law enforcement in processing and analyzing digital media that is appearing more and more frequently in criminal cases.
Gibbons said he is hopeful that this equipment will assist police departments in Madison County stay up-to-date with ever-changing technological advances.
"Digital media has become such a crucial element in investigating and prosecuting crimes. It's vital that our police officers have the resources available to them so they can be as thorough as possible in their investigations," Gibbons said in a news release. "With equipment placed strategically at police departments around the county and available for use 24 hours a day by every department, we are creating a cooperative network of evidence collection that gives our law enforcement officers the tools they need at a moment's notice."
Gibbons said he believes the Cellebrite equipment and software will be help as it allows police officers to retrieve specific evidence from cell phones such as text messaging communications between parties, incoming and outgoing call traffic, contacts and associates, and, in some cases even precise location information through GPS.
Both the Madison County Sheriff's Department and the Alton Police Department have received the equipment. Additional police departments in line for the equipment include Collinsville, Edwardsville, Granite City, Highland, Wood River and Bethalto.
Those departments not included will be able to request assistance on an investigation from the departments who received the equipment. Once the network is fully operational, additional departments may be added to the network to increase availability, according to Gibbons.
In addition to the hardware and software purchases, Gibbons is also sponsoring a five-day training in December for the officers designated to use the equipment.
Madison County Sheriff Bob Hertz said it is essential for police officers to not only possess the equipment but also be highly-trained on it.
"This will assist my officers in their investigation of numerous types of crimes such as murders, sex offenses, drug cases, computer crimes and even burglary investigations," Hertz said in a news release.