Grant will fund fight against cybercrime

Sunday, December 31, 2006

BENTON -- The Scott County Sheriff's Department will train two officers in 2007 for a very special beat: cyberspace.

The sheriff recently received notification from the Missouri Department of Public Safety that the county will receive Internet Cyber Crime Grant funding.

The grant will fund 90 percent of the program's total cost of $30,537.50. The remaining local match of $3,053.75 will be requested from the Scott County Law Enforcement Restitution Fund which, as established by state statute, is for providing matching funds for state and federal grants among other things.

Over the past few years, the Sheriff's Department has received complaints of computer-related crimes at an exponentially increasing rate, according to County Developer Joel Evans who prepared the grant application.

"Shawn Wood, officer manager for the Sheriff's Department, found some information about that grant and asked me to research it," Evans said.

"I think it will definitely be useful," Sheriff Rick Walter said of the grant. He said cyber crime has become a growing problem in the county.

Complaints related to the Internet have included fraud, harassment, creation and distribution of malicious computer code, distribution of pornography, stalking and reports of child predators, according to Evans.

"We do receive several of these cases each month," Walter said. "This grant will definitely be an asset for our department."

In addition to crimes committed by those within the county, the Sheriff's Department is also finding county residents are preyed upon by offenders from outside the state, region, and even nation, Evans said.

To deal with the ever-growing influx of computer forensic investigation demands, the Sheriff's Department had already committed to purchasing computer hardware and software from its operating budget for 2007.

The program will provide recommended training for two officers in dealing with crimes where computer data is involved and prepare them to use this hardware and software to effectively investigate crimes in which evidence might be obtained from computer data.

The complexity and variety of computer platforms, operating systems, and applications software can make the recovery of data a difficult task. Combined with efforts to hide, erase, or destroy data, this makes evidence recovery nearly impossible with existing resources.

Evans said the cybercrime training will augment the Department's ability to collect evidence in an efficient and timely manner and should lead to improved arrest and conviction rates and a decrease in the time necessary to investigate crimes involving computer data.

Walter said some departments have specialists who work only on Internet crime.

"If I'm able to send a couple people for training without costing the taxpayers money, we're better for it," he said.

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