But the NWRCFL is having trouble keeping up with the demand for its services, and cases get backlogged. In 2001, a computer forensics examiner position was created at WCSO. Through that role, the sheriff’s office began training its own investigators to use tools available on the market to lessen the burden on the workers at NWRCFL. “Our office has several members of our child-abuse investigation team trained to recover evidence from their suspects’ computers. Several investigators were also identified to become trained in recovering data specifically from cell phones and tablet computers,” he says.
Other agencies are doing likewise, says Anderson. Everyone sees that “every case has some kind of digital evidence connection,” he notes.
Overall, Anderson says WCSO has greatly benefited from the resources it’s invested in mobile forensics. “This training and supporting equipment has greatly increased the number of cases investigators can pursue in a timelier manner. It seems that we are getting more plea agreements with this kind of evidence on our side,” Anderson says. “That saves court time, money, and spares the victims from additional trauma.”