BENTON -- The Scott County Sheriff's Department now has enhanced capabilities of investigators dealing with computer-related crimes, thanks to grant money.
According to a news release issued by Sheriff Rick Walter, the 2008 Internet Cyber Crime Grant Program, administered through the Missouri Department of Public Safety and the Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement Grant Program, will allow the agency to conduct forensic computer investigations, as well as internet investigations.
The initial phase of the grant provided $13,881, used to send Lt. Jerry Bledsoe to computer forensic training, as well as his related travel and housing expenses. He completed three weeks of computer forensic training in the spring in Los Angeles. The training facility was Guidance Software, the vendor of EnCase Forensic Software. Later in the spring, Bledsoe completed a two-week computer forensic course in Orland. The training facility for this training was the International Association of Computer Investigative Specialists.
Covered in both training sessions were basic forensic techniques, intermediate forensic techniques, advanced e-mail and Internet techniques.
As part of the agreement, the county paid $1,542 in matching funds. Hardware and software needed for the investigations was purchase with funds from the Sheriff's Special Fund account.
Walter said both of the training sessions were extensive courses attended by municipal, county, state, and federal officers from all over the world. Having this capability would prevent his agency from having to transport or ship computers to other agencies out of the area and wait for the results of the forensic exams, he added.
The second phase of the grant will provide $20,947, plus matching funds from the Law Enforcement Restitution Fund in the amount of $2,418, Walter said. This money will be used to purchase computer equipment, a secure internet connection and supplement salary and benefits for officers to conduct online investigations related primarily to child predators.
Walter said the Cyber Grant Program would provide his office with the needed tools and skills to deal with modern day computer related crimes.
"We have to be proactive with child predators on the internet," Walter said. "We can't just sit back and wait on these people to victimize our children."