The National Institute of Justice established the Electronic Crime Technology Center of Excellence (ECTCoE) to assist in building the electronic crime prevention and investigation and digital evidence collection and examination capacity of state and local law enforcement. The ECTCoE staff works with the NIJ Office of Science & Technology Electronic Crime Portfolio and colleagues in law enforcement, academia and the private sector to provide state and local law enforcement with the electronic crime and digital evidence tools, technology and training they will need to serve the public with the highest degree of expertise, increase the number of successful investigations involving electronic crime and digital evidence, and achieve the highest possible prosecution to conviction rate. The ECTCoE's goal is to leverage the tools, technology and training developed through NIJ grant-funded projects to add value to each project and to the overall Electronic Crime Portfolio mission.
To accomplish this goal the ECTCoE will:
The TWG is comprised of electronic crime, digital evidence and criminal justice subject-matter experts from the criminal justice community, academia and the private sector who understand the role of the NIJ Electronic Crime TWG and have experience performing the TWG functions, including:
These roles are accomplished through direct dialogue and interaction with state and local law enforcement practitioners assigned the responsibilities of investigating, preventing and assisting in the prosecution of electronic crime as well as those assigned the responsibilities of collecting and examining digital evidence. In addition to these practitioners, the ECTCoE also maintains direct dialogue with the law enforcement agency chiefs, administrators and prosecuting attorneys responsible for supervision of practitioners and the operation of the units in which they work.
ECTCoE staff and partners have experience in establishing, staffing and supervising electronic crime investigation units and task forces, and digital evidence examination labs for state and local law enforcement. The team has training and experience in testing and evaluating tools, technologies and training courses, and supports the adoption of new and innovative digital evidence examination technologies within the criminal justice community. The ECTCOE will continue to support the NIJ electronic crime and digital evidence tool, technology and training research, development, testing and evaluation programs, and promote the adoption of the tools and technologies that are produced as a result of those programs.
The ever-increasing choices of electronic crime and digital evidence training courses available to state and local law enforcement can make the training course selection decision process more difficult and time consuming than necessary. The ECTCoE will help develop standards for evaluating electronic crime and digital evidence training programs, leveraging the partnerships established through the Electronic Crime Partnership Initiative. The ECTCoE will use a multi-faceted approach to develop comprehensive training evaluation standards.
The ECTCoE will establish and manage a program to evaluate the performance of digital evidence forensics units within state and local law enforcement agencies. Just as law enforcement agencies across the United States range widely in size, manpower and resources, the digital evidence forensic units within those agencies have the same variations. This digital forensics unit performance evaluation program for state and local law enforcement agencies will be scalable and add value to agencies across the United States regardless of size or resources. This project will enable agencies and digital forensic units to prioritize pending digital evidence examinations, determine the most efficient commitment of resources on a case-by-case basis and provide the capacity to reduce pending examination backlogs that result from the ever-increasing digital crime rate and the increase in personnel training in digital evidence collection at electronic crime scenes. To accomplish this task, the ECTCoE will rely on the expertise of the Electronic Crime Partnership Initiative members and partner organizations, particularly those with experience in establishing, expanding and supervising these units.
In order to develop and publish comprehensive NIJ-published guides for the criminal justice community that will provide direction for selecting and implementing electronic crime and digital evidence technology solutions based on the application of the technology in practice, the ECTCoE will again rely on the expertise of the ECTCOE staff, the Electronic Crime TWG and partner organizations. Collectively, this group wrote the NIJ publication Electronic Crime Scene Investigation: A Guide for First Responders, Second Edition. This has been one of the most highly requested NIJ publications and has been very well received by the criminal justice community. In conjunction with that guide, a corresponding course of training for law enforcement personnel was developed. The guide and the Digital Evidence Collection Training (DECT) course have been, and will continue to be, successfully delivered to law enforcement personnel free of charge in various locations throughout the United States. Electronic Crime Scene Investigation serves as the DECT course book and a field reference guide for digital evidence recognition, collection, documentation, transportation and storage. The success of this guide resulted in a reprint as a laminated flip guide. The training course includes a proficiency test and a certificate of completion. The DECT course was delivered as a workshop at the 2009 NIJ Conference in Arlington, Virginia and received excellent reviews. This course has been delivered to state and local law enforcement personnel in Iowa, Nebraska, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan. Any agency interested in hosting this training or bringing it to a local area should contact the ECTCoE. As a result of the success of this project and the added value of a corresponding training course, NIJ has requested an update of the NIJ guide Forensic Examination of Digital Evidence: A Guide for Law Enforcement, which is currently underway. In the development of these comprehensive NIJ guides, the ECTCoE will continue to improve methods that have proven successful, including leveraging the experience and expertise of staff, TWG subject-matter experts and partners from the criminal justice community, academia and the private sector.
The ECTCoE will leverage the expertise and experience of the Electronic Crime TWG members and criminal justice, academic and private-sector partners to support NIJ's efforts to assess the compliance of digital evidence examination and electronic crime laboratories with quality assurance standards. The ECTCoE will draw on electronic crime prevention and investigation, digital evidence collection and examination and criminal justice subject-matter experts to provide the NIJ Electronic Crime Portfolio with the resources and expertise necessary to accomplish this goal. The team will help NIJ identify and develop both quality assurance standards for digital evidence examination and electronic crime laboratories and protocols to assess compliance of digital evidence and electronic crime laboratories with quality assurance standards to build their capacity, maximize their performance and improve their productivity.