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Forensic Work Paying Off

Posted by Paulo Salazar | July 26, 2012 / 03:57pm | Local News

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) - Information security requirements evolve almost daily. Criminals are changing with the times, but so are the people who catch them. Local forensic labs are vital in the fight against crime.

Computer crime, that began back in the '80's, led law enforcement agencies to establish specialized groups. They started at the national level. Then the states got on board. Now local communities are pitching in . Forensic labs, like the one in Columbus, are more important than ever.

Director of Forensics Detective Austin Shepherd says, "Digital forensics does encompass video analysis, photograph enhancement and analysis, computer forensics, cell phone forensics and GPS forensics."

Cell phones are a treasure trove of digital evidence. Police can see what calls were made and what text messages were sent and received. Twitter and facebook accounts can also play roles in an investigation. At the very least, these technologies can establish a time frame for a particular crime.

Digital Forensics Analyst Norris Thomas says, "We service obviously the Columbus Police Department, Lowndes County Sheriff Department. We also service Oktibbeha County, Choctaw County, Monroe County and Lamar County over in Alabama."

Crossing county and agency lines is paying off. With a severe backlog on the state level, the Columbus Forensics Lab can quickly expedite evidence.

With a growing number of crimes law enforcement agencies are forced to adapt and stay one step ahead of the criminals. The forensics lab in Columbus is on the forefront when it comes to video analysis in the state.

According to Shepherd, "Almost every single crime that you run up against there is going to be some kind of digital evidence involved in it. Whether it's video surveillance from security cameras or cell phone or maybe just GPS attached to someones vehicle."

The goal is to provide an efficient cost effective way to solve cases and bring criminals to justice.

Most of the equipment was made available by the MSU Forensics Department and a federal program used to get grants.

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