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Educating and Training Law Officers in the Area of Cyber Crime

By Lawayne Childrey | Published 21 Feb 2011 12:51pm | comments
Lee County, cybercrimes officer Danny Giroux shows off the departments high tech equipment

From identity theft to child exploitation, cyber crimes affect thousands of Americans every day. As part of our engineering week coverage, MPB's Lawayne Childrey shows us how research in Mississippi is a model for law enforcement across the country.

In a small inconspicuous building filled with dozens of computers, monitors and other high tech devices, Lee County, cybercrimes officer Danny Giroux is perfecting the science of capturing A would be child molester on the Internet.

"While were chatting I will tell them immediately that I'm 14 years old. This man right here as you can see, I asked him how old are you and he tells me he's 38 years old. And he's already asking me questions like, so how do you feel like about extra innings, sex with an Italian? That right there is basically when he crossed the line."

Giroux says while he freely engages in Internet chat with hundreds of potential child molesters he is forbidden by law to initiate any meetings with the would be perpetrator. However, he says if the perpetrator does request to meet for sex there are certain things that law enforcement officers can request they bring with them.

"For an example we locked a guy up Sunday night and as you can tell right there in this bag he's got three boxes of condoms. When he brings protection that's part of his element of the crime. That way he can’t just say well I just happened to be in the neighborhood. The thing about it is if we arrest them doing this we can actually get a search warrant and go to their home and seize their computer to see if there is any f child pornography on his computer."

Over the past five years officers in the Tupelo area have arrested more than 20 would be child rapist based on the training they received here at the the National Forensics Training Center at Mississippi State University.

"We're training law enforcement how to deal with cyber crime."

The school receives a grant from the U.S. JUSTICE Department to provide free cybercrime education to law enforcement officers from MORE THAN 35 states. Cybercrime Research Director Dr. Dave Dampier says participants in the program are being taught how to examine a litany of digital evidence in a forensically sound manner that can be presented in court.

"Things like intrusions into businesses where they go in and destroy things or they go in and steal proprietary information or things like that. That's a legal issue, that's forensics. Other things would be embezzlement, fraud, identify theft, child pornography, child luring. Those types of crimes are what we teach the cops to deal with."

"It’s been very valuable because we didn't have anything in North Mississippi to investigate things like this."

Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson says while law enforcement is using the latest in technology to help stop computer criminals, each day brings new challenges.

"You see where individuals feel like they will never get caught because their identity a lot of time is behind a fake name, screen name and through this technology that we have we are able to pinpoint who it is that's behind this computer."

Even though the number of Internet stalking's, hackings and other cybercrimes continue to grow. At the states lead cybercrime unit in Jackson, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood says many of those would be criminals are being deterred. As an example the AG says the number of child pornography downloads in Mississippi has dropped from 350 a month last year to less than 60 a month this year.

"We're talking movies of molesting a child and making a video up. That's the kind of filth that we're talking about. And by deterring them from downloading and looking at child porn there's a high correlation that the next step for them would be to go molest a child. So we hope that we prevent a child from having to go and deal with that life changing event."

While the training is being conducted at Mississippi State the affects are being felt all over. Wesley McGraw is one of the schools graduate research students. He recounts how a former student used the knowledge he learned at MSU to foil a plot to shutdown a Dallas hospitals air conditioning system.

"But it was also in control of ventilation in operating rooms, chillers that maintain the temperature of medicines that could spoil, a lot of systems that really could have hurt patients."

As law enforcement gets more engaged in fighting cybercrimes, experts say there are many lesson to be learned. Again Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson.

"We really want to educate the parents that the Internet is not a babysitting tool. Because just as these individuals found out that this 14 year old girl was not really who she said she was, she ended up being law enforcement . The kids that are talking to other individuals may not be who they say they are And we encourage kids if they are approached for them to seek out a trusted adult and tell them."

Experts say as cybercrimes continue to grow, so does the need for new training and new tools to fight these crimes that are costing Americans millions of dollars and in many cases their lives. Lawayne Childrey MPB News.

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Lee County, cybercrimes officer Danny Giroux shows off the departments high tech equipment


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