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Community submission: Cyber Crime Investigations: Is law enforcement objective in their analysis?

BIRMINGHAM, AL, Nov. 20, 2013 For over 17 years, Carl Carpenter was a decorated law enforcement officer who specialized in cyber crime. He was one of the good guys appointed by the people to serve the public trust, protect the innocent and uphold the law. Unfortunately, Carpenter found the truth depended on politics and he began to realize that only a certain amount of computer forensic information was making its way into the courtroom. In reality, many of the prosecutors simply lacked the training and experience needed to handle the more technical aspects of electronic data.

All too frequently, law enforcement follows the shortest path towards solving a case only to find out later they ve reached a dead end because of poorly connected chain-of-evidence, says Carpenter, now the Director of Forensics for Cell Phone Computer Data Recovery in Birmingham, Alabama. Another bad technique still employed by many police departments is an antiquated, dragnet approach to crime fighting. Quite often, good, honest, hardworking people are mistakenly arrested and wrongly prosecuted together with the criminals. This malicious targeting of innocent victims leads many to plead guilty in the hopes of avoiding harsher penalties.

Bill Birdyshaw, co-owner of Cell Phone Computer Data Recovery, elaborated further on Carpenter s point. We had one case in particular where our skills saved a defendant from an unwarranted conviction." The proprietor of a roofing business owned several cell phones which he used in his day to day business operations. An employee used one of the phones to communicate harassing text messages to a female victim. The police discovered the phone number was registered to the business owner and the DA falsely charged the employer with harassment and stalking without ever conducting a thorough investigation. "After our firm completed a computer forensics examination, we located the discrepancy and the District Attorney agreed to drop all charges. If this missing piece of critical information had not been discovered by our forensics team, the outcome may have been far worse for the defendant," stated Birdyshaw.

The accuracy of digital forensics is especially important when a person s life, career or reputation is at stake. Just because a police agency suspects someone of wrongdoing doesn t mean the individual in question is guilty of the offense. Background information and ulterior motives are just as relevant to a criminal investigation as witness statements or physical evidence.

Cell phone and computer forensics is a new tool that is vital in assisting those involved in divorce, civil and criminal proceedings and can make all the difference between winning and losing a case. As digital information retrieval becomes increasingly sophisticated, a desperate need has emerged for competent, hardworking experts in the field of cyber technology to step up and question the investigative work conducted by law enforcement.

One more wrongful conviction is just one too many.

Contact: Bill Birdyshaw
(205) 447-7454

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