Richard Piatt ReportingA new, high-tech crime lab opens today. It's specifically designed to catch a new generation of high-tech criminals.
Traditional crime forensics are not glamorous, but the investigations are a key part of solving crime, as well as a key plot element on shows like Law and Order: SVU. But in an age of 'high-tech crime' --child pornography, Identity theft, fraud, even terrorism-- high tech tools are required. That's why the FBI's Regional Computer Forensics Lab in Salt Lake City is significant.
Paul Warner, United States Attorney: "This is a huge step forward as far as what we can do to process digital evidence."
In this lab evidence will be handled much like traditional evidence is, up to a point. But since cyber-evidence is locked deep in the innards of a computer, new tools duplicate and catalog computer contents in a temperature controlled room, leaving the original evidence in tact. In the past, such tools were missing, meaning a lot of cases are unsolved.
Mark Shurtleff, Utah Attorney General: "This is now the weapon of choice for probably the fastest growing group of criminals in the world today."
What looks like a regular workspace is actually the crime lab of the future. In this little space they can extract information off someone's hard drive, preserve the information with this device, and examine it right here.
The lab is administered by the FBI and staffed by local police departments. The cooperative spirit is building a network of similar labs across the nation.
Buzz Nielson, West Valley City Police Chief: "All crooks aren't necessarily stupid, there are some real smart people."
Even though it is high-tech crime fighting, it still involves a lot of work, a lot of training, and a hefty investment. The Regional Computer Forensic Lab will serve Utah, Montana and Idaho. It cost three-million dollars to set up out of the FBI budget, and will require another million per year to keep it going.