MIAMI COUNTY — Law enforcement in the northern Miami Valley has just been given huge advancements in the field of digital forensics.
Det. Todd Cooper of the Miami County Sheriff’s Office was recently chosen as a candidate for an elite mobile device examiner course, held at the National Computer Forensics Institute in Hoover, Alabama, located 12 miles south of Birmingham.
“It’s a selection process that you put in for, and I was selected finally,” Cooper said, who received confirmation of his selection in November 2017. “The Secret Service were really the ones that made this possible. We partnered with the Secret Service out of Dayton. They sponsored me and sent me, and that’s who paid for the training and equipment.”
Along with 24 others from across the country, Cooper attended a four-week course at the institute, which offered different levels of hands-on training with different categorizations week to week.
“We started out with a slate of computer forensics, and then we built up through cell phones, which is the main concentration,” Cooper said. “We started out using the CelleBrite system to download cell phones, where you can actually take them apart under the magnifier. In week two, we were trained with Axiom magnets.
“Week three and four was when we got into soldering. We studied what they call JTAG forensics, and ISP (in-system processing).”
The equipment provided to the Miami County Sheriff’s Office allows Cooper to connect with and extract data from the boards of cellular phones involved in cases.
“They taught us how to solder these small parts within devices,” Cooper explained. “That’s what the microscope in our equipment is for, because some of the parts are so tiny. Through this process, you can actually bypass items that are deleted or password-protected.
“There’s not one process that can do everything. It’s not uncommon to use more than one system to get stuff.”
Cooper insists that the digital forensics training, along with the equipment provided by the Secret Service, will be invaluable to combating crime in the northern Miami Valley.
“The benefits will be endless,” Cooper said. “Cell phones are now our laptops. Everybody does everything on them. This equipment could be used for anything from a fraud case to child pornography.
“We’re going to have the capability to get into phones ourselves instead of having to send them off. When you send things off, you’re waiting in line. We’re going to be able to do a lot of things in-house now, and turnaround will be quicker. I might be able to do something in hours that might take somebody else a couple of days. We’ve never had that capability before.”
Cooper also said that these resources allow extra connectivity with departments outside the county.
“We’ll be able to assist the Secret Service, if they called, just as we could assist any local agencies,” Cooper said. “The federal and the local have a great partnership, and I want to stress that this wouldn’t have been possible without the Secret Service. It didn’t cost us anything. We didn’t spend a dime.”
For more information, visit www.miamicountysheriff.org.