Training on digital crime-fighting tools begins at FHSU for area, regional law enforcement
10/22/2012

Fifty law enforcement investigators and employees from 40 different agencies will be at Fort Hays State University for portions of four days beginning Tuesday, Oct. 23, for three training sessions on white-collar crime.

Fort Hays State University's Police Department and the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center are hosts for the training, which is provided free by the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C). The sending agencies are responsible only for getting their officers to Hays.

"The purpose is to provide quality in-service training for local and regional law enforcement agencies," said Ed Howell, director of University Police.

Cynthia Gonnella, NW3C instructor, begins with a day of training on the Internet Complaint Search and Investigation System, called ICSIS (pronounced EYE-sis), a federal database of more than 2.5 million consumer complaints of internet-facilitated crime. Crimes involved are fraud, identity theft and child exploitation, among others, said Gonnella.

"ICSIS is a joint project between the NWC3 and the FBI," she said. "In this class, the officers will learn how to make inquiries to the ICSIS database to further their investigations."

Basic Cell Phone Investigations, a two-day course, begins Wednesday. "What the officers will take away from this class is the ability to analyze cell-phone call detail records -- billing records -- and plot originating and terminating cell towers that were used during a particular communication," she said.

The last of the sessions is on GPS investigations. "In this class," said Gonnella, "they will learn to plot out and track logs and examine other artifacts of usage available from GPS devices." Through these artifacts, investigators can gain information such as whether the device has been connected to a computer, and when; the time the device was last used; trip dates and times; destinations; address books or contact lists; and text messaging information.

"The classes are free and the NW3C-provided software is free," she said. Support is also provided at no cost for software tools provided. One piece of software that will be provided this week is PerpHoundTM, an application that helps analyze and plot originating and cell-phone tower records.

A wide variety of law enforcement will be represented this week, said Howell. The classes have personnel from the Kansas attorney general's office; the Kansas fire marshal's office; the Wichita district attorney's office; the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks; the Kansas Gaming Commission; and various county and city officers from Kansas and Colorado. The people who have traveled farthest for this week are officers from Fort Collins, Colo., said Howell.

Howell said that this week's training is part of a broader effort by the University Police and Fort Hays State University to cooperate in quality training with its partners in local, regional, state and federal law enforcement. The example here is the technical details and techniques of investigations through digital technology of cell phones, GPS equipment and computer-assisted crime. In Kansas, the prime investigator in the past has been the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, but budgetary cutbacks at the state level mean that the KBI has responded to fewer and fewer requests for assistance.

The High-Tech Crime Unit formed by FHSU, Hays police and Ellis County law enforcement has been able to help other law enforcement agencies on a case-by-case basis, he said.

"This and other training we provide each year can help reduce the workload on us and on the KBI by enabling local law enforcement to advance their investigations much further before they have to turn to an outside agency for help," said Howell.

Gonnella, also, would like to make FHSU a regional hub for training in the high-tech tools often used in white-collar crime. She and NW3C are planning a two-week Basic Fast Track Training program in March. That process is a week of training, then a five-week break with homework, then another week. It is, she said, 100- and 200-level training in "how to be cyber cops."

The fast-track program will also be free for the training, tools and support. Sending agencies will be responsible only for the travel, meals and housing of the personnel they send.

To sign up, law enforcement personnel must send an email request to her at cgonnella@nw3c.org. Classes must be at least half-filled a month beforehand, she said, and will be cancelled if that quota is not met.

For more information on the National White Collar Crime Center, go to the website at nw3c.org.

For more information on this week's training, call Howell at 785-628-5304.


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Kent Steward, Director   |  ksteward@fhsu.edu  |  Kurt Beyers, Assistant Director   |  kbeyers@fhsu.edu