Washington Police Dept. investigates with new computer crime lab

By Joe Bennett

March 17, 2013 Updated Mar 17, 2013 at 10:44 PM CDT

WASHINGTON, Ill -- Detective Commander Jeff Stevens is working with the Washington Police Department's newest resource, a 16-gigabyte computer called a Forensic Recovery of Evidence Device, or F.R.E.D.

According to Stevens, "It's big enough with a enough processing power that I can take a computer or two that belongs to somebody else, put all of that information on here and still work with that information without bogging this thing down."

Stevens recently returned from a five-week training session on cyber crimes investigation.

He was chosen for the course through the Central Illinois Cyber Crime Unit.

That unit is run with the local branch of the Secret Service.

Upon completion of the training, the Secret Service sent F.R.E.D. to the Washington Police.

Stevens says the technology is necessary in fighting contemporary crime.

"When they're not going to where the crime is and they're not seeking out evidence, then they're not going to be able to develop all of the information that they need on that case," Stevens explains.

What F.R.E.D. can do is store digital images of a computer's entire hard drive and pick apart each file, recovering web hits or images a suspect may have attempted to delete.

Stevens says the technology is already being used locally to investigate crimes against children.

"If you're not able to do some basic digital crime investigation, you are essentially telling the people you're trying to protect, 'We can't do the basic investigation," says Stevens.

Stevens calls it a resource as basic as a fingerprint kit at a burglary.

While specific cases cannot be discussed, Detective Commander Stevens is sure that F.R.E.D. will help lead to convictions against cyber criminals here in Central Illinois.