INDIANAPOLIS – Legislation voted on last year is paying off. Prosecutors and local law enforcement are now working with college students across the state to solve cases.
They’re called the High Tech Crime Units.
There are 10 regional hubs located around the state to cover all of the counties. There’s a partnership with Delaware County and Ball State, Monroe County and Indiana University, to Vigo County and Indiana State University. Anderson, Indiana Tech, Vincennes, and Purdue are also on the list.
This means criminology students are not only getting real-world experience working on cases, but they’re also partnering up with local law enforcement to help analyze and process digital evidence. It’s already helping put criminals behind bars and solve cold cases.
William Mackey, an instructor for Cybercriminology and Security Studies at Indiana State University in Terre Haute believes this is a game changer in the field of cybercrime in our state.
“It gives all law enforcement in the state the opportunity to get ahead to be on the cutting edge and to really be able to give victims a good sense of justice,” said Mackey.
Students work in secured labs on their campus and are sworn in by local law enforcement.
“Essentially, every single case that we see nowadays, almost regardless of what it is, is going to have some form of technology associated with it, whether it be video, audio, cell phones, recording,” Mackey explained. “A computer or laptop, a tablet, all of those things are now important in being able to solve crimes and in being able to prevent crimes.”
Students like Courtney Hughes, a graduating senior at Indiana State, focus on helping law enforcement with digital forensics which helps law enforcement eliminate backlog and turnaround cases in a shorter period of time.
Mackey says the program has seen a steady flow of cases since January when this began for Indiana State.
“I never would have thought coming in my freshman year that I would end up in the position that I am, but it’s grown so much and being able to work on these cases is really giving the real-world experience that we wouldn’t be getting anywhere [else],” said Hughes.
Mackey added, “You have to do and see a lot of things that normal people don’t have to do and see, and that can make an impact, but it’s really rewarding when you know that you’ve been able to play a small part, at least in helping to bring justice for a family.”
They say this partnership between prosecutors, law enforcement and students is so important because it’s hard for police departments to invest money and train people to do this work.
Mackey believes what Indiana is doing will be a model moving forward for other states.
With this being a partnership with the community, Mackey said this program wouldn’t be possible without help from Capt. Gary Shook with the Terre Haute Police Department, Lt. John Moats with the Vigo County Sherriff’s Office, and Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Rob Roberts.
Click here to learn more about the program.