ANDERSON, Ind. — A new crime fighting unit that specifically works with technology is up and running in Madison County.
It is one of 10 high-tech crime units across Indiana that is helping investigators solve crimes. The goal of these new units is to help investigators look into anything technology-related. That could include cell phones, computers or surveillance video.
“It’s a whole new ballgame with technology“ said investigator Andy Byers.
When Byers started working with devices, they carried very little data. However, he says now people’s phones contain a treasure trove of information.
“It’s pretty limitless as far as what you can find out about somebody from their phone,” the unit’s director Ben Jaqua said.
The two-person unit takes devices involved in crimes and work to extract information from them to help police make their case.
“You can pretty much figure out where they were, what they were doing, what wi-fi router they were connected to, at what time, if they took photos or videos or audio recordings,” Jaqua said.
And it’s not just cell phones, the unit recently helped secure a conviction of Kyrell Cole who shot and killed another man in his home in October 2020. The unit was able to rebuild a hard drive and clean up a surveillance image to show the gun in the suspect’s hand.
“Once he was able to see the clear image of the handgun in the suspects hands it basically went from being a questionable case to a slam dunk,” Jaqua said.
Jaqua said they’ve also been able to clear the accused. Earlier this year, they were able to use their technology to establish an alibi for a man suspected in a burglary.
The unit was able to determine the man was at a home in Muncie when the burglary occurred in Anderson.
“Just as much as we’re finding the guilty person we are also using this information and technology to protect the innocent,” Byers said.
The unit was just started earlier this year thanks to money from the legislature.
They say it’ll especially help local departments, but it will continue to be an uphill battle because technology is always changing.
“It is a challenge trying to keep up, but we do the best that we can and just try to stay on top of it,” Jaqua said.
Currently, the unit is only handling Madison County cases. However, it will soon expand and take on other cases from other surrounding counties including Hamilton, Hancock, Shelby and Johnson.
The investigators hope to expand not only staff, but resources in the coming years.
All the high-tech units around the state will be partnered with universities to help out. The Madison County unit is paired with Anderson University. The units are run by prosecutors who applied to be a part of the program.
You can find more information on the unit here.