Montrose Police officers received a huge boost to their digital investigation capabilities Tuesday after members of the Montrose Elks Lodge stopped by to generously donate $3,500 to the department.
The donation will fund equipment and training for Montrose Police detectives to perform “chip-level forensics” or “chip-off forensics” to unlock encrypted chips used in smart phones or mobile devices that could have been used in a crime.
The donation is part of a broader Montrose Police Department program, which has received funds from both the Colorado Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce and the Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force.
If someone is suspected of using their phone or mobile device in a crime, the police will have the ability to remove the flash memory chip from the subject device and acquire the raw data using specialized chip readers. And, with the use of special software, will then be able to read the chip and reveal any crime-related data that investigators may be able to use.
The process works the same with devices that have suffered catastrophic damage. The intent is to read how the device was being used in relation to the suspect’s activities.
With the $3,500 donation from the Elks, the department purchased a milling machine used to microscopically prepare the chips before use in the card readers.
With smart phones and mobile devices becoming more prevalent in society, chip-level forensics has been a rapidly expanding frontier as law enforcement agencies seek to use smart phone data in criminal investigations.
“It’s going to help us with virtually any crime,” said Montrose Police Detective Phil Rosty. “We’ve seen a lot of success with this stuff with crimes against children, domestic violence and sex assaults.”
Investigators around the world have used chip-off forensics in distracted driving cases, sexual exploitation and suspicious death investigations and domestic violence cases.
The technology and training at the Montrose Police Department is also designed to help other area agencies with digital investigations.
The Montrose Elks Lodge has been helping with Montrose area causes through donations for the past 112 years. Elks member Roger Conant said the organization typically donates money to area school children. Conant said members of the Elks met with Montrose Police Chief Tom Chinn and Montrose Police Commander Gene Lillard and identified the department’s digital investigation capabilities as an area that needed upgrades.
In addition to the training and equipment, Rosty said the department will use the money for software upgrades as they become available.
To see a video of Tuesday’s donation click here.
For more City of Montrose News visit: CityofMontrose.org.