Are Local Police Departments Equipped to Deal With Cybercrime?


If a purse with $900 is stolen, the victim probably would call the police. If a computer hacker steals $900 from a bank account, could the police help? Local police don’t have widespread know-how to investigate cybercrimes, reports the Associated Press. They rely heavily on the expertise of the federal government, which focuses on large, often international cases. What’s missing is the first response role, typically the preserve of local police. Obama administration officials have said that cyberterrorism is the leading worldwide threat to national security. When one person hacks into someone else’s computer to access a bank account, credit cards or email, the crime fighting path is uncertain.

“I am not sure who owns cybercrime at the local level. And that is a problem,” said Chuck Wexler of the Police Executive Research Forum. Local police departments are looking to boost their expertise so they can respond to cybercrimes and cyberthreats that are expected to only get worse. Police departments work within jurisdictions, but cybercrime knows no boundaries. “The victim may live in one place, their bank is in another jurisdiction and the person that committed the theft could be anywhere in the world,” said Darrel Stephens of the Major Cities Chiefs Association.

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