“Computers are the crime scene of the new millennium,” Philadelphia U.S. Attorney Patrick Meehan says, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Yesterday, a Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory–a high-tech partnership between the FBI and state and local law-enforcement agencies–was opened in Radnor, Pa., It is the nation’s 11th such facility.
These days, it’s not unusual for police to execute search warrants for Blackberries, zip drives, wireless remote drives and the like. Training is planned for police officers who might not yet know a thumb drive from a hard drive or an Xbox from an iPod. One machine specializes in rejuvenation of disks damaged by criminals in the hope of destroying evidence. Another extends a robot-like arm, grabbing a single disk from a stack and inserting it into a copying mechanism, shortcutting a labor-intensive process. The FBI estimates that it invests $26,000 in a single work station and updates the equipment every two years. The SAN room – short for Storage Area Network – boasts $750,000 worth of equipment in a chilly space. Free services will be available to all area law enforcement. The federal government is footing the bill. The price for a stake in the operation and priority on routine cases? A full-time employee.