BEAVER — There’s a lot of information to be found on the tiny computers most people carry around these days. Phone calls, text messages, browser histories — all information that can help law enforcement officers figure out who committed crimes.
District Attorney David Lozier said county detectives have evaluated more than 700 cellphones, laptops and computer devices as part of criminal investigations the past two years. That’s led to numerous arrests of drug trafficking, child pornography and other crimes.
The process takes at least four hours of a detective’s time, because someone must be in the room with the device at all times. On Tuesday, Lozier asked the county salary board to consider converting a part-time anti-drug task force clerk position into a full-time analyst position.
The position would be half funded by drug forfeiture money that funds the anti-drug task force and half paid through the county’s general fund. Lozier said he would like the position to begin in January. The employee would be able to work on other projects while the analysis of a computer device processed.
“This person could help evaluate and track what happens with these devices,” Lozier said. “Someone has to be in the room while it’s processing, and it’s better to be (an analyst) than a detective.”
Lozier said his office is able to conduct an analysis of a cellphone or laptop the same day, while other agencies can take 3-to-4 months because of the number of devices that come through their offices.
Lozier said computer device analysis has helped his office convict, charge or investigate more than 20 cases of drug delivery resulting in death. In many cases, a victim’s cellphone contains information linking them to the individual they purchased drugs from before overdosing, he said.