Tippecanoe County High Tech Crime Unit
CONTACT : HTCU@Tippecanoe.IN.gov
- Purdue University Cyber Forensics Department
- Purdue University International Center for Biometric Research
- Tippecanoe County Prosecutors Office
- Lafayette Police Department
- West Lafayette Police Department
- Purdue University Police Department
- Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Department
- Tippecanoe County Community Corrections
- Tippecanoe County Probation Department
The Tippecanoe County High Tech Crime Unit (HTCU) is a collaboration of local law enforcement agencies and Purdue University to provide investigative resources when examining with various forms of digital evidence. Purdue's partnership provides students great opportunities for real world experience, research topics, software development, and digital forensics training.
Over the last decade, law enforcement agencies recognized the value of digital evidence due to the increased use of electronic devices and social media. The data obtained from digital sources provides valuable unbiased information to an investigation. In 2009, The Tippecanoe County Prosecutors Office became an affiliate member of the Indiana ICAC (Internet Crimes Against Children) Task Force run by the Indiana State Police Cyber Crime Unit. ICAC is nationwide collaboration of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to investigate child pornography, molestation, and human trafficking cases. The Indiana State Police assigns all NCMEC (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children) CyberTips determined to possibly in the Tippecanoe County Area to the Prosecutors Office to be investigated. The Prosecutors Office investigates the case and determines the local jurisdiction agency to finish the case. Cases are reviewed by the Prosecutors Office for state charges or forwarded to the US Attorneys Office for federal prosecution.
In 2011, the Prosecutors office presented a MOU to local agencies to officially create the High Tech Crime Unit and combine resources to investigate cases with digital evidence. This was done due to the high cost of equipment,software, and specialized training neededfor the examiners. All the locally agencies also joined the Indiana ICAC Task Force. The HTCU has added three members since the original MOU. The HTCU is utilized to process digital evidence from almost any type of investigation such as child pornography and molestation, child neglect, vehicle crashes, domestic violence, drug investigations, murder, robbery, theft, fraud, and many more. In 2016, Purdue University provided a secure location in Discovery Park to centralize all the resources for the HTCU. The HTCU has discovered valuable evidence for prosecution to obtain convictions at trial and increase plea agreements thus reducing the trial congestion. This saves the county money.
The relationship with Purdue's Cyber Forensics Program is extremely valuable to the HTCU, the professors, and students. The HTCU provides real world experience for the Cyber Forensics Students, helps with research topics, and helps test tools developed by Purdue University.
The HTCU is administered by Prosecutor Pat Harrington. The HTCU has received over $400,000 in grants over that past 10 years from ICAC and grants awarded to the HTCU. The Prosecutors Office also provides funding for training and equipment not covered by grants.
The digital forensic examiners of the HTCU receive training / certifications from various programs and vendors such as IACIS (International Association of Computer Investigative Specialists), Purdue University's Cyber Forensics Masters Program, the NW3C (National White Collar Crime Center), SANS, National Computer Forensics Institute, CelleBrite, AccessData, Encase, BlackBag Technologies, Magnet Forensics, and many others. Examiners receive constant training updates to address emerging technology and software issues.