Recovery Act Funds Dedicated to Assemble Jonesboro Police Forensic Computer Lab

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September 18, 2009
(LITTLE ROCK) - The Jonesboro Police Department has been selected as a sub-grant recipient by the Arkansas State Police to receive $113,114.00 to fund the assembly of a forensic computer laboratory. The grant was made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The forensic lab will be used by trained law enforcement officers to examine computers seized during the course of criminal investigations involving online child predator cases. Presently 63 percent of the cases awaiting analysis by the Arkansas State Police Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Forensic Lab originated from northeast Arkansas area law enforcement agencies.

In announcing the sub-grant award, Colonel Winford E. Phillips, Director of the State Police said, "The Recovery Act funds create an opportunity for Jonesboro law enforcement officers to fortify the investigative resources dedicated to the growing number of online sex predators who target Arkansas children."

It's estimated that between 1996 and 2002 there was a 2000 percent increase across the country in the number of child pornography and online exploitation cases.
The State Police Forensic Computer Lab and State Crime Laboratory are currently handling the bulk of the investigative analysis from Arkansas computers used in online sexual predator cases. Several municipal and county departments located in northwest Arkansas have built their own labs.

"This investment of federal dollars into Arkansas law enforcement will pay off for many years to come," according to Major Cleve Barfield, Commander of the State Police Criminal Investigation Division. "Two local officers already employed by the Jonesboro Police Department will be trained with a portion of the sub-grant money while the remainder of the funds will be used to purchase investigative tools and software that is projected to have a useful technology life-span of five to eight years," Major Barfield continued.
It's anticipated that as many as 160 computers can be analyzed each year at the Jonesboro lab once it is fully functional later next year. The lab will eventually be one of several law enforcement facilities interconnected around the state to share in the analysis of data left behind on computers that were used during the course of felony crimes.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children report that two of every five children ages 15 -17 who are abducted were targeted as a direct result of Internet activity.

"By increasing the capacity of Arkansas law enforcement agencies to properly examine suspect computers, we believe that local police stand a better chance at possibly catching a predator before the individual may raise the stakes by planning and carrying out a child abduction," Colonel Phillips stated.