Police, students combat cybercrime

Tulsa police Cyber Crimes Unit

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In an unusual arrangement, Tulsa, Okla., police are teaming up with students

at the University of Tulsa to help investigate and stop cybercrime.

Within the next few weeks, the Tulsa police Cyber Crimes Unit is moving

to a new office on the university campus, said Maj. Lynn Jones, who was

involved in setting up the arrangement before she retired from the Tulsa

Police Department. "We're looking for some great things to come out of it,"

she said at the 2002 Cyber Corps Symposium this week in Tulsa.

Under the agreement, computer science students will work with the Tulsa

police to help them investigate child pornography, fraud and forgery, identity

theft and other crimes committed via computers, said Detective Scott Wanzer

of the Cyber Crimes Unit.

The office will be located in a refurbished building on the university

campus and will be staffed by five officers and as many as six students

at a time depending on the project, Wanzer said. On a daily basis, the ratio

likely will be one officer to one student, he said.

The arrangement makes sense, Wanzer said. The student interns gain real-world

experience by learning what a forensic investigator does, and the officers

gain expertise in new software tools, research and techniques.

But there are limitations. Because the students are regular citizens,

"We don't want to draw them into legal matters," which could involve testifying

in court, Wanzer said. "But if they're working side by side with us, they

can be assisting us in a critical way."

Already, student Tony Meehan, who participates in the Defense Department's

version of the Federal Cyber Service program, has developed software to

help monitor chat rooms. The tool is in beta version, and Tulsa detectives

are starting to test it, Wanzer said.

President Bush wants people to help protect the nation against cyberattacks,

but there is not enough money or people to go around, said Sujeet Shenoi,

computer science professor at the University of Tulsa. "Why not encourage

students to work with state and local agencies?" he asked.

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