DHS launches national center for computer forensics training

A new national center for training state and local law enforcement officials, prosecutors and judges in the fine art of cybercrime investigation and analysis could start taking students before the end of this year.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced the formation of the National Computer Forensic Institute last week. It is officially scheduled to open in Hoover, Ala., in January 2008.

Chertoff said the institute will help law enforcement catch up with criminal groups, which have become sophisticated users of computer technology.

As a result, law enforcement “has been propelled into technologically nontraditional terrain requiring highly specialized skills and innovative application of traditional investigate strategies,” said Brian Nagel, deputy director of the U.S. Secret Service.

The curriculum at the new institute will be based on the one currently provided to federal law enforcement officials by the Secret Service, which is responsible for protecting the country’s financial infrastructure. The program will include basic electronic crimes investigation, network-intrusion investigation and computer forensics.

It will provide the first national accreditation for people who have to testify about cybercrime and computer forensics.

Alabama expects to pay about $3 million to build the classrooms and offices in the center, which will be housed in existing public-safety buildings in Hoover. The city will provide the space rent-free for at least the next six years.

DHS said it will pay up to $9 million a year to run the institute.

As many as 1,000 people a year are expected to train at the new center.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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