The Computer Forensics Unit (CFU) is hosted by AZDPS and is comprised of multiple agencies that provide full-time computer forensic examiners. In today’s world, nearly every crime involves the use of electronic evidence such as computers, smart phones and GPS systems.
CFU’s purpose is to provide a laboratory environment for the examination of that evidence. CFU has state-of-the-art computer equipment, forensic software, training and networks available for case examinations and has the capability to enhance audio and video evidence to further investigations and prosecution. The CFU is located at the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center (ACTIC). In FY2016, the CFU was comprised of investigators from AZDPS and nine other agencies. The CFU was also comprised of a state task force.
AZDPS investigators assigned to the CFU processed 181 cases in FY2016. All of the agencies assigned to the CFU, including AZDPS, combined to process a total of 702 cases in FY2016.
One particular case that took place in FY2016 serves as a prime example of how the CFU is able to provide invaluable assistance to detectives in need of digital evidence to further their investigations. The case involved a seven-year-old child who was sexually assaulted by a known adult family associate. Following the assault, the suspect’s cellular phone device was submitted to the CFU for examination. Retrieving evidence from the device proved di cult for examiners due to the type of device, the phone carrier and password protection. However, CFU examiners were able to employ a new investigative technique and specialized equipment to successfully access and retrieve the needed evidence on the phone. The evidence is believed to have been captured at the time of the alleged assault, and it was ultimately used to support the allegations of sexual assault of the minor by the suspect.