FBI to open five computer crime labs

The FBI plans to open five new Regional Computer Forensics Laboratories by the end of 2004. The labs in Buffalo, N.Y.; Houston; Newark, N.J.; Portland, Ore.; and Salt Lake City will be added to four existing computer crime labs around the country.

The FBI cooperates with local law enforcement agencies to create and operate the labs. Local agencies provide computer specialists to serve as examiners, while the bureau provides training, advisory and advanced forensic services, the FBI said in an announcement yesterday.

According to a statement by FBI director Robert S. Mueller III, the labs have helped secure convictions of child pornographers, petty thieves, stalkers, murderers and white-collar criminals. The first regional lab opened in San Diego in 1999, and was followed by additional facilities in Dallas; Kansas City, Mo.; and Chicago.

Computer crime lab workers collect digital evidence at crime scenes, examine it and testify in trials as needed. According to the Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory Web site, www.nationalrcfl.org, a typical computer crime lab consists of 12 examiners and three support workers.

FBI personnel were not available to discuss the systems used at a computer crime lab.

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