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Students help crack crime cases in digital forensics internship

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana University Police Department teamed up with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department to launch an internship program last fall.

Students earn credit hours toward their capstone requirement.

IUPD Detective Sarah McKalips leads the program. “We’re working on a lot of homicides, batteries, aggravated assaults. We do have some child abuse cases. The students typically don’t work on those cases because of the sensitive nature.”

Students are taught how to properly handle a phone or computer once it is checked into evidence. A log is taken each time someone checks the evidence out.

Much like searching a home, investigators need a warrant to search someone’s phone.

“It depends on what’s laid out in the warrant, text messages, emails,” Simpson said.

McKalips testified in a homicide and robbery case on some key digital evidence that helped deliver a guilty verdict. “One of the suspects was convicted and got 50 years that he has to serve as a result of text messages and call logs between him and the victim.”

As more people rely on their phones for nearly everything, there is a growing need for detectives to help solve crimes committed on these devices.

“There’s so much data on these devices and there are so many people in the world utilizing these devices, so the more people we have working on digital forensics to help solve these crimes and reduce that backlog,” she said.

Students who take the internship can also apply the skills they learn to help solve cases of intellectual theft and insider trading.

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