MAY 18, 2005

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OSU-Okmulgee teaches rural law enforcement officers and education professionals how to investigate cyber crime

Patricia Cokeley, division chair of business/information systems for Seminole State College; Jack Whisennand, management information systems director for Seminole State College; and Edgar Best, law enforcement officer with the Okmulgee Police Department, discuss the details of their mock "cyber crime" case.

OSU-Okmulgee recently hosted a workshop for rural Oklahoma law enforcement officers to teach techniques that are critical to collecting digital evidence while investigating computer and Internet-related unlawful acts -- often called cyber crimes. Seminar attendees included local and state law enforcement officials from rural areas and education professionals from colleges in several states.

Law enforcement officers Michael Wayne Wallace and Camie McNeil made the 100 mile drive from Mustang. Wallace said, "Cyber crimes are increasing in every community, including small towns such as Mustang. The better we prepare ourselves, the better we'll be able to solve those crimes."

The Division Chair of OSU-Okmulgee's Information Technologies Division, Scott Newman, explains that educating rural police officers in cyber crime investigation is an important goal of the National Science Foundation Cyber Security grant, which is helping fund these activities. "Often, rural police officers don't have the specialized training needed to effectively gather and analyze electronic evidence," says Newman. "Yet, the Internet reaches practically everywhere and cyber crimes can originate in any setting and migrate from urban to rural areas -- and vice versa -- in an instant."

OSU-Okmulgee faculty and other members of the Oklahoma Center for Information Assurance and Forensics Education Consortium taught participants through hands-on experiences, including gathering evidence from email accounts and chat rooms; and completing search warrants, consent forms and subpoenas to obtain access to information stored on computers and networks. They also taught participants how to retrieve evidence from other electronic devices such as global positioning systems, Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) and cell phones. Participants also learned the basics of documenting evidence obtained in a cyber crime investigation.

According to Newman, Oklahoma cyber crime units have seen an enormous increase in digital evidence processing in the last four years. "This significant growth marks an increase in crimes with cyber components, and underlines the importance that law enforcement agencies possess fundamental competence in digital evidence procedures."

Muskogee investigator Kris Ledford says the workshop will help him with his job. "These skills are crucial for the majority of crimes I investigate. We have a lot of identity theft, money counterfeiting, and check fraud."

Several staff and faculty members from Seminole State College attended the seminar to learn skills to help prepare students to transfer to OSU-Okmulgee and earn a Bachelor of Technology in Information Assurance and Forensics degree. The Division Chair of Business/Information Systems for Seminole State College, Patricia Cokeley is working with OSU-Okmulgee on an articulation agreement, so information technology students can transfer all their credits. "I thought it would be useful for me to learn some of the techniques being taught in the Information Assurance and Forensics classes."

Several agencies sponsored the seminar with OSU-Okmulgee, including the Oklahoma State Department of Career and Technology Education, the University of Tulsa, the Oklahoma Center for Information Assurance and Forensics Education, and the Oklahoma High Technology Crime Investigation Association.

Contact: Rex Daugherty, Institutional Advancement and Marketing, 918-293-4966