Sartor speaks to Commissioner’s about the county’s digital forensics program
Criminal Investigator Cody Sartor spoke at Cass County Commissioner’s Court workshop about what the digital forensics capabilities has made possible for the county.
Sartor explained how the county got involved and the training that he has attended to learn the digital forensic techniques.
“We got hooked up with the Secret Service who has a program called the National Computer Forensics Institute (NCFI) that is located in Birmingham, Alabama, we were nominated by our local Secret Service agents that are out of Tyler to be able to attend training there,” said Sartor.
”I initially went through a one week training back in 2016 and it was just explaining what digital forensics can do, just so you know what to look for and send it to people who are smart enough to do it and that helped but it didn’t help us a whole lot because we were sending all of our digital items to Longview which the turnaround time was about a year and a half,” said Sartor.
Sartor spoke about the difficulties that come with waiting for another entity to process the digital evidence.
“We were gathering evidence but we weren’t getting it back in any timely manner, which stacked up our court system because now they are waiting on that digital evidence come back before they would go forward with a case, meaning even with confessions defense attorney’s weren’t willing to go forward without the evidence,” said Sartor.
Sartor spoke about the training and help that he received from the NCIF.
“I applied back the NCFI (National Computer Forensics Institute) and in January went through a five week course called BICEP there in Alabama and they provided us with a little over $100,000 in training and equipment,” said Sartor.
“I am now certified to do all computers and any type of removable media that attaches to that, they gave us a forensics workstation to use and all of the programs with three year licenses to be able to do this type of work,” said Sartor.
“That was amazing it was straight out of the box, we started to get hooked up with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force out of Dallas who also works in conjunction with the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children,” said Sartor.
“We started working several child pornography cases and other sexual assault related cases but what we saw our big problem was is that we still couldn’t do cell phones and that is what everybody did they went from their computers and laptops to their cell phones,” said Sartor.
“So we applied again to another school through the NCFI that was the MDE (Mobile Device Examiner) school, it was a four week school that I went through back in Sept.,” said Sartor.
He spoke about the amount of digital evidence that he has been able to recover just within the past few months.
“After I came back from the school and I started keeping up with the numbers from our digital forensics program and I can tell you today that we have, since Oct. 1 to Dec. 29, we have processed 43 cell phones that is about 480GB of data alone, 13 computers which was 3,198GB, 35 other devices which were 9,570GB for a total of about 13TB of data that we have processed in a quarter,” said Sartor.
“That is me alone doing that in between court and everything else, so right now for instance I have a computer that we seized yesterday with a search warrant connected with a sexual assault investigation, all I do is plug it up it is processing and ginning just doing its thing over there in the office and you don’t have to be there directly managing it, now once it is done I have to go through and bookmark, label and flag the evidence items which takes some amount of time but it is not all that labor intensive,” said Sartor.
“So I have a total of 148 hours that went towards working in the lab, its 91 devices in total that we have processed and out of that 91 there were 23 cases connected, there were only four cases that we worked that were not Cass County cases, we assisted Texarkana with a homicide, the FBI with a child pornography and sexual assault case and then two cases for DPS narcotics, eleven of the 23 were child exploitative in nature,” said Sartor.
“We have seized and recovered around 6,000 child pornography videos or images in the past quarter of the year, we are making some major differences in the way law enforcement is working here,” said Sartor.
Sartor explained how the digital evidence has been able to help in recent cases.
“Yesterday I went with the sheriff’s office because they are working a continuing sexual abuse of a child case, the young girl is nine years old and has been sexually assaulted by her father, after we got through with the interview she mentioned that she had a cell phone, we ran the search warrant and within ten minutes we had images and videos of him sexually molesting or assaulting his daughter, that is evidence you cannot get any other way, evidence is rare in those cases to begin with because it is usually a he said she said and fast evidence is even more rare, so that is something that we are going to directly take into the interview room in the next few days to try and get that confession,” said Sartor.
“We have successfully done this in other cases, we had another case of child pornography that we worked with Hughes Spring PD, we were able to get the videos off of his phone and he was actually recording another person and we had a live victim in the case, it’s not something that happened over the internet,” said Sartor.
“He said aww it was just an accident, all that he knew we recovered was two videos, when I examined and recovered all the deleted videos, I was able to tell him in the interview that it just didn’t happen two times, it happened 1,672 times because that is how many images you had took of her over a five or six day time span and you just picked the ones you wanted and deleted the rest, we got the confession,” said Sartor.
“We are doing good work and so far this has been totally free to us, they have provided us with all in all close to $200,000 worth of training and equipment,” said Sartor
After reviewing the fire department reports Judge Wilbanks wanted to recognize the fire departments that have reported to the court the last year and other who have not.
“The two fire departments that we have received no reports from fiscal year 2017 are Bloomburg and Marietta,” said Judge Wilbanks.
“I would like to recognize Atlanta, Linden, Naples and Red Hill, their report ratio is a hundred percent,” said Judge Wilbanks.