Metro East police using tool to find hidden information on cell phones

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by Maggie Crane / News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on November 1, 2012 at 9:22 PM

Updated Thursday, Nov 1 at 10:46 PM

(KMOV.com) -- Police in the Metro East unveil a new tool to see what may be hiding on your cell phone, but it raises the question, whose phones can be searched?

The Madison County State’s Attorney says the searches will be used in major crimes but that police can also search your phone if you’re arrested.

Cell phone texts and photos don’t die, they hide.  Even a factory reset doesn’t mean the data disappears forever.  But it has slowed down justice, until now.

“When you’re talking even a month delay, you can lose critical time in investigations,” Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons said.  “What this does is cuts that out.”

It’s called Cellebrite.  It’s a brand new tool for police to pull out any information accused criminals might have hiding in their phones.  Gibbons says it’s crucial when a child is in danger or police come across a drug overdose.  These days, he says a lot of the critical information lives on cell phones.

“In the time that is most critical—immediately after that happens—law enforcement needs to be able to track down where those drugs came from and find out how we get back to the dealer to try to hold that person accountable,” Gibbons said.

Instead of waiting sometimes months for the state crime lab to extract the information, Cellebrite allows police to do it immediately, right at the scene of a crime.  And it doesn’t cost you a dime. 

It’s the bad guys who are paying for it.  Money seized and forfeited from crimes is buying the new technology for all of Madison County law enforcement.  So far, the Madison County Sheriff’s Department and the Alton Police Department have Cellebrites.

 

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