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Computer forensic examiner position to help local law enforcement

Meghan Flynn
Garden City Telegram

The Garden City Commission approved the creation of a computer forensic examiner position to be shared between the Garden City Police Department and Finney County Sheriff's Office at its regular meeting Tuesday.

Finney County Sheriff Kevin Bascue said the position is vital to both departments when "working a case that's involving a computer and a cellphone."

Garden City police Chief Mike Utz agreed.

"Almost every case we have, there's some type of computer or electronic device such as a cellphone that may be involved in the investigation, so this will just help us solving some of our investigations," he said.

Utz said the idea that the departments needed a full-time position came from discussions with each other after a 2019 study done of the police department trying to identify things the department does well and things that need to be improved upon.

From that study, it was recommended that the GCPD reinstitute the computer forensics position, which it had to an extent previously, Utz said.

"We had people trained to do this, that were sworn personnel, detectives, and we found it very beneficial," he said. "The individuals, the detectives that were doing that, left our department, went to the KBI, so there was a void there."

At the sheriff's office, they did have an investigator that was trained in some of the forensic technology methods; however, it was not their full-time job, Bascue said.

"That person has a whole bunch of other criminal cases to work on and if my person that's trained on how to extract information from a cellphone or computer was working on that for us or for the police department and then we had a homicide or some major crime, they would be pulled away from obtaining that information or that data and maybe busy for several days, if not weeks," he said.

The new position will be someone dedicated full-time to working with computers, laptops, cellphones and other electronic devices for both departments, which are sharing the costs of the position.

Having an employee devoted full-time to technological crime will be beneficial, Bascue said.

"We're very excited about working technology cases now, but we're also excited about the possibilities in the future for that particular type of position that we've never really had before full-time, just kind of on an as-needed basis," he said. "I think we've been missing out on a lot and I think it's going to be very helpful for us to serve our citizens, I believe."