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A technology that extracts data from a cell phone can make criminal investigations more efficient. The forensic flash device reader allows officers to acquire data from flash memory cards inside of cell phones and tablets.
Salem Police Department, Oregon, plans to acquire the technology with funding raised through the Salem Police Foundation.
Currently, Salem Police is only able to access a portion of data that can be recovered from functional phones. Devices that are intact and in working order can be plugged into computer software that reads information like text messages or outgoing phone calls.
According to statesmanjournal.com, the new flash memory reader will have the ability to acquire information from damaged phones and even data that was deleted from a device.
Detective Scott Emmons of the Salem Police Department, who is one of three forensic examiners in Salem Police that analyzes cell phone data in different types of investigations, said he comes across a damaged cell phone that would benefit from this technology on a weekly basis.
He said it is important to remember, however, that in order for law enforcement to access someone’s cell phone, police must first obtain a search warrant. Senate Bill 641 prohibits law enforcement from obtaining data from portable electronic devices without a warrant except when given consent by the owner. With the bill’s passage, law enforcement must now follow a multi-step process before seizing and analyzing someone’s phone or tablet.
Emmons said police does not use this technology with every case, but it does come in handy with major cases that involve a deep dive into analyzing electronic records. As a general example, if a suspect in a murder investigation deletes potential evidence on a cell phone and throws into a creek, officers who stumble upon the phone would still need to follow Oregon law before accessing information stored or deleted on that phone’s flash memory card.
“This is a multi-layer vetting process and we’re not just going to stop people and try to get every phone we can,” Emmons said. “This is to help solve cases where electronic devices are completely soaked or destroyed, where that data might otherwise be inaccessible.”
The flash memory readers cost between $5,000 and $7,800, depending on their ability to read common and rarer types of memory cards.