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FBI and State of Kansas Partner in Opening Heart of America RCFL Satellite in Topeka

FBI Kansas City November 02, 2012
  • Public Affairs Specialist Bridget Patton (816) 512-8200

FBI, state of Kansas, and local law enforcement officials today commemorated the opening of the Topeka Satellite Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory (RCFL). The new laboratory, housed at the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) Headquarters in downtown Topeka, is the first satellite facility affiliated with the Heart of America RCFL (HARCFL) in Kansas City. The HARCFL has been providing expert digital forensics services to law enforcement since 2003.

The Topeka Satellite RCFL is the first-of-its-kind transitional laboratory in the FBI’s RCFL program—a national network of FBI-affiliated laboratories devoted to the examination of digital evidence. Built entirely with state funds, the Topeka Satellite RCFL will initially operate under the direction of the HARCFL, a laboratory accredited by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB). After three to five years of stewardship, the lab will transition to full state control as a KBI laboratory.

The KBI and the Topeka Police Department are detailing staff to the facility, and an experienced examiner from the Shawnee County (Kansas) Sheriff’s Department will be detailed from the HARCFL. The FBI provides operational funding, training, equipment, and oversight.

Michael Kaste, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Kansas City Division, said, “The ability to build on the success of an established RCFL in Kansas City and to be able to provide those services in a off-site capability affords law enforcement another powerful tool in the fight against crime. As always, the FBI relies on its excellent working relationship with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners in undertaking this ground breaking initiative.”

The Topeka Satellite RCFL will provide pre-seizure consultation; on-site seizure collection; duplication, storage, and preservation of computers and computer-related evidence; prompt, accurate, and impartial forensic examinations of digitally stored media; and courtroom testimony for Kansas law enforcement agencies. The lab will address most types of digital evidence including computers, cell phones, tablets, GPS, and loose media.

With nearly every criminal investigation involving some form of digital evidence, expanding law enforcement’s capacity to examine this evidence is vital. “The KBI was created to protect Kansans and to assist local law enforcement in that calling,” said KBI Director Kirk Thompson. “This satellite regional computer forensic facility will do precisely that—it will help meet the demand for digital forensic work in investigations across Kansas. We are grateful to the FBI, Attorney General Schmidt, Sheriff Jones (Shawnee County Sheriff’s Department), and Chief Miller (Topeka Police Department) for their leadership and collaboration.”

Strong partnerships have been key to the success of the RCFL program and the transitional laboratory concept is an innovative way to expand capability. “This new digital forensic capacity will help law enforcement agencies across our state in keeping our communities safe,” Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said. “This first-of-its-kind laboratory demonstrates the commitment and cooperation of our local, state, and federal partners in meeting the growing need for computer forensic analysis. The governor and the Kansas legislature are to be commended for supporting this critical public safety project.”

Since 2003, the HARCFL has provided timely, objective digital forensic services to the 867 law enforcement agencies in its service area. Law enforcement participation has doubled since the RCFL opened with 22 participating agencies and 24 full-time examiners currently on board. The HARCFL averages 600 service requests and performs over 900 examinations in a year. It has supported nearly every type of case, from cyber, white-collar, and violent crime to terrorism, and has provided critical examination support to high profile.

To learn about the HARCFL, log onto www.harcfl.org. For more information about the RCFL program, visit www.rcfl.gov.