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Indiana's cyber crime unit is running out of money

Posted at 2:15 PM, Jan 04, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS — The elite computer crimes unit in Indiana behind the Jared Fogle investigation and the cyber threats at Plainfield High School is running out of money.

The Crimes Against Children Unit receives zero dollars from the state for funding, and the federal funding to help the unit has dried up.

The unit is a specialized group of detectives who investigate computer crimes against children – everything from child pornography to extortion, to evidence recovery.

The unit has also been called in to assist on a number of other investigations, like in the Delphi killings. In that instance, the team was able retrieve the video off Libby German's cell phone that allowed us to hear the suspect’s voice.

In the first six months of 2018, the unit conducted nearly 900 criminal investigations involving child pornography, online child sexual solicitation, and online child sexual extortion.

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In just the past year, the unit has seen a 35 percent increase in cyber tips. But what they do doesn’t come cheap.

“It’s going to run in excess of $130,000 dollars to train that individual examiner over the period of time,” said Captain Chuck Cohen. “The tools they need -- both hardware and software tools -- are going to run an additional $100,000."

Some bills have been introduced to give the unit funding over the past few years, they've all died in committee at the Indiana Statehouse.

Republican Sen. Michael Crider has led much of that effort to get the unit money.

"They conversation seems to expand every year, sometimes that's the way legislation moves,” Crider said. “But we have new players in the chairmanships in those committees. So I am hopefully optimistic."

This year, Crider has introduced Senate Bill 3 to help fund the unit.

Without the funding, the worst-case scenario could affect what cases the unit investigates, Crider said.

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill said not funding the unit has major consequences.

“We certainly have to realize the importance of the mission of protecting children from cyber crime,” Hill said. “That’s going to require funding from a variety of sources.”