Apr 20, 2015
This report describes the results of a National Institute of Justice (NIJ)-sponsored research effort to identify and prioritize criminal justice needs related to digital evidence collection, management, analysis, and use. With digital devices becoming ubiquitous, digital evidence is increasingly important to the investigation and prosecution of many types of crimes. These devices often contain information about crimes committed, movement of suspects, and criminal associates. However, there are significant challenges to successfully using digital evidence in prosecutions, including inexperience of patrol officers and detectives in preserving and collecting digital evidence, lack of familiarity with digital evidence on the part of court officials, and an overwhelming volume of work for digital evidence examiners. Through structured interaction with police digital forensic experts, prosecuting attorneys, a privacy advocate, and industry representatives, the effort identified and prioritized specific needs to improve utilization of digital evidence in criminal justice. Several top-tier needs emerged from the analysis, including education of prosecutors and judges regarding digital evidence opportunities and challenges; training for patrol officers and investigators to promote better collection and preservation of digital evidence; tools for detectives to triage analysis of digital evidence in the field; development of regional models to make digital evidence analysis capability available to small departments; and training to address concerns about maintaining the currency of training and technology available to digital forensic examiners.