FPD to train more detectives in effort to more efficiently investigate crimes against kids, trafficking

Published: Aug. 8, 2022 at 9:44 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - The Fargo Police Department has received a donation of more than $30,000 from a California-based non-profit to help fight sex trafficking and exploitation in the area.

Operation Underground Railroad aims to protect children from sex trafficking and exploitation by partnering with law enforcement agencies across the nation. The organization will pay for training for five to seven FPD employees, as well as provide the department with a one-year license for Cellebrite, which is a software program used to help law enforcement agencies with examining cell phone data.

“We download a lot of cell phones and we don’t have a lot of people to review the data. So, this training will really, really take care of our agency,” Fargo Police Detective Chris Mathson said.

Fargo Police says the department currently only has one license, and only three people are trained to analyze cell phones, which is where they say incriminating information is often found.

“Needle in a haystack. One of our previous cases with a robbery suspect had 110,000 data points in terms of location to try and get through that can take some time,” Mathson said. “In a child exploitation investigation, you need to look at all the data of when an image or video may have been downloaded. Web history, application usage. Basically trying to track all that information like where it came from, how it got on the device so we can use that information in court.”

Mathson says the additional technology and trained staff will not only make investigations more efficient, but also will hopefully expedite the investigation process so the wheels of justice turn a little faster.

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