Tetra Tech’s Justice Sector Assistance Project (JSAP), funded by the US State Department Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), has been providing material and technical support to strengthen the capacities of the Palestinian Civil Police (PCP) Cybercrime Unit. Owing to this support, the unit has seen increasing success solving complex criminal cases involving electronic evidence.
The PCP established the Cybercrime Unit in 2013 and tasked it with processing and analyzing crime scenes that contain electronic and digital evidence. Tetra Tech’s support has included providing “first response” training, developing standard operating procedures, providing data-recovery software and training PCP staff on its use, and training prosecutors and judges on the use of digital evidence in criminal cases. In addition, Tetra Tech equipped the unit with forensic software, computers, and office furnishings.
The Head of the Cybercrime Unit, Lt. Col. Samer Hindi, credited INL and JSAP with providing strong support to the unit which has recently solved several high-profile investigations. He noted that when the unit was first established he did not have a clear vision of its role, but by the end of last year, the unit had proven its value by examining electronic evidence in 196 cases. “Now we are processing evidence from juvenile, narcotics, and other cases,” he said. “We are proud that we are offering something helpful.”
Lt. Col. Hindi cited a recent instance where the stronger Cybercrime Unit successfully solved a crime. Thieves broke into an Arab Bank branch in Bir Nabala on February 3, 2017 and stole approximately 500,000 NIS ($130,000) from an ATM. During the commission of the crime, the thieves destroyed the surveillance cameras and damaged the ATM’s internal chip which can self-dial for help. The thieves also removed computer routers and a digital video recorder containing the bank’s surveillance videos. A few days later, the equipment was found by a citizen who turned over the damaged devices to the police. Despite the electronics being damaged, using forensic examination the Cybercrime Unit’s computer analysis response team was able to recover surveillance video showing three masked males breaking into the bank. A police officer was later able to identify one of the suspects who after interrogation admitted to his involvement, implicating the two others and turning over the stolen money to the police.
As a next step in its capacity building activities, Tetra Tech is developing training programs to continue strengthening the Cybercrime Unit of the PCP as well as the Cybercrime Unit of the Attorney General’s Office.
Since September 2016, Tetra Tech has been implementing Epsilon-P, a law enforcement case management and information sharing initiative funded by the US State Department Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL). With advanced data sharing technology developed with Tetra Tech support, security agencies in the West Bank will be able to share pertinent information on security and law enforcement activities, thus ensuring that timely and key information is available to all necessary law enforcement actors.
The Epsilon-P team recently initiated the design phase of one module of the technology, on human resources. The system will allow security sector leaders to track key data regarding each member of the Palestinian Authority Security Forces, including their service records, training records, and qualifications. To ensure buy-in from the local agencies, Epsilon-P conducted a workshop for participating security services to share and discuss the design.
Soon, Epsilon-P will commence work on another module, on operations management, which will be used for reporting incidents, disseminating information as it becomes available, and providing a record of decisions for action and review.
With these modules in place, Tetra Tech’s next key target will be developing the “front porch”, a secure site to which all of the agencies can upload information. With a “front porch” in each jurisdiction populated with investigative and incident information from the several agencies, the system will function both as a tactical and analytical tool for officers, crime investigators, analysts, and strategic decision makers. These capabilities will enhance the investigative abilities of the various security agencies and reduce crime in the region.
On October 24th, 2011, Tt DPK's Project Against Violence and Impunity (PAVI) project team in Guatemala met with General Prosecutor, Ms. Claudia Paz y Paz Bailey, to officially present the Geographical Information System (GIS) that will be installed in the Analysis Unit of the Public Ministry in the capital city's Prosecutor's Office. During the event, the PAVI team explained to Ms. Paz y Paz and her advisors how the system operates, its technical capacities, and its various applications that can be used to fight crime in Guatemala.
Among other uses, the GIS will enable the Analysis Unit to locate criminal acts through the geo-coding of addresses and will show the location and concentration of criminal activities. The System will also help identify crime patterns and provide experts with statistics for each department of the unit. In addition, the GIS will go beyond the mere analysis of data and will evolve into more complex uses such as the efficient distribution of cases, the ability to indicate better locations of future prosecutor’s offices, and helping to increase police presence in areas where organized crime is growing, to mention a few.
According to the US Department of State (http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2045.htm#profile), the Government of Guatemala (GoG) is currently facing serious challenges from organized crime and drug cartels. The GoG sometimes has little or no existing capacity to fight criminal organizations, which have better resources and more capital than public institutions. Despite the best efforts of national institutions and officials, there has been a rampant increase of violence in recent years.
Therefore, it not surprising that the members of PAVI who were present during the meeting reported that the General Prosecutor exclaimed, “This is what we were dreaming of but never knew how to attain it. Now the doors are open....” During the meeting, Ms. Paz y Paz along with other Public Ministry officials expressed how pleased they are with the work the Project has done to support their work and their deep gratitude for having an advanced tool such as GIS that will support their efforts to prosecute crime efficiently.