County officials unveil new Computer Forensics Lab

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The Chester County Commissioners and staff of the District Attorney’s office gathered recently to celebrate the opening of the county’s new Computer Forensics Lab. Pictured from left to right: (top) Commissioner Terence Farrell, Commissioner Kathi Cozzone, Commissioner Ryan Costello, District Attorney Tom Hogan; (bottom) Detective Joe Walton and Detective Roy Calarese.

WEST CHESTER — With the advent of the technology age, so much information is buried on electronic devices, it can be a maze for law enforcement to to uncover the truth when it comes to criminal wrongdoing.

County officials recently unveiled their newest tool to help fight that battle, the new Chester County Computer Forensics Lab (the “CFL”).

The CFL is the location where the Chester County Detectives, the investigative arm of the District Attorney’s Office, analyze and process electronic data. For example, the Detectives use the CFL to download communications from a drug dealer’s cell phone or recover child pornography from a predator’s computer. 

Two Chester County Detectives are assigned full-time to work in the CFL. The CFL is outfitted with specialized computer hardware to recover and store electronic data. In addition, the CFL was designed specifically for computer forensics work, which requires unique engineering for energy supply, cooling, and ventilation.

Construction of the CFL was approved by the Chester County Commissioners. All of Chester County law enforcement will be able to submit electronic data to the CFL.

District Attorney Tom Hogan expressed his enthusiasm for for the new facility.

“From murder to child abuse to white collar fraud, almost every major crime in today’s world has some electronic evidence component,” Hogan said. “The new Computer Forensics Lab allows Chester County law enforcement the top-notch hardware and software to investigate and convict  modern criminals. We are grateful that the Chester County Commissioners understand the need for a facility like the CFL to keep Chester County safe.”

Ryan Costello, Chair of the Chester County Commissioners, said the new lab was a needed tool for the county’s law enforcement personnel.

“Law enforcement investigative tools must keep pace with the trail of evidence created by criminal activity,” Costello said. “This way, our hard-working prosecutors, detectives, and police departments have the best resources in order to root out criminal activity, and keep our Chester County families and communities secure.”

Chief of the Chester County Detectives Jim Vito stated noted that as times and technology have changed, so have crimes. The new lab will help to keep ahead of high-tech criminals.

“Criminals frequently use computers, telecommunications devices, electronic organizers, and other electronic media to commit crimes.” he said. “This state-of-the-art forensics lab will substantially enhance law enforcement investigations and prosecutions of electronic crime cases impacting the citizens of Chester County.”

The CFL was designed by the architectural firm Bernardon Haber Holloway Architects. Given the continued growth of the population of Chester County and the constantly expanding role of electronic evidence, the CFL is designed to accommodate up to four full-time forensic examiners from the Chester County Detectives.

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