A $14,991 grant to the Etowah County Commission by the Governors Office will help start a self-sustainable Digital Forensics Center at the Etowah County Sheriff’s Office. The center will be made available to surrounding agencies for use in criminal investigations.

The purpose of applying for the grant was to initiate a self-sustainable Digital Forensic Center at The Etowah County Sheriff’s office. The Sheriff’s office has seen a rise in criminal cases where this equipment will be a vital asset to the case for prosecution. This will allow the digital processing to be done in a more timely matter, and being done here locally will help with the chain of custody for the prosecution of cases. Today it is rare to see crime that doesn’t involve digital evidence such as cellular devices or computers.

The State of Alabama will also benefit from this equipment due to the partnership between the Etowah County Sheriff’s Office and (ICAC) Internet Crimes Against Children. The Sheriff’s Office has received 13 tips from ICAC, of the 13tips, 11 arrest have been made. This equipment will help further more investigations like these.

This money not only will help the Etowah County Sheriff’s Office but all agencies inside Etowah County. This will give all Investigators in the county an option locally when they need data and information off of cell phones in criminal cases. This equipment being at the Etowah County Sheriff’s Office will help local Law Enforcement come to a conclusion on cases faster, this can help clear someone’s name or get an offender off the street, states Sheriff Jonathon Horton.

The Sheriff’s Office currently has an investigator that has been certified and has credentials to operate the equipment that will be purchased with the grant money, and the goal is to continue to grow and adapt with digital forensics.