Institute targets crime

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Federal agents at Hoover&8217;s National Computer Forensic Institute train cops and prosecutors from across the country on how to fight a new kind of crime.

The criminals they go after don&8217;t carry big guns or wear masks. They don&8217;t rob banks or steal cars.

No, these bad guys exploit children or steal your life savings with a few keystrokes on a computer.

That&8217;s where the forensic institute steps in, giving law enforcement officers the training they need to beat cyber&045;criminals at their own game.

The institute, located on Valleydale Road in Hoover, is a great

resource for Shelby County.

Police officers, court prosecutors and judges from all over the country are brought here to learn cutting edge technology.

They learn how physical evidence is extracted from a computer hard drive or how to fight computer viruses.

The extensive training lasts from one to five weeks, depending on the course and is free to participants.

The Department of Homeland Security and the Secret Service fund the facility &045;&045; the only one of its kind in the country.

Shelby County should be proud to have such a facility in its own backyard. After all, people are coming here to get the training

they need to go back to their homes and fight child pornographers, identity thieves and people set on damaging computer networks.

A lot of people should be thanked for their work in getting the institute here. The Shelby County Commission paid $250,000 in architecture fees, while the city of Hoover is providing the building space rent-free for six years. The state of Alabama also paid more than $4.8 in construction costs.

Hopefully, federal funding will remain strong, allowing the institute to reach its full capacity of 1,600 students a year soon