New Jersey law enforcement officials are increasingly relying on a new cyber tool to gather evidence and prosecute bad guys.

About six months ago, the state Division of Criminal Justice opened the Cyber Forensics Lab, and things have been humming ever since.

“A few years ago we had two people dedicated to cyber, we now have over 20. We partner with State Police, we partner with our county partners. This is a big step,” said Elie Honig, the director of the Division of Criminal Justice within the state Department of Law and Public Safety.

When any kind of arrest is made, “our detectives can sit there in the home, open up the computer of the suspect and look at it," he said.

What they do, after an initial scan, is back up that computer and bring it back to the forensics lab.

After that, “our detectives are able to, using some of the technology and equipment we have, and their training, to go into those computers and to do a full review, to recover deleted items, to take a look at all the items that are on there.”

“When you think about cyber-computer forensics, think about forensics in any other sense, think about ballistics or autopsies or narcotics, the same way we have labs for that, we now have labs for computers,” he said.

“These days, almost every crime has a cyber element to it,” said Honig. “Over the last several months the cyber forensics lab has worked on literally dozens of cases involving child pornography. But many other cases with cyber elements in other areas, we’ve charged identity theft cases, we’ve charged financial fraud cases. Now we have the capacity to do our own forensics, to do them quickly and thoroughly and we hope we grow this to the point where we can even assist other law enforcement agencies.”

He stressed incorporating the latest cutting edge technology is a crucial element of what they do.

“It’s an arms race. It’s a technological arms race and we’re always trying to stay one step ahead of the defendants and the bad guys,” said Honig. “There’s new technologies, new end-runs developing every minute and because of our efforts to train up our forces and invest in equipment and lab work like this, we’re able to stay ahead of the curve.”

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