Focus on Congress

From the office of Rep. Val Demings 

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Val Demings (D-FL) today introduced new bipartisan legislation to enable law enforcement to adapt to a rapidly-digitizing world. Her bill is cosponsored by Conor Lamb (D-PA), Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX), and John Rutherford (R-FL).

Rep. Val Demings

The Technology in Criminal Justice Act of 2019 would help state and local law enforcement modernize their digital evidence procedures and equip them with the resources, knowledge, and support to access, decipher, and use data when they have the legal authority to do so.

Rep. Demings said, “as a former law enforcement officer, I have seen first-hand the importance of digital evidence as we work to keep our communities safe and hold people accountable. Digital evidence has been crucial in cases ranging from financial crimes to child endangerment. Only with proper training can we ensure that communities are being kept safe and that officers know both the techniques and the most up-to-date practices to protect both the safety and the privacy of the communities they serve. It is critical that law enforcement agencies ranging from the federal level to local cities and towns have the tools and training needed to follow the evidence, physical or digital, wherever it leads.”

Jennifer Daskal, Professor and Faculty Director of the Tech, Law, Security Program at American University Washington College of Law, said, “This bipartisan, common-sense solution is exactly what is needed to modernize law enforcement. It will ensure that there is adequate resourcing, training, and dissemination of knowledge to federal, state, and local law enforcement officials. And it will help to ensure the effective and appropriate use of digital evidence in law enforcement cases, consistent with respect for civil liberties and the authorities that exist. It is exactly the kind of much-needed reform that I and others have urged in the follow-up to this CSIS report, Low-Hanging Fruit: Evidence Based Solutions to the Digital Evidence Challenge.”

“It is time that our state and local law enforcement finally receive the training and resources necessary to adapt to the ever-evolving digital technologies to help ensure public safety in a 21st century America,” said Rep. Babin. “I am proud to support the bipartisan Technology in Criminal Justice Act and encourage swift passage of this important bill that will better equip the men and women who put their lives on the line for us every day.”

“As a former sheriff with 41 years of law enforcement experience, I know firsthand how rapidly evidence collection methods evolve over the years,” said Rep. Rutherford. “With more crimes involving digital technology, many law enforcement agencies lack the tools they need to collect digital evidence. I’m proud to join my friend and fellow former law enforcement officer, Rep. Demings, to introduce this bipartisan legislation, which will make sure that law enforcement officers have the capability and resources they need to collect, store, and analyze the evidence of today and the future.”

Background

The Technology in Criminal Justice Act of 2019 would provide law enforcement with the resources necessary to effectively use legally-available resources in investigations.

Specifically, the bill would establish:

  1. A new ‘Office of Digital Law Enforcement’ at the Department of Justice to help law enforcement agencies train and support personnel on how to handle digital evidence.
  2. A new ‘Center of Excellence for Digital Forensics’ to centralize training programs, technical expertise, and legal assistance related to digital evidence.
  3. A new ‘Law Enforcement Technology Support to State and Local Law Enforcement’ program to help guide DOJ grants to help law enforcement handle digital evidence.
  4. A new ‘Technology Policy Advisory Board’ to coordinate between the technology and law enforcement communities and advise the Attorney General on best practices.

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