Cyber criminals, beware: EGR police are ready

East Grand Rapids cyber crime tools
Officer DeJonge handles the new set of tools he has to fight cyber crimes. (Oct. 4, 2016)

EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The East Grand Rapids Public Safety Department now has the tools to take on cyber crimes.

Officer Jeff DeJonge is one of a group of officers across the country selected for the five-week training program run by the United States Secret Service.

His reward: a case of devices and three computers to sleuth out cyber criminals, who are increasingly the focus for law enforcement.

You know, everybody’s got a cellphone, which is a mobile computer basically. You know, everybody’s got laptops, desktops. Everything now you know (is) white-collar crime, your internet crime,” said DeJonge.

It would cost the city $75,000 to send one officer to the program in Alabama and roughly another $20,000 for the equipment, but the federal government picked up the entire tab.

It’s a huge cost-saver for East Grand Rapids, and a game-changer.

Before DeJonge went to the training, the department had to send out its cyber crimes evidence to other agencies because it didn’t have the equipment to process it.

“You don’t know how long that other department’s going to take to do it. Is your stuff going to be put on the back burner, while their stuff gets done,” explained DeJonge.

The department can now track and potentially solve crimes like credit card fraud, child pornography and online threats without tapping into outside resources.

In January, DeJonge plans to attend a four-week training which focuses on cell phone crimes, if approved by the city.

Meanwhile, cyber security experts will convene in downtown Grand Rapids Wednesday for a conference. The Eberhard Center event is hosted by the West Michigan Cyber Security Consortium, Michigan Small Business Development Center, Trivalent and the Better Business Bureau.