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Saturday, October 20 Local

Fairfield County police officers trained to crack cellphones

STAMFORD — A Fairfield County law enforcement task force trained to crack cellphones to obtain evidence is about to double in size.

Stamford State’s Attorney Richard Colangelo has been training 11 police officers this week from the Stamford-Norwalk Judicial District who will join the Tactical Investigation Unit of Southwest Connecticut.

Colangelo used a federal grant to form the task force about a decade ago. The group has included 10 police officers from the 15 municipalities in the judicial district who are certified to use Cellebrite, a program that extracts data from cellphones.

“This is a great tool to have because we run into a lot of cellphones we have to extract data from,” Colangelo said. “It’s all about getting the investigators to search smarter, not harder. I want them looking for something specific in as many places as they possibly can on the devices to help the cases that we have.”

Officers from Stamford, Norwalk, Greenwich, Darien, Westport, Weston, New Canaan and Wilton participated this week in the five-day class at the Westport Police Department. Colangelo said the training will help obtain evidence for various types of cases, including burglary, child porn, domestic, assault and even overdose prosecutions.

The program, housed at the Weston Police Department, will help officers extract photos, texts, emails, application information and location data from phones that are seized by police or turned over by victims for analysis.

Stamford police investigator Lou Pasquino said he has been using Cellebrite for years, but this was his first formal training.

“I am learning some capabilities of the product that I did not know before, mostly filtering data, sorting through data,” said Pasquino, a 14-year member of the department who works in the Digital Forensic Unit.

Colangelo said Cellebrite’s filtering and sorting software is particularly useful since a 32-gigabyte phone can have 8.4 million pages of information stored inside.

“This is a great tool to have because we run into a lot of cellphones we have to extract data from,” Darien police officer Maricio Vigil said.

Vigil recently cracked a stolen car case when he extracted a video from the suspect’s phone showing the juvenile going for a joy ride.

Norwalk police Detective Dominic Cicero, who works cold cases and financial crimes, said the training helps the officers be more meticulous in their investigations.

“This will help us make sure we don’t miss something on those phones that we may want to use,” he said.

jnickerson@stamfordadvocate.com

John Nickerson|Police and court reporter

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