Linked-in students fight online crime IRL

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Carolyn Kammeyer, a junior political science major, does digital detective work in her spare time. She’s one of six Notre Dame student-interns for the St. Joseph County Police Department’s cybercrimes unit who use their computer skills to investigate real-life cases with full law enforcement authority. They are sworn officers.

 

Kammeyer, who has a minor in computing and digital technologies with an emphasis in cybersafety and -security, recently investigated a child pornography case. With a suspect name and general information about the location of the images, she was asked to conduct an investigation, “connecting the dots,” she says, to help build a case.

 

This is the third year of the internship program, which expanded this fall when the police department relocated the cybercrimes unit from the county jail to Hammes Mowbray Hall, headquarters of the Notre Dame Security Police. The move increased opportunities to draw on the abilities of students like Kammeyer and the other interns, Sam Alptekin, Christina Casino, Julia Gately, Brooke Sabey and Lexie Van Den Heuvel.

 

“The interns have access to absolutely everything,” says Mitch Kajzer, the county’s cybercrimes director. “When they first come into the unit, they go through several weeks of initial training related to the law, search and seizure, warrants, cell phone examinations.”

 

Once trained and sworn in, the students can do anything that a full-time officer can do — short of carrying a weapon. They are assigned to specific cases, putting their classroom knowledge of information security and digital forensics into real-world practice.

 

The interns track screen names, IP addresses and email addresses, following every online trace of a suspect. As an investigation progresses, they write search warrants and even accompany officers in the field, suited up in body armor.

 

“Law enforcement will do the initial entry, secure the house, do a search for weapons, and make it as safe as we can,” says Kajzer, a graduate student in the psychology department who also teaches in the computing and digital technologies program. “Once it’s safe, we bring the students in. When they are on scene, they conduct search and seizure, they take photos, collect evidence. . . . They essentially process the entire scene.”

 

Casino, a senior economics major now in her third year with the cybercrimes unit, discovered a career path through the program, completing a summer internship in cybersecurity at Deloitte that led to a job offer from the multinational professional services firm.

 


Claire Radler was a fall 2018 intern at this magazine.


 

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