The Missoula County Attorney’s Office, City Police Department and County Sheriff’s Office have jointly sponsored investigators’ attendance at an elite training on extracting and decoding forensic evidence from mobile devices.  

County Attorney Kirsten Pabst said Sheriff’s Detective Steve Deibert, Missoula Police Detective Mitch Lang and DEA Agent Bryan Fillinger all recently completed the advanced course offered by Cellbrite, which is structured to teach investigators how to access electronic data from mobile devices.

"There was opportunity for some enhanced training for detectives from different agencies in the area," Pabst said. "What they're doing, is they're leaning how to retrieve evidence from mobile devices, and retrieve it in such a way that it its forensically viable."

Formerly, detectives would generally send the device out for processing, causing delays and additional expenses.  Now, Pabst said local law enforcement has the ability to process this time-sensitive evidence locally.

"Either the person is a victim and turns the phone over voluntarily," she said. "or, if it's on a suspect's device, then law enforcement would go through all the appropriate channels to get a search warrant. They'd have to show probable cause, and a judge would authorize extraction of the information from the device."

The training teaches officers how to access data from mobile devices, including those which are locked and damaged,  without compromising the integrity of the evidence.