Science and Technology News

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The RCFL Program Opens New Laboratory in New Mexico

The New Mexico Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory (NMRCFL) officially opened on the grounds of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque today—the second RCFL physically located on a university campus, and the 16th such facility in the FBI’s national network of full-service digital forensics laboratories and training centers.

RCFLs provide objective digital forensics expertise and services to law enforcement and are devoted to the examination of digital evidence in support of federal, state, and local criminal and national security investigations. FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III selected the Albuquerque Division in 2008 because the local law enforcement community demonstrated wide support for an RCFL and had a large pool of qualified personnel to staff the facility. The NMRCFL will be staffed with personnel from the FBI’s Albuquerque Division, the Albuquerque Police Department, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, New Mexico State Police, and the University of New Mexico.

Since 2009, the NMRCFL staff—using temporary workspace in the FBI’s Albuquerque Division during the laboratory’s construction—received 838 requests for service from area law enforcement and conducted 842 digital forensics examinations. The NMRCFL’s top five customer requests by crime classification are cyber crime (45 percent), violent crime (25 percent), white-collar crime (24 percent), computer intrusions (6 percent), and counterintelligence (2 percent).

Louis E. Grever, executive assistant director of the FBI’s Science and Technology Branch, which oversees the RCFL program, said, “With nearly every criminal investigation now involving some form of digital evidence, there is great need for highly skilled digital forensics examiners. With this flagship facility, and a shared commitment to providing the highest quality digital forensics to law enforcement, we will aggressively apply high technology to solve crimes and keep our communities safe.”

“Digital evidence is one of the biggest challenges facing law enforcement in the 21st century,” said New Mexico State Police Chief Robert Shilling. “We are finding that even during what once was considered simple and routine investigations, digital evidence can make or break the case. The RCFL is a needed and welcomed resource to New Mexico law enforcement, and to the region, and we’re extremely proud to be involved in the lab.”

Since the RCFL program began in 1999, the demand for its services has grown exponentially. In addition to providing digital forensics expertise, the NMRCFL will train local law enforcement in various digital forensics techniques in its state-of-the art classroom. The laboratory also features a cell phone investigative kiosk that law enforcement may use to examine mobile phones and other handheld devices, along with a loose media kiosk to review evidentiary data on USB devices, CD/DVDs, etc. These self-serve resources are proven to enhance law enforcement’s ability to lawfully extract digital evidence quickly and efficiently.

“The Albuquerque Police Department is proud to have been one of the initial partners with the FBI starting with the application process through the actual construction and completion of the RCFL,” Police Chief Ray Schultz said. “APD recognizes the value and importance of having our own RCFL and has committed two full-time detectives and dedicated them to the lab. The RCFL will be able to assist law enforcement throughout the region in collecting and analyzing electronic evidence. This is a very valuable tool for successful prosecution of cases.”

“UNM is one of only two universities in the nation to be directly affiliated with an RCFL,” said Alessandro Seazzu, director of the University of New Mexico Center for Information Assurance Research and Education. “We believe this partnership will afford our students, faculty and staff unparalleled opportunities for learning and collaboration. We look forward to supporting and forwarding the RCFL mission through innovative research and diverse educational opportunities and are grateful to the Anderson School of Management and Dean Douglas Brown for leading this effort at UNM.”

“The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department stands ready to join the NMRCFL as we move criminal investigation toward the digital age,” Sheriff Dan Houston said. “We see an increasing need to have resources available that will allow the investigation of electronic and digital evidence and we are proud to be part of this effort.”

The NMRCFL’s services are available to every law enforcement agency with jurisdiction in New Mexico. To learn about the NMRCFL, log onto For more information about the RCFL Program, visit

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