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UNT Students Helping Police Solve Crimes With Technology

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FRISCO (CBSDFW.COM) –  If you've tweeted, snapped, texted, searched or typed in a map location, it's all on your phone.

"We all have cell phones, we know what's on them," says Cyber lab director, Dr. Scott Belshaw, "that evidence is collected on that phone."

Some police officers are convinced it will help them catch criminals. In some cases, it becomes prime evidence in a police investigation. "It'll help catch some of those perpetrators who are out there, doing bad things."commented Belshaw.

The hang up for many police departments - the turnaround to get that information off of a phone doesn't move as fast as the cases come in. "There's a 9-month backlog on analyzing these files," says Belshaw. That delays the investigations and the court dates.

A new part of the solution is housed in a lab on the campus of the University of North Texas. Belshaw said the technology hub at UNT recognized the problem and through a grant, built a new cyber lab on the Frisco campus dedicated to helping local policing agencies.

"We have one screen that will be dealing with text messaging, one screen that will be dealing with photo," says Belshaw, "it's going to solve so many cases, it's going to solve so many cases quicker."

Denton County Sheriff Will Travis says the lab can't come soon enough. He says a 90% of the cases his department deals with involve a tablet, computer or phone. "The way we catch them is through technology and we just always want to be one step ahead of the crook, we can't do that without this lab," says Travis.

Belshaw, says his goal is to have agencies drop off the cases and students will pull out key dates, phrases, contacts or pictures to catalog and turn the findings around in two weeks.

"Everything and anything you have that on that phone you'll be able to see, we'll be able to find it."

 (©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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