San Diego RCFL
Year Established: 1999
Laboratory Director: SSA Craig Porter
Service Area: San Diego and Imperial Counties
Number of Agencies in Service Area: 80
- California Highway Patrol
- Chula Vista Police Department
- Department of Homeland Security-Immigration and Customs Enforcement
- El Cajon Police Department
- Escondido Police Department
- FBI—San Diego Division
- La Mesa Police Department
- National City Police Department
- Naval Criminal Investigative Service
- Oceanside Police Department
- San Diego County District Attorney’s Office
- San Diego Police Department
- San Diego Sheriff’s Department
- U.S. Attorney’s Office—Southern District of California
The SDRCFL’s progress and accomplishments for FY09 follow—
- 28: Number of agencies that requested assistance
- 14: Local
- 5: State
- 9: Federal
- 699: Number of service requests received
- 2,551: Number of pieces of media examined
- 619: Number of examinations completed
- 398: Number of law enforcement officers trained in various digital forensics tools and techniques
Top Five Customer Requests by Crime Classification
- Sexual Offense
- Sexual Assault
Welcomed Several New Participating Agencies
The SDRCFL welcomed an impressive five new participating agencies in FY09—El Cajon Police Department, Escondido Police Department, La Mesa Police Department, National City Police Department, and Oceanside Police Department.
Reduced the Backlog
The SDRCFL reduced the number of requests placed in backlog by almost 100 percent.
Responded to AMBER Alerts
The SDRCFL staff supported two investigations involving AMBER alerts.
Installed the “Mini” SAN
In 2008, the SDRCFL joined forces with the ICAC in San Diego—which serves as the laboratory’s satellite location—complete with the hardware, software, and security requirements of a full RCFL. In FY09, SDRCFL staff designed, tested, and deployed a mini-SAN at the satellite location, which enables Examiners to produce results for posting on CAIR in record time. This capability is also generating a significant cost savings because large purchases of hard drives are no longer necessary thanks to the mini-SAN.
Launched a Quarterly Newsletter
To keep its clients and LEB members apprised of news, training events, and policy updates, the staff launched a quarterly newsletter that has received very positive reviews.
The SDRCFL received the CART Certificate of Recognition for conducting a significant number of sub-specialty examinations for the period of January 2009–July 2009. The SDRCFL also received its first annual ASCLD/LAB inspection certification.
Protecting the Community: Photographer Abuses Aspiring Young Models
San Diego area photographer Gary Lee Whiteside, 66, used his photography business to exploit young girls and aspiring models. Instead of taking portfolio photographs, he posed the youngsters inappropriately and had sexual relations with seven girls. When hundreds of sexually charged photographs involving minors were discovered after Whiteside vacated his office space, authorities were contacted. Whiteside was suspected of molesting nine girls between the ages of 11 and 15 over a five-year period. SDRCFL Laboratory Director Craig Porter processed more than 20 pieces of media in association with the investigation and testified in court for the prosecution. Whiteside pled guilty to four counts of lewd acts with a minor and received 60 years in prison for his crimes.
Protecting the Community: Parolee Slays Elderly Man
On October 27, 2009, Ralph Edward Gardner, 82, was found stabbed to death with an ice pick in addition to being beaten with a metal statue. The murder occurred just days after Rhonda Hill, 39, completed an eight-year jail sentence and parole for attacking her mother years before. According to press reports, shortly after her release, Ms. Hill had an affair with the victim. The SDRCFL supported the murder investigation and recovered digital evidence that proved valuable to the prosecution. Police reports stated eyewitnesses saw Ms. Hill running from the apartment where Mr. Gardner’s body was found. Ms. Hill pleaded guilty and must serve 35 years in jail before becoming eligible for parole.
Protecting the Community: Lab Supports Successful Prosecution of Long-Running Case
For the past six years, the SDRCFL supported a complex investigation involving Peregrine Systems, a publicly traded software company based in San Diego. Founded in 1981, the firm achieved market dominance nearly 20 years later, but it all came crashing down in 2002 after an accounting scandal forced Peregrine into bankruptcy and resulted in criminal indictments for 11 senior managers, including the former CEO, vice president, and general counsel. Several executives received federal prison sentences or probation. The SDRCFL devoted hundreds of hours of staff time to the investigation and participated in multiple search warrants at the company’s site.
PULSE CHECK: STATUS OF FY09 GOALS
Institute a Comprehensive Triage Process
This process was successfully implemented in FY09 and is helping the staff prioritize examination work, narrow investigative requests, and maximize laboratory performance. As part of the implementation, a room was designated solely for conducting tasks associated with prioritization. Also, new CART SOPs were adopted to narrow investigative requests, thereby maximizing performance.
Develop and Implement a Business Plan
This plan was completed and implemented, with early results indicating that it is meeting the goal of ensuring the SDRCFL has adequate resources to keep pace with technology and the increasing number of service requests. The plan required the SDRCFL’s participating agencies to support the laboratory by providing either a staff member(s) or funding.
Expand CAIR System and Cellular Telephone Kiosk
The staff successfully completed installation of the CAIR system with financial assistance provided by the San Diego District Attorney’s Office. The system enables state and local customers to review the laboratory’s findings in the convenience of their own offices. The staff manages each case in the system through a main portal, from beginning to end. This provides a more efficient way to track cases. The cellular telephone kiosk is also serving as a valuable resource, and to further promote its use and increase efficiency, the SDRCFL introduced a new policy in FY09 requiring all agencies to review their cellular telephone data first via the kiosk before submitting the device for a full examination.
GOALS FOR FY10
Boost Server Room Capacity—By situating all computer networks within the laboratory in one designated space.
Broaden Training—Develop and teach an audio/video training course for on-scene investigators. Also create and offer an Intermediate CAIR course for advanced users.
Provide Forensic Resources for Peers—Purchase a mobile forensics software kit for the San Diego FBI North County Office that can be used by all law enforcement task forces in the region.
Increase the Number of Participating Agencies—Continue to recruit potential partner agencies in the San Diego law enforcement community to join the SDRCFL.
Strengthen Services—Augment the laboratory’s forensic services by enhancing timeliness and productivity of the forensic examination processes by testing loose media such as USB devices through the Loose Media Kiosk. Doing so will improve turnaround time on case-specific support for all agencies.