Frequently Asked Questions


Case Submission FAQs

Q. In brief, what do I need to do to submit evidence for review by the CGRCFL? 

A: CGRCFL customers fall into either the participating agency group or the non-participating group. Depending on which group you are in will determine how you will submit evidence, as follows:

  • Participating Agencies - Should automatically submit an online Request for Service form and forward their evidence to the laboratory.
  • Non-Participating Agencies - Should submit an online Request for Service form and follow up with a phone call to the Deputy Lab Director at 312-235-8151 if there are any special circumstances or time constraint.  Non-Participating Agencies will need a brief statement on their agency's letterhead, requesting service.  The letter must be signed by the Chief of the police department.  For federal nonparticipating agencies, the letter must be signed buy a Supervisory Special Agent or Supervisory Investigator.

Q: Are there any guidelines for submitting evidence? 

A: Yes. Investigators should be mindful of the type of digital evidence they submit to the CGRCFL for review. For example, unless it's a copyright investigation, including items such as commercially produced music CDs or movie DVDs will have no bearing on the investigation. However, by submitting these types of items, the laboratory staff must enter them as evidence and that takes time that could be better spent conducting the examination. Investigators should use their good judgment when gathering digital evidence only submitting those items they think require examination by the CGRCFL staff.

CGRCFL customers are advised to follow these simple guidelines:

    • Central Processing Unit (CPUs) - Submit the actual CPU not peripheral items such as monitors, keyboards, mice, etc. Do NOT remove hard drives from computers. For MAC computers, include the power cord if one is available. 
    • Laptops - Submit the laptop along with the power cord.
    • External Hard drives - Submit external hard drives with the power cord if one is available. Do not remove external hard drives from their cases.
    • CDs and DVDs - Preview all CDs and DVD's in a ROM (read-only drive) prior to submission. Then submit only those items containing suspect files. DO NOT submit unreviewed discs, without prior approval from the CGRCFL staff. Again, commercially produced music CDs and movie DVDs are more than likely not going to have an impact on the investigation. Investigators should sort through the evidence being gathered to ensure these items are not part of the submission to the CGRCFL.
    • Floppy Disks - Floppy disks may be previewed by ensuring the write protection tab is in the open position to prevent altering the contents. Please submit only those floppy discs you have determined are relevant to your investigation.
    • Cell phones/ GPSs/ PDAs - Include data cables, chargers, and docking stations.

Q: Why is the CGRCFL making this policy change? 

A: Since the CGRCFL opened in 2003, case submissions have increased by 20% each year. To keep pace with the growing demand for its services, the CGRCFL's Local Executive Board (LEB), which includes law enforcement officials from participating agencies, began exploring different ways to continue providing the same high quality services in a timely manner. After studying this situation for several months, the LEB determined the most effective way to meet this goal was to better utilize available technology (online service requests forms) and to prioritize the requests for service from non-participating agencies using an objective set of criteria. 

Q: How does the policy change affect the CGRCFL participating agencies? 

A: The CGRCFL will continue to accept all cases from its participating agencies (those departments that detail personnel to the laboratory) The participating agencies are required to submit an online Request for Service form, and should forward their digital evidence to the laboratory with a copy of the request. The related legal authority and pertinent investigative reports may be submitted to the laboratory either electronically with the initial Request for Service, or by hard copy with the evidence. 

Q: How does the police change impact the non-participating agencies? 

A: Due to the heavy demands being placed on the limited resources of the CGRCFL, the laboratory will prioritize cases submitted from non-participating agencies and will accept as many cases as possible which meet objective criteria and can be completed in a reasonable period. Non-participating agencies should submit the Request for Service form and follow up with a phone call to Deputy Lab Director Anita Shah, 312-235-8151, if there are any exigent circumstances or time constraints.  The related legal authority and pertinent investigative reports may be submitted to the laboratory either electronically with the initial Request for Service, or by hard copy with the evidence. 

Q: What if my request is considered a low priority, then what? 

A: For those requests that receive a low priority, the CGRCFL will assign the case to an examiner when one becomes available.

Q: What are the case acceptance priorities for the CGRCFL? 

A: The case acceptance priorities are as follows:

  1. Imminent threat against life or property.
  2. Participating Agency.
  3. Terrorism (Non Participating Agency)
  4. Crimes against children (Non Participating Agency)
  5. Financial Crimes; Health Care; Mortgage fraud {100K Threshold} (Non Participating Agency)
  6. Public Corruption; Narcotics; Violent Crime/Gangs (Non Participating Agency)
  7. Intellectual Property {100K Threshold} (Non Participating Agency)
  8. Civil Rights (Non Participating Agency)
  9. Miscellaneous

Q: Are there any additional steps that need to be taken when submitting numerous items? 

A: Yes. As resources and staff are limited, when submitting numerous items for examination, it is important to prioritize the evidence items.  If prioritized, the items that might be most important to the investigation will be examined first.  This allows the investigator to obtain results faster.

Q: What are self-service cell phone, loose media and video kiosks? How does that service work? 

A: All kiosks are located at the Chicago RCFL.  Investigators can extract data from unlocked cell phones using our cell phone kiosk.  Still images from a DVD can be produced using our video kiosk.  Loose media, such as CDs/DVDs, SD Card and floppy disks can be processed by the investigator using our Loose Media Kiosk.  The laboratory offers these mentioned self-service kiosks with equipment, supplies and immediate expert assistance. (Note: Cell phone must not be locked or password protected!) 

These stations are available to any agency at any time during normal CGRCFL business hours. Evidence derived from these devices can be taken that day.

Q: Where are these kiosks located? 

A: They are located in the CGRCFL's administrative area and are accessible to all law enforcement officers during normal business hours. 

Q: Do we have to make an appointment to use the kiosks? 

A: The kiosks are available on a first-come/first-serve basis.  Appointments are not available. The equipment is designed to be used by investigators at their convenience.

Q: How long does it take to extract data using the kiosks?

A: The storage capacity of evidence items can greatly differ.  Some extractions are complete in 10 minutes.  Others could take a couple of hours.

Q: My agency's firewall is preventing me from viewing the Online Case Submission Form. Is there another way to submit my case? 

A: Yes, the Service Request Form (PDF) is still available as an alternative to the online form. Upon completion, the form should be faxed to (312) 235-8116 for submission.

Q: Who can I contact for more information? 

A: For additional information, contact the Deputy Lab Director, Anita Shah (312) 235-8151 or at anita.shah@ic.fbi.gov.