Webinar: Digital Evidence and the CSI Effect

End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI) recently announced an upcoming, free webinar, "Digital Evidence: Successfully identifying and acquiring electronic evidence to combat the CSI effect." The 90-minute webinar will be held Tuesday, July 12, 2016 at 2 pm ET.

Course Description

Sex Crimes investigations have changed significantly in recent years. Some of the positive changes we see are a result of a better understanding of the impact of trauma on sexual assault victims and how to incorporate that knowledge into Department policies, procedures and protocols. However, another aspect to improving investigations and prosecutions is educating first responders and investigators about the complexity of these investigations and what steps can be taken to improve case outcomes. 

Technology changes extremely quickly and law enforcement faces significant challenges to keep up. With the glamorization of policing in Hollywood, law enforcement is battling to address the CSI effect infiltrating our courtrooms. 

Given the common delays in reporting crimes of sexual assault and other forms of gender-based violence, traditional forms of corroboration such as medical and physical evidence may be limited or non-existent in some cases. Law enforcement must be open to other types of evidence that can be used to support their investigations. For example, electronic evidence is an avenue that law enforcement can often successfully utilize in both stranger and non-stranger investigations. Tapping into the digital life of the offender; crafting search warrants for cell phones, computers, tablets, social media and conducting pre-text (one party consent) communications are just a few of the ways to successfully combat the CSI effect. This presentation will include examples of sanitized search warrants used in actual cases to advance an investigation.


Following the webinar, participants will be better able to:

1) Recognize the different types of digital media that might be available (preservation letters, video, phone records, phone texts, cell phone tower information, social media)

2) Understand how to legally seize electronic evidence by utilizing warrants that include requests to not just seize, but examine any evidence obtained as a result of a search warrant

3) Develop a theme for the pretext communication and discuss what mode of communication might work best (e.g., phone calls, texting, email)


Sergeant Elizabeth Donegan is a 24-year veteran of the Austin Police Department (APD). For over nine years she led the APD Sex Crimes Unit, widely recognized for its progressive approach toward investigating sexual assault, providing better service to victims, and changing the culture surrounding the investigation of non-stranger sexual assault. Sgt. Donegan is a member of the Austin/Travis County Sexual Assault Response Resource Team (SARRT). The APD Sex Crimes Unit was recognized for its progressive approach by Human Right Watch in their 2013 report, Improving Police Response to Sexual Assault. Sgt. Donegan currently leads the APD Sex Offender Apprehension and Registration (SOAR) unit.

Michael Crumrine is a Detective with the Austin Texas Police Department and has over twenty eight years of law enforcement experience. He is currently assigned to the Homicide Unit and responsible for investigating all manner of death including homicides, suicides, accidental and natural deaths. Before being assigned to the Homicide Unit, Detective Crumrine was assigned to the Sex Offender Apprehension and Registration Unit, (SOAR). This unit took a proactive approach in monitoring and holding sex offenders accountable. He investigated serial offenders, child predators, serial rapists and recidivists. Detective Crumrine began his investigative career in the adult Sex Crimes Unit where he investigated felony and misdemeanor sexually related offenses against adult victims. His investigations included non-stranger and stranger sexual assault cases, serial cases, alcohol & drug facilitated cases, investigations involving same sex victims, and sexual assault cases that stemmed from intimate partner violence relationships. His experience as a law enforcement officer spans violent crimes investigations, patrol, DWI investigations, community policing, hostage negotiations, crowd management, and major traffic investigations.

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