Hewitt: Police win grant to upgrade data extraction system

(Photo by Rissa Shaw)
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HEWITT, Texas (KWTX) The Hewitt Police Department has won a grant intended to outsmart criminals and their smartphones.

Earlier this year, the department submitted a grant request in writing to the Heart of Texas Council of Governments for $10,780 to upgrade its mobile device data-extraction system called “Cellebrite.”

After presenting the grant in-person Wednesday, Chief Jim Devlin said the HOTCOG board decided to give them full funding.

“I’m excited, very thankful for HOTCOG and the Office of the Governor to give us the opportunity to be funded for this much needed forensic equipment,” said Devlin.

“We plan on doing more, and as the technology changes this is a must-have.”

Cellebrite extracts such data as photos, videos, texts, and emails from all types of cellphones, even the information criminals attempt to delete, and stores the information on a disk to be used as evidence, (pending a search warrant signed by a judge).

HPD has one of the only cellphone data-extractors for use in the Waco region.

Since 2013, HPD has done more than 290 cellphone extractions for about 20 different agencies, including the FBI, at no charge, Devlin said.

“We will contact Cellebrite, get the upgrade, then send two individuals for training to learn how to extract the data from the mobile devices for all entities in McLennan County and beyond,” said Devlin.

All eight area agencies which applied for criminal justice grants had to go before the HOTCOG board to be ranked.

HPD was notified via email it was ranked first and would be fully funded; the rest of the available grant funds will be disseminated to the other entities based on how they ranked.

The money is funneled through the Office of the Governor and is typically available within 30-60 days.