Lehigh County District Attorney Task Forces

These are the various task forces utilized by the District Attorney's office.  Click on the task force name for more detailed information.

     

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» Computer Crimes Task Force
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The Officer David M. Petzold Digital Forensics Laboratory of Lehigh County has been instrumental in analyzing critical evidence in homicide and other criminal cases since it opened in March 2011.

The lab is located on the campus of DeSales University in Center Valley and is staffed by specially trained officers from several police departments, who work there part time. The lab was the first of its kind in Pennsylvania. 

DeSales University donated space on the lower level of Dooling Hall for the laboratory, and all labor and materials needed to install equipment and prepare the laboratory for use. 

The lab has been funded by contributions from the Officer David M. Petzold Memorial Foundation, which has donated $170,000; Lehigh & Northampton Counties; and forfeiture funds of the Lehigh County District Attorney. The Memorial Foundation donations are used for training, upgrading software and hardware, and maintaining software fees.

 In 2017, a matching grant of over $13,000 was received from a very generous, anonymous Lehigh County couple for the purchase of another Celebrite unit and accompanying equipment.   The match was made with forfeiture funds.  Celebrite units use digital forensic procedures to extract user data from mobile devices.  

  Northampton County joined the lab in 2016 and contributed $40,000 in 2016 and 2017.   This makes the lab’s impact on the region greater and enhances law enforcement capabilities in the Lehigh Valley. 

The lab’s commanding officer and manager is Paul R. Iannace, who retired from the State Police after 21 years. He has extensive experience investigating computer crimes.   His staff is comprised of one analyst and one investigator.  

Officers analyze computers and cell phones that are brought to the lab from police departments and enhance recordings of audio-visual equipment, such as video from surveillance cameras mounted in establishments and on streets.   Approximately 80% of the lab’s work is done on cell phones.  However, anything that holds data can be analyzed by the lab.  This includes watches, televisions, cameras and gaming systems.   Since the lab opened, over 4,500 pieces of evidence have been analyzed.  

The lab has a turnaround time of three weeks for phones and three months for computers.   The national average for response on equipment is 12 to 18 months.    

 Det. Iannace credits police departments’ participation for the low backlog of cases.  Police departments working with the Petzold Lab include Allentown, Bethlehem, Whitehall, Bethlehem Township, Emmaus, Upper Saucon, South Whitehall, and Easton.   

Det. Iannace said, “Technology is now associated with every crime.”  Iannace and his team analyze evidence in crimes involving homicide, child pornography, child luring, burglary, human trafficking, gangs, identity theft and fraud. The lab has played a pivotal role in many investigations.  

Internships have been offered to DeSales students at the lab since September 2011.  The lab accepts up to six interns per semester.  

The Petzold Lab and DeSales University Access Program have partnered to hold CrimeFITE: Forensics Investigation Training Experience, which is a camp open to high school students.  The camp is held at DeSales University and includes lectures by criminal justice professionals, detectives, forensic analysts, the Coroner, the District Attorney, and professors at DeSales.     Students can analyze evidence, view a forensics lab, view a computer lab demonstration, and participate in a mock crime scene.     

Task Force officers increase community awareness of identity theft and cyber security by presenting internet and digital safety programs.   To acquaint the public about issues and crimes related to technology, Det.  Iannace has spoken at middle and high schools as well as colleges.  He also has addressed parents’ groups, banking professionals, attorneys and police.