New High Tech Crime Unit Partnership in Lake County Building Indiana

The High Tech Crime Unit: An Important Development for Lake County Criminal Justice

The Lake County Prosecutor’s office recently announced its partnership with Purdue University Northwest to launch a state-funded High Tech Crime Unit (HTCU). This partnership provides an important resource for law enforcement agencies in Lake and Porter counties to investigate and prosecute criminal acts committed through various digital devices.

The Purpose of the HTCU

The purpose of the HTCU is to develop specialized operations and to process digital evidence from computers, cameras, laptops, tablets, cell phones, and other electronic devices to reduce turnaround time for evidence collection. Work at the HTCU is expected to assist in investigations of financial and violent crimes. Two full-time Lake County Prosecutor’s office members will staff the HTCU and process digital evidence submitted by local law enforcement agencies in Lake and Porter counties.

Partnership with Purdue Northwest

The HTCU will be housed on PNW’s Hammond campus and will partner with its existing Center for Crime and Forensics, providing seamless sharing of resources and subject-area expertise. The Center for Crime and Forensics provides education, training, research and development, and forensic science testing services to academia, law enforcement, and legal communities alike.

PNW has two full-time forensics faculty members with over 30 years of combined experience in crime lab management, including building and operating multidiscipline forensic testing facilities. PNW students in pertinent disciplines are also expected to have opportunities to contribute at the HTCU as deputized workers that can help process evidence and testify in criminal prosecution.

Impact on the Criminal Justice System

The HTCU will have a tremendous impact on the criminal justice system as it works in tandem with Purdue Northwest students to extract crucial evidence for prosecution. Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter expressed his excitement about this opportunity and noted that this partnership will tremendously benefit the criminal justice system.

Technology has evolved significantly over the past decade, and so have the crimes associated with it. Nowadays, perpetrators are leaving “digital fingerprints” and an evidence trail, making it imperative for law enforcement officials to leverage new technology to solve and build solid cases for the prosecution of criminal acts.

Significance of the HTCU

This partnership is significant as it helps to modernize the criminal justice system and meet a growing need for digital forensics knowledge and application. In spring 2021, Indiana lawmakers authorized the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council to establish high tech crime units with the intention of aiding investigation and collection of digital evidence and prosecution of financial, sexual, or other digital crimes committed with computer networks.

The units were also intended to partner with higher education institutions to collaborate with resources and provide students real-world experience in digital forensics. The Lake County Prosecutor’s Office was selected as a recipient for funding, and it chose to partner with PNW to leverage existing resources in academics and research in forensics, criminal justice, and computer-related disciplines.


The HTCU at PNW is a win-win for the prosecutor’s office and the university and reinforces the mission of Purdue University Northwest as a metropolitan university to grow its partnerships with community stakeholders. This partnership provides a significant boost to the criminal justice system in Lake County and is a significant step forward in the fight against computer-related crimes.

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