A bipartisan bill to reauthorize the National Computer Forensics Institute (NCFI), which has trained over 16,000 law enforcement officers across the country including hundreds of officers in Michigan, was introduced Friday by 8th District Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly).
The Alabama-based NCFI, which is run through the United States Secret Service, has trained law enforcement from all 50 states in cyber investigations and cyber incident response, and according to a release from Slotkin’s office, “was instrumental in the local law enforcement response in Oakland County after the tragic November 2021 shooting at Oxford High School.”
In Michigan, the program is said to have delivered over $2.6 million in equipment to local law enforcement and provided training to more than 300 officers, judges and prosecutors. Local police departments as well as the Michigan State Police and Michigan National Guard have all been beneficiaries of NCFI.
“The NCFI has played a critical role in training and supporting local and state law enforcement officers across Michigan and around the country,” said Slotkin. “This is an invaluable, hands-on program that brings together officers at the local, state and federal level, and Michiganders saw the benefits firsthand in the aftermath of the tragic shooting at Oxford High School last year. We need to give law enforcement the tools and resources they need to be successful, and ensuring NCFI can continue to serve its role through 2032 is an important part of that effort.”
Also speaking in favor of the bill was Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard, who said he appreciated the assistance and training provided by NCFI.
“More and more criminal cases, including the tragic Oxford High School shooting, turn on evidence related to computers and technology,” said Bouchard. “Our Computer Crimes Unit relies on the training and partnership we have with the NCFI to obtain that proficiency. We are thankful for Congresswoman Slotkin’s work on this issue to ensure that this critical program is reauthorized in a timely manner.”
The bill authorizes the NCFI, which would currently expire this November, through 2032.
It also makes a number of changes, including changing the language on the original legislation which stated that the NCFI, “shall disseminate information related to the investigation and prevention of cyber and electronic crime and related threats, and educate, train and equip” law enforcement officials.
The updated resolution removes the mission to disseminate information and instead states “The Institute’s mission shall be to educate, train, and equip State, local, territorial, and Tribal law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, participants in the United States Secret Service’s network of cyber fraud task forces, and other appropriate individuals regarding investigating and preventing cybersecurity incidents, electronic crimes, and related cybersecurity threats, including through the dissemination of homeland security information, in accordance with relevant Department guidance regarding privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties protections.”
It also requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to report to Congress on “NCFI’s activities, successes, and projected demands for training” while also requiring the center to “consider current and projected training demands and the center’s need for expansion of facilities and training to meet projected training demands.”
Co-sponsors for Slotkin’s bill include Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) as well as Reps. Mike Rogers (R-AL), Jim Langevin (D-RI), Robert Aderholt (R-AL), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Mo Brooks (R-AL), Val Demings (D-FL), Ritchie Torres (D-NY), and Yvette Clarke (D-NY).