A bill formally authorizing the National Computer Forensics Institute within the Department of Homeland Security to train state, local, and tribal law enforcement on how to deal with and prosecute cyber crime passed the U.S. House on May 16.

“I’m grateful my bill passed the House to help equip our police, prosecutors and judges to address cyber crime at the state and local level. The strong support it’s already received in the Senate makes me optimistic that we’ll get it all the way to the president’s desk for his signature,” said Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, the bill’s main sponsor. “The dedicated men and women in law enforcement deserve to have every tool possible at their disposal to combat rapidly evolving threats in cyberspace. Whether it’s an email that was sent, an online purchase that was made or geolocation information that places an individual at the scene of the crime–digital evidence now plays a role in virtually every crime law enforcement officers face today.”

According to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., the National Computer Forensics Institute, a training facility staffed by Secret Service special agents, already “serves the vital purpose of providing legal and judicial professionals a free, comprehensive education on current cyber crime trends, investigative methods, and prosecutorial and judicial challenges.”

The institute was created in 2008, but not formally authorized by law. A similar bill to authorize the institute was introduced by Ratcliffe in the last Congress and passed the House but not the Senate.

“Authorizing the existing National Computer Forensics Institute in Federal law will cement its position as a high-tech cyber crime training facility and will help law enforcement professionals nationwide in their efforts to combat cyber-related crimes,” said Goodlatte.

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