On Tuesday, October 9, 2018, at the 2018 International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Annual Awards Banquet in Orlando, FL, the GBI received the IACP/Thomson Reuters Award for Excellence in Criminal Investigation. Accepting the award from GBI were Special Agent Elizabeth Bigham and Digital Forensic Investigator Jacob Toulomelis. The GBI Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes (CEACC) Unit conducted an investigation of sexual exploitation from December 2015 through June 2017. After a single victim stepped forward, their efforts resulted in the discovery of over 30 additional victims, as well as an arrest and indictment of the suspect. Due to the complex digital forensics required for this case, the GBI utilized expertise of multiple state, local, and federal agencies. The strategy to search for additional victims using the initial victims’ internet provider addresses, social media accounts, and “machine cookies” of e-mails sent by the suspect was innovative and resulted in the suspect’s identification. Also recognized were the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Attorney’s Office, Middle District of Georgia.
The IACP/Thomson Reuters Award for Excellence in Criminal Investigation is given to a law enforcement agency, law enforcement unit, task force or inter-agency task force in recognition of exceptional innovation in criminal investigations. Each year, IACP receives entries from agencies around the globe where technology, traditional police work, and in some examples, inter-agency collaboration, meet to solve crimes ranging from unsolved cases and missing persons, to financial crimes and human trafficking. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is the only agency to have received this award twice.