Abby Lukas, 24, is set to graduate from Kennesaw State University in May with a masters in science and criminal justice. She is a student in the college’s first class to graduate with such a background and said she knew in high school that this kind of job was something she’d like to do.
“I was fascinated with criminal justice,” said Lukas, whose first day was Monday. “I’ve also always been extremely interested in technology.”
She is splitting her time between the police department and writing her thesis on cyber crimes.
“As technology is increasing and bettering itself and growing, many average citizens use it to their advantage for banking and shopping, but it’s definitely giving individuals a platform to further commit crime,” she said. “It’s the job of law enforcement to utilize the technology to our advantage and to be able to catch those criminals from hopefully a proactive standpoint if not a reactive.”
Lukas hopes to use the Internet to do things like identifying criminals who steal items and then turn around and sell them on sites like eBay or post on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter about a crime they anticipate committing or have committed.
“I latched on to these cyber crimes years ago, so it’s something that I feel like I have somewhat an extensive knowledge and I have the passion fueling the drive to advance as far as possible,” she said.
Lt. Steve Campisi, who’s been with the department for 17 years and served as a detective for four years, said Lukas’ knowledge is an additional resource for his department.
“She’s another investigative tool for us to be both reactive to crimes that have been committed as well as being proactive to hopefully pick up on trends of crime as well as to identify potential criminal activity in the social network and media,” he said.
“With the popularity of social media, people do not seem to be hesitant to post what intensions they might have or acts they may have committed.”
Fellow detective Sgt. Patrick Bonito said, “We want to … manipulate the Internet to our advantage.”
“Criminals (get online) every day, so for us to be able to know what people are saying, especially our frequent flyers, people we’ve arrested in the past, it’s helpful,” the 17-year police veteran and three-year detective said.
Marietta Police spokesman Officer David Baldwin said no other department in metro Atlanta have hired an employee dedicated to this service.
“There are a lot of cyber crime investigators, but from what we’ve gathered, this is the first time we’ve garnered someone to be proactive about crime online,” he said.
A two-year Edward Byrne Criminal Justice Grant pays Lukas’ new position with the department. Baldwin could not recall the exact payout of the grant.
“What we’re hoping to do is that we have so much success that we can make it a permanent position,” Baldwin added. “With any brand new position, we do know that there will be some hiccups or road blocks but it’s really just one of a kind.”