By: Brianna Stacks
U.S. Congressman John Ratcliffe, representative for the 4th Congressional District of Texas, stopped off recently for a visit with Northeast Texas Community College Police Academy cadets. One of the main issues addressed by the congressman was the nation’s ongoing fight against cyber terrorism. With both a motivational and informative presentation, Ratcliffe offered the students insight into the experiences they may face as they move forward in their law enforcement careers.
After 9/11, Ratcliffe was appointed by the George W. Bush administration as the Chief of Anti-Terrorism and National Security. He later served as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas earning the reputation as the top federal law enforcement officer for a 33,000 square mile area of North and East Texas. Ratcliffe has been nationally acclaimed for his efforts in public corruption, drug trafficking, illegal immigration, Internet child predators and combat terrorism. He is currently serving in Washington on the House Homeland Security Committee as the Cybersecurity Subcommittee Chairman and on the Judiciary Committee.
“Crime has taken on many forms of cyber components in virtually every aspect of every case that the FBI handles today,” Ratcliffe explained, “and in that regard our law enforcement is changing.” The congressman stressed the importance that all levels of officials on the law enforcement chain should be well trained to handle all cyber evidence in cases they will encounter.
“In some cases today, it will not be that strand of hair or drop of blood that solves the case,” Ratcliffe said. “It will be an email or a geolocation information to show where a suspect was at the time of the crime.”
Ratcliffe spoke about a bill he proposed in congress dealing with the fact that this generation of police officers not only handle traditional crime, but are also expected to now take on the role of homeland defense in our communities. This bill was able authorize a facility conducted by the National Computer Forensics Institute (NCFI) in Hoover, Alabama for all forms of law enforcement to be trained by federal officials, such as the secret service, to prepare them for cyber security cases.
“Cyber Security is National Security,” Ratcliffe said in his presentation. He explained that the United States is attacked digitally by thousands of hackers yearly. The congressman said that online hacking problems can range from terroristic hackers to those who do it just because they can. He also spoke of cyber cartels and cyber criminals trying to monetize credit information. “We must ensure the protection of privacy,” he said.
Police Academy cadet, Heather Oldham, was pleased with the congressman’s presentation. “I think he hit a bunch of good topics that will benefit me greatly in the field,” Oldham said. “I do believe he will get things pushed through involving our cyber security that will leave us prepared to handle cyber evidence.”
Northeast Police Academy Director Richard Jones expressed his gratitude for Ratcliffe’s support of police officers and encouragement of NTCC’s cadets. “He understands that the blue line is everywhere, it is just not in the big cities,” he said. “I was very pleased to have him here as a guest speaker. He thanked all the cadets for making the decision to be police officers. He didn’t have to do that, but he did and that meant a lot to the cadets.”
Afterwards, the congressman took questions ranging from the steps being taken by the government to increase cyber security to the upcoming presidential election. He then joined some of the cadets in the indoor firing range where he was given the opportunity to shoot an array of firearms.
During his visit and interaction with the cadets, Ratcliffe expressed his deep founded respect for the career path these Northeast students have chosen.
“I know what law enforcement means. I know the role law enforcement plays and what those of you in this program and about to graduate play,” Ratcliffe said. “It is how our society maintains order, there is nothing, in my opinion, other than serving in our military, that provides a greater service.”