Computer Crime Research Center


Computerized fight

Date: August 12, 2007

Ben Charnota is an unlikely computer nerd: an outdoorsy guy who didn't know a lick about technology until college. As a boy in Wisconsin he kept his ear glued to his police scanner and dreamed of tackling the bad guys - not tackling code.

"I'm not a rocket scientist," he insisted, in a spare moment on the job as a Gilroy reserve officer. "How I got in labs for years, I don't know."

Today, Charnota does both, splitting his time between his computer forensics firm, Blackbag Technologies Inc., and patrolling Gilroy streets for free, one of the department's six reserve officers. In a windowless office in Santa Clara, he sniffs out hackers, perverts, identity thieves, tracing crime through electronic circuits; on Gilroy's streets, he directs traffic astride a motorcycle, and storms into danger with the Special Operations Group, Gilroy's SWAT team.
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