DME Forensics is celebrating a birthday later this month - it'll be four years since we started operating full-time. I figured this would be a good time to take a look back at how we started and, more importantly, the successes and challenges that brought us to where we are today. There is a lot to share, so I'll be breaking this up into several posts in the near future.
Some of you may or may not know that I actually started DME Forensics while I was still working for the FBI. After receiving approval for secondary employment, I incorporated DME Forensics in November of 2012. The limitations of secondary employment necessitated that it be purely focused on training. I began teaching classes focused on the advanced analysis of proprietary DVR filesystems and the recovery of data from these types of systems. While satisfying, I felt like I could make a bigger difference by expanding what DME Forensics could do. I guess you could say that I got bit by the entrepreneurial bug. I saw an area of forensics that, in my opinion, was underserved. I could not, however, proceed while still employed by the federal government.
At the time, I'd known Jason Latham for about 6 or 7 years from our days at SWGIT - the Scientific Working Group on Imaging Technology. We lost touch when he went overseas to fight for our country. Thanks to the Wounded Warriors program, he had recently spent some time working with me at Quantico where we had a chance to reconnect. Jason left the program and returned to Kansas in early 2013.
A few months later, I learned that Jason wouldn't be able to continue with his position at the Sheriff's office due to the injuries he sustained in combat. We discussed making DME Forensics a full-time thing for both of us. Doing so would allow us to offer analysis services, and potentially expand in other areas, but it was obviously a risk. After medically retiring, Jason could have easily taken a non-sworn full-time position with another agency or company doing forensic video and image analysis. He'd be guaranteed a paycheck and could continue to do the work he loves. As for me, when I started in forensics, my goal was to make it to the FBI one day. I had made it, so was I really about to walk away from that? And for both of us, partnering in business with someone you consider to be a friend usually ends up going one of two ways - it's a disaster and you lose the friendship (and likely the business), or it is a huge success. There isn't a whole lot of in between, and unfortunately, I suspect the statistics would bear out that the former happens much more often than the latter.
I discussed it with several people in the field. Some of those people told me I was crazy, the others, well, I'm pretty sure they just didn't verbalize it. Despite that, we decided to do it. I can't speak directly for Jason, but for me, it came down to my desire to address the need I saw in the area of forensic analysis of surveillance DVRs.
I put in an extended notice with the FBI, finished the active cases I was working on, and in late May 2013, DME Forensics became my full-time focus. They say, "don't quit your day job,” but I just had. While exciting, this was a scary time for me, and I won't lie and say there wasn't days I doubted myself and the decision, but ultimately, I knew it was the right decision. Like many times in life, it's a game of incomplete information. All you can do is make the best decision you can with the information you have available at the time. When you acquire new information, you re-evaluate and adjust if needed. Trust me - DME Forensics as a company, as well as myself personally, have made plenty of adjustments over the years. It's always a work in progress.
That is more than enough for now. Next time, we'll take a look at setting up our lab, and discuss the roots of what you know today as DVR Examiner. Stay tuned!