If you?re planning any Internet malfeasance in the near future, be aware: Marion County Sheriff?s Deputy No. 1125 is only a phone call away.
His name is Ross Mayfield, and although he is known maybe to a handful of people within in Marion County, Mayfield is recognized as one of the leading cyber sleuths in the nation and a top instructor of what is known as ?ethical hacking.?
Mayfield currently lives in the Los Angeles area, but his expertise regularly takes him around the country, including the National Security School at the University of New Haven, where he is ?practitioner in residence.?
But his list of clients and employers includes the Secret Service, the Los Angeles Police Depart?ment?where he became its first computer-crime instructor?the Naval Postgrad?uate School in Monterrey, Calif., and the Air Force?s Joint Infor?mation Opera?tions Warfare in Texas.
To name a few.
In the process, Mayfield has done everything from solve complex identity-theft cases, to teaching people how to take out the computer systems of another sovereign nation, to collecting evidence off a computer hard drive in the notorious Heidi Fleiss ?Madam to the Stars? case.
So, how did he become a deputy for Marion County?
Mayfield and Sheriff Lee Becker first met in 2000 at a law enforcement conference. The two hit it off right away, in part connected by their Kansas origins. Mayfield, who grew up near Inman, invited Becker to call him if he could help on a case.
Not long after, Becker called him.
?I had a case that involved identity theft, and it was out in California,? Becker said. ?Ross was able to track down that for me and take care of it when my resources out there in the Los Angeles area couldn?t give it the attention it needed to get the case solved.?
Mayfield said he was more than glad to step in when Becker called, but he had to convince the officer in charge at LAPD.
?The guy running the bunco forgery division was a former student of mine,? Mayfield said. ?He said, ?Listen, Ross, I have 5,000 cases just like this one and 15 detectives in all of LAPD to work this backlog?and you want to bring this little Kansas case to the head of the line?? I said, ?Well, yeah. I?ll just go work it myself.?
?So he took two of his guys and said, ?Go work this case with him?and learn.? So we went off and we solved the case.?
And Becker deputized Mayfield in the process.
?When Sheriff Becker deputized me to do that identity-theft case here, I liked him and the department so much that instead of getting un-deputized, I just stayed in,? Mayfield said.
In fact, Mayfield?s connection with Marion County has been helpful on numerous occasions. Being deputized has given Mayfield sufficient credentials to do work for other clients?particularly to be authorized to search for evidence under a judge?s warrant.
?If he?s in L.A. and he needs to work under our colors, he can get that relationship going,? Becker said. ?There are certain things that law enforcement can do that the ordinary person can?t, and there are certain doors he can open that the ordinary person can?t.?
On one occasion, the Secret Service in Philadelphia needed Mayfield?s help involving ?some very, very sensitive stuff? in chat rooms originating in another country.
?I had the expertise they needed,? Mayfield said, ?so I called the dispatcher here (in Marion) and said, ?Look, this is 1125. I?m going on duty with the Secret Service in Philadelphia as a such-and-such.
?They recorded it in the log, and when I helped the Secret Service solve the matter in a couple of hours, I called the dispatcher back and I said, ?This is 1125, I?m off duty with the Secret Service.?
?Until I went on duty as a peace officer in this particular case, they couldn?t use me?and it was a great help to them.?
On another occasion, Mayfield needed authorization to research an Internet site protected with military-level encryption.
?Lee gave me permission to do reconnaissance, staking them out on the Net,? Mayfield said. ?I really got deep inside and found a way to circumvent their encryption.?
In the process, Mayfield discovered what appeared to be a confession of a homicide? but on further investigation the confession turned out to have been fabricated.
?Marion, Kan., would be an unlikely place where you would think some of the leading-edge stuff would be happening?but for me, it?s perfect,? Mayfield said.
Mayfield stopped in Marion County earlier this month to meet with his friend and ?boss.?
?About once a year, he?ll come out here,? Becker said. ?We?ll spend the day together, catch up on information systems and talk about new technology.?
Said Mayfield: ?You guys have a great sheriff here?that?s basically it. I?m from Kansas and I like being on the department here.
?There?s a lot of departments I could have been on, but I?m glad I chose this one.?