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Investigators: Tackle Large Datasets Using SEARCH’s Excel Tips, Tricks & Tweaks

SEARCH’s High-Tech Crime Training Services Program is offering a new, self-paced online training course, EXCELerate Your Investigations: Excel Tips, Tricks and Tweaks, on the SEARCH Online Learning Portal (SOLP).

This free course helps law enforcement investigators, prosecutors and forensic examiners more efficiently and effectively process large datasets to find evidence relevant to their investigations.

When responding to search warrants, companies often hand over records in .csv, .tsv or other delimited formats that can be difficult to interpret—as well as large and unwieldy.

Luckily, most investigators have access to a tool that can simplify and accelerate their examinations of large data sets: Microsoft Excel, perhaps one of the most underrated forensic and investigative tools.

Excel is a spreadsheet developed for Windows, macOS, Android and iOS. It features calculation, graphing tools, pivot tables, and a macro programming language. Excel enables users to:

  • sort, organize, filter, simplify, normalize and format data.
  • convert between timezones or quickly find information that appears most frequently.
  • conditionally format data to highlight the most critical information.

The course is designed for students who have a basic understanding of Excel and is comprised of five lessons, each featuring an instructor-led exercise followed by an independent student exercise. Students can work at their own pace, and the total course length is about 8 hours. Topics covered are:

Lesson 1: Introduction and Excel Overview
Lesson 2: Importing and Reviewing Data
Lesson 3: Sorting and Filtering Data/Removing Duplicates
Lesson 4: Importing and Transforming Data/Formulas/Tools and Tables
Lesson 5: Creating Effective Workbooks and Dynamic Pick Lists with Data Validation

Log into your SOLP account or register for an SOLP account today!

REGISTER FOR AN SOLP ACCOUNT: Any current law enforcement professional may register for a free account to access the SOLP.  To register:

  • Visit SEARCH’s Online Learning Portal
  • Scroll to the login area and click ‘Create new account
  • Complete the required and optional fields, including the ‘City/Town‘ AND ‘Law Enforcement Agency Affiliation‘ fields
    • Click the ‘Law Enforcement Agency Affiliation’ drop down to open the ‘Agency’ and ‘Title’ fields
    • Important: Use your law enforcement *agency email address* to register
    • **Failure to complete these 2 steps will result in your account being rejected and delaying your account creation.
  • SEARCH eLearning staff may follow up to confirm your law enforcement agency affiliation, if needed
  • You will receive an email within 2 business days notifying you when your account is approved

Problems registering? Email us at

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Karen Lissy

Ms. Karen Lissy is a Justice Information Services Specialist for the Law and Policy Program of SEARCH, The National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics. In this position, she provides assistance to state and local justice and public safety agencies to collect, curate, and use National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) data and computerized criminal history record (CCH/CHRI) information for policy analysis and development.

She also guides justice and related organizations in how to craft and implement laws, policies, practices, and technology applications to effectively collect and use CCH and related justice/public safety data; address legal, policy, and regulatory issues associated with CCH data; better manage and operate criminal justice information and identification systems; and develop security and privacy policies that protect justice information sharing systems.

Ms. Lissy has nearly two decades of research and data analysis experience, having led projects and tasks in support of two agencies within the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs (the Bureau of Justice Statistics and National Institute of Justice), as well as the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, and multiple foundations, including Ford, Annie E. Casey, and Hewlett. Prior to joining SEARCH in October 2020, Ms. Lissy served as a Social Science Researcher at RTI International, as a regional Crime Analyst for the Redmond (WA) Police Department, and as Director of a research program with the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis. Beginning in 2012, Ms. Lissy’s work has focused on improving data in law enforcement to answer policy questions and improve community/police relations.

Ms. Lissy earned a Bachelor’s degree in Public Policy from Duke University, and a Master’s in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.