Full Access to Grayshift Digital Forensics Director, David Smalley

Episode 8

Full Access to David Smalley
Episode Summary

Listen now for Full Access to David Smalley, Director of Digital Forensics at Grayshift. Smalley came to Grayshift with a background in both law enforcement and the private sector and takes listeners on the journey of his career from loss prevention officer to DF Director. 

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Show Notes

[1:46] Meet David Smalley, Director of Digital Forensics, Grayshift. 

  • Smalley tells listeners about his non-conventional entry into law enforcement 
  • Smalley recalls some incidents on the job early in his career such as almost getting hit by a car, being pepper sprayed, and a 2-mile foot chase  
  • At one point, Smalley began to handle the coordination of CCTV at various stores across the east coast 

[5:10] Full Access Host, Debbie Garner, directs the conversation towards taking a proactive approach to getting the job you want. 

  • Smalley explains to listeners that he started his law enforcement career in 2006 as a Community Service Officer and the world of working with the public sector 
  • Garner, Cleveland, and Smalley discuss the technical inefficiencies in the public sector at a global level 
  • Smalley praises his mentors along the way that helped him find his footing within his department 

[10:02] Cleveland asks Smalley to tell listeners about some of the training he attended related to digital forensics when he first got started in the field. 

  • Smalley says he was self-taught about investigative technology but took the initiative to request formal (extensive) training in digital forensics – the most notable of which were at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Georgia 
  • Smalley also calls out the most influential month-long training he’s participated in to date and how it led him into the criminal investigations division 
  • Garner asks Smalley how his agency was able to help him get this training 

[13:35] Garner touches on the issues agencies face when it comes to funding for training. 

  • Garner and Smalley talk about Smalley not having a GrayKey while he was in law enforcement and how he was the go-to tool for mobile forensics within his department 
  • Cleveland asks Smalley to discuss his most interesting and impactful case while he was in law enforcement 

[17:29] Garner and Smalley talk about the variety of investigations that digital forensics investigators and examiners get to participate in. 

  • Smalley notes that a lot of people fail to realize that digital forensic investigators aren’t assigned to specific groups within an agency; they take on whatever’s needed 
  • Smalley says being involved in a variety of investigations creates a well-rounded law enforcement professional 
  • Garner and Smalley agree that passion and persistence are imperative to a successful career as a digital forensics investigator 

[19:58] The conversation shifts to Smalley’s time in the public sector. 

  • Smalley tells listeners how he almost joined the Federal Law Enforcement agency in Lorton, Virginia as a Senior Digital Forensics Examiner and what he did instead of accepting that position 
  • Smalley recalls his time managing the Philadelphia Forensics Laboratory with a niche specialty in mobile forensics and video forensics 
  • Smalley teases some of the civil litigations and Hollywood scandals he worked 


[22:20] Smalley comes to Grayshift. 

  • Smalley was looking for something more rewarding and wanted to get back into investigative work when he came across a LinkedIn post by Grayshift CEO David Miles that led to him applying for his role at Grayshift 
  • Smalley tells listeners about his April Fool’s Day job offer and what made Grayshift feel like home to him 
  • Smalley informs listeners what it’s like to work on a small but mighty team dedicated to helping law enforcement 

[26:54] Smalley explains the main functions and responsibilities of his role, and the roles of his team members, at Grayshift. 

  • Smalley talks about the digital forensics team at Grayshift and how his team acts as the glue between customers and internal Grayshift teams focused on research and development 
  • Smalley has two main objectives: ensure that products work for Grayshift customers and meet with law enforcement and actively listen to their needs 
  • Smalley notes that his team has grown rapidly, and he now has 9 specialists on board with unique specialties in the digital forensics space 

[33:00] Garner asks Smalley to tell listeners why his team travels with test devices wherever they go. 

  • Smalley calls his team “road warriors” and shares how much they enjoy meeting with customers face-to-face 
  • Smalley says it’s important to travel with test devices because they understand the need for actual real-life information that resonates 
  • Smalley thanks listeners who allow his team to work closely with their agencies and states that the moment we stop listening to our customers we become useless to them 

[37:10] Cleveland tells listeners about the Investigators Corner available on Grayshift.com to those who have a Grayshift account. 

  • Smalley and team share a lot of great digital forensics and GrayKey information in the Investigators Corner 
  • Smalley explains how you can get to know the team in the Investigator’s Corner and the resources you can find there 
  • Garner prompts Smalley to discuss a blog post he recently authored about imposter syndrome 

[41:30] Cleveland asks Smalley what he thinks the biggest challenge facing law enforcement is today. 

  • Smalley states that gaining the public’s trust is the biggest challenge for law enforcement today, and discusses how it’s law enforcement’s responsibility to earn and keep that trust 
  • Smalley also states that for his group specifically, his biggest challenge is figuring out how we (Grayshift and law enforcement) can work together to solve crimes more efficiently 
  • Smalley believes the solution to these challenges is better communication and sharing intelligence 

[45:05] Closing out the episode. 

  • Smalley encourages listeners to check out the resources available to them on the Grayshift website 
  • Smalley reminds listeners that he and his team love to meet with law enforcement and how you can find them at many digital forensics’ conferences in the US and abroad 

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