For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Bob Cooper
Date: January 11, 2008
Idaho Forms Statewide Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force
(Boise) – A new statewide task force will focus local, state and federal law enforcement resources on Internet sexual predators and child pornographers.
Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, along with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and prosecutors, announced the formation of the Idaho Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force during a news conference in Boise this morning.
Agencies participating in the new statewide Idaho ICAC are:
Wasden’s office received a $250,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, to fund the task force’s first year of operation. The money will be used to train and equip investigators and prosecutors for task force operations.
“The grant presents a great opportunity to develop a statewide cadre of highly trained investigators and prosecutors, adhering to a strong set of national standards,” Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said. “The members will be able to coordinate their efforts and to call on each other for resources and expertise in investigating and prosecuting cases. This will result in stronger cases and more convictions.”
A 14-member governing board of state law enforcement agencies and lead affiliate local law enforcement agencies will oversee distribution and expenditure of the funds. The U. S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Idaho, the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the U.S. Marshall’s Service, the U.S. Secret Service, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service will work closely with the state and local task force members and serve as non-voting members of the governing board. Deputy Attorney General Steve Bywater, Chief of the Criminal Law Division, will chair the board and administer the grant.
“I want to commend the Attorney General Wasden and Steve Bywater, and all the local and federal affiliates, for taking on this vital project,” First Assistant United States Attorney Marc Haws said. “The prevention of Internet crimes against children has long been a priority for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, through Project Safe Childhood, and we have partnered with a number of state and local agencies to bring charges against those who possess or distribute child pornography, or attempt to arrange meetings with children for the purpose of sex. What the ICAC will do, however, is to free up funds to train local investigators so that we can prosecute more cases, and enable us to share our resources more effectively. This is indeed a red-letter day in the fight to protect our children.”
“Prior to this year, Idaho Task Force members were assigned to Utah. So were Montana members. We had to compete with agencies in all three states for training opportunities, funding and equipment,” Boise Police Department Detective Bill Smith said. “Thanks to the Attorney General we now have our own Idaho ICAC. We have no other states to compete with for funding, training and equipment. This results in a significant improvement in our ability to find, investigate and prosecute those that would prey on our children.”
Local ICAC task forces have previously operated in Pocatello, Twin Falls, Boise and Ada County and received some federal funding. However, funding and training opportunities were very limited.
“Last April, I asked my Criminal Law Division Chief to work with the existing local task forces and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Idaho to see if they would support creating a new ICAC in Idaho, with the Attorney General’s Office serving as the grant administrator,” Attorney General Wasden said. “They did. They were not only agreeable but enthusiastically supportive in helping us prepare the grant application. As a result, we’ve been able to expand the efforts of the pioneer local task forces and the federal agencies into a coordinated, statewide program.”
The national CyberTipline, created in 1998, has received more than 30,000 reports of online enticement of children for sexual acts and nearly half a million reports of online child pornography. For the week of November 4, 2007, the most recent week reported, there were 242 reports of online enticement and more than 1,300 reports of child pornography.
“There is no reason to believe that these crimes are any more, or any less, prevalent in Idaho than in the rest of the country,” Deputy Attorney General Steve Bywater said. “In fact, the local task forces have made more than 60 arrests in Idaho over the past few years. An additional benefit of the statewide task force is direct access to the national CyperTipline. All tips received relating to Idaho will come to the Idaho ICAC and be forwarded to local law enforcement agencies for follow-up.”
Idahoans may report suspected Internet crimes to the National CyberTipline at www.cybertipline.com or by calling toll–free (800) 843–5678.
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