Fighting Internet Predators
State legislators were joined yesterday by TV’s Erik Estrada to make the case for dedicated funding to fight internet predators.
At a press conference on strengthening laws to fight internet predators, a bipartisan group of legislators got some help from someone best known for fighting crime on the small screen….
Sound Clip (A few seconds of the CHiPs theme.)
Erik Estrada, who’s best know for playing Ponch, a motorcycle cop on the TV show CHiPs.
Estrada is in real life a certified officer with the Bedford County Virginia Sheriffs Department in their ICAC or Internet Crimes Against Children Department. He works online from his home in Southern California on safety education and prevention efforts.
Erik Estrada: When I became aware of what was going on, on the internet I was brought in and I was sat down by one of the gentlemen in front of the computer and he punched in a 4 a Y and a zero. And he said, ‘what’s that?’ and let’s face it I’m from the disco era, I’m from the 70’, that was my time on the street, I looked at him and I said, ‘for yo?’ and he says ‘no, no, no, no, no’ and he says, ‘watch’, and he clicks it, just a click away, the frame starts to fill out like, ‘ch,ch,ch,ch,ch…, four times over, it 457 hits of people out there wanting to share four-year-old child pornography with me, that quick, that’s what’s going on. And he pulled up one of those little films and when you see an eleven-month-old baby girl in a situation where she’s being victimized by an adult…this is what’s going on out there. Now I interpret all the Latino stuff that comes through my unit. It’s nasty and we can do something about it. Also we would like help with electronic providers out there. There’s a law that they have to give us information and they have to help law enforcement when we call them up and say hey look we have this can you help us give us an address, can you help us? A lot of them really they make it difficult and they don’t cooperate as readily as they should. But I’m sure that if they looked at three seconds of what I’ve looked at, they would help, because it could be their child, their grandchild. What I’ve seen is real, it is real it is out there. It’s a lot nastier and a lot more dangerous than we think. The internet is a great tool for education, entertainment, information but it’s also the greatest hangout for sexual predators.
Steve Anders is an investigator with the ICAC task force.
Steve Anders: Child pornography is nothing short of a crime scene photo of a child being raped. We know that the majority of these people trafficking in these crime scene images are what we call duel offenders. That means not only are they collecting this to fuel their fantasies, the vast majority of them are committing hands on offense. When they fuel their minds with this and equate it with pleasure it’s not that long before they start acting out what their viewing because they want to experience it first hand. The ICACs, we’re not the best hope, we’re the only hope for the children in this commonwealth and across the country, that are waiting for someone to come rescue them, to pull them out of a situation that they have no power to save themselves from.
Both the House and Senate have already passed bills that would help police more efficiently obtain search warrants of internet service providers.
Republican Delegate Dave Albo of Fairfax has submitted a bill that would expand the state’s child accountability reporting system created last year. Currently social services reports any information on child abuse cases to a centralized database. Albo’s bill would expand that database to include the state police and court systems so they can track child abuse cases once a charge is made. Albo’s bill has passed both the House and the Senate unanimously
Democratic Senator Creigh Deeds of Bath County has submitted budget amendment….that would create a dedicated revenue stream for Virginia’s two Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces…by imposing a ten dollar fee on felony and misdemeanor convictions in the state. Deeds says he believes this will generate about 1.8 million dollars a year. Yesterday the bill passed the House Appropriations committee unanimously, which should bring it to the floor for a full vote in a matter of days.
Craig Carper, WCVE News, Capitol Square.