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Crimes Against Children, Cyber Crimes Units work to protect Indiana youth

Monday, July 2, 2012

PUTNAMVILLE -- In today's society, the most insidious criminals are those who choose to prey children through heinous acts that steal the innocence of childhood, Indiana State Police officials believe.

Tragically, infants to teens can become sexual targets of family members, neighbors, persons charged with their care, or total strangers.

Victims include both genders, all races and all socio economic backgrounds. Not only are the effects of child sexual exploitation physically and mentally debilitating, but can last a lifetime and often result in a recurring pattern of abuse for future generations.

Sadly modern-day cyber world technology permits depraved persons to victimize children around the globe. Violators of children use the Internet to exploit and victimize children in Indiana without ever actually coming in contact with the child.

Sexually explicit images and videos of children can literally be produced and disseminated online in a matter of minutes. Once child pornography hits the Internet it is virtually impossible to ever remove, thus perpetuating the victimization of those violated beyond their lifetime.

In our modern society there are dedicated professionals in and out of law enforcement working tirelessly to identify and prosecute the criminally deviant people that violate our children.

At the Indiana State Police there are 14 highly motivated, fiercely dedicated, and extensively trained men and women of the Indiana State Police Cyber Crimes and Crimes Against Children Units. These detectives are tasked with the responsibility of conducting investigations involving online child enticement inclusive of the production, dissemination, advertisement, receipt, and possession of child pornography.

Forensic examiners conduct both on-scene and centralized forensic examinations of computers, phones, and other digital media collected for evidence, all in support of the investigator assigned to investigate the complaint.

Indiana State Police lead the Indiana Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, which has more than 50 affiliate criminal justice agencies throughout Indiana. Crimes Against Children Unit detectives are also trained as Digital Media Recovery Specialists (DMRS). This allows them to conduct forensically sound previews of computers, phones, and digital media with the support of examiners assigned to the Cyber Crime Unit.

Troopers interested in this type of work proactively seek out these highly skilled, highly trained, highly competitive positions, and ultimately pass rigorous testing and interview phases before being selected. Once assigned to a unit, the officers will undergo many weeks of training in computer forensics, online investigations, interviewing child victims, interviewing those that offend against children, and other skill areas. This training is conducted in Indiana and locations across the United States that offer the most up to date training for these types of criminal acts.

Those assigned to the Cyber Crimes Unit are issued state-of-the-art forensic hardware and software to conduct forensically sound examinations of devices using Windows, Apple, Linux and other operating systems.

Forensic examiners continually train to keep pace with the newest and most advanced releases from hardware and software manufacturers. Also at the disposal of the units is a mobile forensics vehicle in which investigators can conduct on-scene forensic examinations. This allows them to coordinate the investigative process with interviews, searches, and other investigative techniques in a more effective, efficient, and productive manner.

The department used federal grant funds to purchase the mobile forensic computer lab, which allows certified officers to conduct computer examinations at crime scenes. The department, in cooperation with Purdue University and the National White Collar Crime Center, developed the training and certification program for a tiered approach to computer forensics. This was the first such mobile forensics vehicle and tiered approach by any state, local, or tribal law enforcement agency in the country.

The following statistics were compiled by the respective units for calendar year 2011:

The five detectives assigned to the Crimes Against Children Unit (CACU) performed 140 digital media recovery examinations, evaluated and assigned 1,276 CyberTips received from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, conducted investigations that resulted in 119 individuals being charged in state or federal court and held 50 training sessions for law enforcement and civilian organizations with over 3,200 attendees.

The six forensic examiners assigned to the Cyber Crimes Unit (CCU) examined 304 computers, 46 loose hard drives, 385 CDs and DVDs, and 159 other pieces of digital media to include thumb drives, cameras, and flash memory cards. They also examined 712 cell phones, previewed 260 hard drives, and previewed 1,173 other forms of media.

Leading these efforts is ISP Lt. Chuck Cohen, who also serves as the Indiana Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force Commander. Supervisors in the field are First Sgt. John Richard and Sgt. Marty Metzger.

The ISP Crimes Against Children Unit was formed in November 1997 and the Cyber Crime Unit was formed in May 1998.

Additional questions concerning the Crimes Against Children and Cyber Crimes Units should be directed to Lieutenant Charles Cohen at 317-232-8309 or e-mail at ccohen@isp.in.gov.

To report a crime involving online child enticement or child pornography, people are urged to contact their nearest Indiana State Police Post or call the Indiana State Police Crime Tip Line at 888-873-1694.



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