Stow Police Department Joins Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force
"The Internet is an area that we have neglected for too long and we are anxious to become actively involved in this method of law enforcement," Stow's police chief said.
Stow Police Chief Louis Dirker said his department continues to be committed to providing the best protection and services to the youth of the community, which is why the Stow Police Department is the newest member of the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force.
The department already has a DARE program and a School Security Officer (SRO) assigned to the Stow-Munroe Falls High School as well as a program called Adopt-A-Cop, where the police officers will visit the schools in their districts a few times a week.
And now, the department can add ICAC to that list.
"Joining the task force was the next logical step to take in protecting our children from criminals and predators," said Dirker. "It is true that police officers cannot be everywhere, but we can use whatever means are at our disposal to bring criminals and those who would do harm to the children of our community to justice. The Internet is an area that we have neglected for too long and we are anxious to become actively involved in this method of law enforcement."
The Ohio ICAC Task Force is comprised of numerous Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys, Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police, along with state and federal authorities, who are committed to working across jurisdictional lines to apprehend and prosecute online predators.
“This new partner agency will give predators one less place in Ohio to hide. From community education to conducting investigations, the Stow Police Department has increased the ability of law enforcement to bring online sexual predators to justice," said Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason.
Here is an excerpt of a press release from Mason's office:
Today, children of all ages have access to the Internet. Unfortunately, while the benefits are obvious and numerous, there are dangers as well. The openness of the Internet provides pedophiles direct access to our children. Online child sexual exploitation, both the luring of minors into illicit sexual relationships and the production, distribution or solicitation of child pornography, is a serious threat to our youth and families.
Through the usage of social networking sites and electronics such as cell phones and web cameras, children can unwittingly expose themselves to dangers. Law enforcement agencies are working daily to educate the public on the consequences of a child making a bad decision when using the Internet.
Mason created the Northeast Ohio ICAC Task Force in 2000 to combat the rise of Internet crime against children. In 2003, he was asked by the U.S. Department of Justice to expand the Task Force across Ohio, and serve as the Task Force Statewide Chairman.
With the addition of the Stow Police Department this week, the task force now has 317 law enforcement partner agencies across Ohio:
- 172 police departments
- 73 county sheriffs
- 61 county prosecutors
- 11 other agencies:FBI, US Treasury, US Attorney General, Ohio Attorney General, Metropark Rangers, and the US Marshals. There is at least one ICAC member in each of the 88 counties throughout Ohio.