OSBI Expands Task Force For Internet Crimes Against Children
TULSA, Oklahoma - The OSBI is training 15 new investigators who will be part of the is Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force this week on how to track down offenders.
There are 56 partnering agencies, including local, state, and federal agencies like Homeland Security. The OSBI runs the task force and coordinates trainings twice a year.
"Wherever you go online, you leave a digital footprint. And so we are training to be able to track that back to offenders,” said Adam Whitney, with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.
While the OSBI can’t reveal details of the training, agents said investigations start with tips to law enforcement or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The numbers for 2018 have been submitted, but Whitney said the task force received 1,756 tips in 2017.
"Once we get that tip, we start reviewing evidence and trying to identify the pertinent information that we need to track,” said Whitney.
The Tulsa County District Attorney said without highly-skilled investigators on the ICAC Task Force, prosecutors couldn’t do their jobs.
"The collection of evidence and the integrity of that investigative process is really important,” said Steve Kunzweiler. "If we have to go to a jury trial and that, I want to be able to make sure that that chain of custody, that chain of evidence is sound and intact so these officers are learning some really valuable skills."
Kunzweiler said his office prosecutes way too many cases of internet crimes against children.
“We aggressively prosecute these offenders,” said Kunzweiler. “They know how to lure susceptible children into their trap. They know how to groom them.”
Kunzweiler said as a father, he spent a lot of time with his wife talking to their children about what things to watch.
“We are lucky, we’ve been married for 30 years. But there are a lot of broken and fragmented families out there. Those are the vulnerable children,” he said.
The DA’s office said parents need to remember they own their child’s phone, and they have a responsibility to know what’s on it, and that technology is a real threat.
"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that guy over there who's holding a gun over there is a threat to you,” said Kunzweiler. “It's a lot more education to understand that guy who's got that cell phone over there could be a threat to you, and you need to understand where all the bullets are in that cell phone."