Texas AG to Target Internet Crimes Against Children
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced in a statement from Georgetown, Texas last week that his office hosted a law enforcement training conference to help increase enforcement of Internet based crimes against minors.
General Abbott’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) effort brought in law enforcement officers from around the state who are recently affiliated with the program.
According to the OAG press release:
OAG ICAC Task Force officers opened the conference Tuesday and provided basic investigative instruction about uncovering online exploitation crimes. OAG officers also discussed ICAC operational standards to ensure that all affiliate agencies comply with ICAC procedures. The new affiliates also received information about grant funding; federal law and obtaining search warrants related to child exploitation crimes.
The conference’s second day focused on Supporting Heroes in Mental Health Foundational Training (SHIFT). An ICAC officer’s daily work often subjects the officer to viewing illicit child sexual abuse materials such as child pornography – graphic images that cause irrevocable harm not only to the child victims, but also to the law enforcement officers who have to view the violations in order to prosecute the child predators who are trading the images. Wednesday’s SHIFT program, presented by the Innocent Justice Foundation, trained affiliate agencies’ officers and supervisors how to recognize and cope with serious negative effects caused by viewing harmful child sexual abuse materials.
The Texas Attorney General’s Office works closely with law enforcement authorities statewide to investigate and prosecute child sexual predators. In 2006, the U.S. Department of Justice designated the Attorney General’s Office as ICAC Task Force for the South Texas Region. As the home of a federally-funded ICAC Task Force, the Attorney General’s Office receives grant funding from the Justice Department for several peace officers. Child predators arrested by the Attorney General’s Office have been prosecuted in both state and federal courts.
Harris County Constable Ron Hickman runs one of the largest ICAC operations in the state. In an interview with Breitbart News, Constable Hickman said, “As a long time affiliate agency member of the Houston Area ICAC, we have seen tremendous increases in charges and arrest of offenders in this particularly heinous activity. The market is clearly full of such predatory people and with some of the advanced tools we have seen introduced in the law enforcement arena in recent years, our capabilities to track down and locate suspects is getting better.”
“That, coupled with the increasing interest paid to this segment of offenses against children,” Hickman continued, “we are seeing a greater number of agencies and investigators than ever trained and prepared to work on the complex cases. Not only do these types of cases take a talented investigator but one who is also well versed in the complexities and nuances of the internet. The Precinct 4 Constables Office in Harris County has long recognized the need for exponentially expanding this unique skill set and has been teaching the Cyber Crime Investigators course for the last three years. The more we provide training to handle technical crimes to investigators across Texas, the more likely agencies will have investigators and detectives prepared to approach these types of crimes.”
Hickman concluded by stating, “Working with the Texas Attorney General's Office, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, as well as other local, State, and Federal agencies provides a high volume of potential cases and we certainly need to have personnel prepared to meet that demand now and in the future.”
Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is currently running for the office of Governor of Texas has long been involved in efforts to crack down on sexual predators and human traffickers.