ICAC helps track down online predators | ICIN

Just last year, Indiana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force had more than 7,600 cyber tips come in. And that number is always rising.

INDIANAPOLIS — After a horrifying case of child exploitation reached Indiana, law enforcement is issuing a renewed warning to parents about the importance of online safety for their kids. 

On Monday, 24-year-old Demetrius Carl Davis was arrested in Sacramento, California. He’s accused of pretending to be a young girl online, grooming minors to perform graphic, sexual acts.

So far, police know of at least 80 victims spanning the country, including 11 in Indiana. And, investigators believe there are likely many more out there. 

RELATED: Victims of California man accused of luring children into making porn online include Indianapolis, Kokomo kids

Now, police are urging parents to make sure they know what their kids are doing online to stop potential abuse before it has the chance to start. 

“Our kids are obviously the most vulnerable part of our society. And when they’re being victimized, it just goes to everybody’s hearts,” said Capt. Bryan Harper, the commander of the Indiana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. 

Harper said officers on Indiana’s ICAC task force are constantly busy working to identify predators victimizing kids online.

“These leads come to us every single day,” Harper said. 

RELATED: ‘Once it’s out there, it’s out there’ | Keeping your children safe from online predators

According to Harper, Indiana’s ICAC task force includes 146 officers across 41 local and state agencies. Nationally, the state ranks 16th in cyber tips. Just last year, Harper said, they had more than 7,600 cyber tips come in.

And that number is always rising.

Harper said they work closely with the 61 different ICAC task forces spread out across the country, tracking down the criminals abusing kids over the internet.

“When it comes to kids, it really is an all-hands on deck scenario,” Harper said.

But these cases can be extremely challenging to investigate, Harper said, especially as new technology and encryption make it harder and harder to track predators. But everyone on the task force is dedicated to catching those believed to be abusing children. 

“Their heart and soul is poured into these cases. And they’ve all been a part of a case or a lead on a case that involves an actual rescue of a child and we don’t know that going in generally so every one of these cases coming across their desks, it’s not just an image of a child, it could be a child in that home or in that community that is right now being victimized,” Harper said. “And when that’s in the back of your mind, you put every effort into that case to try and get it resolved and make sure there’s not a child on hand that’s currently being victimized.”

More resources are needed to help make sure the task force can track down these predators, Harper said,  but the easiest way to prevent this abuse is to stop it before it can start. For that to happen, he said parents need to sit down with their kids and talk openly to find out what they’re sharing, who they’re talking to and monitor what they’re doing online.

“Until that parent-child relationship changes on the internet and what they’re doing on the internet, it will always be around, unfortunately,” Harper said.

The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force estimates 1 in 6 kids between 9 and 17-years-old have shared a nude image online.

In 60% of online exploitation cases, ICAC reported the child knew the offender and 51% didn’t report the incident to family or friends, while only 13% were reported to police.

Websites can help to report child exploitation online, including cybertip.org.   

Leave a Comment