|A half dozen law enforcement officers have banded together to form the Southwestern Missouri Cyber Crime Task Force (SMCCTF). In forming the SMCCTF these officers will be able to investigate, apprehend and prosecute sexual predators who exploit children.
The force consisting of Joplin Police Chief Lane Roberts, Jasper County Sheriff Archie Dunn, Newton County Sheriff Ken Copeland, Barry County Sheriff Mick Epperly, McDonald County Sheriff Rob Evenson and Cassville Police Chief Lonnie McCullough and their departments will seek out predators by using methods consistent with the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) standards and procedures.
The ICAC program is a national network of 59 coordinated local task forces and their 1,800 local and regional affiliated agencies engaged in both proactive and reactive investigations, forensic examinations, effective prosecutions and community education. The ICAC Task Force Program was created to help state and local law enforcement agencies enhance their investigative response to offenders who use the Internet, online communication systems, or other computer technology to sexually exploit children.
The ICAC program, funded by the US Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, actively protects those children who are increasingly using the Internet without adult supervision and who are too naive to understand the risks.
Because ICAC practitioners understand that arrests alone cannot resolve the problem of online victimization, the ICAC program is dedicated to training law enforcement and educating parents and youth about the potential dangers online and offering safety tools.
As of the 2007 census, there were 69,132 children in the group's jurisdictions. These chief law enforcement Officers have come together to show their commitment to the children, and public at large, in ensuring Internet safety for the future. These Chief Law Enforcement Officers also understand that no one agency has the capacity to conduct these investigations alone and consequently have come together to address this situation.
The group issued the following statement: "Nothing is more important than the safety of our children. Protecting our children from evil that is lurking in the shadows, by way of computers and the Internet. Today Southwest Missouri Law Enforcement takes a big step in joining together forming a Task Force to protect our children, by going after those who want to prey on our children’s innocence. We believe the combined success of this task force for the future is going to send a message to those who believe they can prey on our children: DON”T MESS WITH OUR KIDS."
Dunn added that he especially "is proud and honored to join forces with the following agencies."