New task force forming to investigate online child sexual exploitation and internet crimes against children

Bartholomew County’s newest law enforcement task force will focus on combating online child sexual exploitation and internet crimes against children.

That’s according to 33-year law enforcement veteran Jay Frederick, who became the first full-time criminal investigator to work exclusively for the Bartholomew County Prosecutor’s office late last year.

Under a Memorandum of Understanding, the Columbus Police Department (CPD), the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) and the office of Bartholomew County Prosecutor Lindsey Holden-Kay will combine their knowledge and resources to form the task force, Frederick said.

“We are more powerful when together, and sharing ideas that work,” he said.

Having multiple agencies working together to solve mutual problems is no different than how the Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team or the Intelligence Led Policing Unit in Bartholomew County operate, Frederick said.

The local task force will fall under the umbrella of the statewide Indiana Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force. Overseen by the Indiana State Police, ICAC is one of 62 coordinated task forces in the United States.

There has always been a certain number of individuals who prey on youth, Frederick said.

“What’s new is that online enticement and technology has been facilitating crimes against children, with the number of crimes increasing globally at an exponential rate,” Frederick told the Bartholomew County Commissioners Monday.

Originally, the new alliance had requested a grant of $21,900 from the ICAC Task Force, Bartholomew County commissioners Chairman Larry Kleinhenz said. However, only $6,660 has been awarded that must be spent on computer equipment and training, he said.

“But what this task force does is enable us to access funding distributed across the country to help local jurisdictions like ours,” Frederick said.

The key for making the new local task force successful will be obtaining the right type of computers and trained personnel who know how to use them, the investigator told the commissioners.

ICAC was developed in 1998 in response to an ever-increasing number of children and teenagers using the internet, the growing amount of online images depicting child sexual abuse, and increasing online activity by people seeking to contact and exploit children and teens.

Across Indiana, ICAC has helped state and local law enforcement agencies conduct approximately 184,700 investigations, which led to the arrest of more than 10,800 offenders during the last fiscal year.

Funding for the program during the same period totaled $40.8 million to support personnel, training and technical assistance. ICAC Task Force funding is supported under the Missing and Exploited Children appropriation included in the Department of Justice fiscal year appropriation.