Wythe County Program Targets Online Predators - FOX 21/27 WFXR Roanoke/WWCW Lynchburg News, Weather

Wythe County Program Targets Online Predators

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There is a new tool helping deputies fighting crime on the streets do it in cyberspace too.

It's called Cop in a Box, and it works by helping deputies think outside the box. The program, which costs around $3,500, was a gift to the Wythe County Sheriff's Office by the local Moose Lodge.

"Everybody is involved in some form of social media and people are online much more than they were even just a couple of years ago," said Keith Dunigan, chief deputy.

A deputy has been assigned to work a portion of her time trolling through chat rooms and social media sites on the lookout for predators.

"When we have that, naturally that becomes a priority case for us. So we'll put whatever resources we have available into concluding that."

Sheriff's officials tell us they hope to hire a second deputy to help with the program soon. The computer system can store information in a case file format and link to other systems to share information. Dunigan believes it could have helped on a case a few years ago.

"It was a young teenager who was targeted by an adult 30 years older than her online and he preyed on her. With this system in place, that may be something that would have been possible for us to stop before it ever happened."