Police Work to Stop Child Predators Online - FOX 21/27 WFXR Roanoke/WWCW Lynchburg News, Weather

Police Work to Stop Child Predators Online

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With advanced technology you can get almost anything you want with just a click of a button.

But these advancements also make the Internet more dangerous as online predators take crime to another level.

Friday, the Roanoke City Police Department got a $3,500 computer system to help crack down on online child predators.

It's called "cop in a box." Police say they are essential to stopping sex crimes against children before they happen.

The computer allows police to go online under disguise and monitor and even interact with these predators and locate where they are and what they are attempting to do.

The computers were donated by the Safe Surfin' foundation and its supporting partner, Moose International.

It's an attempt to bring law enforcement agencies up to speed despite budget cuts in police department.

The program was developed in part by the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, headed up by Bedford County Sheriff Mike Brown.

With 47 years of police work behind his badge, Brown has seen more than his fair share of crime. He attests to the fact that criminals are advancing with technology.

"Criminals that we have encountered on the Internet - the ones that go after our children, our young children, our youngest of children - they are very savvy, technically speaking," Brown said. "We sort of have to run to keep up with them."

Police are running for good reason. Each year, criminals spend $3 billion on buying child pornography. There are over 700,000 sex offenders in the United States. So with 93 percent of all children surfing the web today, those kids are a lot of targets for police to protect.

These are alarming statistics that Detective Jason Moore with the Roanoke City Police Department devotes his career to.

"FBI studies show that a lot of people that collect child pornography have actually acted out and victimized young children. So most people look at it as its not just child pornography, it's a lot more than that," Moore said.

Thanks to the new donation of cop in a box, Roanoke City Police will now be able to monitor online predators throughout the county and even in the United States.

"As more and more people get online, police departments are feeling the crunch with budgets and stuff and its training and equipment are essential to these types of investigations and this is a huge opportunity for us," Moore said.

It's the opportunity to protect the innocence of children with one click of a button.

"More computers, more investigators on the street, less sexual predators, less victims. It's simple," Brown said.

To learn more about the Safe Surfin' Foundation, visit their web site.

Parents or guardians who wish to learn more about how to keep their kids safe from online predators can check out the Safe Kids website.