In 2019, the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Detective joined the HSI ICAC Task Force. By joining forces with HSI, the Sheriff’s Office is able to request additional resources in the form of technology, investigative databases and additional manpower for investigations. Prior to this partnership, the ICAC lab was equipped with one outdated forensic computer that crashed multiple times a day while the detective was running forensics, resulting in the loss of evidentiary data. Many times, the detective would have to start the process over to ensure all pertinent data was extrapolated. The forensic computer is the primary tool used by ICAC Detectives investigating child exploitation cases. In addition, the forensic computer is also used in a multitude of other investigations when a smartphone or computer may contain evidence of a crime. By partnering with HSI, the forensic computer was replaced, costing over $20,000 for which HSI reimbursed the Sheriff’s Office budget. In exchange, the ICAC detective helps HSI and other TFO partner counties with their investigations. The ICAC Detective recently uncovered a trans-American ring of child pornographers. That investigation required him to travel to Washington State with HSI to assist in the investigation, resulting in multiple investigations in other states that are ongoing. In 2021, the Sheriff’s Office received funding for an additional ICAC Detective due to the number of ICAC cybertips being received. The two ICAC Detectives recently coordinated a joint investigation with HSI and several surrounding counties to conduct an investigation blitz on backlogged cybertips in Randolph County. During the operation, detectives were able to close over 70 cybertips, resulting in the identification of four exploited children and at least four perpetrators; the investigation is ongoing.
Child abuse and exploitation cases are a priority for the Sheriff’s Office and we therefore constantly seek strategies and resources to combat these horrific and unthinkable crimes and protect our children who are our most valuable resource and most vulnerable citizens.