U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE AWARDS $400,000 TO MASSACHUSETTS TO COMBAT INTERNET CRIMES AGAINST CHILDREN
WASHINGTON -- The Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs (OJP) today awarded $400,000 to the Massachusetts State Police to continue funding of the Massachusetts Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force. The ICAC program encourages communities to develop regional, state or multi-state, jurisdictional, and agency responses to technology-facilitated sexual crimes against children. The Massachusetts task force began in 2001 and combines the skills of law enforcement officers, prosecutors and computer specialists throughout the region in effective enforcement efforts against Internet crime.
"As a father and a citizen, I care deeply about these issues," said Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales in announcing today's funding. "And as the chief law enforcement officer, I've made it a priority for the Justice Department to prosecute obscenity, child pornography, and sexual enticement cases."
In 2005, the Massachusetts ICAC task force investigated 435 complaints of child enticement, resulting in 34 arrests of individuals intent on meeting children for sexual encounters or for manufacturing, trading or possessing child pornography.
As of June 2006, the Massachusetts ICAC task force has investigated 820 complaints, resulting in 37 arrests of individuals intent on meeting children for sexual encounters or on child pornography charges.
"As long as our children use the Internet, there will unfortunately be predators who seek to exploit them," said Regina B. Schofield, Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs. "Since their inception just eight years ago, our Internet Crimes Against Children task forces have made almost 7,000 arrests. This grant shows that the Department of Justice is committed to supporting the ICAC task forces and our state and local law enforcement as they seek to make their communities safe from Internet predators."
Nationwide, between October 1, 2005 and March 31, 2006, the Justice Department-funded ICAC task forces have received over 8,000 complaints of technology-facilitated child sexual exploitation, which includes the possession, distribution and creation of child pornography, as well as attempts by individuals to lure and travel to meet children for sexual encounters. Investigations initiated from complaints have led to over 762 arrests, forensic examinations of more than 3,700 computers, over 1,500 case referrals to non-ICAC law enforcement agencies, and provision of training for more than 5,400 law enforcement officers and prosecutors.
In fiscal year 2005, ICACs investigated almost 200,000 complaints of technology-facilitated child sexual exploitation, resulting in over 1,623 arrests.
ICAC task force members have been asked to help train law enforcement worldwide in methods to combat Internet crimes against children. ICAC task force presentations, publications, and public service announcements have reached hundreds of thousands of teenagers, parents, educators and others interested in safe Internet practices for young people.
Last month, Attorney General Gonzales awarded the Attorney General's Special Commendation Award to Special Agent Flint Waters of the Wyoming ICAC Task Force for developing a unique method to investigate individuals trading in child pornography. He also trained law enforcement officers nationally and internationally to use his cutting edge software. This investigative approach is now being used successfully to identify, investigate, and arrest predators from all over the world.
The Office of Justice Programs provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice and assist victims. OJP is headed by an Assistant Attorney General and comprises five component bureaus and an office: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; and the Office for Victims of Crime, as well as the Community Capacity Development Office, which incorporates the Weed and Seed strategy and OJP's American Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Desk. More information can be found at www.ojp.usdoj.gov .