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Racine County sheriff adds Internet crimes investigator to staff

Sex crimes involving children have made major headlines this year across the country, from the Jerry Sandusky trial to the Milwaukee Catholic Archdiocese sex abuse scandal. Their prominence has led many Wisconsin residents to wonder whether sexual offenses against children have increased or are simply being reported more often. Either way, the issue has led to more sexual abuse reporting laws and tougher penalties for people convicted of sex crimes against children.

Police are also putting a higher priority on investigating potential sex offenses and making more arrests of people suspected of committing them. Even as the still-stagnant economy continues to shrink municipal public safety budgets, some police and sheriff's departments are adding special investigators to their forces to catch sexual predators.

The sheriff's office in Racine County, Wisconsin, is one of these departments. The sheriff recently announced that his department will be adding a new position to combat sex crimes against children -- specifically, those that originate on the Internet. The new Internet Crimes Against Children investigator will use tactics from the state's task force of the same name. He or she will go undercover on online chat forums and instant messaging services in search of adults looking for minors. After engaging them in conversation, the investigator will attempt to arrange meetings at which the predators can then be arrested.

These tactics aren't new, but they're usually effective. The Racine County Sheriff's Department plans to bolster its efforts by working with the city of Racine Police Department and the Racine County district attorney. Officials hope that combining forces will build stronger cases against sexual predators.

This means that those arrested in Racine County on charges of online solicitation of a minor could have a tougher time avoiding a conviction if they're implicated and arrested. Those who are will need the strongest legal representation they can find to avoid the most serious consequences.

Source: The Journal Times, "New investigator to focus on Internet sex crimes," Alison Bauter, Dec. 21, 2012

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