By Jerry Crotty, Director of Law Enforcement Operations, NITV FS

The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program is a national network ​of 61 coordinated task forces representing over 4,500 federal, state, and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies. These agencies are continually engaged in proactive and reactive investigations and prosecutions of persons involved in child abuse and exploitation on the internet. There are 4,500 task force agencies that are assigned to monitor an estimated 3.2 billion users world-wide from criminal activity involving children innocently using the internet. 

Everyday there are multiple news stories where someone is arrested for possessing child pornography or sexually exploiting a child via the internet.  There is no model of what to look for when it comes to these types of offenders.  The stereotypes associated with these types of offenders can be nothing further from the truth these days. Today, offenders can hide behind electronic devices pretending to be a child in hopes to lure children into sexual situations, collecting unlawful images and exploiting children. Truth be told, it doesn’t matter how much money someone makes or what their social status is, anyone anywhere can be an offender.

One of the many responsibilities the ICAC Task Force has is to locate and identify victims which are currently or previously been exploited at the hands of these offenders.  These offenders are arrested and often times courts accept the explanation from their attorneys that these individuals are confused or entrapped due to specialized defenses aimed at pointing out that these offenders only had “pictures” or the person they were going to meet up with weren’t children, but Police Officers.  In 2014, the Central Florida Task Force was being relentlessly attacked by the local media for what they referred to as the entrapment of lots of young immature men. Something had to be done to prevent this defense tactic. There needed to be a way to identify which offenders were hands on and which ones were hands off sexual offenders.

Studies show that the length of time between the arrest and a proper interview process, to include truth verification, is key to properly identifying hands-on offenders. Studies also revealed that the number of these offenders is much higher than many previously believed.  It was important to find a truth verification instrument that is efficient in the time it takes to obtain accurate results. These types of exams are necessary to accurately identify the offenders not only to identify victims of sexual abuse, but to also allow the prosecutor, judge and correctional personnel to have a full picture of what this offender has done. After researching and consulting with other truth verification devices, it was learned that many of these examiners were bound by procedures in a way that was not conducive to these types of investigations, arrests and subsequent interviews.  Furthermore, the amount of time needed to conduct these truth verification exams would slow down the Task Force and many Task Force Investigators were opposed to the amount of time it would take to conduct an exam on one offender. This presented a huge problem because it was common to arrest multiple offenders in one night.

The Computer Voice Stress Analyzer was discovered to meet all of the requirements the Task Force demanded.  In 2015 the CVSA was introduced into the Central Florida ICAC Task Force and the results were immediate.  These offenders surround their lives with deception in an attempt to conceal their true intentions towards children, but now there was a way to verify or overcome their denials. After the CVSA was implemented into the interview procedures of ICAC investigations, the majority of these offenders were charged with multiple crimes and unreported victims were identified.  I am often asked how to convince other Task Force members to implement the CVSA into their units.  Often, it is a money issue or an issue of time to set aside to conduct truth verification exams.  My answer is always the same. How much would you spend and how much extra effort would you put into an investigation to save just one child from being sexually exploited?