By Antonio R. Harvey | OBSERVER Staff Writer
A national network of coordinated task forces dedicated to investigating, prosecuting, and developing effective responses to internet crimes against children nearly lost an effective key program.
Thanks to Assemblyman Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove), who secured $5 million in state funds, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program (ICAC) stays in operation.
“As a former commander of the Sacramento Valley High Tech Crimes Task Force, I know firsthand how valuable ICAC is to protecting our young ones from sexually violent predators,” Cooper said in a May 13 written statement. “Now more than ever children are using the internet and social media at very young ages and are increasingly susceptible to online predators and victimization.”
The funds were included in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s May revise budget. Cooper spearheaded the funding request in an official letter to the governor dated March 30.
The program has been funded by the state since 2017. It is the third time in five years that Cooper secured funding to keep the state’s task forces running. Cooper also got $5 million in program-saving funds in 2019.
The program, which combats underground pornography, the sexual exploitation of children, and human trafficking, deploys five task forces statewide.
Funding for Sacramento Valley, San Jose, San Diego, Fresno, and Los Angeles programs was to expire at the end of the fiscal year. Cooper said the state would have lost one of its most essential crime-fighting mechanisms for protecting children and arresting sexual predators and human traffickers.
As recently as May 2019, the United States Department of Justice recognized the task force for its investigation that resulted in the timely arrest of a sexual predator who victimized at least five children.
The program is a national network of 61 coordinated task forces, representing more than 5,400 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. It offers the tools and techniques necessary to effectively respond to technology-facilitated child sexual exploitation and internet crimes against children.
ICAC functions under the Sacramento Valley Hi-Tech Crimes Task Force, a part of the Centralized Investigations Division of the Sacramento Sheriff’s Office, first organized in the mid-1990s.
Cooper, who is running for Sacramento County sheriff, represents Sacramento, Elk Grove, Galt, and Lodi.
For more information about the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program and Sacramento Valley Hi-Tech Crimes Task Force, visit sacvalleyhitech.com.