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sabato 26 marzo 2016
War on child pornography
"You can run, but you can't hide." That's the message from Orillia-based OPP Detective Staff Sergeant Frank Goldschmidt to those who possess, produce and distribute child pornography online, as well as those who try to lure children and teens through internet chat rooms.
Goldschmidt is the overseer of a provincially-funded program that fights child porn, an effort consisting of 27 police services in Ontario, including the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service.
Goldschmidt joined Sergeant Jack Rice and Constable Doug Erkkila of the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service Technological Crime Unit (TCU) in a presentation to the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service board at its Thursday meeting.
Constable Mike Rogers, a third member of the Sault Police Service added to the Technological Crime Unit in 2014, was not in attendance.
The province's strategy to combat online child pornography first ramped up, Goldschmidt said, after the kidnapping, sexual assault and murder of 10-year-old Holly Jones in Toronto in May 2003.
Michael Briere, convicted of rape and murder in that case, told police it was online child pornography that drove him to commit the crimes.
As of January 2016, 32,339 investigations have been completed province-wide, with 3,350 arrests made, 11,540 charges laid and 750 victims identified.
Local investigations have led to prosecutions and jail time for offenders (most recently Guy Coutu, sentenced in court in Sault Ste. Marie Wednesday)
Sault Police said they are currently keeping an eye on 27 computer systems locally (referred to as "targets") which have the potential to provide others with child pornography.
Rice said he has interviewed local victims as young as 10 years old in the course of his work.
"At the end of the day I find the position rewarding because every child matters everywhere, and we're working to protect our most valuable resource, our children," Erkkila said.
Erkkila told the board the Sault Police Service has benefited from advanced training offered through the provincial anti-child porn strategy, which includes the ability to analyze evidence from disassembled cell phones.
Police said apart from law enforcement, there is an ongoing campaign to educate children about the dangers of self-exploitation on the internet and being lured by predators through chat rooms.
"We've got to cyber-proof our kids," Goldschmidt said.
"Parents need to be strict, but you can't be too strict and shut off your child from technology, but you need some control over what they're doing while they're in your own house, you need to know what they're doing."
"They need to know the dangers (of internet predators) from an early age, we're really trying to target that seven to 11 age," Goldschmidt said.
In another matter from Thursday's meeting, the board approved the purchase of eight heavy duty vests, at a cost of $9,496, from the police service's capital reserve budget account.
"These vests will ensure that all cruisers that are on the road, once they're equipped with carbines, will also be equipped with the ballistic, heavy vests for officers," said Robert Keetch, Sault Police chief, speaking to reporters after Thursday's meeting.
The Sault Police Service is currently in the process of purchasing a number of carbines and heavy duty vests for officers, in keeping with recommendations for officer safety after three RCMP officers were killed in a shooting rampage in Moncton in June 2014.