Tracking pedophiles in the Internet age is forcing many street smart cops to go back to class and become cyber savvy.
Pedophiles no longer have to loiter at playgrounds. They now lurk in the playground of the 21st century, the Internet. Tracking them has ushered in a whole new era in police work.
Bob Breeden of FDLE computer crimes, said, "It's the same crimes we've always worked, but now the bad guys are learning how to use technology against us, so to speak."
Officers from 25 agencies across Florida are in town this week to learn how to crack computer crimes against kids, learning to see behind the high tech smoke screens of chat rooms, instant messages and encoded pictures.
Investigator Epp Richardson of the Madison County Sheriff's Department, said, "In the Madison area, we haven't received a lot of complaints concerning child pornography, we're as in most places, beginning to and trying to be prepared for it.”
Investigator Kathy Hollis, Tallahassee Police Department, said, "There are a lot of steps that are involved in conducting this type of investigation and because of that you want to do it thoroughly and effectively and because of this training we are learning how to do that."
A recent survey found that among children who use the Internet regularly, one in five have been solicited for sex and only about half those kids ever tell their parents about it.
The aim of this training is to arm officers to fight crime in cyberspace, where some 30 million children and countless pedophiles play.
A $100,000 federal grant is making this training possible and each of these officers will also go home at the end of the week with a new laptop computer, printer and two years of free Internet service.