When a Platte County, Mo., sheriff’s detective entered an Internet chat room to demonstrate the department’s new cyber crimes unit, it took 30 seconds to lure the first suspect, says the Kansas City Star. The conversation quickly turned sexually graphic. Messages tried to entice the detective into a meeting for sex. In the last year, Platte County’s cyber crimes unit has handled 22 child-enticement cases, in which a person has traveled to meet a minor with the intent of having sex. Six cases resulted in federal convictions.
Platte County is one of a handful of law enforcement agencies in the Kansas City area with a cyber crimes unit. The FBI operates a separate task force, called Innocent Images, also aimed at people involved in child pornography or suspected of enticing children for sex. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children reported that the number of calls to its CyberTipline increased from 4,573 in 1998, its first year, to 112,017 last year. “It is phenomenal that they are able to arrest an individual who would be committing an offense against a real child,” said the center’s Staca Urie. “What some law enforcement agencies are doing is being proactive.”