The police officers surfing the Internet these days aren’t just investigating porn or setting up dates with suspected child molesters. They are working to bust killers, drug dealers, graffiti artists, identity thieves and a host of other criminals, reports the Miami Herald. ”Today we use the Internet for working all types of crimes,” said Mike Phillips, special agent supervisor for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Computer Crimes Division. “We have to go where the criminals are, and they’re on the Internet.”
Cyberspace is proving to be a trove of evidence of crimes committed and tips that help officers find perpetrators and even prevent crimes before they happen. In recent months, police in Florida have used the Internet to thwart possible Columbine-type violence at a middle school; arrest a teen who bragged of smoking marijuana on MySpace.com; arrest a man on burglary charges who posted incriminating photos of himself, and identify teenagers shown on video beating a homeless man. Many agencies have created special units to explore cyberspace because of the volume of people using the Internet — many apparently not concerned about privacy.