FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 08, 2011


Missouri awards more than $170,000 in grants to help law enforcement agencies fight Internet crimes in southwest Missouri

Missouri's regional cyber crime fighting effort is ranked among the most effective and best-trained in the nation by the U.S. Justice Department

The Missouri Department of Public Safety announced today a grant of more than $170,000 has been awarded to the Southwestern Missouri Cyber Crime Task Force to assist its effort to fight online criminals who often seek to entice children and deal in child pornography. Last year, a U.S. Justice Department report ranked Missouri's cyber crime fighting efforts among the national leaders in the number of arrests made and the number of law enforcement officers trained. 

The Southwestern Missouri Cyber Crime Task Force in Joplin will receive $177,182 to continue their fight against internet crime. Participating counties in the Southwestern Missouri Cyber Crime Task Force are: Barry, Barton, Dade, Cedar, Jasper, Lawrence, McDonald, Newton, Polk and Vernon.

"Nothing is more important than protecting Missouri's children from predators who prey online and these grants will help ensure that those efforts remain strong and well-funded," said Department of Public Safety Director John M. Britt. "I am particularly impressed by the number of arrests Missouri's cyber crimes investigators have been able to make, their professionalism and their recognition by the U.S. Justice Department as being among the nation's leaders.”

The PROTECT Our Children Act of 2008 mandated that the Department of Justice report to Congress every two years on the effectiveness of the fight against child exploitation. Last year, the Justice Department's first report to Congress ranked Missouri's effort among the leaders of the 59 task force units surveyed nationally, including:

·    First in computer forensics (1,441 computer examinations)

·    Second in arrests (337 arrests)

·    Second in officers trained (5,810 officers trained)

The Justice Department report included results from federal fiscal year 2008 and the first six months of 2009. Missouri, unlike many states, uses a regional approach that emphasizes working cooperatively across jurisdictional lines and information sharing among law enforcement agencies. The Missouri Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force manages Missouri's child exploitation cyber crimes program and has 101 affiliate agencies in Missouri, including the Southwestern Missouri Cyber Crime Task Force.

Missouri's task forces use several methods to fight online crime. These include undercover operations, during which officers pose as minors in online chat rooms, reactive enforcement, which utilizes and investigates tips from public or local law enforcement, and forensic investigation, which analyzes the computers of suspects for evidence of crime. Public education about the dangers of online crime is also an important role of a cyber crimes task force.

The Southwestern Missouri Cyber Crime Task Force is one of 14 multi-jurisdictional task forces receiving grant awards totaling $1,516,702, which comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Justice Assistance Grant program.

The August 2010 U.S. Justice Department report to Congress, The National Strategy for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction, is available at http://www.projectsafechildhood.gov/docs/natstrategyreport.pdf

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For more information, call 573-751-5432 or e-mail mike.o'connell@dps.mo.gov