In 2018, the Maryland Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force received about 2,600 tips about possible cyber crimes.
“That was an increase from the year before. If I looked at the numbers now, halfway, we’re probably at an increase from that point,” said commander of the Maryland ICAC, Lt. Matthew Kail.
And that trend is no different here in Frederick County.
As a result, the Frederick Police Department, County Sheriff’s Office, and County State’s Attorney’s Office have established a new partnership- the Frederick County Cyber Crime Task Force.
“It will allow us to identify more of these predators; we’re going to have more effective investigations, more aggressive prosecutions- it’s going to get people off the street for longer periods of times,” explained Sheriff Chuck Jenkins.
Officials say the new task force will focus on investigating and prosecuting cyber crimes against children, like those involving child pornography and sexual assault.
“There’s a lot of good positives coming out of the internet, but it gives direct access to the children in your homes. If you don’t keep track of what your kids are getting online and who they’re talking to, that leads to some of these criminal investigations,” said chief of the Frederick Police Department, Ed Hargis.
Hargis says that since 2017, the city has averaged about 20 investigations a year in cyber crimes including children.
As a part of the task force, the city police will not only be limited to cases within city limits, but will also help in investigations within the county sheriff’s office jurisdiction.
“It will bring everyone to the same table at the same time and allow us to use different resources,” explained Sgt. Andrew Alcorn with the Frederick Police Department.
The Frederick County State’s Attorney’s Office will be taking the lead in the task force and one hope is to deliver tougher sentences.
“Unfortunately, we just haven’t seen tough enough sentences for the child pornographers. They’re getting probation. We believe it’s something that should require jail time,” said Frederick State’s Attorney, Charlie Smith.
The Frederick County Cyber Crime Task Force will also host educational outreach programs to the public.
The first event will be held Tuesday evening and cover how to have uncomfortable conversations with your children.