The Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Program was developed in response to the increasing number of children and teenagers using the Internet and other technology, the proliferation of child sexual abuse images available electronically, and the heightened online activity by predators seeking unsupervised contact with potential underage victims.
The ICAC Task Force Program is a national network of 61 coordinated task forces representing over 4,500 federal, state, and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies. These agencies are continually engaged in proactive and reactive investigations, forensic examinations, and criminal prosecutions of persons involved in child abuse and exploitation involving the Internet. By helping state and local agencies develop effective, sustainable responses to online child victimization – including responses to child sexual abuse images, the ICAC Program has increased law enforcement capacity to combat technology-facilitated crimes against children at every level.
Because ICAC members understand that arrests alone cannot resolve the problem of technology-facilitated child sexual exploitation, the ICAC Program is also dedicated to training law enforcement officers and prosecutors, as well as educating parents and youth, about the potential dangers of online activity.
On February 1, 2019, the Colorado Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force will begin its 20th year of operations with the program.
In 1998, the Colorado Springs Police Department (CSPD) learned of a grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to begin a national network of agencies to work cases involving Internet Crimes Against Children. CSPD was awarded a $126,000 grant to join in the new national endeavor, and operations began on February 1, 1999. The first partner agency was the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office. This was the start of the Colorado Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which remains active to this day, and now involves multiple agencies throughout Colorado.
In 2000, with the help of Boys and Girls Clubs of America, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) developed the state-of-the-art educational program NetSmartz to extend children’s safety awareness, to prevent victimization, and increase self-confidence when they are online. NetSmartz Program (www.netsmartz.org) is utilized by CSPD today as a tool in educating the public. Its goals include:
- Enhancing children’s abilities to recognize dangers on the Internet
- Helping children understand that people they first meet on the Internet should never be considered their friends
- Encouraging children to report victimization to a trusted adult
- Supporting and enhancing community education efforts
- Increasing communication between adults and children about online safety
CSPD ICAC detectives have been instrumental in new laws addressing ICAC cases, especially Colorado’s Internet Luring of a Child Law.
CSPD is the lead agency for the Colorado Task Force, which currently has 91 affiliate agencies. The ICAC Task Force is currently led by a lieutenant (ICAC commander) of CSPD and staffed by one sergeant, three detectives (one of which is employed by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office), one civilian criminal investigator and one program coordinator. CSPD manages the generous grant provided by OJJDP, conducts their own investigations that involves Colorado Springs and El Paso County, as well as coordinating all referrals that are received from NCMEC’s “CyberTipline” (www.cybertipline.org).
In 2018, the Colorado ICAC Task Force received over 2,600 Cybertips for the State of Colorado, exceeding previous years.
The Colorado Springs Police Department is dedicated to combating the problem of Internet dangers and keeping children safe.
Please visit https://coloradoicac.com/ for further information.