Senator files bill to help fund internet crime investigations

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– Investigators say they’re seeing more internet crimes against children and an increasing severity of them. Now one state lawmaker wants to make sure agencies get more funding to investigate these crimes.

“I think it’s becoming increasingly easy for offenders to come in contact online with increasingly younger and younger child victims,” said Captain Chuck Cohen with Indiana State Police.

Cohen said Indiana is seeing more child pornography, online child solicitation and online child sexual extortion each year.

“As an example we receive reports form the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and for the calendar year 2017 we received 2,291 reports,” he said.

Last year, it was 2,119, in 2015 it was 2,055 and in 2014 the number was 1,707 according to data Cohen provided.

He said the investigations often go beyond Indiana, require skilled investigators, are technically complex and more and more expensive.

“I am looking for a way to create a fund that would give those guys some resources, I think that they need at least $2 million a year,” Sen. Michael Crider (R- Dist. 28) said.

The state senator filed a bill this legislative session to address resources for investigators. Originally, it proposed charging a $10 fee for those convicted of misdemeanor or felony offenses to help fund investigations into internet crimes. But Crider said after looking at the reliability of that funding, he plans to scrap the fee and introduce an amendment.

“What it would do is put the framework in place and put it in statute and then it would be as simple as asking for a dollar amount appropriation as we prepare the next budget,” he said.

It’s money he hopes helps save more kids.

“Often times the starting point to rescuing children that are victims of contact abuse is starting that investigation involving child pornography, online child solicitation,” Cohen said.

Cohen said he and state police take no position on the legislation, but he does advise parents allow children access to the internet and social networking at a young age when you can supervise them and they will listen to what you tell them.

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