Camarillo is about to get a little bit safer, according to Lloyd Wyckoff, president of District 14 of the Loyal Order of Moose.
Wyckoff was at the Camarillo Moose lodge Saturday along with lodge members to present Ventura County Sheriff’s Office staff assigned to Camarillo with a new computer system called “Cop In A Box.”
An event Saturday raised enough money for the $3,500 computer for the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office and $3,000 for the Safe Surfin’ Foundation, which designed “cop in a box.” The Bedford, Va.-based nonprofit aims to keep children safe from Internet predators and prevent child abductions.
Safe Surfin’s spokesman, actor Erik Estrada, was on hand Saturday to present the computer and raise funds for the Safe Surfin’ Foundation. Estrada rose to fame in the
1970s and ’80s television show “CHiPs” about the California Highway Patrol.
He recently starred in the movie “Finding Faith” produced by Safe Surfin’ and based on several true stories of Internet crimes against children. Estrada plays a character based on Michael Brown, the Bedford, Va. County sheriff and executive director of Safe Surfin’.
“At first, these computers and working against these criminals was done in only big cities,” said Eddie Worth, director of development for Safe Surfin’. “Sheriff Brown was the first one who got it into smaller counties, and he developed Operation Blue Ridge Thunder, which became the leading Internet predator tracking task force in the country.”
Worth said funding was a constant concern, so Loyal Order of Moose Lodges offered to fund the program.
“We’ve been traveling all over the United States together to Moose lodges and other places,” Estrada said. “The FBI just released a statistic that says there’s a 100 percent chance that a child surfing the Internet will be stalked by some kind of predator. That’s a scary statistic.”
Estrada praised Moose lodges for stepping up to help law enforcement.
“They’ve funded these computers, and that’s a start,” he said. “The key to this is education, getting parents involved and teaching them what to look for when their kids are online.”
Estrada said that as a father, he feels there’s no more important concern than his children’s safety.
Worth said Safe Surfin’ goes after the problem in three ways: its “cop in a box” program; its educational Netsmartz program, which teaches kids and parents about safe Internet usage; and its identification program that fingerprints kids and loved ones, saving the information to disc for parents to keep.
Sheriff’s Commander Steve DeCesari said the local Moose lodge approached the sheriff’s staff in Camarillo about the computer.
“Thousand Oaks has had an Internet predator program for some time, and we haven’t in Camarillo,” DeCesari said. “This is the second-largest city for which we have jurisdiction, so we felt it was a great idea. We’re pretty fortunate to be the recipient of this. We hope it helps prevent these crimes from happening.”
DeCesari said that so far, one officer has been assigned for training and use of the “cop in a box.” Sheriff’s Senior Deputy Bea Hughes, currently a youth services officer at the sheriff’s Camarillo station, will focus on Internet crimes.
“There really is a problem out there,” Hughes said. “This will help us see that and, in turn, help us teach parents what they can do. That’s job one.”