A group of local and state leaders came together on Tuesday, to push for money to go toward fighting internet predators in the Commonwealth.
“So many victims, so many sexual predators, so few investigators,” said Bedford County Sheriff Mike Brown, during a news conference at the state capitol.
As the leader of the Southern Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) taskforce, Sheriff Brown knows just how bad Virginia’s problem of child sexual predators is.
“Once you see it, you never forget it. It’s etched on your brain,” Brown said. “These sexual predators, they try to best each other by trying to put out the most graphic images that you can imagine.”
The sheriff, along with Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R), State Senator Creigh Deeds (D-Bath County), and other state leaders are unified for the cause. They want the additional money for the ICAC program to be used to help cut down on the three-to-six month backlog of computer evidence.
“That means evidence is sitting there for months before it reaches the hands of investigators,” said Cuccinelli.
ICAC investigators have made nearly 300 arrests in sexual predator cases, in the past three years.
Deeds got a bill passed in 2010 that added a $10 fine for every image predators are convicted for. The ICAC budget is $1.8 million per year, but this past fiscal year, convictions generated $2.45 million. The extra $650,000 dollars will go back to the general fund this year.
The group on Tuesday voiced support for Deed’s new bill. It would redirect all money from ICAC convictions, back into the program.
“The reality is we’ve just scratched the surface with child sexual abuse,” said Sen. Deeds. “There are people in our communities, in every community of the Commonwealth where this is going on and we can’t rest until we wipe it out.”
Because the program is now generating revenue, if the bill passes, Deeds tells us ICAC divisions will be able to continue putting more child predators behind bars. The extra money would go towards hiring more investigators, computer forensic technicians, and marketing to community awareness.