The Mid-Missouri Internet Crimes Task Force looks set to receive a large boost in funding to combat Internet sex crimes against children.
The nearly sixfold increase in statewide funding, which takes effect July 1, will provide more state money for local law enforcement to set up and maintain Internet sex crimes task forces.
“It is targeted towards crimes against children like child pornography, enticement and other forms of exploitation,” said Boone County Sheriff’s Detective Andy Anderson, coordinator of the task force.
The task force applied for about $135,000 in grant money, up from about $30,000 last year, that was set aside by the Missouri legislature as part of a larger appropriations bill which was passed Friday. This year’s increase is earmarked to fund operating grants to local law enforcement Internet sex crimes task forces, according to the bill.
The Columbia-based task force was created in January, in part from seed money set aside during the 2006 legislative session, to provide forensic examination of computers and electronic media during the investigation of Internet-related crimes. It is made up of law enforcement agencies and prosecuting attorneys from Boone, Callaway, Cole, Cooper, Randolph and Audrain counties.
“To my knowledge there is no other state that commits state funding to what is considered a local law enforcement problem,” said Sen. John Loudon, R-St. Louis County, a sponsor of the initiative.
Loudon said that law enforcement was “overwhelmed” by Internet-related crimes and that the purpose of the program is to get “detectives between predators and children online.”
While Anderson said that crimes against children “should be a priority,” he added that he hoped funding would be forthcoming to fight other Internet-related crimes, such as identity theft and fraud.