NC needs more tools to go after online predators, says AG Cooper
Release date: 3/9/2005
Raleigh: North Carolina needs to beef up its law that protects children from Internet stalkers, Attorney General Roy Cooper said today. Cooper is pushing for a change in the law during this legislative session to help investigators catch predators who pursue children online.
“Child predators are cruising the Internet today more than they cruise the playgrounds,” said Cooper. “We need to give law enforcement better tools so they can stop these criminals before they hurt our children.”
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, one in five children report having received an unwanted sexual solicitation online. However, less than 10 percent of these incidents were ever reported to police, and only a quarter were reported to parents.
Cooper’s office is working with legislators on a measure that would allow law enforcement officers to go undercover to catch more Internet predators. Under the current law, a predator who solicits an officer posing as a minor could only be charged with a misdemeanor. Cooper would like to see the law changed to make it a felony for a predator to solicit anyone, including an undercover officer, he or she believes to be a child. The Attorney General’s office expects the legislation to be introduced by Senator Scott Thomas as early as this week.
A similar measure made law last year in South Carolina is already helping law enforcement in that state catch criminals. A North Carolina man, Donald Louis Brink, 32, of 2219 Flint Glenn Lane in Charlotte, was the first person charged under South Carolina’s new Child Internet Predator Law. He was arrested in South Carolina in January for soliciting what he thought was a 13 year-old girl online who turned out to be an undercover officer.
To help local law enforcement track Internet predators who try to exploit children, Cooper is also asking legislators to expand the State Bureau of Investigation’s Computer Crimes Unit that he helped create by adding four new field agents. The agents would partner with the FBI’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, a nationwide network of law enforcement agencies and prosecutors dedicated to protecting children from online dangers. In addition, Cooper is seeking three more computer forensic experts to recover and analyze information from computers submitted as evidence to the SBI Crime Lab.
“Protecting children from online predators will take more than just tougher laws and better tools for law enforcement to fight these crimes,” said Cooper. “We also need to help parents and teachers learn what they can do to make sure kids surf the web safely.”
Cooper’s office is working on resources to educate parents and teachers about online dangers and steps they can take to protect children from Internet predators. Those resources, including videos, guidebooks and a website, will be available to parents and teachers later this spring.