Protecting Our Most Vulnerable from Exploitation

April 17, 2012

The following post appears courtesy of Paul Almanza, National Coordinator for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction.

Today, more than 1,700 investigators, agents, prosecutors, victim advocates and community outreach specialists from around the country and from all levels of government are gathered in Atlanta for the 2012 National Law Enforcement Training on Child Exploitation. 

Hosted by the Justice Department’s Project Safe Childhood Initiative and Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program, the 2012 national training is the largest child exploitation training ever organized by the Justice Department.

Over the course of the next three days, federal, state and local government officials will participate in state-of-the art instruction on investigative techniques, court room advocacy, digital forensics, behavioral profiling, victim advocacy and community outreach.  More than 40 different hands-on laboratory workshops will be offered to train law enforcement on various software programs and computer technologies that can be used to investigate child exploitation cases. 

The training will also provide law enforcement officials with the opportunity to strengthen the partnerships that are necessary to combat the growing problem of child sexual exploitation.  As the Deputy Attorney General noted today in his opening remarks at the training:

“In order to maximize the impact our efforts have on child sexual exploitation crimes, it is absolutely essential that we all continue to improve the way we work together to investigate these crimes, prosecute the offenders, and help the victims recover from the terrible harms they have suffered.  No one agency can tackle the challenges of these cases alone – it is therefore essential that all of us who work to protect children deepen our collaboration and partnership so that we can bring all available resources and expertise to the fight.” 

The national training is a crucial step in the department’s unwavering efforts to protect children from all forms of sexual exploitation.  The Project Safe Childhood Initiative (PSC), which began in 2006, has led to significant increases in child exploitation prosecutions.  In fiscal year (FY) 2011, the department obtained more than 2,700 indictments for offenses involving the sexual exploitation of a minor, a 42% increase over the amount obtained in FY 2006.  Since the launch of PSC, approximately 3,500 children depicted in child pornography images have been identified through enhanced law enforcement coordination, multi-jurisdictional collaborative efforts and additional contributions by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. 

This year’s training advances the department’s National Strategy for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction.  Announced in 2010, the National Strategy lays out goals to increase coordination among investigators, better train investigators and prosecutors, advance law enforcement’s technological capabilities and enhance research to inform decisions on deterrence, incarceration and monitoring.  More information about the National Strategy and PSC can be found at: http://www.justice.gov/psc/publications.html

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