Online Predator

By: Shane Symolon
By: Shane Symolon

Sexual predators are all over the Internet but one law enforcement agency is taking a more aggressive approach to crack down on this growing problem.

In the past, Page County always needed other groups to help with the investigation.

Now, they're sending some of their officers into training, so they can identify these potential sex offenders before they can find another victim.

"Its one of our highest priorities, we like to be proactive instead of reactive," says Investigator John Thomas. "When you’re reactive someone has also gotten in trouble, when your proactive that’s where intervening is taking place and that’s our goal."

Thomas wants better training for his officers so they can catch these online stalkers before they can find another victim.

Most of the time, the Sheriff's office finds out about cases after a sex offender has already made contact with a child.

"A parent finds out, or a child becomes scared and finds out what they've gotten themselves into, and they come to us. Then we'll take over the Internet address with their permission and arrange a meet," says Thomas.

That usually ends with an arrest. With new training, investigators hope to be able to jump into chat rooms ahead of time.

Catching potential sex offenders before they can cause any harm.

"What you'd do is you'd go online posing as a minor and wait for someone to contact you and make a proposal; it’s the same as a Narcotics Agent standing on the street corner and a person approaching him."

In addition, officers assigned to schools will also get specialized training so they can talk to kids if the kids don't feel like discussing it with their parents.

"The school resource officer has contact with the people that will be directly involved in a lot of crimes and they feel more comfortable reporting it to him," says Thomas.

The training will help Page County work with other counties in the area.

The training is in November.

50 North Main Street Harrisonburg, VA 22801 540-433-9191 - Switchboard 540-433- 4028 - Fax 540-433-2700 - News Fax

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