Child porn trackers need money and manpower - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Child porn trackers need money and manpower

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

In a room in a downtown office tower, investigators with ICAC -- the Internet Crimes against Children task force - search for predators who consume, trade and produce child porn.

"They want to detect, identify, ultimately arrest and take out of circulation people who are doing harm to our kids, our families, our loved ones," ICAC alternate commander John Thompson said.

The mission is limited by money. ICAC operates on $230,000 a year in federal funds. There is no state funding.

"We need money for equipment to upgrade the technology, also to expand the number of personnel," Thompson said. "Right now there's only one commander, two investigators, and a part-time forensic examiner."

Compare that to 1,900 computer addresses in the state ICAC has identified as looking at child pornography. It's impossible for two investigators to keep up.

"These investigations aren't only sitting in front of a computer, they involve developing enough information to go and actually execute search warrants, make arrests. For that you need people," Thompson said.

Two bills in the state Senate seek to create a special fund for the task force. Senator Will Espero favors imposing a fee on all defendants who are convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor. This would include all crimes, not just sex crimes.

"Those individuals would pay $10 into this fund. That's not a large amount, but when you take it cumulatively it will add up," Espero said.

Adriana Ramelli of the Sex Abuse Treatment Center agrees ICAC needs financial assistance.

"Predators are not just out in the community. They're doing the sexual offending and that grooming from the privacy of their own home," she said.

And it's getting worse. Two years ago ICAC received 50 tips involving child porn in Hawaii. Last year it got 200.

"We want to get it as early as we can, and stop it as quickly as possible," Thompson said.

The task force is under the state Attorney General's office.  ICAC can handle only two investigations a month. The team wants to do ten. Even that would just be scratching the surface.

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