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The Virginia Beach Police Department will use part of a regional $65,000 grant to protect children from internet crimes.
City Council approved Tuesday the appropriation of the funds from the Department of Criminal Justice Services to the city’s police department to investigate internet crimes against children (ICAC). The grant will fund equipment needed for investigations, overtime for related travel and training to complete ICAC investigations.
“This funding allows the Virginia Beach Police Department to proactively investigate sexual predators that share or distribute child pornography via the internet,” Sgt. John W. Boone, who works in Special Investigations, said in an email. “Additionally, this funding affords additional specialized training and equipment that furthers these investigations.”
Virginia Beach’s most common internet crimes against children include solicitation and possession, distribution and manufacturing of child pornography, Boone said.
Last year, the Virginia Beach Police Department partnered with the Southern Virginia ICAC Task Force to host seven child identification events. Officers worked with parents to create 285 “child identification kits” that included a clear photo of a child and descriptive information. This is one of the most important tools for law enforcement when searching for a missing child, according to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
The ICAC Task Force Program is a national network of 61 task forces representing more than 3,500 federal, state and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies, according to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, which is part of the U.S. Department of Justice. These agencies undertake proactive and reactive investigations, forensic investigations and criminal prosecutions. Southern Virginia task force members are located in Richmond, Chesapeake, Charlottesville, Covington and other cities.
In fiscal year 2015, the Department of Justice earmarked more than $27 million to support task forces, training and technical assistance for the ICAC, according to its website.
Council also approved the appropriation of a $4,132 grant for two Virginia Beach police officers to attend a seminar on auto-theft investigation in Murfreesboro, Tenn. from Aug. 7 through Aug. 12. According to the Virginia Beach Police Department’s 2015 Annual Report, motor vehicle thefts increased form 345 in 2014 to 402 in 2015, a spike of almost 14 percent.