Tri-county task force to fight against child Internet crimes

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - By Elizabeth Vowell – email

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - In a world where any and all information is a click away, new dangers lie behind each key stroke, especially for the internet's youngest explorers.

"The vast amount of child pornography, child crime victims of children is just growing," said Lt. Frank Dawson of the Harrison County Sheriff's Department.

The Harrison County Sheriff's Department recently teamed up with the State Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.  ICAC provides equipment, software, training, and information to help investigators track down online child predators.

"The advantage of this is the information sharing, the resources we can utilize through the A.G.'s office and through other agencies is just astronomical," said Dawson.

It's those advantages of sharing resources that Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd wants to fully utilize throughout South Mississippi. To do that, Byrd is proposing a tri-county task force to take out predators in Jackson, Harrison, and Hancock counties.

"Criminals don't know jurisdiction lines," said Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd. "We've got to protect our children from these predators and that's exactly what this task force is going to do."

"It's hard for us to do a lot of our investigations in a reactionary role. We kind of want to get on the front end of it and this program is definitely advantageous on that," explained Dawson.

The task force is still in the beginning stages. The sheriffs of all three counties will meet in mid-October to discuss logistics and details. Byrd expects that once the task force is operational, the investigators will stay in constant contact to share information and support across the county lines.

Byrd believes that will give each county a huge advantage in a fight that can be tedious and time consuming.

"You have children that are victims of crimes. It's very sad when you have grown adults that take advantage of children. So I'm very passionate about getting this started because we need to protect our children," said Byrd. 

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