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New partnership makes it easier to pursue Internet crimes against children in Oklahoma

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A new partnership in Oklahoma is intended to fight Internet crime targeting our children.

It's an agreement local law enforcement, such as the Miami Police Department, and a unit of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations. 

The partnership officially started last month when the change was made in the state law.  Now local law enforcement have access to extend their jurisdiction to help solve Internet crimes against children.

Law enforcement says as children continue to surf social sites the risk of exploitation grows.

"All these forms of social media communication that young people are very apt to do on a daily basis, we're seeing an increase of people that want to exploit young people engaging in communication with them," says Miami Police Chief George Haralson.

A new law in the state of Oklahoma allows a commission of local law enforcement to work with the OSBI's Internet Crimes Against Children unit, known as ICAC.  Chief Haralson says the law helps by giving their officers permission to pursue Internet crime cases outside of city limits.

"We can initiate criminal investigations outside of our jurisdiction and then be able to follow up with them on a more timely manner," says Haralson.

Haralson says the end game of any predator online is to meet face to face with the child.  He says that's why it's important for parents to set guidelines for Internet usage with their children, including knowing who it is they communicate with online.

For those children who fall through the cracks, this new partnership also allows OSBI to have more resources and manpower as well.

"We're able to go out there and look for people that are distributing child pornography and when we get in there we immediately set about to try and identify children who are taken advantage of by the adults," says Steve Tanner, an agent with the ICAC.

"This is such a huge huge issue that the more people that can be involved in it the better for everybody," says Marcia Johnson, the Director of the Miami Public Library.  "It's not something that can be regulated from above - it needs to involve everyone, even on the local level."

The ICAC unit has been around since 2002 and Tanner says the partnership is proving very useful.  He says the unit has made five arrest  this week alone.

For parents wondering how to keep their kids safe, the ICAC recommends never posting personal information in a user profile and to place the family computer in a room that a parent can easily monitor online activity.

For more tips or information visit http://www.ok.gov/osbi/Investigative/Internet_Crimes_Against_Children/

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