Immigration beat: Retrained vets to help track child predators

  • Article by: MARK BRUNSWICK , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 22, 2013 - 6:16 PM

 

A new program brings together wounded veterans with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to assist special agents with criminal investigations involving child pornography and online sexual exploitation.

Last week in Washington, 17 veterans — many of whom were wounded in the line of duty — were sworn in as part of the inaugural class of what is being called the Human Exploitation Rescue Operative Child Rescue Corps, or HERO Corps.

The program is being made possible by a five-year, $10 million initiative funded by the private sector that underwrites training, logistics and equipment.

The project emerged after the National Association to Protect Children approached the agency with the idea to train wounded warriors as forensic analysts to help track child predators.

The group has just completed seven weeks of training in computer forensic analysis and digital evidence collection at ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations’ Cyber Crimes Center in Fairfax, Va., in order to help identify and rescue child victims of sexual abuse and online sexual exploitation.

Before that, they attended four weeks of training at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee where they learned about child exploitation cases and the federal and state criminal laws that they will help enforce.

After completion of the training, the participants will be based in offices in Atlanta; Baltimore; Dallas; Fairfax; Las Vegas; Memphis; Miami; New Haven, Conn.; New Orleans; Orlando, Fla.; Phoenix; Savannah, Ga.; Seattle and Tampa. The plan is to have them work under the direct supervision of special agents, conducting computer forensic exams, assisting with criminal investigations and helping to identify and rescue child victims.

The next recruitment for the program is expected to begin early next year. Anyone interested in learning more or in applying should send an e-mail to hero@ice.dhs.gov.

 

Mark Brunswick • 612-673-4434

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