Week four of the Citizen’s Police Academy.  It seems like we’ve been doing this forever already.  And we still have a whole 9 weeks to go yet.  I think I’m going to ask Chief O’Rourke if we can get some college credits for this.  No, seriously it’s been fun doing this so far.  However, the fun was about to come to a screeching halt during week four.  What we were about to witness, see with our own eyes, and hear would shake most of us to our core.

Detective Gordon (Cyber Crime)Sergeant Greg Gordon started us off by talking about cyber crime.  “I don’t like the term cyber crime or computer crime,” he said.  There are laws on the books making offenses committed on computers actual crimes.  So technically, they should just be called crimes. Sergeant Gordon wanted to be clear that cyber crime was not just crimes against children, which we would cover later, or pornography.  There is a litany of things that can be considered crimes while using a computer such as credit card fraud, which is a frequent item they have to deal with.

Gordon also went into great detail about what happens when they suspect that there is evidence of crime on your computer.  Once they receive either consent to search or a warrant, they can hook up your computer’s hard drive to special devices and look through your files at will.  The often can see things you have deleted.  Hard Drive readersSo, yeah….once you hit recycle on the recycle bin, it might still be somewhere on your computer.  Once hooked up, they have a program that will allow them to search for virtually anything they want.  For instance, if they suspect you have child pornography on your computer, they can look through every picture on your computer quickly.  Sometimes they can conduct these searches right on the scene, but they prefer to bring items back to their lab.  He also stressed that in this day and age, it’s not just computers they have to watch.  It’s phones, video game systems, and just about anything electronic that connect to the internet.

At this point, I should back up.  The Child detectives and the guys from ICAC (Internet Crims Against Children) were in the classroom when we arrived.  They were using the smart board in the classroom to show live chats they were conducting as a part of their regular routine searches for predators on the internet.  Nearly as soon as Gordon concluded his presentation, they resumed operations.  They could conduct up to 6 or so conversations with people at any given time.  They were posing as an underage child and seeing if they could find adults who were looking to victimize the children.  It was at this point, that one of the guys they were talking to turned on his webcam.  So, he has his webcam on thinking he’s talking to an underage child, but 20 adults were looking at him.  Two or three minutes in, he begins to do the unthinkable.  He dropped his trousers and exposed his junk (for the older folks reading this, junk means penis in this case).  This is the sort of thing that is going on daily.  I hope that gives some of the adults reading this pause to think about what their kids are doing when they are online.

The final part of the evening was devoted to child abuse.  This was the toughest part to deal with.  We were told facts about cases and what had transpired in each instance.  Then we were showed pictures.  They can only be described as horrific.  And these were all cases in our hometown.  In some cases, the child died.  In one case, the child was lucky and lived.

Child abuse does not always have to be physical.  Often times, it can simply be neglect for the child’s basic needs.  One example was given to us of a family living in a home in the dead of winter, with no heat, no running water.  With a 2 month old baby.  The house was filthy beyond anything that you could imagine.  Trash was everywhere, including the baby crib, which is tragic.  The baby should have been in the crib, but instead it was sleeping with the parents on a mattress on the floor.  One night, they rolled over and smothered the baby.  When investigators arrived, they found feces virtually everywhere.  Some canine and they suspected some was human.  The baby’s diaper had not been changed in quite some time.  Days…perhaps a week or more.

The investigators expounded on how many houses they go into that are like that in Enid.  This bothered me quite a bit.  Why is it that we have codes for how our yard looks, but we can live in homes with children and have no running water and dog shit all over the place?  In the coming days (or weeks…you know how we roll….slow and easy), we will be talking more about household conditions.

This was easily the toughest week of the Academy thus far.  I tip my hat to those policemen who endure the horrors to try to protect the children.  The job they do is incredibly difficult and they are doing it incredibly well.