In September 2007, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office was named the Central Florida* Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force Coordinator. Over the years, the task force has grown – as of January 2012, representatives from forty-seven (47) local, state, and federal agencies have joined the task force, and each of them has shared and gained valuable experience and knowledge in the realm of Internet crimes against children. *The “Central Florida” area as defined by this task force is comprised of the following counties: Citrus, DeSoto, Hardee, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lake, Manatee, Polk, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Pasco, Pinellas, Sarasota, and Seminole (see below for a complete list of all 47 agencies).
In 2011, the Central Florida ICAC Task Force successfully investigated 1,156 cases involving suspects using the Internet to victimize children – this is a 37% increase over 2010, during which the task force investigated 726 such cases. In 2011, the task force arrested 306 suspects for crimes such as: Use of Computer to Seduce a Child, Traveling to Meet a Minor (for the purpose of sex), Use of Computer to Solicit a Minor to Engage in Sex, Lewd Battery, Distribution of Child Pornography, and other crimes against children. The total number of arrests made since the formation of the Central Florida ICAC Task Force year-to-date is 1,082.
In 2011, ICAC Affiliates conducted seven undercover operations. The following agencies conducted operations during 2011 with the support of several other local affiliate agencies: Citrus County Sheriff’s Office, Hardee County Sheriff’s Office, Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Polk County Sheriff's Office and the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office. The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office was also instrumental in conducting 11 training sessions throughout the year to a multitude of agencies on how an operation of this kind is run. Each of these operations involved the investigation and arrests of suspects who traveled to engage in sex acts with children. Undercover operations such as these have been conducted since 2006. In each instance, agencies in the Central Florida Task Force come together in a collaborative effort to ensure the great success of each operation.
“The numbers are sobering: according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, or NCMEC, there are 747,408 registered sex offenders in the country today -- an increase of 7,555 offenders, from the previous survey in June 2011. In just five years, an additional 140,592 convicted sex offenders have been added to sex offender registries across the country, an increase of 23.2%. And NCMEC research shows that approximately one in every seven children (ages 10 to 17) receive a sexual solicitation or are approached sexually online. These are disturbing figures, but there is good news – the increase in the number of registered sexual offenders means there is an increase nationwide of agencies arresting suspects who prey on children. Protecting our children is our main priority here at the Sheriff’s Office, and we are honored to be joined by so many other agencies in this effort. Together, we are making a positive difference.” – Sheriff Grady Judd
According to the U.S. Department of Justice website: (http://ojjdp.gov/programs/ProgSummary.asp?pi=3&ti=&si=&kw=&PreviousPage=ProgResults)
The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program (ICAC) program was developed in 1998 in response to the increasing number of children and teenagers using the Internet, the proliferation of child pornography, and heightened online activity by predators seeking unsupervised contact with potential underage victims. The ICAC program helps state and local law enforcement agencies develop an effective response to cyber enticement and child pornography cases. The ICAC program is a national network of 61 coordinated task forces representing over 2,000 federal, state, and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies. These agencies are engaged in proactive investigations, forensic investigations, and criminal prosecutions. By helping state and local agencies to develop effective, sustainable responses to online child victimization and child pornography, OJJDP has increased their capacity to address Internet crimes against children.
- Since the ICAC program's inception in 1998, more than 338,000 law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and other professionals have been trained in the United States and in 17 countries on techniques to investigative and prosecute ICAC related cases.
- Since 1998, ICAC Task Forces have reviewed more than 280,000 complaints of alleged child sexual victimization resulting in the arrest of more than almost 30,000 individuals.
· In FY 2011, ICAC investigations led to more than 5,700 arrests (with nearly 40 percent of those arrests (2,248) resulting in the acceptance of a plea agreement by the defendant in lieu of trial) and over 45,000 forensic examinations.
Agencies that have participated in the past or are currently participating in the Central Florida ICAC Task Force are: Avon Park P.D., Bradenton P.D., Casselberry P.D., Citrus Co. S.O., Clearwater P.D., Clermont P.D., DeSoto Co. S.O., F.D.L.E., Fruitland Park P.D., Hardee Co. S.O., Hernando Co. S.O., Highlands Co. S.O., Hillsborough Co. S.O., I.C.E., U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, Kissimmee P.D., Lake Co. S.O., Lakeland P.D., Largo P.D., Longwood P.D., Manatee Co. S.O., Ocoee P.D., Okeechobee Co. S.O., Okeechobee P.D., Orange Co. S.O., Orlando P.D., Osceola Co. S.O., Oviedo P.D., Pasco Co. S. O., Pinellas Co. S.O., Plant City P.D., State Attorney’s Offices of the 5th, 10th, and 13th Judicial Circuits, Sanford P.D., Sarasota Co. S.O., Sarasota P.D., Sebring P.D., Seminole Co. S.O., St. Petersburg P.D., Sumter Co. S.O., U.S. Attorney’s Office for the State of Florida, U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Postal Inspector Service, Winter Haven P.D., Winter Park P.D., Winter Springs P.D.