Crimes against children are a growing at a rapid rate worldwide. The NCMECInternational Labor Organization estimates that 1.8 million children are being exploited in prostitution or pornography worldwide right now. In the US, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) reports that in 2019, their CyberTipline received more than 16.9 million reports related to apparent child sexual abuse material, online enticement (including “sextortion”), child sex trafficking, and child sexual molestation.

With families the world over being required to remain in lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, children are spending more time online, leaving them vulnerable to sexual predators looking to exploit them through gaming chat rooms and other social media outlets.

Fortunately, law enforcement units around the world are taking advantage of Digital Intelligence (DI)— the data that is accessed and collected from digital sources and data types (smartphones, computers, and the Cloud) and the process by which agencies access, manage, and leverage data to more efficiently run their operations, to bring sexual predators to justice.

The Seattle Police Department ICAC (Internet Crimes Against Children) unit exemplifies a department that has really figured out how to utilize digital intelligence to its fullest extent to rescue children and prosecute those who perpetrate heinous crimes against them.

Rescuing children and prosecuting sexual predators are the primary goals for Captain Michael Edwards, Statewide Commander for the Washington State ICAC Task Force. (Credit: Auburn-reporter)

Under the exemplary leadership of Michael Edwards, Captain for the High-Risk Victims Section and Statewide Commander for the Washington State ICAC Task Force, Seattle PD’s ICAC unit is making a positive difference not just in the work that they do every day, but in the way they manage community outreach to educate parents on what they should be doing to protect their children from online predators.

This special, three-part series goes deep inside the Seattle PD’s ICAC unit to provide a behind-the-scenes look at how they are solving more child sexual exploitation cases faster by utilizing digital solutions that render actionable intelligence fast.

Part 1: The Power Of A Calling: Seattle PD ICAC Unit Puts Digital Intelligence To Work To Stop Crimes Against Children  provides a solid grounding in how ICAC works, the challenges that today’s investigators face, and how technology is providing a roadmap to success by empowering investigators to collect, manage, and analyze data in a forensically sound manner to render actionable intelligence. The article also illustrates how Seattle PD’s ICAC unit has transformed the way they investigate crimes against children using digital solutions to move cases forward quickly.

Part 2: A Day In The Life With Seattle PD’s ICAC Unit – Saving One Child at a Time  focuses on two detectives who have served with the Seattle PD for 29 years. Through exclusive interviews, you’ll see how the investigative process has evolved, the challenges they face, and how they are using digital technology to overcome those challenges. One of their case studies shows how investigating local child-exploitation crimes led to the rescue of children on the other side of the world.

Part 3: Training: The Most Important Investment Agencies Can Make looks at one of the most important (and often overlooked) aspects of dealing with crimes against children—training—and the many ways law enforcement officers can deepen their ICAC investigation skills through formal online training programs, blogs and webinars, and conferences like the annual Northwest Regional ICAC Conference spearheaded by the Seattle PD.


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