The state’s task force on internet crimes against children is hoping to double the money available to help law enforcement investigate more cases.
Sergeant Thomas Grella, who heads the task force, said at a press conference Tuesday that over 2,700 computers in the state are exchanging photos online of children being abused.
But due to a shortage of funding, Grella says a majority of these cases are not being investigated.
“We are basically at a point where we are stagnant in where we are reacting to reports and those reports are coming in at tremendous numbers compared to just five years ago," Grella said. "So because of that we need more investigators, even just to react to reports given to us – that’s not counting all the pro-active investigations that we really need to do.”
Grella says in the past eight years on average the task force makes about 20 arrests, which it hopes to double if new funding becomes available.
Besides Grella, the main sponsors of the bill, several other law enforcement officials as well as a victim of child abuse attended the press conference,
Alicia Kozakiewicz is an advocate against child abuse - she's worked to get more attention on this issue in nearly a dozen other states including New Hampshire. The reason being at 13 years old she was lured online by a sexual predator and held captive for four days in Baltimore, but was rescued after law enforcement spotted photos of her abuse online.
"Yes I was rescued, but that doesn't mean the problem is over, that all children have been rescued. Every child deserves the chance that I received, every child deserves that miracle, and to be given a second chance at life," Kozakiewicz said, who told the crowd she recently obtained her Masters and just got married.
Since the task force was created nearly two decades ago, it has received no state dollars and relies purely on federal funds. A bill in the Legislature would give the task force half a million dollars over the next two years.