Jonesboro Police Department received grant to help fight online predators

By Rebecca Lane - bio | email

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The Jonesboro Police Department will now be better equipped to fight online predators.

The JPD is receiving a grant from Arkansas State Police in the amount of $113,114.00.  The 4-year grant is being made possible through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.  This funding will go towards constructing a forensic computer laboratory.  Currently, 63% of the cases waiting to be analyzed by the Arkansas State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Forensic Lab originated from northeast Arkansas area law enforcements.  The construction of their own lab will aid JPD in saving valuable time.

"Part of the problem is there are no other forensic labs here in northeast Arkansas," Lieutenant Nathan Oliver explains, "Some of the other departments have other options we don't have."

Departments in Northwestern and Western Arkansas have their own forensic labs.  The closest lab for Northeast Arkansas authorities is either the State Police Forensic Computer Lab or the State Crime Laboratory, both in Little Rock.

Lt. Oliver explains that the money will not be used for salaries, but strictly utilized for further training and purchasing investigative tools.  These tools will better equip officers in extracting evidence from seized computers. Currently, one sergeant and one detective are in training for computer crimes dealing with child predators.  Once the lab is fully up and running, they will be able to analyze as many as 160 computers a year. The addition of new technology and resources will not only help authorities track predators on computers better, but will also help them in the new venue predators are utilizing.

"This is not just computers in that it's also cell phones," Lt. Oliver explains, "They're basically just a small, portable computer that you carry around in your pocket."

According to Lt. Oliver, it is much more difficult to catch predators who target their prey through cellular devices.

Lt. Oliver says this grant will enable his team to save valuable time.

"We don't have to wait, we can immediately start working."

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