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Funding comes as a relief to local cyber crimes task force

A Mid-Missouri cyber crimes task force is now getting the funding it needs to fight cyber sex crimes over the next year.

Gov. Nixon recently released $1.5 million to 13 similar programs in Missouri.

Last fiscal year, the Boone County Sheriff’s Department Cyber Crimes Task Force had to wait eight to nine months before the Governor released its funding.

Last October, Sheriff Dwayne Carey told ABC 17 News if the grant was not released, the task force would likely be shut down.

But that is no longer a worry for the task force this fiscal year, since it recently received more than $141,000 from the state.

“I’m tickled pink that it’s well on it’s way and we don’t have to worry about trying to figure out how we’re going to balance this out to make it work until the funding is released,” Detective Tracy Perkins with the Cyber Crimes Task Force said.

The task force investigates internet-related crimes, especially those exploiting children, in seven counties across Mid-Missouri. Last year, the task force had to use money from open positions in the corrections department to keep it afloat.

The delay of funds set back the team’s progress, Perkins said.

“Since I had two new folks under my belt to train, I couldn’t send them to any training,” she said. “So we were just kind of at a standstill. I mean everything was kind of at a halt.”

The grant money pays for the salaries and benefits of three full-time employees and a part-time employee plus some training, supplies and licensing fees.

But the task force is still about $20,000 short, Perkins said. The Governor has released the same amount of money to cyber crimes task forces statewide since 2007, but it is not quite keeping up with the current needs.

“We’re seeing a problem with the funding of $1.5 (million) because of the factors of cost of living will always continue to increase, benefits will always continue to increase, and so they’re not able to sometimes be able to support all that,” Perkins said.

The $20,000 shortfall will have impacts on the current year.

“We’re going to see a shortfall on training, Perkins said. “And in this field training is a must, keep certification up and also to keep up on the trends of what’s going on in the technology world.”

The task force has relied on private donations to buy things the grant does not cover like ink cartridges and undercover cell phone minutes.

But so far this fiscal year things look good for the task force, according to Perkins it has already made six to seven arrests in the first quarter.

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