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Cooper County Sheriff’s Office now conducting cyber crimes operation


The Cooper County Sheriff's Office now has its own cyber crimes operation to locate child predators in the area.

In a news release Monday, the sheriff's office said it has been "conducting a proactive operation to investigate, locate and apprehend subjects who are utilizing social media to sexually entice underage children in the Cooper County area."

The operation led to the arrest of a registered sex offender in Boonville after he began enticing social media accounts portraying children, when in reality it was an undercover investigator, according to the release.

A detective, who wanted to remain unnamed due to undercover duties, said Cooper County has always worked with the Boone County Cyber Crimes Task Force and will continue to do so, but now can have its own cyber crimes operation focusing specifically on Cooper County.

In an email, he said, "We would rather proactively locate predators as opposed to reactively locate them after an act on an innocent child has been committed."

He said Cooper County has one detective assigned to these types of investigations.

The operation focuses on social media apps that can be accessed by both children and adults, with online gaming currently being a big target for predators.

Cooper County is one of many Mid-Missouri agencies that is part of the Missouri Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Boone County is the regional task force.

Lt. Britt Shea at the Boone County Sheriff's Office said the organization focuses on public education about online safety, as well as investigative and forensic work within an 8-county area, including Cooper County.

He said Internet Crimes Against Children is a nationwide organization, with a localized Missouri branch. Investigations can be reactive when a child predator is identified through another agency or proactive when detectives take it upon themselves to find the predators online.

Shea said child enticement is prevelant online and happens on well-known social media platforms as well as lesser known apps and gaming platforms.

"Any place that they think they can communicate with a child without a parent or adult involved, they'll do it," Shea said.

He said this is why it's important for parents to be involved in their children's lives and their online activities.

Article Topic Follows: Crime
cyber crimes

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Morgan Buresh

Morgan is an evening anchor and reporter who came to ABC 17 News in April 2023.


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