K9s: The New Police Weapon to Save Children from Predators

While police are tasked with fighting all infringements of the law, there is a certain type of crime that officers and the general public agree is particularly heinous – crimes committed against children.

Of course, we are now living in a digital age. Modern technology provides child predators with more opportunities to connect with one another and share illicit materials, presenting an added challenge for the law enforcement officials tasked with capturing them. 

Interestingly, police departments are now turning to a rather low-tech solution to protect children from predators: man’s best friend.

THE PROBLEM OF IMPROVED STORAGE

In the past, officers with search warrants would have a relatively easy time finding the electronic storage devices of suspected child predators. Desktop and laptop computers are relatively large, as are external hard drives. When storage started to move across to mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, these were still relatively easy to find in a suspect’s car or home.

However, as time has moved on, electronic storage devices have become smaller and smaller. Floppy disks and CD-ROMs are now ancient technology, and even flash or thumb drives are relatively large by today’s standards. Anyone can easily and cheaply purchase a micro SD card that’s smaller than the size of a fingernail and holds 10,000 photos and 21 hours of video. Police have found these drives hidden in places like the spines of books and even inside a fake quarter. Thankfully, the police already have a department that’s unusually skilled at finding these tiny objects…

DOGS VS PREDATORS

Police departments have used a surprisingly low-tech solution to combat these high-tech criminals. It turns out that as well as being amazing at sniffing out drugs, explosives and other types of contraband, trained K9 dogs are also excellent at sniffing out electronic devices. 

Far from being a strategy that’s being trialed in one or two areas, there are now electronic sniffing K9 units all over the country, including Wren in Greenwich, Ohio, Kozak in Wisconsin, Sota in Minnesota, Charlie in Pennsylvania, Browser in Virginia, Ruger in Ohio, Luna in Colorado, and more.

Initial tip-offs concerning child predators can come from any number of sources, including ‘cyber tips’ from companies such as Facebook and Instagram. When investigators do manage to get a search warrant for a suspect’s premises, it’s extremely important that they don’t miss anything. Even after a thorough search, investigators often worry about leaving critical evidence behind. These specially trained K9 units can help to make sure that doesn’t happen.

OPERATION UNDERGROUND RAILROAD

Electronic Detection K9s can potentially be trained by any K9 trainer, but some trainers, such as Jordan Detection K9, specialize in this area. The use of these dogs has been especially championed by Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.). O.U.R. is not a law enforcement agency, but rather an independent group that works in 28 countries and 48 U.S. States to combat human trafficking and child sexual exploitation. While not law enforcement themselves, O.U.R. works closely with governments and law enforcement agencies, and has advocated strongly for the use of Electronic Detection K9 units in helping to capture child predators.

FROM ARREST TO AFTER-CARE

Not only are Electronic Detection K9s helping to catch child predators, but emotional support dogs are also being used to support victims. And we shouldn’t forget the other group of people who are under large amounts of stress when it comes to crimes against children; the investigating officers. Handling these kinds of cases can be especially traumatic to the officers who have taken on the burden of stopping them. When the pressures of the job take their toll, it can be helpful to have a companion at your side.

As Ohio Deputy Sheriff Matt Fleming said of his Electronic Detection K9 Niko, “I worked all those cases for so many years and it does wear you down. The work we do, although it’s humbling and very important and has very rewarding moments, it’s overwhelming. If you have a bad day, you have Niko right at your side.”

The success of these programs suggests that the use of Electronic Detection K9s will only continue to grow in the future. Even in this high-tech world, we can always use some help from man’s best friend.

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