Our View: Will County High Tech Crime Unit a sad necessity
SouthtownStar editorial October 12, 2012 9:36PM
Updated: November 15, 2012 6:29AM
The business of catching crooks has evolved out of self-defense.
Crooks have harnessed technology, and those dedicated to catching them must match the sophistication.
But ultimately the year-old Will County High-Tech Crime Unit is old-fashioned in the best sense of crime prevention: Track who the bad people are and where they are; watch them and watch what they do; and when they decide to commit a crime, have the resources to catch them before they harm anyone.
The fact that child predators use computers to fuel their obsessions makes catching them a pursuit of less obvious skills.
In these days, when a predator tries to lure children online, the hidden “target child” might just as likely be a middle-age police officer.
When it’s done right — and the Will County unit has a growing record of skill at this — the hunters become the hunted. One of the emerging skills is a clearer mind-set that police units are all part of an interconnected web. When many departments work in unison, their power to thwart predators expands exponentially.
The unit, formed by State’s Attorney James Glasgow, is linked in the chain with state and federal units. They not only track predators seeking out victims, they also track who’s viewing child porn on the Internet.
The unit is a positive development and Will County is committed to it. That’s good.
But understand how large this problem is:
Federal statistics suggest the average pedophile molests 260 victims during his lifetime. But assaults on children are the least reported crimes in our society. As many as 98 percent are never revealed.
There are 400,000 registered sex offenders in the United States, and an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 of them are missing. They’re supposed to be registered, but we don’t know where they are. Almost no one is looking for them.
Known predators are merely the ones police have caught. The vast majority are never arrested. That means the Will County High-Tech Crime Unit is not an optional, glitzy fad. It’s on the front lines of a largely unchecked assault on children.
We’re depressed it’s necessary. But we sure are glad it’s out there.