Friday, December 2, 2011

Getting to Know the Department

Criminal Investigations Division Special Victims Unit

On February 1, 2010, the Special Victims Unit was created within the Criminal Investigations Division. SVU currently investigates the following crime types; Sex Crimes, Child Abuse, Online Child Sexual Exploitation, Elder Abuse, Juvenile Runaways, Prostitution and Human Trafficking. SVU consists of one Sergeant, seven detectives, and one Crime Analyst.

The community within the City of Overland Park, Kansas is not immune to the ills which plague our society today. A quote from the 18th Annual Crimes Against Children Conference exemplifies what our nation is facing today; “Computers and the Internet have made access to our children a child predator’s dream, and as such brings greater responsibility to the adults who seek to guide and protect them.” The Cyber Crimes Unit within SVU consists of two detectives who specifically investigate online Child Sexual Exploitation cases by proactively targeting persons in our community who victimize our innocent population of children. Computer Forensic Previews are conducted to assist in the determination of whether or not an extensive computer analysis needs to be completed at the Heart of America Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory. The Cyber Crimes Unit serves as an affiliate member of the Kansas Internet Crimes Against Children’s Task Force. One of the Detectives serves as a member of the FBI Cyber Crimes Task Force greatly enhancing our ability to seek federal prosecution and penalties.

Our three traditional SVU detectives investigate Sex Crimes, Child/Elder Abuse and Juvenile Runaways. The SVU works collaboratively with the Johnson County Sexual Assault Response Team, Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault, Sunflower House (Child Advocacy Center) and many other community organizations to offer the best resources for investigation, prosecution and victim advocacy. It should be noted, research into Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking has shown that habitual runaways, throwaways, orphaned and homeless teens are at a higher risk factor for commercial sexual exploitation. Therefore, detectives look into a runaway’s past criminal history, contacts with police and SRS reports to assist in providing services to prevent future runaway occurrences.

Our two Vice Unit detectives proactively target prostitution related crimes, Human Trafficking investigations as well as conduct background checks on Massage Therapy Establishments and Therapists. Vice Sting operations are conducted regularly as well as investigations into massage therapy violations. One Detective serves as a member of the FBI Innocence Lost Task Force which is aimed at addressing the growing problem of domestic sex trafficking of children in the United States. The Sergeant of this group also serves as a member on the Kansas Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Task Force Advisory Board.

Our Crime Analyst wears many different hats within SVU. She reviews all Internet Crime Complaint Center reports sent by the National White Collar Crime Center involving online fraud. Any complaints involving a crime within Overland Park’s jurisdiction are documented in a police report and forwarded to the Financial Crimes Unit for investigation. Our Analyst serves as the online researcher for the prostitution related advertisements as well as conducts analytical and background research on suspects of online child sexual exploitation initiated by Cyber Crimes detectives. In addition, she serves as a Cellebrite Power User which is a forensic tool utilized to download evidence from cellular telephones.