Maine State Police Computer Crimes Unit struggles with funding, emotion

5:38 PM, Jul 19, 2013   |    comments
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LEWISTON, Maine (NEWS CENTER)-- Imagine going to work everyday and having the responsibility to catch those individuals who exploit innocent children. The men and women behind the state police computer crimes unit live this reality. Last year, nearly 300 child exploitation cases were handed over to the team. For the men and women of the unit the high emotions and scarce resources only motivate them to work harder.

Lieutenant Glenn Lang with the Maine State Police Computer Crimes unit said, "The worst part is knowing we are never going to get through all these cases. There are children out there being victimized that if we could be out doing every one of these we would be impacting these children, we would be saving these children."

Investigators spend hours gathering information and evidence to make a case against a suspected pedophile. Once they receive enough evidence they confront the suspect. This normally includes a simple knock at the suspect's door and an interview. The investigators must prove intent and admission before making an arrest.

Special Agent Justin Kittredge said, "In a lot of cases they thank us in the end because this is the first time they've had an opportunity to speak to somebody candidly about it and actually reach out for help because it's difficult to talk about."

Last year, the computer crimes unit logged 84 child exploitation arrrests. At least half of those have proceeded through the court system and ended in guilty pleas or verdicts.

Kittredge said, "In the fifteen years or so that I have been fortunate to be a law enforcement officer, I've discovered that this is probably the most meaningful experience and meaningful thing that I have done. There aren't a lot of us however I am learning there are endless and endless number of victims out there."

Lieutenant Lang says there is no one type of person they see and the issue of child pornography reaches all facets of society.

The biggest concern for the investigators is that child pornography is just the beginning for many pedophiles.

"They may be starting off by looking at these pictures and videos, fantasing about those assaults. If we can impact some of those people, as well, before they actually lay their hands on a child, it not only saves that child, but it saves the person that we're dealing with at that time," explained Lt. Lang.  

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