COD Creating Web Crime-Busting Lab Program Draws Police across Nation to Catch Pedophiles

Article excerpt

Local law enforcement officials unveiled a first of a kind computer crimes lab Monday at College of DuPage that will be used to train officers across the country to patrol the virtual streets of cyberspace.

The state-of-the-art lab at COD's Suburban Law Enforcement Academy will help the community college better teach officers to nab sex offenders, hackers, cyberstalkers and those who commit other crimes with computers. Funded with a $250,000 donation of equipment and software from Microsoft Corp. and Omni Tech Corp., it will improve the program that nearly 200 officers already have taken in the last two years.

"Today is a bad day for those criminals who use the computer and the Internet to commit their crimes," said Randy James, director of the academy at the Glen Ellyn community college.

In the two years since COD began training officers to look for computer criminals, more than 100 people have been charged and several more are under investigation, said Mike Sullivan, a detective with the Naperville Police Department who also teaches the weeklong class at the academy.

But to train the officers who have taken the course at COD, the academy had to "beg and borrow" for computer space at the school, Sullivan said.

Now, COD can offer computer training to 30 sworn officers or prosecutors every week of the year, he said. The class teaches law enforcement officials to navigate the Internet, seize and search computers and locate evidence needed for successful prosecutions. More advanced classes also are in the works.

Most importantly, however, the lab allows officers to directly communicate online with pedophiles and others and catch them within the space of a week.

"That's the mainstay of the course," Sullivan said. "Most people view the Internet as an anonymous venue. We're here to say that if you go on the Internet, you are doing us a favor."

He likened their investigations to those made simple when a criminal leaves his license plates at the scene of a crime. "You leave footprints every time you go on the Internet."

Training officers to identify the footprints should be a top priority with law enforcement officials everywhere, Sullivan said, because while news of nabbed criminals is becoming more commonplace, the sheer number of people committing crimes in cyberspace is astonishing. …