On February 22, 2021, the Emanuel County Sheriff’s Office became an affiliate member of the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force. The mission of the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force is to detect, investigate and prosecute instances of online child sexual exploitation in Georgia. Online child sexual exploitation includes child sexual abuse material, commonly referred to as child pornography, the online enticement of children and child sex trafficking among other crimes. The Georgia ICAC Task Force also provides internet safety education to members of our communities. The affiliates of the Georgia ICAC Task Force receive continuous specialized advanced training related to these technical investigations.
On March 22, 2021, Investigator Michael Reddish, of the Emanuel County Sheriff’s Office, completed the first class in a series of training that ICAC investigators can attend – The Introduction to ICAC Investigations. This training enables the sheriff’s office to better investigate instances of online child sexual exploitation that are occurring in our community. In 2020, the state of Georgia received over 11,600 tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) related to the online sexual exploitation of children in Georgia. The sheriff’s office has a strong commitment to keeping the children in our community safe from those that seek to exploit and harm them.
“Sheriff Brewer approached me with the idea and I immediately jumped right on it. It’s something he’s very passionate about and I’m glad to have the opportunity to be a part of it,” Reddish stated during a recent interview.
The Georgia ICAC Task Force, as one of 61 ICAC Task Forces across the country, has over 250 Georgia criminal justice agencies as members and all are committed to working together to combat online child sexual exploitation. The Georgia ICAC Task Force is managed and coordinated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. The ICAC Program, created by the U.S. Department of Justice, was developed in response to the increasing number of children and teenagers using the internet, the proliferation of child pornography, and the heightened online activity by predators searching for unsupervised contact with underage victims.
Emanuel County Sheriff’s Office is looking to break new ground in many areas by expanding services. The office is currently working to have Reddish a separate computer system to operate outside of the ECSO system to ensure the county’s system isn’t compromised.
“This is a new venture for us and something that’s been long overdue. We needed to have someone in this capacity and Michael was the chosen one,” Sheriff Brewer stated. “Michael is self-motivated and always looking for something to do. When I approached Michael with this task, he was eagerly ready for the assignment. I think he’s going to do great in this new area.”
In addition to joining the ICAC task force, Reddish will also be taking a course in the near future on detecting and investigating cybercrimes such as financial fraud and other internet scams.
Anyone with information related to cases of child exploitation in our community is asked to contact the Emanuel County Sheriff’s Office at 478-237-7526 or the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Child Exploitation Unit at 404-270-8870.
Tips can also be submitted by calling 1-800-597-TIPS (8477), online at https://gbi.georgia.gov/submit-tips-online, or by downloading the See Something, Send Something mobile app.
The Georgia ICAC Task Force is one of a group of 61 regional task forces spread throughout the United States and funded by the United States Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The Georgia ICAC Task Force began operations in April 2003 and has been in continuous operation since that time.
The Task Force is comprised of members from the GBI and over 230 affiliated law enforcement agencies and prosecutorial entities in the State of Georgia. The ICAC program was developed in response to the increasing number of children and teenagers using the internet, the proliferation of child pornography, and the heightened online activity by predators searching for unsupervised contact with underage victims. By helping state and local law enforcement agencies develop effective and sustainable responses to online child victimization and child pornography, the ICAC program delivers national resources at the local level.
In 2017, the ICAC Task Force made 350 arrests. There have been over 2,100 arrests in Georgia by the ICAC Task Force since its inception.