BCA shares how internet crimes against children are investigated

(ABC 6 News) – The process of investigating a tip of child sexual exploitation is time-consuming and complicated.

It starts when a tech company, such as Facebook or Google, believes there is child sexual abuse material on their platform.

They are legally required to report it to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, who then gives that information to the appropriate internet crimes against children jurisdiction. In Minnesota, that’s the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

“We do some additional background analytical work we work on to determine who may have been the individual that sent this image, that might have the images on their computer at home,” said Drew Evans, Superintendent of the BCA.

Once the BCA has retrieved the evidence from a suspect’s device, they work with local police or the sheriff’s office to investigate the crime further.

Freeborn County Sheriff Ryan Shea says his department receives around ten to twelve of these tips each year, and he estimates the Albert Lea Police Department receive a similar amount.

“It varies, I mean you could have months where you have three or four of them, but then you could maybe not have any for a few months,” said Shea.

The workload on these tips is much higher at the BCA. Evans says they expect to investigate nearly 8,400 calls by the end of this year.

“Every single one of these tips needs to be investigated and not only to hold the individual accountable who’s trafficking this terrible material, but we also want to ensure that active abuse of a child is not occurring,” said Evans.

It’s important for parents to have conversations with their kids about what they’re posting online to make sure the people they talk to are who they say they are and they don’t become a victim of sexual exploitation.

If you see suspicious content online involving child exploitation contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1 (800) 843-5678.