'It's overwhelming': Inside Kentucky's Cyber Crimes unit - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

'It's overwhelming': Inside Kentucky's Cyber Crimes unit

It's the law enforcement unit designed specifically to keep your children safe. (Source: WAVE 3 News) It's the law enforcement unit designed specifically to keep your children safe. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Tom Bell (Source: WAVE 3 News) Tom Bell (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Attorney General Andy Beshear (Source: WAVE 3 News) Attorney General Andy Beshear (Source: WAVE 3 News)

FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) – It's the law enforcement unit designed specifically to keep your children safe.

The Attorney General's Cyber Crime unit tracks child porn distribution and child predators throughout the state of Kentucky. It partners with law enforcement agencies around the globe and with Kentucky State Police to help with cases.

Tucked into a small back office of a government complex, the cyber crimes team has just four members.

They’re led by Tom Bell. 

“Unfortunately, we’re very busy,” Bell said.

The team started in June of 2008. Since then, it has continued to increase in workload, bringing in a record number of arrests in 2016.

"This unit has been incredibly successful,” Attorney General Andy Beshear said.

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The issue is the number of investigators isn't enough for the number of criminals looking at child porn or attempting to have sex with children.

"There's probably 13,000 online during the course of the week in the Commonwealth that's doing some sort of illegal act involving child pornography or child exploitation,” Bell said.

Nationwide, databases show there were more than 250,000 reported cases last week.

"It's overwhelming,” Bell said. “It's depressing at times because you can't do all that you want to do."

Bell can pull up a map that shows about a dozen computers they believe to be downloading or distributing the material.

"That shows in almost real-time data, potential targets in the Commonwealth as of right now,” Bell said. "You want to go do them all."

The problem is they can't do anything yet. Because of its small size and the massive amount of files they have to comb through for each case, the four-man unit can't keep up.

"For the number of people we have working on this, they are making a huge difference,” Beshear said.

The unit just had a record year bringing in more than 1,100 criminal counts.

Beshear plans to ask the legislature for more resources to expand.

"What if this state funded this unit in a way that we had 10 or even 15,” Beshear asked. “I can tell you that when we added one, it made a huge difference in those numbers."

Bell said many parents still don't bother to check their child's electronics. They've found kids as young as elementary school level sending naked images.

WAVE 3 News will release its second part of a look inside the cyber crimes unit Thursday on WAVE 3 News at 11 and show some of the technology the team uses and why they don’t like the term “child porn.”

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