New technology boosts Kentucky's cyber crimes unit - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

New technology boosts Kentucky's cyber crimes unit

Kentucky officials said around 13,000 computers in Kentucky are viewing or distributing child porn every week. (Source: WAVE 3 News) Kentucky officials said around 13,000 computers in Kentucky are viewing or distributing child porn every week. (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) – Kentucky officials said around 13,000 computers in Kentucky are viewing or distributing child porn every week.

The Attorney General’s Cyber Crimes unit is made up of just four people, the team is overwhelmed trying to track child predators and child porn.

Tom Bell is the investigations manager for cyber crimes. He and other investigators don’t like the term “child porn.”

"It's child sexual abuse material,” he said. "That is a frozen moment in time where a child is being brutally sodomized or brutally raped by someone that they trust or someone who has gained access to them."

Bell has seen thousands of those moments and said mental health is an important part of the job.

"I'll be honest with you, there have been some images that have taken their toll and that I have difficulty dealing with when I see them again,” he said.

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

Attorney General Andy Beshear calls the unit critically important to protecting children.

"Every day they come into work, they see the worst of the worst of humanity,” Beshear said. “Parents out there need to know that at any given time, there are hundreds of thousands of predators out there looking to take advantage of your children.”

The cyber crimes unit works alongside Kentucky State Police and other law enforcement agencies also helping on drug cases or other cyber-related crimes.

The team can break into password protected phones and uncover hidden files. It can even use software to track a phone’s location as evidence.

"As technology changes and these people get smarter,” Bell said. “We have to get smarter along with them.”

Bell said the team uses data most people opt into like location settings.

 "This is all stuff that has been vetted,” he said. “It's all perfectly acceptable practice.”

It has led to a record number of arrests, criminal counts and both state and federal prosecutions.

At the same time, judges and the law have been a bit of an issue for prosecuting cases. While federal courts have strict punishments, child porn is the lowest class of felony in Kentucky.

That means no matter how many counts a person has for possessing or distributing child porn, the most they can be sentenced to is 20 years. Since it's considered a non-violent crime, they'll be out after 20 percent or 4 years in prison.

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

Everyone from the AG to investigators say they are motivated because they are parents.

"The first time you work one of these cases and you rescue a child, you realize I can make that difference,” Bell said. “That one case is worth it."

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