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Monday, September 12, 2011

Sharing Resources to Save Tax Payer Money and Improve Service

You may have heard area police agencies have banded together to create the Lake Superior Forensic Technology and Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.  With the dramatic increase in the use of smart phones and personal computers in crimes, police are finding a growing need to increase our ability to use forensic investigative techniques to solve crime.  Thanks to the leadership of Superior Police Floyd Peters, we have joined resources in an effort to expand our capabilities and save money.  This is the first task force of it's kind in the mid-west.  This group is on the cutting edge of the latest in techniques and utilizes the newest technology.   Superior PD was recently awarded a major grant from the COPS Office which will provided addiotnal funding to Duluth PD as well.  I pasted an article written last in the Superior Evening Telegram.

Grant targets sex predators
Shelley Nelson - 09/07/2011
Superior Telegram

Cooperation is paying off for law enforcement agencies in the region. The Superior Police Department is one of 20 law enforcement agencies in the nation granted nearly half-a-million dollars to help combat Internet crimes against children — specifically sexual predators that target children. The U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Orienting Policing Services grant supports the Lake Superior Forensic Technology and Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force The task force includes investigators from the Duluth and Superior police departments, and Douglas and St. Louis counties sheriff’s departments. “Being able to share some funding with our partners now is really important — it’s huge,” said Superior Police Chief Floyd Peters. Grant funding will help pay the cost of an additional investigator in the Superior Police Department, and defray costs for investigators from the Duluth Police Department and St. Louis County Sheriff’s Department for two years. “It doesn’t fully fund the Duluth investigator or the St. Louis County investigator, but it certainly helps them,” Peters said. The Douglas County Sheriff’s Department detective working with the task force is funded for three years through a $500,000 appropriation secured last year by Congressman Dave Obey, the chief said. “It was recognized that what we’re doing is important and valuable, is really a model for Wisconsin and Minnesota,” Peters said. The grant funding adds $499,852 to that initial funding to support operations, equipment and training for task force members. “It’s a fully funded grant and we believe that the strength of our application — several things — made us a strong task force to be considered,” Peters said. The task force includes law enforcement agencies in Wisconsin and Minnesota working together under agreements adopted late last year, but its mission includes assisting smaller law enforcement agencies with investigations and proactive policing that affects those jurisdictions. Superior Police Sergeant and task force commander Nick Alexander said the police department receives requests almost weekly for task force services from smaller law enforcement agencies throughout the greater region. The area the task for covers includes most of the 8th Congressional District in Minnesota and 7th Congressional District in Wisconsin, said Superior Police Capt. Chad La Lor, who collaborated with Duluth and Superior police to submit the successful application. “The equipment is expensive,” Alexander said. “The training is very expensive. It probably isn’t cost effective for a lot of these smaller agencies to try to absorb those expenses for one to two cases per year when we can have more like a hub here that has trained and experienced investigators.” Of the 126 law enforcement agencies nominated to apply, 105 applications were accepted, and only 20 agencies in 12 states received funding this year. The Superior Police Department, the smallest police department funded, was nominated to apply by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Western District of Wisconsin. “We’re the only agency in the Midwest that was funded,” La Lor said. While the North Dakota Office of the Attorney General was selected to receive $500,000 in funding, most of the agencies to receive the grant this year are on the east and west coasts and in the south. “As opposed to ‘here’s our vision; we think this can work’ we’re able to show ‘here was our vision and our vision is already actually rolling,’” La Lor said. Since its full inception earlier this year, Alexander said the task force has processed 100 cell phones and about 58 computers and large storage devices. The task force was involved in the investigation of Timothy Urbanski, a 47-year-old Bayview Courts resident, accused of possessing child pornography. The case was uncovered when the mother of a 7-year-old girl who received the phone allegedly from Urbanski, searched the images on the phone and found what appeared to be child pornography. The girl’s mother turned the phone into the Superior Police Department, launching the investigation into a case that is growing, Peters said. “This funding will assist in the fight against unfathomable crimes,” said COPS Director Bernard K. Melekian in a prepared grant announcement. “The agencies recognized this year have worked in great cohesion with federal offices and local law enforcement stakeholders, developing aggressive strategies to combat crimes against children.”

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