Saturday, August 30, 2008

Vermont needs more money to fight sexual predators

More Resources Needed To Investigate Sex Crimes

Vermont's Senate Committee on Judiciary meets Friday to investigate further and discuss how the state handles sex offenders. The committee heard from the director of the Vermont State Police, Col. James Baker, and Detective Sgt. Ingrid Jonas. Also it heard from Burlington Police Chief Michael Schirling and Sheriff Roger Marcoux, president of the Vermont Sheriffs' Association.
More Resources Needed to Investigate Sex Crimes
Baker said Vermont State Police are ready to take the lead on the issue of protecting communities from sex crimes. But he said the roles of state police need to be redefined, as he's publicly said before.
Sheriff Roger Marcoux said he will advocate that the sheriff's departments are a partner in the reorganization of state police if it happens.
Col. Baker said he would like to see state police and probation bridge their roles. For instance, he said in the special investigation units, specialized probation officers would work along with investigators.
He said in preparation for additional special investigation units around the state, Jonas, their expert in the area of child sexual abuse and domestic violence against women, will work full-time at headquarters to lay the blueprint. She emphasized the need for well-trained investigators who are skilled at interviewing children.
He said the additional special investigation units needed across the state should be like the Chittenden Unit for Special Investigations, but essentially on steroids.
Burlington's police chief has an extensive background in child exploitation and computer and Internet investigations. Schirling said the state needs to recognize sex offenders are a completely different animal than other criminals. "As we talk about crime prevention, response to crime, really two completely separate approaches are needed. I don't think Vermont as a whole has evolved to address those two things separately. We still deal with criminals, or people committing criminal acts, in one big bucket, versus, specialized individual buckets, with a few exceptions."
He said the Internet plays a huge role in sex offenders' manipulative ways of doing business. He said sex offenders are constantly finding ways to beat and manipulate the system. He added that seemingly unrelated crimes like a robbery can be related to an addiction, for example, of finding young boys on the Internet.
Baker added that violent sexual predators need to be supervised to the point where they worry about when they will be checked next. He said "mail covers," meaning permission to check someone's electronic and paper mail routinely, without warning, need to be done.
"We live in a different world today. The way sexual predators groom their victims is much different than it used to be," said Baker.

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