By Heartland News
PADUCAH, KY (KFVS) - The Internet Crimes Against Children Unit in Paducah have made their first round of arrests since the unit was established in Sept. 2009.
The investigation led to 20 charges against nine people. All of the individuals charged were men ranging from 23 to 55-years-old.
"Technology has hampered police work and were trying to keep up with the times," said Sgt. Brian Laird.
Detective Mike Wentworth took on the alias of a 14-year-old girl in September and began entering chat rooms.
"I have been in chat room specifically for kids and all they talk about is smut," said Wentworth.
"When I go online, I use a basic user name and just sit there," said Wentworth.
He did not approach any of the men, they all approached him believing he was the 14-year-old girl described in his online profile.
Of the men charged, one pleaded guilty, six are awaiting trial and two are wanted by police.
Nathan Watson, 22, of Rockford, IL and Lawrence Ziegler, 53, of Louisville, KY have both been charged with prohibited use of electronic communications system to procure a minor/peace officer for a sexual offense and promoting a sexual performance by a minor under 16, but their whereabouts are currently unknown by officials.
Police say technology is exploding, making it more important than ever for authorities and parents to use every resource possible to keep up with the times.
"If any responsible parent would allow their child to chat without supervision they are failing as a parent," said Wentworth.
There are parental control tools available and some are available for free from Internet service providers, or they can be purchased in software packages. With these controls a parents can, for example, see a full list of Web sites your child visited and what they did while they were on those sites.
For information on leading Internet service providers and the online safety services they offer visit http://kids.getnetwise.org/tools/ispoptions or call the customer service of your Internet service provider and ask about the services they offer.
GetNetWise also has a database that allows you to tailor your search for the most suitable software for your family.
If you child indicates that he or she may have been the victim of sexual exploitation or abuse you should first report the exploitation to your local law-enforcement agency and then contact that National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678 or visit www.cybertipline.com to find out what resources are available to you and to make a report.