August 31, 2013 - 2:30 PM
TWO RCMP PROGRAMS TARGET CHILD PORN, REPEAT SEX OFFENDERS
THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - Child victims of sexual crimes and their families aren't the only ones scarred; the pain often extends to those who reach out to help, such as the police officers who investigate the crimes.
Surrey RCMP Staff Sgt. Bev Csikos says the work is not for everyone and they never do it for a long time.
"It's disturbing work we do," she says. "It plays on your personal life."
Officers can become over-sensitized, Csikos says. Some members will spend a few years with the Integrated Child Exploitation Team and move on to another department. Some of those who stay longer may become hyper vigilant, prone to suspicious thoughts where they aren't warranted. Exploitation team officers are required to see a psychiatrist every six months and engage in group counselling.
Recently in Penticton, two separate cases of men caught in possession of child pornography show just a fraction of what officers are exposed to. Before 2003, such crimes were categorized along with prostitution, sexual assault and/or serious crimes programs, Csikos says. Police needed specialist programs designed to catch child sex offenders as well as track sexual predators released from custody.
An RCMP study of the prevalence across the country led to the creation of two teams to tackle these crimes that were crossing borders and crawling along the dark edges of the internet.
The exploitation team identifies and assists child victims, finding those responsible and laying criminal charges for the assaults, creation of images and their distribution. The officers there "work in close partnership with law enforcement agencies around the world to identify those who prey upon our children," Sgt. Csikos says.
Find the bad guys is one end. But once the offenders are found, they always get special attention from the Integrated Sexual Predator Observation Team which tracks and studies released sexual predators who are at high risk to reoffend. Program members are trained in behavioural progression and have a strong understanding of when offenders are likely to commit crimes. The program has put many high-risk people back into prison. Both teams also work together.
The RCMP offers counselling services for victims, while investigators visit their homes to update families about the progress of the investigation. The job doesn't end with an arrest.
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