Five years after creating a cybercrimes unit, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway says his office has a 100 percent conviction rate in the 114 child pornography cases that it helped investigate and prosecute.
Operating in a small office off U.S. 60 in Frankfort, three investigators assigned to the cybercrimes unit have obtained 403,157 images and videos of child pornography in the past five years, said Bill Baker, the unit's investigations manager. The investigators also operate a digital forensics lab that has helped law enforcement agencies in the state process 6,119 computer hard drives.
"The work being done by my cybercrimes investigators has made the Internet a safer place for Kentucky kids," Conway said.
Before the cybercrimes unit was developed, police in Kentucky sometimes had to wait a year for federal agencies to process digital evidence, Baker said. Now, the wait is often only a week, he said.
Never miss a local story.
The unit's most notable Central Kentucky conviction was of former Lexington firefighter Eric Bradley, who received an eight-year prison term in February 2011 for receiving child pornography. Bradley had been using a computer at the fire station to collect thousands of images of child pornography.
Investigators also arrested retired Florida schoolteacher Dale Chisena at Blue Grass Airport in Lexington. He traveled to Kentucky with plans to have sex with two juveniles. Chisena was sentenced in March to 30 years in federal prison.
Shelley Johnson, a spokeswoman for Conway, said much of the unit's funding comes from the seized assets of child pornographers. It spends $263,800 a year on personnel.
Since taking office in 2008, Conway has pushed for changes to Kentucky laws dealing with child pornography.
In 2009, he successfully urged the General Assembly to approve a measure that gives Conway's office subpoena power to quickly obtain information about Internet accounts when there is reasonable cause to suspect that the accounts were used to exploit a child. The bill also makes it a crime for someone to transmit live sexually explicit images to minors over the Internet and allows police to seize personal property used by a predator during the commission of a sex offense against children.
In addition to prosecuting criminals, the cybercrimes unit has trained more than 2,400 law enforcement offices and prosecutors in data collection and combating cybercrimes. It is one of nine agencies in the country that Microsoft has chosen to hold cyber-safety training for investigators.
Police officials in Frankfort and Lexington said their agencies are among those that have received training from the cybercrimes unit.