The Hermiston Police Department will conduct one local investigation into child pornography after a statewide operation resulted in 15 arrests and 49 investigations over a two-week period.

Operation Internet Angel took place from Oct. 16-28, and during the two-week period, about 50 law enforcement agencies participated in a coordinated raid to highlight child pornography problems in Oregon. The HPD was one of those agencies.

“We did get one hit during the operation, so we do have one investigation,” Lt. Darryl Johnson said. “First they will have to identify the age of the person involved in what was downloaded, and that’s basically where it is right now, waiting for verification.”

The operation was coordinated by the Oregon Department of Justice Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force, a group designed to combat online child exploitation. Hermiston Det. Bill Osborne has been involved with ICAC for about four months. He attended an ICAC training and took on the program when he learned no other local agencies were participating. ICAC provides all equipment and training; participation does not cost the department.

“Basically, computers are assigned to a detective in each area, and they run all the time, looking for child porn,” Johnson said.

Internet investigations focus on three areas: prevention, investigation and forensics, ranging from chat and email to photo sharing and websites. The ICAC computer program — which is not identified in name or procedure — searches for questionable data and identifies the sender and recipient of that information. That information is sent to detectives, who begin a case investigation.

“It’s always, constantly running, searching for pornography, specifically child porn,” Johnson said. “If it finds somebody that’s in possession or possibly in possession or distributing child porn over the Internet, it sends a hit to the detective.”

In Hermiston, only Osborne can access that information, and although the program primarily searches the local area, it may also register hits from other places.

“It’s primarily our area, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it doesn’t pick up things from other areas. If someone from Japan sends something through here, it still shows that it has passed through,” Johnson said. “If someone has accidentally downloaded something, we can figure that out through an investigation.”

Operation Internet Angel resulted in 15 arrests, 35 suspects, 49 investigations, 30 search warrants served, 87 computers seized, 99 external hard drives seized, six sex offenders contacted and one rescued child.

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