How the Internet Crimes Against Children task force works to protect children

PMG PHOTO PAT KRUIS - The Internet Crimes Against Children task force was instrumental in investigating the case against Ronald Jarchow on Crooked River Ranch, arrested in February on 37 charges of child pornography.

Back in February, authorities arrested a man at his home on Crooked River Ranch on 37 charges of child pornography. The Internet Crimes Against Children task force built the case against Ronald Jarchow and worked with Jefferson County Sheriff's deputies to arrest him. According to ICAC Commander Phillip Kearney, that was the last time he worked with JCSO. "I was told by the detective that he had to remove his name from the paperwork," said Kearney. "The sheriff was no longer taking the tips." Kearney pointed out a JCSO detective did assist in the Jarchow investigation and deputies in the search warrant and the arrest. "It was the first time I've ever had anyone drop out," said Kearney. He's not sure why Jefferson County Sheriff Marc Heckathorn split ties with the task force. He reached out once, but Heckathorn did not return his call. Heckathorn calls this a miscommunication and says he hasn't permanently cut connection with ICAC. "Why would I do that?" Heckathorn said. But he did back out of accepting new cases. The sheriff says after a decade without ICAC cases, his detectives started getting the child porn cases. Heckathorn says child porn cases are complicated and delicate. His detectives felt ill-equipped to handle them. Heckathorn says his detective, Brian Skidgel, said there was a group in Salem that handled these cases. "Why not utilize the people who already do those?" asked Heckathorn. Kearney understood from the detective that JSCO would no longer take ICAC cases. The three or four cases he would have assigned to JCSO he sent instead directly to the Oregon State Police Bend Division. He did not send the information to Jefferson County.

"Those are very involved and resource intensive," said OSP Major Crimes Supervisor Sgt. Darin LaDick. "That puts a strain on our resources." LaDick took the initiative to meet with Heckathorn, who shared his concern that JCSO detectives weren't prepared to handle these cases. "So I tried to get training for them (JCSO)," said LaDick, "so they could investigate them themselves without putting a strain on our resources." Kearney says his team does the bulk of the legwork before it hands cases over to local agencies.

"We're subject matter experts," said Kearney. "We can help with the investigation and the prosecution." Kearney says his team walks local detectives through the cases. "It's just a matter of communicating."

ICAC is a federally-funded operation. Oregon's Department of Justice runs the Oregon office. The task force acts as a 9-1-1 center for all leads for the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children. Federal law requires all media sites and internet providers to report abuse. Those tips then go to ICAC. The Oregon site is on track to receive 6,200 tips by the end of this year.

The Oregon office has four people who vet the tips and collect the evidence then dispatch the information to the law enforcement agency responsible for the arrest. "We don't just send raw data," said Kearney. "We send them a nice, investigative package, three-quarters complete, almost ready for a search warrant or some sort of police action." Kearney says those 6,200 tips will result in hundreds of arrests. ICAC counts on law enforcement to make the arrests and take the case through the channels. He says the state does not have enough agents to work all the cases in Oregon. Kearney says the next scheduled ICAC training is June 1 in Salem. LaDick is still reaching out to agencies to set up training for JCSO detectives and other law enforcement in Central Oregon. Heckathorn says now that he knows how the system works he'll get training for his detectives so they can begin investigating Jefferson County child porn cases. "This is just political spin to make me look bad," said Heckathorn.

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