Jonesboro cyber crimes detective hunts pedophiles for entire region through advanced technology
JONESBORO, Ark. – If your job was to interact with the most despised members of our society – adults who sexually prey on children – could you do it?
On Wednesday, Officer Brandon King with Jonesboro Police Department spoke to members of Jonesboro Kiwanis about his job – catching child predators. His life as a police officer didn’t begin there, but it’s where his career has led him.
“I worked as a general assignment detective for a couple of years before I got into this and it is nothing alike,” King told NEA Report. “Most of my day now consists of sitting behind a computer and networks known for trading child pornography. Also, investigating child tips, where someone in our area is believed to have uploaded pornography in this area. It’s less of a personal interaction and more of an online presence.”
On any given day, he runs digital analysis and uses specialized software on computers, cell phones, or other devices to break into the device. His target is to find child pornography – the most exploitative and horrendous imagery in existence.
The child pornography is generally identified by the Internet Service Provider, itself, King detailed. For example – John Doe has internet through Suddenlink. John Doe downloads a pornographic image of a child which is most likely already in a federal database containing millions of images. That pornographic image has a unique DNA-like code called a hash value which only that digital photo has. When John Doe downloads the photo, Suddenlink detects the forbidden image instantly and they notify Jonesboro Police Department without hesitation.
One of the most unnerving parts of the job for King is to have to view the imagery, whether in video or picture form. His ultimate goal is to find the person or people creating the material – but it is important to bring to justice the consumers of child porn, too.
“The ultimate goal is finding people creating this stuff,” King said. “There’s a certain frame of mind that leads a person to be a consumer of this material. Looking back at the cases I’ve worked, in a lot of ways, the field I work in now is very similar to domestic violence. It starts off fairly minor. At the first stage, looking at a picture someone else took. It gets to a point some explore more obscene images and video and a lot of time, even that doesn’t excite them the way it used to and it escalates to them offends against a child.”
Perpetrators often begin as innocent victims themselves, King said, before advancing to perpetrate the heinous act on another innocent victim. It is a vicious cycle which has to be stopped.
“Every offender I’ve talked to said they didn’t initially have the desire to touch a child,” King said. “It started with images and video and just got worse.”
Spouses and family members are quite often unaware, he said. Even if they didn’t know about the secret sadistic fetish, family members suffer through a terrible public scrutiny. Not only have their loved ones been charged with a felony, there is a stigma now attached. It’s something that is so stigmatized, even other criminals hate pedophiles.
“The only way I know to get a handle on it is aggressive prosecution and get them away from those who they will affect,” King said.
He believes our prosecutors in NEA do an outstanding job with the system which is in place, but King said the judicial system ties law’s hands and sometimes makes it too hard to put perpetrators away.
“Without one moment’s hesitation, I’ve never put handcuffs on one of these guys where I wasn’t 100 percent sure they were guilty,” King said. “I’m more careful with these cases than I am with drug arrests and other stuff. If I arrest someone for weed in their car and they’re acquitted, it’s a speed bump no one remembers in five years. If I arrest someone for molesting a five-year-old, they never get away from that.”
JPD is one of the only agencies in the state that has the digital forensic capabilities to do this type of work, King said. There are maybe half a dozen or so. The work King does is not only for Jonesboro but for surrounding agencies, too.
One of the unique tools is special software that helps, under the authority of a search warrant, to defeat whatever security measures a device may have in place to get in and get the evidence. Secret Service and Homeland Security help pay for it and provide training, King said.
“This is one of the few fields in law enforcement where every victim is truly an innocent victim,” King said.
The biggest challenge for King is to comb through sickening material to find monsters who prey on children. It takes constant mental strength for the detective to find the will not to despise the subjects of his investigations.
“It’s tough, man,” King said. “Now that I’ve got a young girl of my own, it’s hard but you have to kind of compartmentalized it and do the best you can to not take it home with you.”
See King speaking at Jonesboro Kiwanis this week, courtesy of KLEK 102.5 FM.
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