ICAC talks cases in central Ohio and how parents can help catch predators

Deputy Chief Rick Minerd oversees the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, or ICAC. (WBNS)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Deputy Chief Rick Minerd with the Franklin County Sheriff's Office knows his job is difficult.

"Absolutely," he said. "Yeah, the number of cases, how extensive these cases and the skill set to do these cases."

Minerd oversees the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, or ICAC. It's a unit comprised of a number of local, state and federal officials working on cases where children are exploited on the internet. ICAC executes more than 850 search warrants and makes roughly 100 arrests every year in central Ohio.

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"If you're talking about big fish, the volume of downloads... most of these people don't download once or twice," he said. "They download tens, hundreds of times. Some cases, like this one, thousands of times."

He's referring to the current case against former 10TV Meteorologist Mike Davis, who was indicted on four counts of pandering sexually oriented matter involving a minor Wednesday.

For his job in general, Minerd says the images and videos that are out there concerning these types of cases are a little bit of everything.

"We think it's all of it," he said.

Meaning it's both the darkest internet circles of sex trafficking and images of children in any given neighborhood, whether through social media, or if it's an image maybe a child or teenager shared with someone else, such as a boyfriend or girlfriend. Whereas ICAC does its part to find and prosecute those sharing the material, Minerd says parents are responsible, too.

"Folks in the community can play a part as well, educating young people on the dangers of the internet," he said. "Let's face it, the internet is a dark, dangerous place and so we like to look at social media platforms and all that because we like to share the good things in our life or the fun we're having, but it's also sort of a playground, if you will, for these people who are out exploiting young people."

He also says it's important for parents to have regular conversations with their children about how they're communicating with people through their phones and who they're communicating with.

Though it can be an uphill battle, Minerd wants the public to know ICAC is making a difference.

"Absolutely," he said. "Absolutely we're making a difference. We're making a difference because every time we make an arrest that's one more person that can't continue to victimize these kids by downloading and sharing these files."

To learn more about ICAC and its successes, visit its website.