ST. CHARLES COUNTY (KMOV.com) – Officials say budget cuts in Jefferson City may lead to a $1.5 million dollar cut in funds for Missouri officers to effectively track and arrest online predators targeting children.
“There are predators out there just waiting for a child to lure in,” said Tonya Nowlin, an adolescent counselor and therapist.
In 2014, The ‘Missouri Internet Crimes Against Children’ Unit made more than 50 arrests of online predators targeting children in eastern Missouri. The unit is comprised of officers from several other police departments and operates out of St. Charles County with the 'St. Charles County Cyber Crime Task Force.'
“The more eyes and ear that are out there to monitor what’s going on with the kids, and what they are exposed to, or who they are talking to on social media, the better,” said Tim Lohmar of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office. Lincoln County provides two detectives for the unit and says if the money is held up in Jefferson City, the unit is in danger.
The average case takes about 42 hours to complete. Investigators say the amount of information they have to process has more than quadrupled between 2008 and 2013.