BOISE – Attorney General Lawrence Wasden and Idaho police want $2 million in new state funding to help boost enforcement against child pornography, arguing many of those who produce, view or share such illicit material are also abusing children – but remain at large.
Even so, Idaho’s courts have recommended studying the impacts of adding to fees or fines to pay for new programs before further taxing a system struggling to collect what’s already owed.
Boise Police Department Detective Tim Brady told the House Judiciary and Rules Committee on Thursday the additional money would bolster Idaho’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. It now gets $220,000 annually from the federal government, just enough to pay for one full-time and one part-time administrator inside Wasden’s office to coordinate, train and assist child pornography enforcement efforts statewide, he said.
The proposal would create a 14-person investigative team dedicated to tackling often-complex cases where sophisticated computer skills are necessary. As it stands, Brady said, many of the 5,000 leads generated annually by Idaho law enforcement on people suspected of involvement in child porn go uninvestigated, for lack of resources.
“This is information we have right now,” Brady told the committee. “And nothing is being done about it.”
Idaho’s task force is part of a national law enforcement network funded partially by Congress starting in 1998 through the U.S. Department of Justice, to found cybercrime units to fight child exploitation.
The proposal to expand Idaho’s program would rely on state funding via two channels: A $20 increase on misdemeanor and felony convictions, to raise an estimated $1.1 million annually, and a roughly $900,000 appropriation in state taxpayer money, said Paul Jagosh, lobbyist for the Idaho Fraternal Order of Police.
The collection rate for felonies is just 48 percent; for misdemeanors, it’s still just 79 percent.