The Southern Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (SOVA-ICAC) premiered ‘Wyoming’ – a Labrador Retriever Electronic Storage Device (ESD) K-9 and his handler Investigator Nick Shockley on Wednesday at the SOVA-ICAC Headquarters in Forest, VA. Wyoming and Investigator Shockley graduated from the ESD School conducted by the Connecticut State Police last month. Investigator Shockley is a Franklin County Sheriff’s Office deputy assigned full-time to the SOVA-ICAC Task Force. This newest addition to the task force was made possible through the gracious support of the Department of Criminal Justice Services. The press spent the better part of an hour interviewing the ICAC staff and meeting Wyoming.
Ms. Francine Ecker, Director of the Department of Criminal Justice Services, and two of her program managers, Heather Smolka and Mary Wilson, were also in attendance. Director Ecker complimented this announcement and congratulated Bedford County Sheriff Mike Brown on his ability to “think outside the box.”
Sheriff Brown indicated that there are no other ESD K-9s being used in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and only 8-12 are being used around the country to locate and identify storage media devices containing criminal evidence. With that in mind, Brown vowed to work with the Virginia Sheriffs’ Institute and the National Sheriffs’ Association to strategically deploy this special type of K-9 throughout the Commonwealth, which will add depth to a criminal investigator’s tool bag that has previously been unavailable.
As of this announcement, Sheriff Brown has secured funding for an additional K-9 for another part of the Commonwealth with two more possibly on the way.
ESD K-9s have recently gained prominence in investigations focusing on child pornography, child sexual exploitation and child human trafficking. It is common practice for persons involved in or participating in child pornography, child sexual exploitation and child human trafficking to keep their conversations, pictures, videos, records and other contact information on external storage devices such as hard drives, jump drives, thumb drives, and Micro SD cards. This practice makes it extremely difficult for law enforcement to discover these items when hidden away in unknown locations in homes, offices, vehicles, and other locations to numerous to list.
‘Wyoming’ will be available to any of the 133 affiliate agencies in Southern, Central and Eastern Virginia, and other law enforcement agencies throughout the Commonwealth, as his schedule allows. In addition, he will be available for use in major drug operations in which the method of operation mirrors the concealment efforts of sexual predators and child traffickers.
The Bedford County Sheriff’s Office SOVA-ICAC Task Force has operated as a Department of Justice (DOJ) initiative since 1998 and was one of the first ten designated an ICAC Task Force by the DOJ. Sheriff Mike Brown is the longest serving ICAC Task Force administrator in the nation (61 total).
For more information, please contact Bedford County Sheriff Mike Brown at 540-586-4800.