A new app by the Department of Homeland Security aims to catch child predators with the help of its users. NY1's Adam Balkin filed the following report.
The Department of Homeland Security is strengthening one of its most reliable weapons in the fight against child predators: You.
"So far in the first six month of 2013 alone we've identified and rescued more than 330 victims of child sexual exploitation and arrested nearly 1,000 predators. One of the biggest benefits in our success has been our engagement with the public," says James Hayes Jr., Special Agent in Charge, New York Field Office at U.S. Homeland Security.
To more closely engage with the public and to make it easier for the public to engage with federal investigators Homeland Security and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have released an app, Operation Predator. Developers say reaching people and giving them a reporting tool on a device like a phone that's always near, not to mention so quick and simple to use, has potential to drastically boost efforts to catch predators.
"It puts us in contact with the public on a 24 hour a day, seven day a week basis they can find out information about what we do and how we do it, about the partners that we work with, and about the predators that we are most looking for," says Hayes Jr. "So with one touch they can be sending us an email about suspicious activity or calling us and letting us know where someone might be that we're looking for and when you add in the convenience factor I think we're going to be receiving a lot more information that in times past people wouldn't know where to go."
Right now Operation Predator, which is free, is available on iOS devices. Other versions are due out shortly. Homeland Security officers are quick to remind you that if you see something where someone is in immediate danger, in that case, the best first move is to call 911.