Task Force targets online sexual predators
WALKER, La (WVLA) -- Do you know what your children are doing when they're online? Law enforcement officials say, you should. They say there are several hundred people in using cyberspace to stalk minors, but a local task force is doing something about it.
Police say 26-year-old Ryan Michael Sims drove 23 hours from Missouri to Walker last weekend with plans to meet a young girl he contacted online. Sims wasn't aware that the "young girl" was actually an officer in the Online Sexual Predator Task Force working out of Livingston. That task force is made up of law enforcement officers from the Walker Police Department, the Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office, the Tangipahoa Sheriff's Office, and the St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office.
Last week, individuals from those agencies gathered together Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday to chat online, pretending to be boys and girls ranging in age from 13 to 16 years old. Their goal was to attract online sexual predators.
That's where the task force officer met Sims. Authorities say talk quickly turned sexual and he decided to drive down to Louisiana in the middle of the night. When he arrived at the arranged meeting place, officers arrested him without incident.
Sims is a Texas resident. Officers say he told them he left his home in Texas with hopes of meeting another minor in Missouri. When the meeting fell through, he headed to Louisiana. Sims is booked in the Livingston Parish Detention Center with a bond set at $50,000.
Authorities say their job is far from over. They say there are as many predators online today as there were ten years ago. Often times predators use webcams to broadcast graphic sex acts to young girls, but more dangerous is when they want to meet with the minor. Police say these cases often times end in rape, abduction, and murder.
Task force officers say parents need to be aware of dangerous online activity. They say its important for adults to keep tabs on what their children are doing when they're surfing the web. They suggest keeping the family computer in a busy space in the house so they can easily see what is on the computer screen. Officials also suggest talking with your children about certain warning words or phrases an online predator might use.
These could be phrases like "I love you," or invitations to watch football games from strangers.
The task force expects to make more arrests in the sting operation. They said in the last roundup of sexual predators, they arrested the pastor of a church and some medical professionals.
For more tips on how to keep your children safe online, check out these Website: