Sheriff’s Message, Week of November 26th
While technologies have given rise to many inventions that enhance our lives, to a large extent it has made us more dependent. This changing world continues to produce more “techie” criminals that seek ill-gotten rewards by targeting individuals and businesses that rely on technology, e-commerce and on-line storage of valuable personal, financial and intellectual property data. Most of us continue to hear confusing terms such as malware, pharming, spam, worms, viruses, or Trojan horses. Summed up, these terms are a means by which criminals use another person’s cell phone or computer to steal personal data to commit fraud or other crimes.
Computer-related crimes pose a significant and growing threat, and it is beginning to strain the LCSO’s available resources. More individuals are reporting the receipt of electronic messages and images that slander, threaten, harass or “cyber stalk” another person. Some of these messages and images are posted in chat groups where their personal image has been manipulated. Technology anonymity and communication securities makes it extremely challenging for law enforcement. To complicate matters, the reporting party sees the “alleged” sender’s information; doesn’t understand that that it may not have originated from them; or that we may not have the right technologies to solve this alleged crime and gather enough evidence for prosecution.
This week, we meet with the Lyon County School District administration to improve upon our School Resource Officer (SRO) program successes. During the meeting, we learned of another emerging trend; altering children’s images as a nude photograph and releasing the image onto a social media site such as “Snap chat.” There appears to be available computer software that can digitally alter images to enhance or change the image, such as sexualizing the image by removing clothing. Similarly, in contrast to software that digitally ages missing children, images of child pornography can be created by “de-aging” images of adult pornography.
Our children, who are most at risk, learn about computers and the Internet at an early age. But just as one wouldn’t let children cross a busy road without some safety rules, we must not send them onto the information superhighway without teaching them the rules of the road. Too many dangerous and malicious people can hurt our children, and even adults are being harmed on the Internet and social media sites. Today’s technology is a wonderful tool, but we must know how to use it safely.
We met with NHP to discuss highway traffic safety issues such as speeding, accidents, horses, and aggressive driving on Hwy 50 and the USA Parkway in central Lyon County. NHP is also struggling to meet their calls for service without enough troopers. They try to keep two troopers on the parkway, but those troopers are almost always on accidents scenes on I-80 at Exit 28. They see the same safety issues with the round-about that our citizen advisory groups have voiced to us; and the Central Lyon County Fire Protection District raised concerns that the parkway’s emergency vehicle turnarounds are not large enough for fire trucks.
These messages are not intended to point fingers, but are meant to provide information that we see the same safety concerns as many of you do. We do listen and act upon those concerns that can be validated by trying to find solutions within our current fiscal restraints. However, it appears that we have squeezed the lemon for all it has right now.
And finally, our deputies did an outstanding job this week in breaking up a counterfeit money and drug trafficking operation in Silver Springs. One of the suspects even got an electric car ride, powered by Taser, as he attempted to drive off after being told he was under arrest. In all, five people were arrested for various money counterfeiting, methamphetamine, and firearm charges.
As always, keep the faith.