Opinion Columns & Blogs

County smart to tap federal dollars to fight child exploitation

Sedgwick County commissioners wisely set aside their distaste for federal funding last week to unanimously approve a $291,077 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to continue the Kansas Internet Crimes Against Children task force. And no wonder. Among the sobering numbers that came up in the presentation: Kansas has more than 8,000 registered sex offenders, 19 percent of whom live in Sedgwick County. The local Exploited and Missing Child Unit identified 37 victims and 31 suspects involved in sex trafficking of minors in 2014-15. And Wichita and Sedgwick County average 1,650 runaways a year. “We’ve not only seen advertisements of these crimes on the Internet but also the perpetrators utilizing social media to recruit victims,” said Col. Richard Powell of the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office, which is administrator for the grant. Like all aspects of technology, this horrifying subset of crime is a moving target. The county and Wichita Police Department must use every available means to counter it. – Rhonda Holman