For about as long as there have been children, …
Now some civilian groups are taking matters into their own hands.
Sarasota resident Lee Bassett runs a Facebook page called Southwest Florida Exposures.
That was the first of Bassett’s online stings that resulted in an arrest.
Law enforcement disapproves
Despite Bassett contributing to the arrest of Allen, law enforcement generally discourages undercover civilian operations.
Officers say it can detract from real justice with real consequences.
Because of a lack of legal consequences, the civilian operations hurt society, Keller believes.
“It’s like catch-and-release,” he said. “It lets them go right back into the wild.”
Another problematic aspect is civilians don’t have the ability to find a suspect’s real victims — children currently victimized or being groomed by predators.
When law enforcement is involved, the case doesn’t stop with the arrest. Police conduct search warrants and look at phones or computers. This often reveals sex crime victims — children who have had their photos taken at vulnerable moments or being asked to do something sexual on a webcam.
On the other hand, when law enforcement arrests somebody, they go through the court system. Usually, the goal is to make that person a sex offender or a sex predator.
In Florida, sex offenders’ and predators’ information is posted on state websites and local law enforcement has to inform the community when one of these people moves into the area.