Richland Police Chief Discusses New Online Sex Crimes Task Force - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Richland Police Chief Discusses New Online Sex Crimes Task Force at Community Forum

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TRI-CITIES, WA. -- Remember that show "To Catch a Predator"? There's a new task force in the Tri-Cities working to keep sexual predators away from your children. We learned about it at the 3rd Annual Community Health and Human Services Forum Tuesday morning.

7 speakers presented different topics at the forum. All of the speakers are leaders in either the Tri-Cities or the state. The Attorney General Bob Ferguson was there to talk about the priorities of his office. 

Some of the topics included STEM education, marijuana legalization and how it impacts families, and how to prevent suicide locally, among others. But perhaps the most captivating presentation was by Richland Police Chief Chris Skinner.

Chief Skinner told the crowd about a new, 2-officer task force whose goal is to stop online sex crimes against children. Chief Skinner shared a scary example with the crowd. The task force recently posted a fake online ad on Craigslist pretending to be an underage girl looking for sex. After 37 minutes, they took the ad down. But in that time, 37 local men responded to the ad, eventually leading to 3 arrests. 

"I think it's important and incumbent on parents to get involved in their kids lives," Chief Skinner said. "Insert themselves between the children and the internet and just make sure they're just paying attention."

Chief Skinner says the task force started work about 6 months ago. In that time, they have already made several arrests. They're adding a Benton County Deputy next year, to go along with the Richland Officer and Kennewick Officer already working to stop online sex crimes.

We talked to an organizer of the community forum. They plan to host another one next year. If you missed it this year, Charter Cable plans to post all the presentations to YouTube, sometime in the next couple months.