“Looking at images of children and toddlers infants being sexually molested, and seeing the suffering without being able to rescue them immediately, is the toughest part of this job.”

Lt. Glenn Lang, Computer Crimes Unit Maine State Police

The Maine Computer Crimes Unit is probably one of the least known agencies in state government, even though it’s one of the most important. This multi-jurisdictional police entity is designed primarily to assist other law enforcement agencies with the investigation and prosecution of computer crimes.

Computer crimes are those in which a computer is used as an instrument in committing unlawful acts. What started out as primarily a tool for investigating white-collar crimes soon turned into investigating illegal activities involving the downloading, disseminating and producing of child pornography.

Every day, the Computer Crimes Unit works to rescue children who are being sexually abused and to arrest sexual predators.

Lt. Glenn Lang and his team scours evidence in an effort to rescue abused kids. It is extremely difficult for them to see videos and pictures of children in their mid-teens being sexually assaulted, but even worse to see babies and young children in those situations.

When the team finally rescues a child after a tedious and exhausting investigation, members know that they have saved an innocent child from continued torture and possible death.

Over the past three years, the Computer Crimes Unit has located and rescued 26 children who were being used prominently in the ubiquitous child pornography industry around the world.

Maine can take great pride in the dedicated members of the Computer Crimes Unit.

Based on the importance of what this unit does, one would assume that providing adequate funding by the administration and Legislature would be a no-brainer. Amazingly, however, securing operating funds for the Computer Crimes Unit in state budgets has been a constant challenge.

Lang and his team have had to scramble to get federal grants and plead with state officials to get even miniscule funding as they struggle annually just to keep the doors open.

A logical question would be: Why on earth would such an obvious funding priority even be questionable when kids’ lives lie in the balance?

That trend started to change last year when the governor and Legislature allocated additional money to the Computer Crimes Unit to help reduce a  backlog of evidence that, if available to prosecutors, likely would lead to the arrest of child molesters who were still on the street.

Underfunding is still a serious problem, however, and the Legislature needs make it a top priority this year. There is no excuse for turning our backs on these tormented children.

The Computer Crimes Unit desperately needs a mobile evidence van to do onsite interviews of suspected child predators, conduct forensic examinations of evidence and administer polygraph tests. Other states have such mobile units that play a key role in securing critical evidence, identifying potential child molesters and gathering clues needed to locate children who are being sexually abused.

The cost for this evidence van is $100,000. The total state budget is $6.3 billion. It all comes down to priorities.

Because of the recognition of the need for this evidence van and the positive affect it will have on the ability to rescue children, the public has taken notice and wants to help.

Mary Orear, executive director of Mainely Girls in Rockport, has become an unyielding advocate for the fundraising effort and is playing a leading role in reaching the $100,000 goal. She has offered her organization as the holding entity for all donations.

In addition, I have committed 100 percent of the profits from the sale of my book, “The Evil and the Innocent,” toward the purchase of the van.

These children are being sexually abused and can’t understand what is happening or why. Their fear and pain cry out to us. We don’t want to imagine how horrendous it must be for these kids because it cuts deep into our souls. We must, however, if we want to help.

Bill Diamond of Windham, author of “The Evil and the Innocent,” is a former Maine secretary of state and state senator.

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