Columbus police speak on officer’s response in viral video | #childpredator | #onlinepredator | #sextrafficing

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Video circulating online showing a Columbus police officer telling a father his daughter could be charged with child pornography after he said she had fallen victim to an online predator has created outrage online and captured the criticism of the city’s police chief and mayor.

On Sept. 14, a Columbus man called police to report that he discovered an explicit conversation on his underage daughter’s phone with a grown man where photos had been exchanged. He asked if a female officer should come talk to the girl about the seriousness of the situation. That call was made around 7 p.m.

Two Columbus officers knocked on the family’s door in the middle of the night. The body camera video is timestamped after 11:30 p.m. The father informs the officers the girl is in bed asleep. The female officer tells him the girl could be charged with producing child pornography.

“She’s creating it, right?” said the officer. “It doesn’t matter, she’s still making porn.”

The father responded saying “No she’s not. She’s being manipulated by a grown-a** adult on the internet.” He then tells the officers to have a good night and shuts the door.

Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant said the department reached out to the family later to apologize for how the situation was handled. There is now an investigation by the Inspector General into the officer in question.

Head of the Fraternal Order of Police in Columbus, Sergeant Brian Steel, said officers have to be held accountable and will be if an investigation finds he or she acted in the wrong.

“If the officer violated policy, then that officer will be disciplined accordingly. It’s easy as that,” said Steel. “We can talk about was she empathetic, was she insensitive. These are all things we can discuss. But again, did she violate a policy, yes or no. If she did, she will be held accountable.”

As for parents, what should they do if they suspect their child has fallen victim to an online predator? The leader of the Franklin County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, Sergeant Mike Weiner, said parents shouldn’t be afraid to call in the crime and do it as soon as possible.

“They should make that call every time,” said Weiner. “Anything that we would investigate, that would be our goal, to find the offender and hold them accountable.”

He said concerns about online predators can be made to local police, county sheriff’s offices or state patrol. His task force handles cases that are passed onto them from various agencies. It also has a group of investigators scouring the internet to try and catch these criminals before they interact with a child.

He added that members of his task force are trained to talk with both children and their parents about the sensitive topics that may come up during an investigation. They work closely with the Child Advocacy Center when it comes to providing resources and conducting forensic interviews with minors.

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