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Colonie teams up with Albany FBI

Town to send manpower to help Child Exploitation Task Force

— The Town of Colonie will once again be working with the FBI’s Albany offices and Child Exploitation Task Force targeting Internet predators in the Capital District.

The task force, which was created in 2001, has paired up with Colonie for at least six years, according to Special Agent David Fallon, who oversees the task force. The task force seeks out those trading or producing child pornography, handling child prostitution matters, abducting children or contacting minors through the Internet. Currently, the task force includes an officer from Colonie as well as authorities from Albany, Rennselaer, Columbia and Saratoga counties.

“It’s a manpower question. (It’s a) tremendous amount of work. It really does take a taskforce approach to combat this issue,” Fallon said.

Colonie signed an agreement with the Albany FBI which, starting this year, will reimburse the town for any full-time officers working overtime on the task force. Colonie Investigator Christopher Smith will be assigned this year. Smith was awarded the Sheriff George L. Infante Outstanding Achievement in Law Enforcement Award at Albany County’s Annual Crime Victims Memorial Ceremony on Thursday, April 25, partly for his work with the Child Exploitation Task Force.

Since 2001, Fallon said the Albany FBI has arrested hundreds of individuals because of the task force.

The bureau screens any local officers before assigned them to the force. Police are interviewed and then selected officers are sent down to the FBI’s Maryland office for training. From there, they learn how to chat with Internet predators as well as how to use file sharing networks that are used for trading child pornography. During the training, officers also undergo a psychological assessment. Each year after that, the officers will undergo the same psychological assessment to track changes from the baseline.

“It’s mandatory for every agent and officer (working) with sex crimes … stuff they are being exposed to so they aren’t personally affected by it,” Fallon said.

Fallon said since 2001, the issue of child exploitation has not gone away.

“It’s as bad, if not worse since then. We need the manpower to deal with this issue,” he said. “We very much appreciate (the town’s) cooperation and efforts.”

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