Child Porn Investigating: A Difficult Job

Apr 11, 2012

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Have you ever thought about child abuse investigators who must review and analyze all the data in child pornography cases? A recent article featured in the New York Times reviewed a Special Victims Unit in San Francisco.

Inspector Ken Esposto has been working on the police force for 31 years. He is worn-out but not physically. He's been the only investigator in the internet crimes against children unit for the past seven years. As imagined, the work is taxing and psychologically difficult to cope with.

Esposto reviews hundreds of digital images daily of children being raped and abused. It is lonely work, especially when discussing his day's activities; it makes others, even officers, uncomfortable.

The skills he has developed, impressive but regrettable, during his service are “a working knowledge of computer forensics, an ability to discern the ages of child victims by looking at pictures, and a lot of patience.”

Esposto is retiring soon and must train his replacement. Officer Andrea Weyl, from the violence reduction team, volunteered to be trained and work in the new division because she “just wanted to make sure more cases got the attention they deserved.”Weyl is discovering just how lonesome this kind of work is.

Since child pornography is a billion dollar industry, new child abuse cases appear every day. There is always more work to do after a case is solved.

Esposto's advice to Weyl, a trainee faced with the horrors of his department, is to indulge in hobbies. He told her “‘Have your personal life. Have a lot of interests. Don't let this consume you.' ” While adding, “‘You never get numb. I still have a tough time with it, but that's my crime scene.'” To leave work at the office, Esposto swims and reads books about United States history.

Even after 7 years, Esposto is not numb to all the crimes against children. Weyl said “‘If Ken hasn't gotten used to it, I'm not going to get used to it. In fact, I would be worried about myself if I ever got used to it.'”

Upstanding investigators like these in San Francisco are to be thanked for their efforts. They deserve to be recognized and appreciated. We commend all investigators for their desire to end crimes against children.

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