JACKSONVILLE, Fla., – The FBI's Violent Crimes Against Children task force is making a difference in local communities, including ours.
The task force, based in Jacksonville, covers 40 Florida counties.
Having worked in the Violent Crimes Against Children program for the past 10 years, Special Agent MacDonald has seen some disturbing things.
Due to the nature of his work, News4Jax is only identifying MacDonald by his last name. He said these types of crimes are among the hardest to investigate.
"It’s a difficult crime to investigate, but it is worth the effort," MacDonald said. “Just like any investigation, it takes many, many years to get good at something. It's like learning a foreign language."
Through the program with the FBI, MacDonald said, the unit has investigated everything, from human trafficking, sexual abuse in children and online solicitation and exploitation to child pornography and parent and stranger abductions.
The unit is also partnered with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and works tirelessly to protect children from predators online, MacDonald said.
It also works to help educate parents. In early September, the FBI held a seminar for parents, helping them to understand how predators take advantage of social media and smartphone apps.
"When you know better, you do better,” MacDonald said. “A lot of parents don't understand the capabilities of the devices they're putting in their children's hands."
While the crimes he investigates are disturbing, MacDonald said few things are more rewarding than knowing he helps to save children.
"To be able to expose people like this and to rescue children from that world. And, of course, preventing others from falling victims to this," MacDonald said.
Additional seminars will be held from 5:30 -7 p.m. on the following dates at the following locations:
Oct. 30 - New Berlin Elementary School, 3613 New Berlin Road
Nov. 13 - Mandarin Middle School, 5100 Hood Road
Dec.11 - Bartram Springs Elementary School, 14799 Bartram Springs Parkway
Although it is not required, registration is suggested, to ensure enough space is available for all who want to attend.
Click here to register for any of the seminars.