I-Team: Child predators, part 1
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By Jim Taricani
The investigators at the Rhode Island State Police Cyber Crimes Unit have sophisticated computers to track and make cases against child pornographers and sexual predators.
What they don't have is something called an administrative subpoena.
This type of subpoena would allow state police to identify the IP address' account holder, but it would not need the approval of a judge first.
Lt. Nick Tella, who heads the Cyber Crimes Unit, said any delay in getting a subpoena, like seeing a judge to approve it, could mean more young girls could be victimized that don't need to be.
"These requirements which requires officers to obtain a search warrant results in unnecessary investigative delays," Tella said.
The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Mike McCaffery, and the Rhode Island Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said there's a danger in giving police subpoena power without a judge approving first.
"It's fine to trust the police, but our criminal justice system is not based on trust, though. One of the key aspects of our system is judicial oversight, and that is one of the major things that is missing in the administrative subpoena," said Steven Brown, executive director of the Rhode Island ACLU.
House Speaker Gordon Fox is supporting and has supported the administrative subpoena bill, but its fate in the Senate is questionable.
Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed, through a representative, declined to take a position on the bill. She wants to wait until the judiciary committee makes a recommendation.
State police said without the administrative subpoena there's a real risk that there will be unnecessary victims of sexual predators.