Cybertips increase in Wyoming

The number of tips per year the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation received through its Internet Crimes Against Children task force increased between 2016 and 2021.

Two members of the Teton County Sheriff’s department were recognized at a statewide ceremony held by the Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee in Lander on Tuesday.

Investigative Sergeant Clayton Platt and Investigator Dustin Richards were recognized for their efforts as members of the Internet Crimes Against Children task force, a group of investigators from agencies across the state that is run by the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation.

The Teton County Sheriff’s department is one of four affiliate agencies currently assisting ICAC across the state that help ICAC Team Leader Chris McDonald investigate all tips in Wyoming, from undercover operations to phone-in tips.

That also includes all reporting that social media sites are required to share if they detect what they believe to be child pornography or child exploitation material.

“[The award] wasn’t for a specific case we have necessarily done locally,” Platt said. “It was more a conglomerate of all the cases and all the hard work that has been put in by the entire team over the course of the last year.”

McDonald was also recognized.

“The United States attorney’s office has never given an award like that,” McDonald said. “They were saying there was so much good work that it was really hard to pin down one specific case. Goes to things like our increased case work, the number of live victims we saved last year and the constant increase in work as we have less and less people to do it.”

The ICAC team, composed of six full-time agents plus a couple of part-time investigators, is on track to exceed the 617 tips they received in 2021. Last year, 22 live victims were saved by the team. Almost all were Wyoming children, McDonald said.

Unfortunately, due to the 280 tips received from January to April of this year, the team may be set for another record-breaking year.

This is why the partnership of local agencies is so important, McDonald said.

“Clay Platt is also highly involved in human trafficking so we partnered originally and then he recognized Dustin Richards’ computer talents,” McDonald said. “So if there’s cybertips in Teton County, having someone we can contact and we know is going to investigate the tip thoroughly and professionally, frankly, it’s invaluable. I can’t even tell you how much we depend on and appreciate them. It’s critical. It’s a really great partnership. “

Sixteen other individuals at the state and federal levels were included in the group award to the ICAC team to recognize their “involvement, commitment and achievements regarding federal criminal cases.”

Other law enforcement officers and agents were recognized for their achievements related to significant criminal cases at the awards ceremony in the fields of fraud, violent crime and drugs, among others.

“It is my great honor to recognize those in our community who go above and beyond to protect our children, our community and our way of life in Wyoming,” said U.S. Attorney for the district of Wyoming Bob Murray in a press release. “Those honored never seek recognition, but it is important to let the public know about the accomplishments of our law enforcement and community members. I thank each and every one of them for their continued service.”The awards were presented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys and were based on complex or remarkable cases that fell into specific criminal categories.

Nicole Romine, Chief of the Criminal Division for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said, “These men and women consistently face danger as they make arrests and investigate crime that impacts communities across the District of Wyoming. These awards recognize some of the most complex federal cases our office worked in 2021 — involving large amounts of money and/or drugs, as well as discernible impacts to victims, and resulting in successful prosecution that made our communities safer.”

Contact Kate Ready at 732-7076 or kready@jhnewsandguide.com.

Kate Ready covers criminal justice and emergency news. Originally from Denver, Kate studied English Literature at UC Berkeley and is excited to bring her love for the mountains and storytelling to Jackson.

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