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Behind the Badge: How Officers Process the Horrors of Child Exploitation Cases

June 5, 2019

Don Hudson with ABC4 News met with ICAC Commander Jessica Farnsworth to discuss the mental toll it takes to be an officer of the ICAC Task Force. In order for ICAC officers to find and arrest child predators, they have to view the evidence, which contains horrific footage of children being sexually abused and tortured.

Watching the footage of crimes that they can’t stop, officers go through feelings of helplessness and horror, which can start taking a toll on their health. That is why ICAC has a wellness program and mandatory sessions with a clinical therapist.

In the first three months of 2019, ICAC made 104 arrests. Last month, they announced the arrest of 13 child predators in Utah County. While the investigations can be frustrating and painful, ICAC is ready to take down anyone who hurts children.

Read the rest of Hudson’s interview here.


The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) is a multi-jurisdictional task force that investigates and prosecutes individuals who use the Internet to exploit children. The Utah Attorney General (UAG) ICAC Task Force was created in 2000 and is now one of 61 ICAC task forces in the country. They focus on crimes related to sexual exploitation of a minor – whether possessing, distributing, or manufacturing child pornography, enticing minors over the internet, or exchanging material deemed harmful to minors. The UAG ICAC Task Force has 32 local, state, and federal police agencies involved in the task force.

You can learn more about ICAC and how to keep your family safe, check out the ICAC Task Force here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/justice/internet-crimes-against-children-icac-task-force.


SafeUT App: Fighting Suicide & Mental Illness

June 3, 2019

Inside Digital Health recently covered the alarming rate of teen suicide and mental illness in Utah and how the SafeUT app is looking to change that.

Read excerpts of the article below.

“Two young people are treated for suicide attempt every day in Utah, more than the national average. In 2014, suicide was the leading cause of death for youth ages 10 to 17. In one high school in Herriman, Utah, seven students and one recent graduate died by suicide during the 2017-18 school year. The question of whether suicide prevention efforts are working in Utah is routinely covered in the news. Finding root causes of the increase in suicide and enabling better access to care for vulnerable patients is a top priority — and technology can help in prevention efforts.”

“Adolescents are more likely to share their mental health concerns with someone who is not a close friend or relative; this makes an app ideal to increase accessibility for teens.” 

“Digital health tools like SafeUT app are making prevention more effective than ever in Utah. They offer more resources and facilitate mental health support in a sphere where many youth are already socializing, which is key to connecting them with resources and ultimately providing better solutions for students suffering from depression and mental illness.”

You can read the entire article here.

Photo by Ángel López


AG Reyes Shares at Larkin Sunset Gardens Memorial Day Service

May 28, 2019

Yesterday, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes had the distinct privilege to share with the families who’ve lost loved ones and honor those who gave their lives in service at the Larkin Sunset Gardens Memorial Day service.

I am honored to address veterans and their families here at Larkin Sunset Gardens for this Memorial Day service. Especially now, as our country has men and women serving in harm’s way, we offer gratitude to those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms.

Our nations’ freedoms mean everything to me and my entire family. We are all extremely grateful to those who sacrifice to keep our nation great.

Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes

In Honor of Those We Lost

May 27, 2019

This Memorial Day weekend, as we enjoy the privilege of being a part of this great nation, the Utah Attorney General’s office extends its gratitude to those who sacrificed their lives to protect our country and keep it free.

May we never forget what it took for us to enjoy the liberty and prosperity within which we all live.

However you choose to celebrate, please be careful and travel safe.


AG Reyes Calls for Forgiveness of Disabled Veterans School Loans

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 24, 2019

UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL CALLS FOR AUTOMATIC DISCHARGE OF STUDENT LOANS FOR PERMANENTLY DISABLED VETERANS
Sean D. Reyes Leads a Nationwide Petition to the Education Secretary

SALT LAKE CITYAs the nation prepares to honor fallen troops on Memorial Day, Attorney General Sean D. Reyes is leading a bipartisan coalition of 51 Attorneys General (50 states and Guam) to urge the Department of Education and Secretary Betsy DeVos to automatically forgive the student loans of veterans who became totally and permanently disabled in connection with their military service.

This effort, led by Attorney General Reyes and New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal, calls on DOE to develop a process to automatically discharge the `student loans of veterans determined by the Department of Veterans Affairs to be eligible for such relief. While the automatic discharge process is in development, the letter proposes DOE should halt debt collection efforts targeting disabled veterans and clear their credit reports of any negative reporting related to their student loans. 

“Forgiving their school loans is the least we can do to recognize their service and sacrifice,” Attorney General Reyes said. “These veterans have suffered permanent and total disability as a direct result of their service to our country. They and their families have sacrificed health, quality of life, and often their dreams for the future. Many have lost their ability to work and pay off any school debt.”

“There are many veterans in our state who signed up to serve our country and suffered life-altering injuries as a result,” Major General (ret.) and Chief Civil Deputy Brian L. Tarbet said. “Discharging their student loan debt is simply the right thing to do. I personally know of military families in this situation who could benefit from this kind of assistance but would never ask for it. Let’s make it easier on them to make a better life for themselves after the life-changing sacrifices they made.”

Last year DOE identified more than 42,000 veterans nationwide as eligible for student loan relief due to a service-related total and permanent disability, the attorneys general note in their letter to Secretary DeVos. Fewer than 9,000 of those veterans had applied to have their loans discharged by April 2018, however, and more than 25,000 had student loans in default.

The letter urges an automatic loan discharge process that gives individual veterans an opportunity to opt out for personal reasons “would eliminate unnecessary paperwork burdens and ensure that all eligible disabled veterans can receive a discharge.”

“Currently, far too few disabled vets who qualify for loan forgiveness have applied because they are unaware of or unable to make an application for the benefit,” Reyes said. “And far too many are in loan default, which negatively impacts their lives in very serious ways. Automatic forgiveness guarantees each of them the peace of mind they deserve and demonstrates our gratitude as a nation for what they have endured and continue to endure.”

# # #   

NOTES:

  1. Read a copy of the attorneys general letter to Secretary DeVos here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/NAAG-Letter-to-Sec.-DeVos.pdf.
  2. The Utah Attorney General’s office leads Utah@Ease, a public-private partnership that offers legal assistance and representation to veterans and Active Duty, Reserve and National Guard service members. 
  3. The veteran’s groups supporting such proposals have included: Vietnam Veterans for America, Veterans Education Success, The Retired Enlisted Association, High Ground Advocacy, and Ivy League Veterans Council.

Utah AG Urges Congress to Hold Internet Service Providers Accountable

May 23, 2019

SALT LAKE CITY – Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined 47 attorneys general across the country this week to urge Congress, once again, to amend the Communications Decency Act in order to make sure state and local authorities are able to protect our citizens online and take appropriate action against online criminals.

The Communication Decency Act of 1996 (CDA) was designed to encourage the growth of the internet by promoting free expression, particularly on online message boards. The Act was intended to allow companies who sponsor message boards to remain immune to repercussions from inappropriate posts. However, a misinterpretation of Section 230 of the Act has led some federal court opinions to interpret the Act so broadly that individuals and services, which knowingly aid and profit from illegal activity, have evaded prosecution.

“Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act” and “Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act” (known as FOSTA-SESTA) was signed into law in 2018, making clear that the CDA’s immunity does not apply to enforcement of federal or state sex trafficking laws. Unfortunately, the abuse on these platforms does not stop at sex trafficking, but includes all sorts of harmful illegal activity such as online black market opioid sales, identity theft, and election meddling.

This is not the first time the attorneys general have addressed this issue with Congress. In 2013 and 2017, nearly every state and territory AG wrote to inform Congress of the damaging misinterpretation and misapplication of Section 230 of the CDA.

Section 230 expressly exempts prosecution of federal crimes from the safe harbor, but “addressing criminal activity cannot be relegated to federal enforcement alone simply because the activity occurs online,” the letter states. “Attorneys General must be allowed to address these crimes themselves and fulfill our primary mandate to protect our citizens and enforce their rights.”

In addition to Utah, the following states and territories joined in this letter: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

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The Utah AG, Hexwave & High-tech, Crime-fighting Technology

The Utah Attorney General’s office researches, deploys, and shares cutting edge technology with law enforcement agencies here in Utah and around the world. We do this with careful attention to the crossroads where liberty, privacy, and public safety intersect.

Whether it’s using new technology to speed up DNA testing or capturing real-time intel to solve kidnappings, our office helps Utah live up to its reputation as an innovative, tech-friendly state that respects Constitutional freedoms. Hexwave technology (press release below) promises a faster, less-intrusive way for law enforcement to keep large crowds safe, and we are interested in exploring the possibilities. As long as new technologies respect Constitutional protections, the AG’s office will explore and deploy every tool available to keep people safe and bring criminals to justice.

Audio of AG Reyes addressing the use of Hexwave in Utah:

Media coverage:

Salt Lake Tribune: Utah will test hidden technology that tries to find weapons among crowds at schools, stadiums and churches

Deseret News: Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes says new scanner tech could elevate safety at public venues

Fox13: Utah to test new 3D imaging technology to detect potential threats

KSL.com: Utah attorney general signs on to beta test new AI tech that detects concealed weapons

The following press release was issued May 22, 2019 by Liberty Defense.

Liberty Defense Signs MOU with the Utah Attorney General for Testing of HEXWAVE

SALT LAKE CITY and VANCOUVER, May 22, 2019 /CNW/ – Liberty Defense Holdings Ltd. (“Liberty”), a leader in security and weapons detection solutions, is announcing that it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Office of the Utah Attorney General to beta test HEXWAVE in the state.

The Utah Attorney General, Sean Reyes, is an elected constitutional officer in the executive branch of the state government of Utah. The attorney general is the chief legal officer and legal adviser in the state.

“HEXWAVE can be applied in a variety of settings to provide a means to identify possible threats before they advance into attacks. We are excited that the Attorney General of Utah recognizes the potential value of this technology and the opportunity it provides for enhanced security in the state,” said Bill Riker, CEO of Liberty Defense.

The proposed testing with and through the Office of the Attorney General may include, but is not be limited to:

  • Sporting and concert arenas, stadiums and Olympic venues
  • Primary, secondary and higher education facilities
  • Places of worship, facilities and property owned by or affiliated with faith entities
  • Government offices, buildings and facilities
  • Amusement parks
  • Entertainment events, conventions, shows and festivals

The Attorney General has committed to work in Partnership with Liberty to facilitate introductions and advise interested parties and venues on the potential for HEXWAVE technology. The goal of this initiative is to improve public safety for the citizens of Utah.

“We are pleased to be a part of this phase of testing this new product. Innovation in this space is essential as the type and frequency of threats also evolve. We look forward to evaluating the capabilities of the HEXWAVE product,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes.

This beta testing phase is a key part of the product development process for HEXWAVE. The incremental testing of the system in actual facilities can help to ensure that it is aligned to market requirements. Beta testing is expected to begin later in 2019 and progress into 2020.

About Liberty Defense
Liberty provides security solutions for weapons detection in high volume foot traffic areas and has secured an exclusive licence from MIT Lincoln Laboratory, as well as a technology transfer agreement, for patents related to active 3D imaging technology that are packaged into the HEXWAVE product. The system is designed to provide discrete, modular and scalable protection to provide layered, stand-off detection capability. This is intended to provide a means to proactively counter evolving urban threats. The sensors with active 3D imaging and AI-enhanced automatic detection are designed to detect metallic and non-metallic firearms, knives, explosives and other threats. Liberty is committed to protecting communities and preserving peace of mind through superior security detection solutions. Learn more: LibertyDefense.com 

About Utah Attorney General
Since the admission of Utah as a state on January 4, 1896, the Attorney General has been an independently elected constitutional officer of the executive department and serves four-year terms. The current Utah Attorney General is Sean Reyes.

About Utah
Utah is a state in the western United States. It became the 45th state admitted to the U.S. on January 4, 1896. Utah is the 13th-largest by area, 31st-most-populous, and 10th-least-densely populated of the 50 United States. Utah was the home of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games and may yet host future Olympic games.


Utah AG Investigates Record Number of Police Shootings in Utah

May 22, 2019

In 2018, Utah police officers fired at 30 individuals and killed 19, making it one of the deadliest years in recent history. Each month of last year in the state of Utah, someone died from lethal force used by a law enforcement agent.

Earlier this year, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes sent a letter to all law enforcement partners to inform them of a study this office has since launched. The study will compare 2018 with previous years in an effort to discover trends and factors contributing to the higher rate of police-involved deaths.

“Utah experienced a record number of officer-involved shootings in 2018. All of us in law enforcement have taken note of this increase and the impact it has on our officers and on the public. I believe this warrants a cooperative in-depth study to see what actions we might take to reduce the number of shootings, increase the safety of our officers, and maintain a high level of public trust.”

Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes in a letter to law enforcement partners

You can read the letter sent from the AG’s office here.

Scott Carver, Director of Training for the AG, is overseeing the evaluation along with the Police Officer Standards and Training, or POST, and the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice.

According to Carver, the best thing people can do when approached by a police officer is to listen and follow the directions being given.

The Salt Lake Tribune recently covered the action being taken by the AG office. You can find that article below.

Salt Lake Tribune: Police in Utah fatally shot a record 19 people in 2018. Now the state attorney general is investigating why.

It is important to note that the trend for 2018 has not carried over into 2019.

Image by Alexas_Fotos


Utah AG Announces 13 Arrests of ICAC Operation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 20, 2019

ICAC TASK FORCE WRAPS OPERATION WITH THIRTEEN ARRESTS
Over 45 Charges Issued to Offenders Arrested in Utah County

SALT LAKE CITY – Today, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes announced the arrest of thirteen individuals in Utah County following a recent operation targeting child sexual predators. Charges include Enticing a Minor, Attempted Rape of a Child, Attempted Sodomy of a Child, Attempted Aggravated Sexual Abuse of a Child, Attempted Forcible Sexual Abuse, Criminal Solicitation, and more, for a total of 48 charges.

“The bad news is the information we are sharing today is grim in nature and shows that there are adults in our communities who appear to be actively and aggressively trying to have sexual contact with Utah children,” said Attorney General Reyes. “My office works with children who are actual victims of sexual abuse and rape; we see these children and the trauma they suffer. That’s why we perform these operations, and why we’re so committed to preventing harm where we can and prosecuting every possible crime against children that we can. Our goal is to prevent this kind of trauma from happening to even one more child.”

The investigation, led by the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, indicated the suspects primarily targeted boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 13 years old. These suspects, if convicted, would be considered among the most dangerous and aggressive child predators because their activity indicates a plan to engage in sexual contact with a minor.

Based on the number of cases law enforcement agencies have handled across the state, evidence shows that this problem has become more pervasive in the last year.

Attorney General Reyes addressed that troubling trend today during a press conference alongside ICAC officers from the Provo Police Department, Orem Police Department, Utah County Sheriff’s office, Uintah County Sheriff’s office, Dixie State University Police, Davis County Attorney’s office, and Adult Probation and Parole who all participated in the operation. 

Keeping Children Safe

The Utah Attorney General’s ICAC Education Specialist has the following tips:

As community members, our role is to help protect children. If you know of anyone who is contacting children, please call your local law enforcement or the ICAC Tip Line at 801-281-1211.

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NOTES:

  1. All suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
  2. The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) is a multi-jurisdictional task force that investigates and prosecutes individuals who use the Internet to exploit children.
  3. You can find a list of the alleged offenders and charges here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Criminal-Charges-from-Utah-County-Attorneys-Office-.pdf.
  4. You can find the booking photos here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/icac-operation-booking-photos/.

Remembering our Peace Officers

May 15, 2019

In honor of Peace Officer Memorial Day, we remember those who gave their lives in the line of duty.

The Utah Attorney General’s office extends our sincere and heartfelt gratitude to all the men and women of law enforcement across the state for their dedication and service on behalf of the people of Utah. We are proud to serve alongside them. We are profoundly grateful for the day-to-day service they rendered and for the sacrifice they and their families made. They are a tremendous example of selflessness toward our fellow man.

May we live our lives in a way that honors theirs.


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