The Southern Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children (SOVA-ICAC) Task Force was created out of the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office initiative “Operation Blue Ridge Thunder” (BRT). BRT was a vision of Sheriff Michael J. Brown after receiving a Federal grant from the Department of Justice in 1998 to combat the sexual exploitation of children on the Internet.
In September 1998, with 10 awards to state and local law enforcement agencies across the nation, The U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, began a national program to counter the emerging threat of offenders using the Internet or other online technology to sexually exploit children.
The Bedford County VA Sheriff's Office was one of the original ten task forces and was assigned responsibility for internet crimes against children investigations in Virginia, and later West Virginia. The task force was named Operation Blue Ridge Thunder.
There are now Sixty-One (61) Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces throughout the United states and hundreds of affiliate local, county and state law enforcement agencies.The Bedford County VA Sheriff's Office Task Force is known as the Southern Virginia Crimes Against Children Task Force (SOVA ICAC), and is responsible for protecting southern Virginia.
The SOVA ICAC promotes additional ICAC program capacity through a written Memorandum of Agreement with other agencies in the Commonwealth. The SOVA ICAC Task Force affiliate agencies include:
- Local, County and State Law Enforcement
- Local Prosecutors / Commonwealth Attorney's
- U.S. Attorney's
- State Attorney Generals
- U.S. Marshalls Service
- Immigration and Customs Enforcement
- Homeland Security
- The Secret Service
- The A.T.F., and
- The F.B.I.
The VA State Police task force is known as the Northern Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (NOVA ICAC), and is responsible for the most northern counties in Virginia and Washington, D.C.
The primary responsibilities of the SOVA ICAC Task Force includes:
- Conducting investigations and prosecuting offenders
- Providing training for law enforcement officers and prosecutors
- Fostering statewide and regional coordination, information sharing and investigative integration
- Providing investigative and prosecutorial assistance to law enforcement agencies and prosecutors, (e.g., forensic analysis of computers seized as evidence)
- Distributing informational materials needed to ensure that children, parents, school divisions, and law enforcement agencies are well acquainted with the issues related to Internet safety for children
- Presenting Internet safety training that focuses on promoting Internet safety, with an emphasis on Internet crimes against children.