Tuesday, February 20, 2007

NBC Dateline "To catch a Predator"

Tonight I watched the latest episode of the NBC Dateline popular series "To Catch a Predator". Since 2004 over 200 men have been arrested responding to decoy children who chat online and over the phone with unsuspecting men. NBC pays a group called Perverted-Justice to assist with these online sting operations. What never ceases to amaze me is that men still respond and prey on these children even after all the publicity this has garnered. In one case the same guy appeared on two shows when he repeated his crime after bonding out of jail and then re-offending a few months later.

In this latest installment the show moved to Murphy Texas where for the first time the show and the police received a lot of heat for the latest sting. In the latest sting they snared Assistant District Attorney Louis “Bill” Conradt Jr.who upon faced with arrest shot himself in the head and died. The family of the Assistant D.A. was upset because they felt he was set up and the film crews combined with the sting caused him to kill himself. The townspeople were upset because a home in a residential neighborhood was used in the sting in which 25 men were ultimately arrested. The residents felt that the sting put the rest of the neighborhood at risk. Many had children and the street had one sex offender after another driving into the neighborhood at a time to meet their prey. Murphy residents also feared people would get the wrong idea about their town and property values would be affected.

The Shows producers claim this is the first time neighbors expressed a problem with the stings in residential neighborhoods. Their were protests at city hall and counter protests supporting the police chief. In the middle of the sting a City Councilor showed up with neighbors to protest in front of the house while the sting operation was still going on. They were given an explanation and asked to leave so the operation could continue and they agreed.

As I stated in an earlier blog we recently opened our Computer Forensics Lab which will make a big difference in cases like these. Confiscated computers and gathering electronic data is essential in these and other computer related cases. What do you think? I would like to see comments about this show and the concerns of the residents of Murphy Texas.

I believe this show has done a lot of good. Local arrests of Online predators like these would never garner the publicity this show has garnered. Along with that publicity comes the chance that at least the numbers of online predators are less than they would be other wise. Yes there are still those that will offend anyway and we need to do our best to catch them. However, when you watch these shows it has to make some people think twice. Leave your comments on this story. Do you think this type of sting is good, but maybe not in my backyard? Do you think this lures men who may not have done this other wise? Would you loan your home for a sting like this or even not mind if another home in your neighborhood was used?

Some clips of the shows are located here if you have not seen them.

Go here to read transcripts of chats suspects had with decoys (note some contain obscene language)

Go here for information on keeping your kids safe on the Internet.

New Mexico Sex Offender Informaton Web Site


ConsiderThis said...

I wonder if the comment I left this morning came through.


The program did something a little odd... so I wasn't sure it had worked. (I didn't want to double post, either, in case it had worked.)


Mike said...

Hey Greg. It seems to me that for these guys to pursue kids on the web and then cruise their neighborhoods, they must be seriously motivated, and/or not the sharpest perpetrators.

I would think that the show could be made in such a way as not to reveal the cities where these stings are taking place, as far as the understandable complaints of residents.

Today's Alibi has interesting updates on red light cameras here in town, including proceeding toward class action lawsuits and a statement that cars are not actually being booted by the police for unpaid fines.

That's part of why I'm holding off paying my fine as of yet. Have a good one.

(And do you find that Crowne Victorias are not the best cars in snow? We drive retired police cars at Yellow Cab!) Mike.

Sheriff Greg Solano said...

ConsiderThis, I don't think your other comment did come through. Mike, we stopped using Crown Vics mostly due to the better cost and gas milage provided by Impala's. I Drove them for years and over all they were pretty good considering they are rear wheel drive.

linda said...

As a mother after watching Dateline To Catch a Predator (twice)I had nightmares and wish we didn't have to view this stuff.
Yes, it's a job well done although it should go back to educating children and not educating the predators about stings and useful renditions on how to appear to be a sympathic felon. They're pathetic and highly dangerous and reviews like this should be kept within the realm law enforcement where the officers involved receive the recognition for their arrests within their own network.

Anonymous said...

I think the Dateline stings are like emptying a cesspool with a teaspoon: its easy, its quick, its entertaining and its an absolute guarantee that the person using the spoon will never be disappointed. The trouble is that after all is said and done, the cesspool is still full and a lot of time and money has been spent accomplishing very little. Meanwhile the police are not available for serious, violent felonies. The police are too busy doing what gets good ratings instead of real police work.

Anonymous said...

Hello, nice site!

I'm a Murphy resident (In Rolling Ridge down the street from where the Dateline sting event took place).

I have to say it's good to get bad guys off the street (even if it is only a tiny amount). But, the operation seemed to be a bit out of control and I wondered if it was as professionally handled as it would have been in Plano (next town over) or Santa Fe.

In the days around the sting I had noticed weird cars driving through the neighborhood (I snapped a couple of license plates with my camera phone in case they were up to no good).
On that Sunday afternoon of the filming, I saw what looked like an unmarked car chasing someone down Murphy Road (the one that runs in front of Southfork). No lights or noise, just fast erratic driving off into the dirt and one pulled parallel into a neighborhood entrance (could have just been someone running from the sting).
A family down the street walking with thier kids said that they found illegal drugs apparently ditched by a fleeing suspect.

Several folks in the city don't trust the incumbent city council and relatively unaccountable city manager, which is where I think lots of the outcry was from. To say that the city is politically charged would be an understatement for sure.

Oh well, at least Dateline didn't ridicule our town with their last installment / retrospective. I'm surprised (pleasantly) and hoping that they just don't talk about the town anymore.

It is kind of a weird feeling when you see TV footage of an officer running down a fleeing car and attempting to smash in the windshield with his gun not two blocks from where you live.

Anyway, I have to say the feelings in the neighborhood are mixed as are mine. In Texas, they could have arrested these criminals with just their solicitation offense online without all the TV wackyness. Of course, that doesn't sell ad time I guess.

To read discussion ad infinitum on this, check out www.murphymessenger.com/forums under the local government section.