A new breed of computer-savvy gumshoe is emerging to tackle increasingly challenging cases in which criminals, particularly pedophiles and other sex offenders, use the Internet and on-line “chat rooms” to troll for potential victims.
Det. Daryl Rowland of the Huntington Beach, Calif., Police Department is one of the few police investigators in the nation proficient enough on a computer to successfully track pedophiles using the Internet.
Demand for such skills is so great that when Federal officials created a task force in 1995 to target on-line sexual predators, they asked Rowland to join. He declined the invitation because he didn’t want to leave his job, he told The Orange County Register recently.
Why did he do it?
Current and former FBI officials are pondering whether money, anger at the bureau, or a psychological problem could have been the reason why Earl Edwin Pitts, a 13-year veteran agent, compromised national security by selling secrets to Moscow.
Pitts, 43, was arrested at the bureau’s training facility in Quantico, Va., where he had been transferred after first coming under suspicion 16 months ago. He is accused of having sold secrets to the Russians since 1987, while assigned to hunt and recruit Soviet KGB officers as a member of the agency’s New York office. Pitts allegedly received more than $124,000 for his actions, with a promise of $100,000 more.
From 1987 through 1992, according to an FBI affidavit in the case, Pitts gave the Russians sensitive, classified documents regarding U.S. national defense, as well as personal, medical and family information about other FBI agents. He also proposed strategies whereby Russia might be able to recruit more double agents, said the document.
It was “Merry Christmas” and “Here’s how to cope with being in a wheelchair at a young age” for James Mullen, a paralyzed Chicago police officer who received a very special visit during the holidays from New York City Police Det. Steven McDonald a fellow officer who has much more in common with Mullen than Irish roots.
Both McDonald and Mullen were paralyzed by a suspect’s bullet. Both men are Irish Catholics from police families. McDonald was 29 when he was shot 10 years ago, his wife, Patti Ann, pregnant with the couple’s son, Connor. Mullen, 33, has an 8-month-old daughter, Margaret Kelly.
“I’m going to tell him, Don’t give up,” McDonald said before his meeting with Mullen at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. “There’s things to do, a life to be lived, a family to be loved because I have been there. Just for him to see that I am in a wheelchair, I could get on a plane to come see him that should give him hope,” he said. “We will have a lot to say to each other. And I want to wish him Merry Christmas.”
Order on the court:
Police officer pursues her hoop dreams
As if Police Officer Shanda Berry didn’t already have her hands full carving out a career in what is traditionally a male-dominated profession, she also moonlights in an even more testosterone-driven field professional sports.
Berry, an Iowa native who works for the Montgomery County, Md., Police Department, is spending six months of the year playing forward for the New England Blizzard, one of eight teams in a new women’s professional basketball league.
In September, the 29-year-old officer asked her superiors if she could sign a two-year contract with the Blizzard and still keep her job. The department offers one-year, unpaid leaves to officers who wish to complete a law degree or some other project. Berry was able to split the leave into two six-month periods.
“Our police officers can have secondary employment inside Montgomery County,” said Police Chief Carol Mehrling, “but it’s usually part time and security-related. We usually don’t permit them to work outside the county, but...for Shanda, this was a one-time shot. I wanted her to go for the gold ring.”