Rock County Sheriff offers software to keep kids safe online

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Frank Schultz
Tuesday, May 13, 2014

JANESVILLE—The Rock County Sheriff's Office is offering free software that will tell parents if their children are accessing inappropriate or dangerous content online.

The ComputerCOP software is available at the Hedberg Public Library in Janesville and should be at all county libraries by the end of the week.

The Rock County Sheriff's Office is the first sheriff's office in the state to offer the software, Sheriff Bob Spoden said as he announced the initiative at a news conference at the Hedberg library Tuesday.

Spoden warned that stalkers and pedophiles are looking to lure and harm children.

“The Internet is a dangerous place, unfortunately, for our kids,” Spoden said.

The software tracks 5,000 words related to sex and violence, and parents can add words to that list, said Sgt. Jay Wood of the sheriff's office. It also can tell parents who is communicating with their children in chat rooms.

The software captures transcripts from online chat rooms, emails and social media sites. It also can check for sexually explicit words, inappropriate pictures and videos, and language pertaining to drug use.

Because of the extensive word list, the software might also help parents find out about online bullying, Spoden said.

The software is easy to use, Wood said: Just load the disk and follow instructions. The disk features a video introduction by Spoden.

The software is not a download. It must be installed for each use, and it leaves no trace that it was used, Wood said. Spoden recommended parents use it on a regular basis.

The disk includes an offer for a three-month free trial of additional software that allows parents to track what children do on their smart phones.

Spoden said his office bought 3,500 copies of the software with $18,500 taken in drug seizures.

The video is being distributed in a partnership with the Arrowhead Library System.

Spoden said the sheriff's office addresses the problem of Internet safety on another level: A  deputy tracks local downloads of child pornography on a regular basis.

Using specialized software, the deputy located two instances of child pornography downloads in or near Rock County on Friday, according to a sheriff's office report. The investigation into those downloads is just beginning.

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