After a month-long cyber investigation, Shawnee police have arrested an Ada man for alleged Internet crimes involving instigating sexual conduct with a minor.
Shawnee Police Cpl. Russell Conner and Cpl. Chris Tynes are part of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
After a month of monitoring Internet activities, they obtained an arrest warrant for Christopher Lawrence Strom, 32, Tynes said.
Strom is now jailed in the Pottawatomie County Public Safety Center on a $20,000 bond. Court records show he’s been formally charged in Pottawatomie County District Court with transferring information by computer of instigating sexual conduct with a minor, along with indecent exposure, both felonies.
During the investigation, the officers were monitoring Strom’s Internet correspondence. At times, he was “communicating with who he thought was a minor,” Tynes said.
Charges are filed in Pottawatomie County because some of those communications involved correspondence in this district, he said.
As part of the arrest and investigation, both officers went to Pontotoc County Tuesday to serve a search warrant at the suspect’s home. They seized about 15 bags of items as possible evidence, Tynes said, including 15 computer hard drives and about 11 data cards. The OSBI is now analyzing those items.
Conner, who said inappropriate Internet activity is more prevalent in today’s digital age, said children are online more these days with cell phones that can be taken anywhere.
Through these types of investigations, both officers said they are doing a job that personally affects them.
“We both have kids,” Tynes said. “With more social media involvement with children, we’re seeing more and more [online] predators.”
And when suspects are interacting inappropriately with minors, possibly in ways to groom them for a possible meeting, Tynes said it rewards them to shut down that activity.
While ICAC task forces are operational in all 50 states, sometimes the cases officers work can be outside of their jurisdiction. If so, they can be forwarded to another agency. In this case, Ada was close and the Shawnee officers, because of their involvement on the task force, have a statewide jurisdiction.
Tynes said they aren’t sure if Strom has had any involvement with actual juveniles in this area, but they do ask anyone with suspicions to notify police.
As part of their efforts to stop Internet crimes involving children, Tynes and Conner are planning to set up community-wide classes for parents to learn how to protect children from Internet predators. That class, which hasn’t yet been scheduled, will cover topics including social media, cyber bullying and sexting, which is sending of inappropriate materials by cell phone text messages.
Page 2 of 2 - Parents with questions or concerns about their children’s online activities can contact Tynes or Conner by calling at 273-2121.
Watch for updates.
Internet safety tips
• Parents are encouraged to monitor their children’s online activities
• Parental software can be used to notify parents if certain keywords are used.
• Parents also are encouraged to have open lines of communication with children and teens about their Internet activities.