Duncan, Shuler, WNC sheriffs tout anti-child pornography efforts

At a press conference Friday, Buncombe County Sheriff Van Duncan, along with other WNC Sheriffs, touted the success of Operation Western Shield, an anti-child pornography effort he says has led to a number of recent arrests. The assembled officials also praised Rep. Heath Shuler, who helped secure federal funding for the effort and spoke at the conference.

“This used to be an invisible crime and there are still people who think it’s a victimless crime,” Grier Weeks, director of the National Association to Protect Children, who lobbied to get funds for the project, said. “These are crime scene photos. They’re being trafficked on an epidemic scale… But every step these predators take is now there to be tracked.”

As well as Buncombe, the sheriff’s offices of Rutherford, Cherokee, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Swain and Transylvania counties, along with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, also participated in the project.

“Our local sheriffs are truly heroes, and they’re being proactive in dealing with child pornography,” Shuler said, saying that back in 2007, talking to families of abused children (“it was heart-wrenching”) convinced him to try to secure more funding for such an operation, and assist the various agencies in cooperating to pursue child pornography and internet predators. “The most important thing is our next generation and with the work.” Due to the funds, the agencies claim it’s easier to track downloads and trace child pornography back to its source.

The operation has involved $200,000 of federal funds, through the passage of the Protect Our Children Act, resulting in 18 arrests since July — with two in Buncombe — though Cherokee Sheriff Keith Lovin notes that “we’re not going to stop here” and a sheet handed out at the conference tallied a total of 25 arrests throughout the area.

Duncan siad that since his office has devoted a detective to internet child pornography cases, “he’s done 50 cases and we know we have more of this work than one person can do. We’ll continue to compete to get grants to accomplish that. But because this is a problem everywhere the competition for those grants is pretty steep.”

Lovin equated the fight against child pornography with “another war. You hear about the war on drugs, but this is a war for our children. We’re serious about it.”

“This is a bad time of year to be talking to cynical reporters about anything having to do with politics and legislation because of your jaded eye,” Weeks said, praising Shuler’s efforts. “But I’ve been begging him to grandstand a little more on this and he won’t do it.”

Both Duncan and Shuler are running for re-election.

— David Forbes, senior news reporter

Photos by Michael Muller

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14 thoughts on “Duncan, Shuler, WNC sheriffs tout anti-child pornography efforts

  1. Piffy!

    alright! I was just thinking about what a serious issue child pornography is and how deeply it is effecting our communities, and i must simply applaud the local authorities for taking their time to sift through such hideous imagery so they can keep our streets safe at night for re-election!

  2. Lamont Cranston

    Wow…It’s amazing what just Rep. Heath Shuler can do in months just before a re-election. I am not complaining, as those positive legislative actions that have been written about what you have done for us over the past weeks are very good things for NC’s 11th, but Heath…What about those other years in between???

    We don’t forget….Your record s%*ks. You aren’t paying attention to the needs of your constituents, but voting to keep your job, and not do what you were sent to DC for. Remember your vote against Health Care Reform for 21% of your non insured constituents??

    By the way, Heath: I just defended you in a telephone poll this evening obviously slanted towards Miller, but I am still holding my nose on voting day despite of you and your over the top awful voting record, and pulling the Democratic lever (which unfortunately includes you) for the other good Democratic candidates.

    We don’t forget….And most of all, many besides myself don’t either.

  3. Piffy!

    [b]and pulling the Democratic lever (which unfortunately includes you) for the other good Democratic candidates.[/b]

    um, you do know you can choose each candidate separately, yes?

  4. coolguyinnc

    You know I am tied of hearing progressives talking about holding their nose and voting for Shuler. He has voted with the Democrats 85% of the time.

    You critize his voting record, but forget that he has been endorsed by the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voter for his strong environmental record, voting for, among other things cap and trade.

    He supported Obama’s Wall Street reform package, extending unemployment benefits to people, making sure that the state received its share of medicare payments so we wouldn’t have the fire teachers and police officers, and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act which requires equal pay for equal work just to name a few. What part of this record do you not like?

    If you ask me he has a pretty good record and a has earned my support and vote this November.

  5. Piffy!

    [b]He has voted with the Democrats 85% of the time[/b]

    most actual ‘progressives’ hold their nose when voting for almost any Democrat at the National Level.

    You appear to accept mediocrity far too easily.

  6. Lamont Cranston

    piffykap:

    Yes I do, but is Miller better than Shuler? No, but that doesn’t mean I cannot hold my nose to usher Heath into another term and state my opinion about him. Unfortunately, pulling a separate lever for anyone else for that position would be a vote for Miller.

    It stinks to say so, but that is the way it is at this time: It’s paramount to keep the whackadoodles like Miller and the other sociopath Republicans out of office at this time in our country.

    Nice try on your weak attempt at an insult to me: Thanks for playing along at home, and maybe next time you might understand what I was writing instead of being quick to insult.

    Remember piffykap: Reading is fundamental (and so is comprehension).

  7. Michael Muller

    Lamont Cranston:

    For the record the “Protect Our Children” Act (HR 3845) dates back to 2007; the $210,000 in federal funds for the Regional Child Pornography Forensic Task Force dates back to FY09.

    MM

  8. coolguyinnc

    piffykap and Lamont,

    I think that the examples I cited above are excellent reasons to vote FOR Shuler, not against Miller.

    I am sick of this defeatist attitude. No Congressman in the Democratic caucus has voted with the leadership or the President 100% of the time. And honestly, that’s just fine, they are supposed to represent the views of all the people in the district.

    When casting my ballot I choose too look at all the good things our Congressman has done in Washington and for the people of WNC. Doing that my choice is clear, I’m voting FOR our Congressman, and I hope other progressives would stand up and do the same.

  9. brebro

    In either case, it is a bold move to go up against the powerful pro-child pornography crowd. I applaud their courage to do so, especially in an election year.

  10. Sara

    Lamont,

    You think Miller is not better than Shuler. Miller supports privatizing social security, repealing heath care reform (something Shuler has not advocated for) and supports all the of the republican economic policies which got us into the ditch in the first place.

    How is the Congressman not better then Jeff Miller? Im supporting Congressman Shuler because I don’t want to go backwards.

  11. Lamont Cranston

    “I applaud their courage to do so, especially in an election year.”

    As do I, but it makes one wonder as to its’ timing of becoming news to the voting public. Politicians from both parties do this all of the time, but my problem is with his voting record which always seems to snub any progressive agenda, and favoring the conservative ones even when his own constituents need the legislation that he votes against.

    Heath is another politician who “knows” the vote count ahead of time, and votes counter just because he can as it makes him sit well with the way right of center Democrats, and moderate Republicans. Western North Carolina needs a leader right now who can accomplish legislation that takes care of the majority of the 11th district.

    But hey, he is still better than the alternative Miller,…. but only until the next election time.

  12. Piffy!

    [b]I am sick of this defeatist attitude. No Congressman in the Democratic caucus has voted with the leadership or the President 100% of the time. And honestly, that’s just fine, they are supposed to represent the views of all the people in the district.[/b]

    It’s not that I want him to vote ‘with the president’ all the time. It’s that I want him to not be a corporate prostitute.

    I am not please with Shuler. Am I not allowed to feel that way?

  13. Piffy!

    [b]In either case, it is a bold move to go up against the powerful pro-child pornography crowd. I applaud their courage to do so, especially in an election year.[/b]

    my point exactly.

  14. Piffy!

    [b]Nice try on your weak attempt at an insult to me: Thanks for playing along at home, and maybe next time you might understand what I was writing instead of being quick to insult.[/b]

    when did i do that, again?

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