Hard-Drive-Sniffing Dog Helps Fight Child Porn

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Rhode Island state police have a new weapon in their fight against child pornography -- a golden Labrador with a nose for computer hardware.

New police dog Thoreau, who was given to the Rhode Island Internet Crimes Against Children task force by neighboring Connecticut state police, spent five months receiving specialized training on how to get the scent of hard drives, thumb drives, and other computer gear.

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The task force has a special interest in finding such devices, as they're usually small enough to be hidden far out of sight by child pornogaphers. Dogs like Thoreau can join in on a search warrant, catching by scent well-hidden things an officer might miss.

So far, Thoreau has already helped secure an arrest warrant on a suspect who had stashed a thumb drive filled with child porn deep within a metal filing cabinet.

"If it has a memory card, he’ll sniff it out," Thoreau's round-the-clock handler, Detective Adam Houston, told the Providence Journal. Thoreau will, of course, expect a yummy treat after all of his sniffing delivers the illicit goods -- that's how he was trained.

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The Connecticut program where Thoreau learned his trade is actually several years old, and was launched to help the state's computer crimes investigative unit. The program currently trains more than 60 dogs, who learn how to sniff out bombs and bodies as well as hard drives. They're often sent out to help law enforcement agencies around the country.

Thoreau and dogs like him are a welcome addition to police efforts to fight a multi-billion-dollar child porn industry populated by traffickers who have grown increasingly savvy about hiding their dark world from view.

via Providence Journal, boston.com, Dailydot

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