The Westmoreland County Sheriff's Office is proud to be one of the over 150 member agencies of the Southern Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children (SOVA-ICAC) Task Force.

The SOVA-ICAC Task Force combats the rise of online child sexual exploitation on several fronts.  This involves investigating online child sexual exploitation, providing technical and forensic assistance, and providing education and public awareness to the community.

Investigations can take many forms and focus on attempting to identify offenders who prey on children and to identify children who have been victimized.  Reactive investigations are those that result from a complaint made by a member of the public or received as a Cybertip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).  Proactive investigations are those initiated by law enforcement who "go where the predators are", and work to identify who they are and prosecute them.  These investigations can involve file sharing of child sexual abuse materials (CSAM), soliciting children for online or offline sexual encounters, production of CSAM (i.e. "child pornography"), and child sex trafficking/prostitution.


If you think your child is a victim of online child sexual exploitation, there will be a surge of emotions, which is normal, but it is important to act calmly.  Here are several things you should do to help investigators have the best chance of locating and prosecuting the offender:

  • Contact the Westmoreland County Sheriff's Office Communications Center at (804)493-8066 or by calling 911.
  • Preserve any evidence
  • DO NOT continue to look through data or electronic devices that were used by your child, as it may alter or destroy digital evidence.
  • If possible, secure any online accounts, make sure you know the login and password information for the accounts.  DO NOT delete the account your child used, as there is valuable evidence that can be collected from the account.  If the account is deleted, that evidence could be lost forever.
  • Keep the electronic devices charged and powered on until they can be collected by investigators.
  • Disconnect the electronic devices from the internet, wireless, Bluetooth, etc.  If possible, place the device(s) into Airplane Mode.
  • DO NOT delete any messages, images, or videos no matter how explicit they may be.
  • DO NOT contact the offender and tell them you are calling law enforcement.  This may seem like common sense, but in the heat of the moment, it happens more often than you would think.


Education and communication are key! As parents, we have the responsibility to teach our children about the dangers they will face online and what to do when something happens.  Communication with your child at an early age, at age-appropriate levels, is paramount.  Discussion of topics like appropriate touch and appropriate behavior are important and should be consistent and reinforced frequently. Know that your child will be exposed to some sort of sexually explicit content years before you think they will.  Frequently, this occurs before we as parents ever even think about having "the talk" with our children about puberty and healthy sexual behaviors.  Begin having those discussions very early on, at age-appropriate levels, but start setting the foundation for trust and open communication. Teach your children what to do when they ae exposed and that they can come to you without being ashamed or embarrassed. Take time to learn about the devices you allow your children to use.  Know and use parental controls, restrictions, and notifications.  Control screen time.  A simple web search can also provide a wealth of information to educate yourself and help you educate your children.  Click here for some helpful resources you can use.


The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children unveiled "No Escape Room", an interactive experience that plunges parents and caregivers into the reality of financial sextortion.  Based on dozens of real-life CyberTipline reports, the interactive film follows the story of a 15-year-old boy's exploitation online.  Throughout the experience, the user is prompted to engage in a conversation with someone who appears to be another teenager.  Before they know it, what started out as a friendly, flirtatious chat has them trapped in a blackmail scenario.  At key points, "No Escape Room" challenges parents to try and navigate the situation for themselves, as they find out it's more difficult than it seems. They will also learn that sometimes, teens don't have options to get out of certain situations. 

At the end of the interactive experience, users are given the opportunity to connect with NCMEC for resources on sextortion.

Click here to try out the "No Escape Room" experience for yourself.


For more information about the Westmoreland County Sheriff's Office's involvement with the SOVA-ICAC Task Force, resources and information on how to protect your children, or to request an online safety presentation for your school or group, contact our Detective assigned to the Task Force:

Master Detective J. Belcher
(804)456-0106 x 2234