Local law enforcement warns against online predators

Published: Jul. 28, 2022 at 9:27 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

JACKSON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Several local law enforcement agencies, including the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, Panama City Beach Police Department, Walton County Sheriff’s Office and FDLE, recently worked together to get an Alabama man convicted after he made arrangements to meet who he thought was a 14-year-old girl online. When he arrived for the meeting, he was met by local law enforcement instead.

“It was an operation where we had some undercover agents go online in chatrooms,” Jackson County Sheriff Donnie Edenfield said.

“We are one of many agencies that participate in these types on investigations that focus on people utilizing the internet to victimize children,” Panama CIty Beach Police Chief J.R. Talamantez said.

Many people may think crimes like this can only happen in big cities, but this crime happened in the small town of Marianna.

Local law enforcement says it can happen to anyone.

“There are predators out there that prey on our children for sex, and they use social media apps,” Edenfield said.

“The internet is not a safe place, our kids need to understand how dangerous it actually is,” Talamantez said.

However, there are ways for parents to protect their children from these types of online predators.

“Talk to them like the danger is in front of them because it’s real,” Talamantez said. “Be straight with them, be real with them and address the situation and don’t be afraid to hurt their feelings.”

Law enforcement officials say their goal is the same as yours, to protect local kids.

“Don’t go to Jackson County looking to meet a kid,” Edenfield said. “Because you may meet a Jackson County Sheriff’s Deputy, because the most important job we have at the Sheriff’s Office, or one of the most important, is to protect our youth.”

Officials say if you suspect your child is in a situation like this with an online predator, contact your local law enforcement agency immediately.

Copyright 2022 WJHG. All rights reserved.