The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office has a new way to protect children.

Several local police stations as well as the prosecutor’s office have purchased about 12,000 Computer COP CD-ROMs, a software program designed to scan for images and potentially offensive words and phrases that could be used by pedophiles seeking to "communicate with, lure or abduct" children over the Internet.

The deluxe version of the software to be made available to parents free of charge, but in limited numbers, includes a "keystroke capture feature that catches Internet-based e-mail and chat, so that parents can discover whether their children are transmitting objectionable words or personal information that can be used by predators to perpetrate crimes against them," according to a press release from the county.

The software can retrieve text and images even if they have been deleted.

According to officials, the CD-ROMs were purchased with funds that were forfeited by defendants who were convicted of drug offenses and other crimes.

The program offering is a joint initiative by the prosecutor’s office and the Middlesex County Association of Chiefs of Police to help combat crimes against children.

Twenty-one of the county’s 25 municipalities are participating in the program, officials said.

Joseph Krisza, deputy chief with the prosecutor’s office, is responsible for supervision of the Middlesex Out-Reach and Education (MORE) program.

"It’s part of a continuing effort to protect our children," Krisza said.

The unveiling comes in the wake of a high profile arrest of a Middlesex County official in May.

Alan Haag, 49, was the county roads supervisor when he was charged with soliciting sex from a woman and her pre-teenage daughters after contacting them on the Internet. Haag allegedly attempted to meet the woman and her daughters, but the woman turned out to be an undercover agent with the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office.

Krisza said the MORE program offers parents other ways of protecting their child. Parents can have their children fingerprinted, video taped, have a "Buccal swab" taken for DNA, and fill out an information packet for parents to give pertinent information about a child in the event they are lost or another emergency.

"A lot of times when something happens, parents are so distraught that they can’t provide critical information. This provides the information up front," Krisza said.

The software program, Krisza said, would be made available to parents free of charge from some local police departments and by the prosecutor’s office.

Anyone interested in obtaining a CD-ROM should contact their local Police Department. The program runs off the CD and requires no installation.


Staff Writer

Officials offer weapon

to detect pedophiles