TULSA, Okla. — Oklahoma law enforcement says the number of child predators is on the rise.
Which is why we wanted to talk to local detectives about what they're seeing.
2 News Oklahoma spoke to one Tulsa County detective who's not out on the streets, but he's keeping our children safe by working behind the screen.
Tulsa County's Child Predator Unit proactively investigates people looking to prey on children in our area and beyond.
Within the roughly two years the unit's been active at the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office, Detective Weis says they've made about 50 arrests so far.
But he says the number of predators, is increasing.
"It's a heinous crime. Anyone who feels like its okay to be online, seeking children. Exploiting them. Is going to be on my radar."
Most people who meet detective Weis online, think they're chatting with an underage girl.
"I make sure I get age out there. Very soon in the conversation. And once they continue the conversation, I build the case."
In less than one month - the Child Predator Unit has arrested at least six men on counts ranging from lewd proposals to a minor, solicitation of a minor, and child pornography.
Weis says there are two main factors that play into the increase in predators, and arrests.
"One of them is obviously the pandemic, but also we are being more proactive. We are engaged out in that area where the bad guys are."
Weis is one of only two detectives in the Child Predator Unit, he says if they had more resources, they'd make even more arrests.
However, he is hopeful that the unit will expand.
He also says the rise in predators isn't about access to apps, or children being on social media more often.
It's about the people who prey on children.
"There's a lack of men being men. I think a lot of guys are stuck in their mom's basement, or they're insecure or they have nothing to live for. I think a man that doesn't have a mission in life become dangerous."
The detective's advice for parents… have a conversation about social media.
Because it's not a question of if it happens, but when.
"Before they even get into social media, start talking about the internet, social media, and what to expect and just being smart online. Don't post anything provocative. Don't talk to people that you don't know."
Weis says the unit has also received an increase in tips.
He says when the national center for missing and exploited children get a tip, they determine an approximate location of where the offender may be.
That gets sent to the OSBI, and once it's determined it's in Tulsa County's jurisdiction, detective Weis will take over the investigation.
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