New Jersey law enforcement officials who investigate child pornography cases have a new high-tech tool at their disposal: A white van.

The New Jersey Regional Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force has started using the new cyber forensics van out in the field.

“What it does is gives our detectives a safe and secure place where they can use the most cutting-edge technology to review [confiscated] computers,” said Elie Honig, the director of the state Division of Criminal Justice.

David Matthau, Townsquare Media NJ

He said that typically detectives will go to a child porn suspect’s house with a search warrant and seize computers or cell phones.

“Then our detectives need to take a quick look at it — what we call a preliminary forensic review. Before we had this van, they’d have to do it in the offender's home or apartment, which is not safe, not secure.”

He noted two Division of Criminal Justice detectives had to be hospitalized after a suspect at a home being searched tried to grab one of the detective’s handguns and a dangerous struggle ensued.

“Now they can take the device into this van, have access to the best technology and do it in a safe and secure location.”

He said the cyber van helps investigators quickly review any device they have seized.

“You want to know right away what you’ve got. You want to gather as much proof as you can right away. If there’s a victim, if this is a case involving a live victim, a hands-on offense, we need to know that.”

Elie Honig, director of the NJ Division of Criminal Justice. David Matthau, Townsquare Media NJ

Honig said when reviewing material in the cyber van, detectives are looking for “indicators of child pornography."

"There are some known what we call hash marks, which is essentially a digital fingerprint that we can detect that.”

After the preliminary review, a more comprehensive forensic review of material is done at the main Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force cyber lab in Hamilton.

The cyber van has a computer used to crack passwords and codes.

The van was recently used as part of Operation Safety Net, a nine-month investigation that involved the arrest of 79 men accused of possessing and distributing child porn.

The ICAC task force develops leads in a multitude of ways, including social media undercover chat investigations, and also receives tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Honig stressed protecting children and cracking down on offenders is a top priority for the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice.

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