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Nebraska Domestic Violence
Sexual Assault Coalition
Nebraska State Patrol
Criminal justice professionals are updating one another with the latest information concerning "Crimes of Power and Control" in Kearney this week.
The Nebraska State Patrol's annual conference focuses around the investigation and prosecution of domestic violence and sexual assault cases.
NSP officials say human sex trafficking has been getting more attention in the state, and they're trying to help law enforcement and victim advocates stay ahead of it.
"There's also some new legislation that was passed this year that creates a human trafficking task force and some specific guidelines for training and community awareness around the issue," says Christon MacTaggart, Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Program Manager for the NSP. "We're trying to start the conversation and get people talking about the issue specifically."
But when it comes to domestic violence and sexual assault crimes, there are new issues to be discussed in other areas too.
NSP Investigator James Hitz says there's been a slight increase in the use of technology in stalking cases they're investigating.
"Obviously the amount of technology and the availability of technology in stalking is much more prevalent in today's stalking cases," he says.
Advocates say perpetrators can use new tools like a geotagging feature in some phone applications to instantly find their victims.
"The phones are already embedding the locations and so it's easier to be able to locate where people are, where they're posting from, where they're sending information," says Sarah Balcom, Domestic Violence Program Coordinator for the Nebraska Domestic Violence Sexual Assault Coalition. "If you would send a photo to someone else, they could pull the coordinates from that photograph and find out where that was taken."
But officials say that in the same way a perpetrator can use the tool, law enforcement can also use it to find them, and that can mean more evidence against them.
"Instead of just a misdemeanor stalking charge we can often upgrade the charges based on the different types of technology they're using," says Hitz.
Officials at the conference also talked about cyberstalking jurisdiction because sometimes a threatening text or email is sent from one county, but received in another.