Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason has announced that the Pataskala Division of Police has joined the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Ohio ICAC task force.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason has announced that the Pataskala Division of Police has joined the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Ohio ICAC task force.

The task force comprises 308 law-enforcement agencies in Ohio: police departments, sheriffs, prosecutors, FBI, the U.S. Department of Treasury, The U.S. Attorney General's Office, the Ohio Attorney General's Office, Metropark Rangers and the U.S. Marshals, according to information from the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office. At least one ICAC member is in each of the 88 Ohio counties.

"Chief (Bruce) Brooks and Pataskala Division of Police's participation in the Ohio ICAC task force will strengthen our ability statewide to protect children and further educate the public on the dangers of the Internet," Mason said in a press release.

The task force apprehends and prosecutes Internet predators. The Internet's openness gives pedophiles direct access to children in their homes. The task force intends to prevent online child sexual exploitation -- both the luring of minors into illicit sexual relationships and the production, distribution or collection of child pornography. The task force also is working to educate parents, children and teachers about the consequences of harmful behavior and about safety tips so that technology remains beneficial and fun.

The use of social-networking sites and electronics, such as cell phones and web cameras, can unwittingly expose children to such dangers, and the task force emphasizes the danger of revealing personal information, pointing out that once information or a photo is posted online, it will be there indefinitely.

Mason created the northeast Ohio ICAC task force in 2000 to combat the rise of Internet crime against children. In 2003, Mason was asked by the U.S. Department of Justice to expand the task force as a statewide entity and serve as its chairman.