Friday, July 25, 2008

A state trooper gets stung

It’s happened again. And once again I find myself dumbfounded.

Now I know a lot of readers will not be all that surprised by that. They consider me somewhat befuddled most of the time.

But I will repeat, exactly when are people going to realize that you have no idea who the person you are “chatting” with online really is?

Some caveats here. This comes from someone who has never been on an Internet chat room. I have no page on Facebook. MySpace is a mystery to me.

I spend an inordinate amount of time every day planted in front of a computer, much of it online, yet much of this brave new cyber-world remains a mystery to me.

I’m not at all sure that’s necessarily a bad thing.

Of all people, you would think that one person who would understand exactly these new-fangled rules of the Internet would be a state trooper.

You would think that Cpl. Albert Silveri would be well aware of the work being done online by the county Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

You want the hair on your neck to stand on end? Talk to some of these undercover agents about their work, about what is going on in this cyber-world, and about how fast they hook up after they log on. It’s almost always the same, men looking for sexual relationships with kids.

District Attorney G. Michael Green, with a couple of state troopers at his side yesterday, announced the latest person stung by the undercover officers.

This one was a stunner. Silveri was a veteran trooper, assigned to the Belmont Barracks. He lives in Aston.

The trooper is charged with trying to set up a liaison with who he believed to be a mother and her two young children, ages 8 and 10.

Green said he went by the online handle of “StrongWilled07.”

“It is certainly a sad day for the Pennsylvania State Police,” said Maj. Tedescung Bandy, who was at the press conference with Green.

And a frightening one for the rest of us, especially for parents.

One more time. You don’t know who is on the other end of that “chat” line. Maybe it’s a mom looking to peddle her kids. Or maybe it’s an undercover officer.

The fact is you just don’t know. That apparently is not enough to stop those trolling the cyber-world from rolling the dice.

That’s what Silveri, a respected state trooper, did on more than one occasion.

He learned, as have many others, that while this Internet world has its thrills, reality bytes.

On Tuesday, Silveri was in Lima District Court as part of his duties as an accident investigator.

On Thursday he was in Aston District Court being arraigned on sex charges, the latest crash on the information superhighway.

I hope at some point someone can explain to me why, what it is that these people don’t get.

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