Veterans to assist in child predator investigations - WFLA News Channel 8

Veterans to assist in child predator investigations

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Facebook photo: Justin Gaertner Facebook photo: Justin Gaertner
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

Tampa will be part of a new federal pilot program that trains veterans to help track down child predators and assist agents with investigations into child pornography and online sexual exploitation.

Two veterans of the 17 involved in the "HERO Corps" will work in Tampa, one of 14 cities involved in the year-long program. David Blau and Justin Gaertner, both veterans of the U.S. Marine Corps, are expected to start work by the end of the month.

The veterans will be taking leads and doing computer forensic work in the Tampa Homeland Security Investigations office.

Gaertner, a combat engineer who is from Tampa and lost both of his legs after being wounded by IEDs in Afghanistan, said he looks at his new job as "just transferring the knowledge and skill set I had from the Marine Corps to the HERO Corps."

The work with ICE Homeland Security Investigations also gives Gaertner another chance to serve.

"I thought my service had gotten cut short, and I never thought that I would be able to go back into the field and continue the fight, continue the service to my country," Gaertner told News Channel 8.

Combat veterans are also specially equipped to deal with the difficult and often disturbing job of investigating crimes against children.

"These individuals that have been overseas fighting for our country, they possess mental toughness," said Susan McCormick, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Tampa. "They possess the psychological skills needed, they've been through the horrors of war."

The yearlong pilot program is being funded with private sector money and a grant from an individual to the National Association to Protect Children, an HSI spokeswoman said.

Related Content: Check out Tampa's Homeland Security team
 

 

 





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