In April, when Tanya Rivera first approached me about 2 Wants to Know doing an Internet predator sting, I was a bit hesitant. Though as the father of a young daughter, I want to get every one of these “perverts” off the streets we can.
I was worried about how the chats were going to be done. Other news organizations that have tried this, they did the chatting. Luckily for me, we have a steadfast rule, we will never lie to anyone. This kept me from having to be the one of posing as a young teen online.
Tanya contacted the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department, and they moved forward immediately on it. The Sheriff allowed us to observe the process every step of the way. The entire operation would be under their control. We were just flies on the wall.
Tanya and I were invited to the first task force meeting. We were actually surprised when we walked into the conference room at the Sheriff’s Department and saw the room completely filled. During the meeting, we were asked what we hoped to get out it.
The original plan was to begin chatting online and have people come two days in September to a specified location. At which point, 2 Wants to Know would confront the individuals.
As it turned out, the predators couldn’t wait to meet the Sheriff’s decoy, a 14-year-old girl. One of the people portraying the 14-year old girl was a very large male deputy who we kept calling him “Jill” as a joke. We even suggested he should walk up and go, “Hi, my name is Jill,” when arresting someone.
Soon after the deputies started chatting online, it wasn’t long before they called us to come down for the first arrest. At this time, it was going to happen in a public place.
Needless to say, I was anxious. At the morning briefing which we were allowed to observe, we were given the specifics about the person and privy to some of the things said in the chat log. Many of which, I cannot and will not repeat. The chats would turn anyone’s stomach.
The Sheriff’s Department is extremely professional. They planned for every contingency. It is impressive the means they use to cover an area to make sure the deputies and the public are safe. You don’t really know what type of person it is who is going to show up. They could be armed.
I sat in a restaurant parking lot observing the meeting point with Colonel Powers, who was in charge of the Predator Sting. We had a limited description of the vehicle. It created a lot of nervous moments every time a car fitting the description entered the area.
In the end, it was a letdown, and I have to say I was mad. I was not mad because we didn’t get the video or such for the story. I was upset because I wanted to see the person arrested. If he wasn’t arrested, it means he is still out there.
Over the next week, we had several meets set up where nothing happened.
Finally, the location was selected by the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department. Deputies set up all their video equipment, and 2 Wants to Know set up their recording devices.
Then the first person was arrested, a college professor from NC A&T. Then, a fire captain from Kernersville came to the location.
WFMY News 2