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“Undercover Underage” host Roo Powell sits down with Detective Dave and Detective Dan to talk about her work to keep children safe from online sexual predators. Powell is the founder of Safe from Online Sex Abuse, or SOSA, which conducts online stings to lure would-be abusers out into the open and into the hands of law enforcement. In today’s episode, you’ll hear how she got into this unusual line of work, how she and her team set up their stings, and what parents can do to try to keep their own kids safe online.

Read Transcript

Yeardley: [00:00:02] Hey, podcast listeners, it’s Yeardley Smith, one of the hosts of Small Town Dicks, and I am so happy to welcome you to Season 2 of The Briefing Room. The episode you’re going to hear today is about child predators, and the many ways they prey on children, especially online. The conversation is packed with information and things to watch for, as well as advice. But some of the descriptions of how these people find and think about their victims will make your skin crawl. The discussion isn’t sensational in any way, but in order to illustrate how insidious these predators are, Detectives Dan, Dave, and their special guest, Roo Powell get into the belly of the beast. And we just want to warn you ahead of time, so you can take care when listening. Now here are Dan, Dave, and Roo to launch Season 2 of The Briefing Room.

Dan: [00:01:07] In police stations across the country, officers start their shifts in The Briefing Room.

Dave: [00:01:12] It’s a place where law enforcement can speak openly and candidly about safety, training, policy, crime trends, and more.

Dan: [00:01:20] We think it’s time to invite you in.

Dave: [00:01:22] So, pull up a chair.

Dan and Dave: Welcome to The Briefing Room.

[Briefing Room theme playing]

Dan: [00:01:38] Hello, David.

Dave: [00:01:39] Hello, Dan.

Dan: [00:01:40] And hello to you, listeners. Welcome to Season 2 of The Briefing Room. If you’re new here, this show is a spinoff of Small Town Dicks. Over there, we talk to detectives about the cases that are most important to them.

Dave: [00:01:52] Here, you’ll join us for a virtual ride along as we talk about the relationship between law enforcement and the community they’ve sworn to serve. Best practices, helpful tips, new ideas.

Dan: [00:02:03] Basically, we want to empower you by inviting you into a space where we can speak openly and freely about a job we saw as a calling.

Dave: [00:02:11] So, welcome to The Briefing Room. Today, you’re going to hear from a citizen activist who has turned a small online operation into a powerful tool to take down sex offenders. Roo Powell is the host of the docuseries, Undercover Underage, and the founder of a nonprofit, Safe from Online Sex Abuse or SOSA, a group aimed at preventing child abuse and exploitation. As a former detective who specialized in child sex abuse investigations, I have to say I really enjoy Roo’s work. Roo, great to have you here. Welcome.

Dan: [00:02:44] Hello, Roo.

Roo: [00:02:45] Oh, well, thank you for the kind words and thank you so much for having me. I’m really excited to be here.

Dave: [00:02:49] You might have seen her show, Undercover Underage. I watch it on Discovery. I think that’s where you’re found, correct?

Roo: [00:02:57] Yeah. You can stream us on Max now or formerly known as HBO Max.

Dave: [00:03:03] Awesome. Roo, can you walk us through how you got involved in what kind of amazing work your organization is doing?

Roo: [00:03:11] The SOSA, which stands for Safe from Online Sex Abuse. It’s a nonprofit organization that I started. Our goal is the end of the sex abuse of children in all its forms. Online sex abuse can seem really abstract and it feels new. I feel like I’m part of the first generation of parents that’s raising kids with smartphones. I didn’t have Snapchat or a smartphone when I was growing up. Most of us didn’t. And so, this is kind of a brave new world. It’s uncharted territory. When the three of us were kids, our parents were only worried about the people that were in close proximity to us. Is someone going to snatch me while I’m walking home from school? Is the softball coach creepy? It was limited to people that were in a geographical proximity to us.

[00:03:58] But now with the advent of the internet, a child can be abused without even being in the same room or the same state as a perpetrator. It could be happening from somebody on the other side of the country. And because of that, it can happen really quietly and silently, and it can go on for so long without anyone ever knowing because it’s not the same as hands on predation. We call it CSAM, Child Sex Abuse Material. Legally, it’s known as child pornography. Years ago, CP had to be handed off to people. You had to record it to a VHS tape or develop photos or send it in the mail. And that’s when law enforcement could intercept. It was a lot riskier then. Now it’s the click of a button. You can download it on an app or in a chat room or it’s really easy to get on the dark web.

[00:04:55] So, while I think the Internet is wonderful for a lot of things, it’s allowing the three of us to talk, it allows us to learn about news and cultures and talk to people in other countries, it’s also a really big avenue for bad actors to prey on children.

Dave: [00:05:10] Absolutely. And you have a child yourself?

Roo: [00:05:14] I do. I have three daughters.

Dave: [00:05:16] Okay. So, this is critical to you. You are definitely a stakeholder in what happens with all this stuff.

Roo: [00:05:24] Yeah. I think you don’t have to be a parent to care deeply about the world’s most vulnerable population. I think that even when they are adults, I’ll still be doing this work as long as I’m effective. I’ll set up my laptop in a nursing home if I have to.

Dave: [00:05:43] [laughs]

Dan: [00:05:45] How did you get involved in the work that you do?

Roo: [00:05:49] I’ve always cared about issues that affect either kids or vulnerable populations, whether that’s been– I’m a career long writer, so I’ve written about sex trafficking, and I traveled and spent some time in brothels talking with investigators, or I’ve written about the refugee crisis, or various topics that affect kids. I was working in the tech space with a company that was working online safety. Online safety, there’s a lot of things that are covered in online safety, including school shooting threats, and bullying, and lots of things that happen now that we’re introducing smartphones to kids. But what I was noticing a lot of is online abuse.

[00:06:34] I knew that my peers didn’t quite get it. You hear about a bad guy online, but maybe you’re only worried about if you only hear about the stories where somebody crosses the country to pick a kid up and then they’re arrested. But it’s so much more ubiquitous than that. I really wanted to be able to demonstrate the pervasiveness of online predation. So, at that company, I was running a team and I said, “Let’s just put a pretend minor online to demonstrate what happens,” because we had seen it happen. But you don’t want to exploit a real child. There was a part of me that said, “This kid with this case with the FBI, all I have to do is print out this conversation, hand it to every parent,” and every parent’s going to go, “Whoa, wait a minute, I need to think twice about online safety.”

[00:07:23] So, I ran a team of designers and writers. We put a very aged, down version of me online, and that got a stupid amount of hits. Even working in that space, it was just absolutely shocking. It wasn’t nearly as sophisticated as we’re doing it now. It was like two pictures on one account. I wrote a piece about it, that piece went viral, and I ended up leaving that company because I really wanted to focus on online sex abuse as opposed to just generic online safety. As I was working on this, I had a couple cases that I was actively working on because surprise-surprise, you put a kid online, and all of a sudden, there are bad guys and you do have to deal with law enforcement.

[00:08:13] One case went federal, and then I decided I would start SOSA. And then in the midst of that, a production company approached me and said, “Hey, really like the work that you’re doing. Can we follow you around with a camera?” My first reaction was, “No, that’s super weird.” [Dave laughs] But then they explained, “Hey, think about your mission and think about the fact that you could be reaching one million people per week talking about this thing that you care about, that people need to know about.” And I was like, “Damn, that sold me.” So, we filmed Season 1 of Undercover Underage. We filmed Season 2 of Undercover Underage, and that premiered earlier this year.

[00:08:59] I think that what Undercover Underage has been able to do, this is our decoy work. We do a lot of things at SOSA, but this is the sexiest stuff. This is the stuff that people want to know, the Chris Hansen-esque stuff.

Dan: [00:09:12] And for our listeners, Chris Hansen, a legend is from the show To Catch a Predator.

Roo: [00:09:17] Yes, to see that one were effective. We partner with law enforcement from the beginning. So, we’re working hand in hand with law enforcement. Different states have different rules. Each state is kind of its own little country in that way, so you have to learn rules of engagement and the requirements for prosecution. So, last year, I think we did in the course of the operation that’s covered in Season 2, in 11 weeks, we had 24 arrests maybe. It was a big deal because we’re not just getting the people that are maybe a little bit too cavalier, and are maybe not very smart about it. We were able to get some really bad actors who are risk averse, who have been doing this for a very long time, and finally have been caught, and get to face the consequences of that.

[00:10:08] So, that work has been really meaningful, not just be able to get– My goal isn’t to just get one bad guy at a time, because we could get 24 bad guys tomorrow, and there’s going to be another 240,000 out there the next day. It’s really about empowering an entire community, empowering communities to combat it together. That is through raising awareness, and that is through helping parents and caregivers understand what their kids are battling online, that is through supporting internet crimes against children task forces and the list goes on.

Dave: [00:10:43] We talk about ICACs and the Internet Crimes Against Children task forces are incredible, and are very helpful to law enforcement. Speaking of law enforcement, how difficult was it for your organization to break in with law enforcement? How many meetings does it take for them to get comfortable with working with an outside source of information and what kind of rules did you guys set up in advance?

Roo: [00:11:08] How long does it take for them to get comfortable? I’ll let you know when I find out.


Roo: [00:11:13] Honestly, working with civilians, I’m sure always makes law enforcement clench up a little bit. What happened in one case, this is why we ended up working with Canadian County Sheriff’s Office in Season 2.

Dave: [00:11:24] And that’s Canadian County, Oklahoma, correct?

Roo: [00:11:28] Yes. I had come across someone who was actually on bond awaiting trial, because he was arrested in a sting in Canadian County. It turns out he’s a former deputy. So, he called up and I’m like, “Hey, this guy that you got, I saw the news clip. He’s reaching out to my decoy.”  We take very careful evidence, incredible attention to detail. So, I was able to send him a PDF, walk him through it, all the evidence. I had a separate voice recording, and a screen recording, and a camera. We’re very thorough. Major Flowers was into it and was like, “This is great.” They were able to present it at this guy’s trial and he ended up getting the maximum sentence.

Dan: [00:12:13] You’re talking about Major Adam Flowers with the Canadian County Sheriff’s Department?

Roo: [00:12:17] Yes. So, he was joking. He’s like, “When are you going to come down here? Let’s do another one. I’ll deputize you right now,” because he really appreciated the work that we’re able to do. Because I’m a woman, I am able to maybe portray a younger girl a little bit better than Major Flowers with his big gray beard can. So, us being able to be a little bit more agile, we can edit photos really quickly, we can hop on a phone call, we can get on a video call. A lot of ICAC units don’t have the capacity for that. And so, if we’re able to show how we can be helpful– That’s all we want to do. We want to be helpful. We never want to be a hindrance like, “What can we do for you, guys? What do you want from us? Do you just want a bank of photos? Do you just want us to do phone calls?”

[00:13:05] So they get it. There are plenty of places who don’t want to work with us, and frankly, a lot of that is because of the amount of vigilante groups that are out there. It’s the people that will just go online, say, “Let’s meet up at Walmart,” they bring their camera, they’re live streaming it on YouTube. Those cases are, as you know, largely not prosecutable. And so, when people hear us say, “Hey, we have this case for you,” they’re like, “Oh, hold on, not another one of these.” That’s taking up space in our desk, because these people are running amok.

[00:13:40] There have been cases where it’s out of CCSO jurisdiction and they have to vouch for us. They’re like, “No, we’re working with this organization. This is legitimate. Here’s how they intake evidence.” We have rules of engagement based on each area, but we also have our own internal rules of engagement that even if it’s permissible by law enforcement, we won’t do X, Y, Z simply because we want to remain so above board that nobody can accuse us of something come trial.

Dave: [00:14:07] Absolutely. I think it’s notable that in the show, it’s clear you guys are considering elements of the crime. The quality of evidence and how it was obtained, I feel like it really is the first portrayal of an investigation, not by a law enforcement agency to come up with, “We got to check these boxes before we get to probable cause.” It is interesting how you guys have really accepted what is required to make a criminal prosecution. It just shows that you guys are attentive to the detail involved.

Roo: [00:14:47] There are so many perpetrators out there that I would hate to cut a corner and bork an entire case. Like, I don’t want to have to go through that. I don’t want to have to put my team through that just for nothing to come out of it when we don’t have to conjure things up. There are plenty of people out there breaking the law. If somebody’s going to message us and be a little creepy but not break the law, I’ll cut them loose really fast, because it’s not worth our time. When we’ve got really dangerous people that present an imminent threat to children out there, we would rather turn our attention to that.

Dan: [00:15:23] Speaking of that, did you go through any specific training or do you have members of your team who have experience in this space that helped you break into these kind of investigations that you’re doing?

Roo: [00:15:38] No, it really started with me doing this, and I think it is the aggregate of the different things that I’ve done in my career that allow me to be good at this. A lot of it is studying language, and syntax, and how language evolves with children over time. I joke like, I can spot an adult pretending to be a teenager from a mile away. One thing that’ll give you up that I hate to break to everyone who’s my age and older, when you put two spaces at the end of a sentence, [Dan laughs] you’re north of 40 and we know it. [giggles]

Dan: [00:16:20] Right. There’s little things. Even some of the stings I used to do, I would go back through the child’s actual interaction with the suspect and just see how they speak, kind of the rhythm, the syntax. I used to make very poignant notes about spelling that if I’m putting down polysyllabic words and I’m nailing the spelling on all these, I’m going to give myself away. So, I really learned the acronym language. It’s true. You give yourself away if you’re not really careful about the way you’re speaking to these other adults.

Roo: [00:17:00] It evolves so quickly, what some kids were saying last year they’re not saying this year. So, we have to be very much online and up to date with what young people are saying. Then when we train law enforcement, we say, “By the way, here’s a cheat sheet of acronyms that are happening right now, but call us in two months and this might change.” So, just be aware like, this is what this means. What does body count mean? Well, in our day, we know that body count means how many people have died. In this case, body count means how many people have you had sex with. And so, when that question comes up in a conversation, you need to know that. Otherwise, they’re like, “You’re not a teenager. There’s no way.”

Dave: [00:17:40] There are times, especially in Season 2, where some of the suspects are making references to things that you recognize or your team recognizes, “Oh, this is stuff that was like 2008 type of contacting minors.” And so, maybe this guy’s been offline for a while or maybe he’s just not got his game up to somebody who’s prowling the nearest happy hour.

Roo: [00:18:06] Sure.

Dave: [00:18:07] These guys, for you to recognize the difference in the eras of online safety issues, is pretty poignant to me as well.

Roo: [00:18:16] Thank you. Because I’ve been online for a while. So, if somebody makes a comment, I’m like, “That was a really popular statement on Reddit 10 years ago. This guy is at least 30.” Like, “This was a very big thing on Reddit and Imgur. This is not a TikTok level kind of reference.” Being very much online and understanding language really helps with that. And so, when we talk with law enforcement who’s doing this too, we’re like, “Okay, you can’t spell the word cool as K-E-W-L.” We did that in the late 1990s when we were listening to punk music. It’s no longer applicable. I think what we’re also really good at is attention to detail, because I’m 40, I don’t look like a teenager, the people on my team don’t necessarily look like teenagers, but a lot of the heavy lifting comes from the context, the bedrooms, what we’re wearing, what we’re saying. A lot of digital editing too of course, but a lot of it is the attention to detail.

[00:19:21] There was one guy in Season 1 that was very sketched out, was really suspicious. We know he’s suspicious because he’s been doing this for a long time. And so, I said, “Hey, somebody print out a certificate of achievement for this high school. I’m going to stick it on the wall, put her name on it.” This Season, we had trophies with our names on it. I know people are concerned that I’m giving up the secret sauce, but we don’t share all of the secret sauce. But everything that we can do to make a teenager believable, I think, is what helps with the trust building. And then when they trust and believe that someone’s actually a kid, that’s when they show their hand or they make a plan to meet, that’s when we’ve got them.

Dan: [00:20:09] For Season 2, can you walk us through what it takes sequentially for you guys to set up production to the time that you have an actual case? Can you give us a walkthrough of your first week or two weeks up to your first arrest?

Roo: [00:20:25] Sure. We call them decoys prints because I never figured out a better way to call them. But our operations vary in length, and I guess I would say, the amount of resources that we have. So, for Season 2, we had lots of resources. We had this really big house and a really big staff, but we do this work irrespective of a camera. And so, earlier this year, it was five days in some weird little Airbnb. The way that we did that very quickly is we went in, set up two bedrooms, the dining room, just had a bunch of young people clothes in it that she and I would just keep swapping out. And the next day, I think our quickest turnaround was two hours. It was first contact.

[00:21:08] He had a commute. First contact, two hours. Later, he’s pulling into our driveway. And law enforcement’s there, of course. He pulls into the driveway and he’s texting. He’s saying, “Come out.” And we’re like, “Shoot.” So, I have this young-looking hoodie on, and I go to the door, and I just wave my hand really quickly, and he doesn’t see my face, thankfully. He gets out of the car. But before he gets out of the car, he needs a little courage. So, he does a bump of cocaine. He gets out of the car, he approaches the door, just did coke, and his zippers all the way down. And this guy, he’s arrested. And then he goes, “So, I just completed the hiring process with such and such police department. Do you think this is going to affect my employment?” Like, “The cocaine, the pants down, the wanting to rape a minor? Yeah, bud, I don’t think you get to be a police officer anymore.”

Dave: [00:22:01] I would worry less about your career and more about freedom.

Roo: [00:22:04] Yes. And I really think that sometimes they just don’t get it. They’re like, “Okay, well, so I pay a fee and I go home now?” It’s like, you don’t understand the significance of what you were trying to do here. That’s when we do a really quick and dirty operation where it’s not glamorous. There’s no television involved. I’m eating a cold cheeseburger and it’s like 02:00 in the morning and we’re waiting for a meet to happen.

Dave: [00:22:27] You’re fishing.

Roo: [00:22:28] I would say less fishing and more like, we’re just putting two young girls online and waiting. We have never started a conversation, unless law enforcement has said, “By the way, we haven’t been able to get this guy. He’s been on our radar for two years. Do you think you can reach out?” And yeah, of course. Sure. But for the most part, we’re just two normal kids online. And the amount of people that come in is, I think, really, really surprising. There was a time where I just had a parent sit next to me because she’s like, “Well, all the apps, it’s fine. My kids are smart and they’re not going on the bad apps.” And I’m like, “This is crap, but we’re going to hit post on this picture, and I’m going to let you know that I can catch a dick online in a minute or less.”

[00:23:15] So, she sat next to me with the phone in her hand, we did it together, and she was just shocked. She’s like, “Wait, you already got a message. Wait, look how vile it is.” I’m like, “Yeah, that’s what’s happening on the internet.” And people want to say, “Oh, the good apps and the bad apps.” There is no such thing. People want to demonize the Snapchat and the TikTok. But what they don’t understand is any app, any website where there’s the potential for communication, there’s the potential for someone being preyed upon. So, I’m talking like Roblox that kids love.

[00:23:49] I’ve consulted with companies, and it’s been a Coloring Book app because they’re coloring and someone can comment, and they’re like, “We’re having issues with kids getting groomed on a Coloring Book app.” Coloring Book app seems so innocuous. I think any parent would download it on an iPad and give it to a kid at a restaurant because they need 20 minutes of peace and quiet, right? And so, it’s been on Words with Friends. I’ve had a perpetrator say to me, “Hey, I don’t want to give you my number because it’s too risky. Can we please download the same makeup app, and then we can just talk on this makeup app?” When you hear stuff like that, it’s like, “What corner of the internet is safe?” And that’s why these conversations with kids are so important, because it isn’t just this one bad app and this one good app. I would never want to give a parent a false sense of security because, “Oh, we’re using this specific app for kids on this specific device, and we’re monitoring with this specific service.” No, no, no, the parenting has to be really proactive when it comes to this.

Dave: [00:24:46] For listeners, if you’re interested, you can check out Season 1 of The Briefing Room, Episode 9. We highlight online safety and devoted a whole episode to it.

Dan: [00:24:57] That’s right. And I was thinking, one of the things about law enforcement is we are so reactive to what’s going on in the world. It’s hard to be proactive. I’ve worked these cases on the periphery. Dave’s always been the quarterback who’s talking to the online predator, while the rest of us, the defense are surrounding a meetup spot doing surveillance. How fun that is for the rest of the team? I would imagine it’s got to be the same for you when you’re working a case like this and you finally get somebody to commit. And then they take that act of furtherance where not only are they committing, but now they are driving to the meetup spot that that is the act of furtherance that creates probable cause for an arrest. What is that feeling like for you?

Roo: [00:25:51] Usually, I’m ready to barf down the front of my shirt at any given point. [Dave laughs] They need somebody in the field, like, a decoy. Sometimes, it’s really nice to have a decoy because then a perpetrator will see me from afar and get tunnel vision. And so, they’re not seeing all these cars. Like, they’re not seeing that they’re just being swarmed.

Dave: [00:26:10] Oh, yeah.

Roo: [00:26:12] And especially in Oklahoma in the dead of summer, I’m wearing a teenage girl skirt or whatever, but I’m wearing Kevlar and then a big sweatshirt over it. So, at this point, I’m just dripping sweat, and I’m also nervous, and I also want this guy to show because I know what this guy is capable of. I know all the things he’s said. For TV, we have to sanitize it for TV-14, right? So, people don’t see how vile and violent and awful it actually is, you can’t just go around traumatizing people and telling them all these terrible stories.

[00:26:47] So, when it comes down to it, my adrenaline is through the roof. Once they show up and once they’re arrested, it’s like, “Ah, finally, I know they don’t have access to their phone and they’re unable to terrorize children online for the time being.” That is a very satisfying feeling. I don’t know how to explain it, but there’s also grief in knowing that now, because of their decisions, the lives of the people around them are also forever changed. There’s a wife, there’s a kid, there’s an employee, there’s a mom, there’s always other people that are affected. So, the collateral damage is a lot wider than you expect.

[00:27:26] It’s not just this one bad guy doing this one dumb thing. You find out that there are more victims, you find out that this person is a breadwinner and now he’s behind bars, and his wife had no idea, and his kids now have to go to school knowing that. So, I would say, it’s a lot of mixed feelings. It’s definitely a lot of adrenaline going up and then adrenaline crashing. And there have been days where we would do two stings back-to-back, and it’s just I feel like at that point I need like a heart monitor and a nurse on staff.

Dan: [00:27:59] Totally get it. I will say this, after watching my brother over the years work this caseload, there is a cumulative effect on a human being when they are dealing with this every day. My brother’s caseload was varied, but every now and then, he would work a case like this. And the things that men say to young girls is just jaw dropping. It was always a pleasure to be on the arrest team in those cases. Really enjoyed that.

Roo: [00:28:32] Yeah, there’s something very satisfying about knowing what they’ve said and what they’ve done and what they’ve been doing and saying and knowing, like, the buck stops here. I don’t know if you’re able to catch the season finale, and so no crazy spoilers. But it turns out one guy who had been reaching out, he had come across every single one of our decoys, because he was heavily in teen chat rooms. He was arrested. Turns out he had been he confessed to sexually assaulting a family member for years. For years. We had a few cases like that this season where you can tell they’ve been doing this for a really long time and thank God, we were able to find them and it was able to stop then.

[00:29:18] Sometimes, you catch people that are not necessarily serial. They’re just like opportunistic. Like, “Oh, this cute young girl’s online. Let me just try X, Y, Z,” as opposed to somebody who is perhaps a pedophile who struggles with this and collects CSAM regularly and only wants to talk to children. And then we get some people that clearly have been doing this for years and years and years and years and years, and need to be stopped, and need to be in prison for a very long time because the things that they want to do to children is just so awful. Where you sometimes are like, “How can someone do this to another person?” And then you realize that sometimes, from a perpetrator’s perspective, the cruelty is the point and that’s what– I know the audience can’t see me making faces because I’m struggling to really get the words out, but that’s what I think is like, A, the biggest knife in the heart is knowing that.

Dave: [00:30:20] I think being in this line of work and I’m not even talking about issues that are specific to SOSA or my caseload, you realize very, very quickly, or you’re out of the job very, very quickly that evil exists. We can think what we want about people, but there are people out there that just care about themselves, and they care about how they want instant gratification. It is hard even to my family members to explain to them like, “No, you understand. There are just evil people out there that just don’t give a shit about laws. They don’t care about that it’s an 11-year-old girl. They don’t care.” You have to get over that hurdle to understand the depth of people’s savagery sometimes like, “No, there are evil people.”

Dan: [00:31:09] I think the thing that surprised me the most, I was fat, dumb, and happy working financial crimes and then violent crimes. I was fat, dumb, and happy at my desk, but across the office, I’ve got Dave. He’s got headphones on and he has to watch child sex abuse material to try to identify victims. And to find out, for me, it was shocking how prolific these online predators are that they’re not just talking to one girl. Their net is wide. They are talking to 5, 10, 15 youth females trying to find one that is going to commit to a meat.

Roo: [00:31:51] I don’t know if this tracks with you, but I know the Child Rescue Coalition references a study that says the average predator has 50 to 150 victims in their lifetime. And whether that includes CSAM or what have you.

Dave: [00:32:06] For our listeners, CSAM is Child Sex Abuse Material.

Roo: [00:32:09] Right. CSAM is really, really hard, especially because you’re not sure where that kid is now, you’re not sure how old this video is, you’re not sure– There’s just so many unknowns. Actually, I’ve got something here and I know your audience can’t see, but hopefully it’s okay. We have a perp wall where we keep some of our mug shots. And the reason why is not because we want to glorify it or feel like we’re like Liam Neeson in Taken just like getting ready, torture people.

Dave: [00:32:39] No, I can tell you, we understand. It’s, “Hey, this is why what we’re doing is important. It’s a reminder.”

Roo: [00:32:50] It’s a reminder. And when we go through how many that we either are able to calculate or estimate based on law enforcement or see based on a forensic investigation of their phone, what we do is I put little post-it notes to represent a kid. And some of our mug shots are just like a sticker or two. And then we’ve got one like this. And I know that your audience can’t see this, but this piece of paper is covered in, I don’t know, 80 post-it notes where you can’t even see a face or the charges or anything like that. And knowing that and then a certain CSAM, that’s the stuff that I think we really try to protect the rest of the team from.

[00:33:34] If CSAM comes in, we do have like a code for everyone to put every device goes down. Put the device down and walk away, I need to document this and send it to law enforcement. But because of the way that we have evidence, I don’t want someone else to come across it, because that stuff can kill a soul knowing that there are people out there that are willing to do this to children. It’s interesting. I was talking with law enforcement that we’ve worked with before about a specific case, and it was an attorney. These people come from all walks of life.

Dave: [00:34:07] Absolutely.

Roo: [00:34:08] And they can be the nicest, most wholesome, attractive family man that the community loves and reveres. And then in this case, it was an attorney and he had reached out to a woman saying, “Hey, I need a sex worker.” She’s essentially a pimp, but for sex workers of age. And he said, “But I want a really young one.” And thankfully, she went to the law enforcement right away and said, “Hey, I know that I’m into some shady stuff, but I don’t do this.’

Dan: [00:34:35] Kudos to her.

Roo: [00:34:36] Yeah, kudos to her. And so, she set up this operation and essentially, she was saying, “Yeah, I do have a couple of foster kids. It would be a fee to me. It would be a fee to the foster parent. And you could have two hours with the child. I’ve got an 11-year-old and I’ve got a 5-year-old.” He’s like, “I’ll take the 5-year-old.”

Dan: [00:34:55] You mean as part of the sting, the informant tells this attorney that she’s got a couple of foster kids that he could choose from, and the attorney’s interested?

Roo: [00:35:04] Yes. And so, we’re watching the video footage, and he shows up, and there’s the cash exchange. $200 for the foster mom, $200 for this woman who’s doing this transaction. She’s like, “Look, she’s little. I want to make sure that she’s okay and safe.” He’s like, “Don’t worry, I brought lube, I brought this, I brought that. We’ll start by having her watch cartoons, and this is what I would like to do to her first, and could we take some photos and some video?” He’s sitting there, he pops a Viagra while he’s talking about this, all the things he wants to do. She asks a question that I thought was a really smart question to ask, and the answer is fairly brutal. “Why the 5-year-old and not the 11-year-old?” “Ah, the 5-year old’s less likely to tell someone.” “Yeah, a 5-year old’s probably not going to talk.”

[00:35:50] Honestly, this kind of thing can be really traumatizing, but a five-year old’s more likely to forget. And it’s like, there’s self-awareness there, but it doesn’t matter. And I will say and I can’t gloat too much because I often do get subpoenaed and I need to maintain my professionalism. I fucking loved watching that man getting arrested. I loved every second of it and I hope he never breathes free air again because watching that was just so, so vile, so, so awful.

Dan: [00:36:22] When you’re on a team, an arrest team, out in the field and you bring the bad guy in, there are a lot of high fives that get exchanged, and it’s a great feeling for the team.

Dave: [00:36:33] You just realize how everything has to line up for you to get to finally put handcuffs on bad guy. So, once you get through all of that, it is a relief. It is, “Ah, I don’t have to deal with this guy much longer. I don’t have to deal with this.” Another one, obviously, pops right back up right behind every suspect because we know the breadth of the problem.

Roo: [00:36:57] But that case is done. There’s a part of me where I’m like, “I no longer have to send photos of my legs to that one guy. I’m going to have to send them to the next guy, but this guy done.” Truly, that is a good feeling. I never want to gloat, but there is something that it’s just like this feeling of gratitude that it’s over. Another one can no longer harm a kid.

Dave: [00:37:28] One thing I absolutely don’t want to lose sight of is the impact of grooming. And I speak about it often when it’s especially online, but it also occurs in families, and at schools, and everywhere else all the time. And grooming is a huge problem. I hate to beat the dead horse on grooming because I recognize when things are happening and I’m like, “Oh, that’s grooming stuff.” And they’re like, “Oh, no, you’re just an old sex crimes detective and you think everybody is always out to get a little kid.” And I’m like, “No, I just know the behavior and I can recognize it from a mile away.” Can you talk to parents about what they should be looking for in, A, should they have their child’s passcode to get into their phone? My answer is obvious. Everybody should until their kid’s 18. But tell us about how pervasive and how effective a complete stranger who might be a complete dirt bag might have on a parent’s child in just a matter of minutes.

Roo: [00:38:35] It’s really important for parents to know that this is not something that takes months to do. When parents go, “I would know because I would see a difference in my kid if they were being groomed.” It’s like, it can happen in minutes. It can happen in the amount– You go downstairs, you’re changing the laundry over from the washer to the dryer, someone could be grooming your kid. It’s that fast. And it’s not because your kid isn’t smart. It’s not about being a smart kid or a good kid. It’s just about being a kid on the internet, because these people are practiced, they’re manipulative, they know what they’re doing, they’ve been doing it for a really long time. There’s no fence around like socioeconomics or race or sexuality or gender. Really, anyone’s at risk.

[00:39:20] I’ll tell parents too, even though the majority of online predators are men, heterosexual boys, teenage boys are also at risk because they’re being extorted. And so, it’s important for parents to know that it is not something that necessarily happens over a very long period. It’s these guys that are building trust, and they can do it in a number of different ways. We talk about that sometimes. It’s like, “Hey, I noticed that you are in the Minecraft subreddit. I think that’s great because I love Minecraft too. But you have to be really careful because you’re this young kid online and there are a lot of really bad guys out there. I wouldn’t want you to get hurt.” And it’s like, “Oh, well, thank you.” It’s like, “This is what you need to look out for. You can trust me. I will make sure that you’re okay. I can be like your big brother. I’ll keep an eye out for you, no problem.”

[00:40:12] That kind of caring language that seems so generous and so genuine. I consider myself to be a decently smart woman. When I was a kid, I was a decently smart kid. I would have fallen for a line like that, hook line and sinker, not because I was a bad kid, not because I was a dumb kid, but because they’re just that good.

Dave: [00:40:36] Right. I try to explain this to folks who especially with hands on victims that I would arrest stranger or I’d arrest dad or stepdad or uncle or whomever. You go to the other spouse or you go to the other caregiver or guardian and you say, “Hey, this is what’s been happening.” And a lot of times, it’s like, “No, that’s just him being friendly,” and “No, I don’t believe that,” and “No, he would never do that,” and “Oh, you’re reading way too much into the conversation or what happened.” And I used to always say, but here we are.

Roo: [00:41:13] Yeah.

Dave: [00:41:14] Think back with an open mind about odd things that might have occurred to you, where you came home early one day, and all of a sudden, it was a frenzy in the house, and it seemed suspicious, but you didn’t know what was happening in the back room. You have to disengage from this. I’m an optimist, and I believe everyone’s out for the greater good. Truly protecting your child from harm is being suspicious.

Roo: [00:41:42] Yeah.

Dave: [00:41:43] Why are you asking for such a huge piece of my child’s life? Why do you want to be such an influencer or a mentor? I am a skeptic by nature, especially now. I always looked at it as, why? Why is this guy so interested? Why does this person have such an interest in this kid? It really was frustrating to not be able to break people of that like, “Hey, this is how far down the road we are. I just arrested your husband, and you still aren’t on board with this is even a possibility.” We got to break parents of that.

Roo: [00:42:20] Oh, we’ve seen that too. “Uh-oh, you arrested him for assaulting my kid? All right, I’ll come bail him out, I guess.” “No, there’s no bailing out. There’s nothing like that. No, you’re not getting it.” I think that I don’t want to live as a fearful person. But I think for some people, there is this gift of fear, and it’s really just about trusting your gut. Just not necessarily walking around scared, but being aware. It’s almost comical how we do this, but I teach my daughters about situational awareness. So, we’re walking into Target. You’re not on your phone. You’re always looking around. When you park, you don’t park necessarily the closest. If it’s nighttime, you park right under a light. That’s where you park, all right?

[00:43:10] You’re not fiddling around with headphones or your bags. You get in, you open your car door, just open the driver’s side door. Throw your shit in, get in the car, lock the door. That’s how you do this. Not every single door needs to be unlocked, because you don’t know who’s on the other side, right? We’ll walk and I’ll go, “Okay, we’ve just passed five cars. What was the color of the past five cars?” And they got to tell me, black, black, blue, black, green. It seems silly, but it’s also like, “All right, I want you to describe the person that we just passed that just passed you on your left side without turning around and looking.” And they’re like, “All right. It was a woman, dark hair, probably 5’6″, wearing a Yankee shirt.” Good.

[00:43:53] Not because I want them to be suspicious, but because I want them to know what’s happening around them, because I think that is a good skill to have, especially when you’re a young woman. You’re going to the grocery store, you’re going out for a run. If you’re going out for a run, you don’t have headphones on. One of my daughters loves to run. If you want to go for a run with headphones on, then mom’s going to run behind you without headphones, so I can be your situational awareness for you. But that also has to translate to other people, and other people who are around you all the time, even if it is your kid’s best friend’s dad who is just so nice and so sweet, or the coach that just wants to take a few extra sessions with your kids. They could be the most wonderful, wonderful people in the world, but the onus is still on parents to go, “Okay, hold on a second. Let me just make sure that everything’s okay here.”

Dave: [00:44:47] I love it. I love the situational awareness lessons that you teach. I would encourage you to go to every police academy in America and teach that same class about situational awareness and being observant. My point in saying that is only to highlight that we can all work on that.

Dan: [00:45:05] Yeah, it’s definitely a mindset. It was something that maybe I was a little bit unaware of, a little naive to when I started the process of becoming a police officer. I had my first field training officer. We were walking up to a domestic dispute and he said, “Where’s your nearest cover?” And I was looking around, I’m like, “The curb?” Like, “Lay down in the street, the curb is–” And he said, “Yeah, you’re right, but it took you too long. You might have gotten shot.” So, it’s just changing your mindset. I applaud you for doing it. If you can just imprint that on a young person’s brain where they’re thinking differently than normal people out there, I think it’s a huge step. You have to be proactive in your own safety. That’s for sure.

Roo: [00:45:55] I will say the criticism that I do get is that I’m teaching my children to be fearful, and I don’t think that’s the case. I think it’s actually really empowering to teach your kid about situational awareness, teach your kid that there are people in the world that don’t have their best interests at heart. It’s a conversation that I’ll have with any young person that I know well. I’ll say, “Let’s have a talk about you going off to college and what you need to look for.” When you’re walking down the street and somebody passes you, you got to do a shoulder check. You got to just turn your head over your shoulder to make sure they kept walking. That’s just something that I need you to do. That’s not striking fear into their heart. That’s empowering them. That’s how we empower our kids.

[00:46:31] Maybe I’m a bit more sensitive because I’ve got daughters, and sure, I know that boys are targeted too, and young men are targeted too. But in these cases, knowing the rates, the onus is on me to be as responsible as I can. And more than that, what I would want to tell parents is that victim blaming, I think, is the number one thing keeping perpetrators safe. Because as society, we victim blame so much. Why on earth would a kid come to us and tell us that they’ve been harmed when they know the parent’s going to freak out, take away the phone, “How could you be so dumb? How could you be so stupid?” So, a lot of kids go through this just silently like living in shame, when if my kids know, one, mom’s got their back, come to me, I’m here to help. Two, I’m not going to freak out anytime there’s a problem. I’m here and I’m going to stay as even keeled as possible. Three, what happens in this world, abuse is never a victim’s fault.

[00:47:32] I feel like that also helps them trust their gut too. That also helps them understand like, “Hey, I’m seeing warning signs here. And because I feel weird about it, I’m going to raise my hand and tell mom right away as opposed to waiting and waiting and waiting. Mom can intervene now as opposed to intervening later down the road.”

Dave: [00:47:59] We’ve got a few listener questions that I was hoping to send your way. And first one is from Cassie Tuck. “As our children age and eventually become more familiar with the ins and outs of social media, different apps, etc, what best practices or advice do you have for us parents who may not be as in the know about hidden dangers?” Just the highlights. What should they be looking for?

Roo: [00:48:25] Yes, I think that it’s important for parents to also, if your kid wants to download an app, you should download that app too and just check it out and see what are the features here. Did you know that it can show their location? There’s a Snap Map. Can a stranger reach out to your kid? I do let my kids have social media, and I know how to work the family controls. If my kid, who I have lots of conversations with about online safety, if she’s talking to someone on Snapchat, I can see exactly who she’s talking to and I go, “Okay, we’re going to run through this really quickly, make sure that you know all of these kids. Not one of these people is a stranger. Okay?” “Yeah, this person’s in my geometry class, this person is on my whatever team, this person does this.” “All right, great. That’s great.”

[00:49:09] So I think that knowing the kind of technology your kid is consuming, which for some of us who are older, that means doing a lot more legwork, knowing the technology that they’re using and also having regular conversations with your kids about online safety and online usage. I liken it to the sex talk. I don’t have the sex talk with my kids once and that’s it. It’s a regular part of our conversations, and so is the conversation about online safety.

Dave: [00:49:35] Brilliant.

Dan: [00:49:36] This is from Mordent Me. “What is the greatest barrier to getting these people convicted?”

Roo: [00:49:43] Great question. I’ll share this that I think one of the issues is that states have different laws. And because states have different laws and because this is still relatively new, some of those laws have not evolved to keep up with what is going on in today’s society. So, one of the things that I helped pass, which is bipartisan zero no votes was in the state of Connecticut HB 6737. It was the act establishing that it is illegal for an adult to contact a minor in a sexual manner. Now in some states, to reach out to a kid and say, “Hey, send me photos of your feet or of yourself in a swimsuit because I’m going to use that for my own self-gratification.” That’s considered creepy, but not a crime. It should be a crime everywhere. We know what they’re doing with those photos.

[00:50:35] So at SOSA, one of the things that we do is we do talk to legislators and say, “Hey, this should be illegal. It’s illegal in some states, it’s not illegal here. What can we do about it?” So, I think being really proactive with, A, legislators about what is okay and not okay in your state, but then also B, we need to be holding a lot of these platforms to task. If a company says that their app is safe for kids ages 13 and up, then they better be doing stuff to make sure that their app is safe for kids ages 13 and up. With the technology, with the economy changing and technology tech companies losing money, a lot of them cut their trust and safety teams. And those trust and safety teams are what’s in charge of moderation keeping kids safe.

[00:51:21] I think it’s unconscionable that any tech company that serves young people would cut their trust and safety teams. So, go ahead and contact an app that you love and say, “Hey, what’s the status of your trust and safety teams? What are you doing to make sure that this platform is safe for my kid?”

Dave: [00:51:37] I completely agree. One of the things that we’ve highlighted on our other podcast is that the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children does great work disseminating information to ICACs. ICAC task force in different regions of the United States, which are then passed down to local law enforcement who will go out and knock on the door or serve the search warrant that we really are set up in a way that these electronic service providers and apps in the perfect world are reporting to the NCMEC, “Hey, we found this on our servers and this is the user ID associated with this.” When you lose that oversight with these safety teams, you lose all of that as well. That kind of stuff is going to slip through the cracks more and more, and these electronic service providers won’t have the visibility because they just miss it. They don’t have enough people looking at it to monitor their servers.

Roo: [00:52:37] Right. And some apps and companies just don’t bother. They don’t care, unless it affects their bottom line, they don’t care. One thing that SOSA does is we take all of our conversations with predators and we strip out the PII, which is personally identifiable information. We take those conversations and we show those patterns to a company that does AI moderation. So, it’s able to teach their AI signs of child abuse. And then that company goes and works with other platforms like gaming platforms, dating platforms, social media platforms to run that program to detect for signs of child sex abuse, and then it gets reported to NCMEC automatically.

[00:53:20] I wish more companies would take advantage. We’ve got really rich data. Some people are using data that a group called Perverted-Justice had from 15 years ago. That stuff’s outdated, and so we’re always happy to help and say, “Look at these patterns. Look at what we’re seeing.” If you see this on Instagram, if you see this on your X, Y, Z platform, it’s worth looking into because this could be a sign of child sex abuse happening on your platform.

Dave: [00:53:48] From Jesse Kai. “What keeps you and we can add your team from burning out in the environment you’re working in? How do you stay grounded when encountering such vile things and predators? What’s your self-care?”

Roo: [00:54:02] I get this question a lot, and I wish I had better answers, really, really good ones. The team does a lot of different things and I think that having a rotating staff really helps. We don’t do the decoy work every single day, year-round. It’s just not tenable for us to be doing that. So, we do break it up and then we do this other stuff in between, whether it’s talking to kids or legislators or frankly, as a nonprofit raising money. I’m here at my office. You will not see a single photo of my children here at the office. And at the same token, I don’t bring work home. I might do a phone call, but I don’t touch evidence, I don’t communicate with perpetrators, I don’t do any of that from my home. Separation of church and state really happens there.

[00:54:50] Then, for me, I also make sure that I really enjoy a Hendrick’s and tonic. [Dave laughs] I make sure that I’m not enjoying a Hendrick’s and tonic because I’ve had a really bad day at work. I’m making sure I’m enjoying it because I like a Hendrick’s and tonic, and I’m not using it to medicate. So, I won’t drink, if I’ve had a really bad day, if that makes sense.

Dave: [00:55:09] It does.

Roo: [00:55:09] I see a therapist weekly and I try to stay active. Season 1, we had a punching bag in the attic. You could tell when I was having a rough time because it would just be, I guess it reverberated through the house, it would be just 15 minutes straight of me hitting a punching bag, which I found very therapeutic. So, I also recommend that for most people, actually. [giggles] So, those are kind of the main ones. I don’t talk to my friends about work because I feel like it’s just, again, poisoning the well. So, I don’t tell them those stories. I find it really helpful to talk to law enforcement about it, like, other people that are working in the same space, whether it’s Major Flowers or another law enforcement that’s working at ICAC, because they get it. There’s something about that– I can tell them this and it’s not going to harm them because they also went through it.

Dave: [00:56:08] They’ve got the calluses.

Roo: [00:56:10] Yeah, we’ve all got the same sort of scars, right? And so, I think that is also helpful. And then with consent, I make everyone around me hug me, like, once a day as much as I can do that without being accused of sexual harassment.


Dave: [00:56:32] I like the asking for consent.

Roo: [00:56:34] Yes.

Dan: [00:56:34] Yeah.

Dave: [00:56:35] Can we have a moment?

Roo: [00:56:36] [laughs]

Dan: [00:56:37] This next question is from Rediscovering Trish, and I don’t know if this is even true for you, but the question is, “Why do you believe some of these types offenders can be rehabilitated?”

Roo: [00:56:50] So, I assume that’s somebody that’s followed me online and I do get some flak for this. So, I think that people will ask like, “Aren’t you worried that the show is giving up too many secrets? Aren’t you worried that perpetrators are going to watch?” My response is, “No, I really hope they do watch. I hope they watch–” And one, maybe they’re worried that the person they’re talking to is actually a 50-year-old sergeant. Or, two, I hope that they watch and they go, “Wow, I really recognize that I have this propensity to do something harmful. I don’t want to do that to a kid. I’m going to get help,” or not even for noble reasons, “I just don’t want to go to jail.” I hope that it’s a deterrent. I hope more people watch, and so it becomes a deterrent.

[00:57:36] Now, as far as rehabilitation goes, what I would like to see is for people to get help before they ever become offenders, if they recognize that propensity within themselves. Are there cases where people– I don’t use the word pedophile because I’m not a doctor. That’s a diagnosis. I don’t know enough about that to say whether someone is or isn’t. But what I can say is, let’s say somebody can’t take away that– I think in a lot of cases you can’t take away that attraction or that propensity to want to harm a child. But if that’s recognized, can they work with someone to make sure they never act on it? I think so. I think I’ve had enough conversations with folks that I believe it to be true, but I also recognize that I am probably too ignorant on that aspect of things to be able to say one way or another.

[00:58:28] That said, I’ve had plenty of people reach out that say, “Hey, I’m a reformed sex offender. I really appreciate what you do. I’ve become a monthly donor because I think what SOSA does is so important, and I wish I knew about this when I was younger before I ever started offending.” Those messages leave me speechless, so I’m hesitant to say one way or another, but I am hopeful know rehabilitation is a possibility for many.

Dan: [00:58:54] I think that’s a great answer.

Roo: [00:58:56] Thank you.

Dave: [00:58:58] This one’s from Caroline Freak. “At what age should I start talking to my kids about online safety and how do I bring that subject up?”

Roo: [00:59:07] Honestly, as soon as they’re old enough to start wielding an iPad. I’ve had families say, “I don’t let my kids use the internet. They don’t have a phone. They don’t have a laptop.” And I’ll go, “Great.” That probably only works completely if you’re Amish, because my kids go to school and they turn in their homework on their school issued laptop. Or, you’ve got kids that go to a friend’s house and maybe your kid doesn’t have a phone but a friend does. Maybe your kid doesn’t have the internet, but a friend does. Or, your kid goes to school and they look up stuff on internet all day long. If they’re of school age, this is the conversation you need to start having.

[00:59:40] I think it can be age appropriate. When they’re younger, you start talking about tricky people on the internet and making sure that you’re staying safe. They get older, you talk a bit more about digital footprint. As they get older, you talk more about sex abuse that can happen online. But I think there’s always an age-appropriate way to have these conversations. If your kid is old enough to go to school, work an iPad, text someone, then they’re old enough to hear about what can happen online.

Dave: [01:00:07] Love it. My last question is, when do we get to do a ride along with your team on a sting? [laughs]

Roo: [01:00:14] How about this? How about you contact the good people in Bend[?] and your ICAC team? And how about I just come out there and I’ll do a ride along with you guys and we can just do an op together?

Dave: [01:00:31] I would love that.

Roo: [01:00:32] Just say, “Hey, we know this person who’s decent at her job. Would you guys want to do a one-week op with her?” And I’d be happy to come out.

Dave: [01:00:40] I’ve got some options out here with different agencies, so we could probably figure that out.

Roo: [01:00:45] All right, let’s do it then.

Dan: [01:00:47] I think that would be great. I’ve got one more question, Dave. So, you mentioned earlier that this space, this online predation space, is an ever-evolving thing and they’re using different apps. “What are the apps that you’re seeing right now that these predators are typically using?

Roo: [01:01:06] It’s really any app that a kid’s on. I could open up a phone right now and tell you it’s Discord, it’s Twitch, it’s Instagram, Twitter, it’s Snap, it’s TikTok, it’s Kik, it’s Wattpad, it’s Minecraft, it’s Roblox. Name an app and there’s someone on there. When an adult knows, when a perpetrator knows that an app is an app that kids flock to, they’re going to be there. So, whether it’s Reddit or Twitch or Discord or Threads, which is on the newer side, there’s going to be someone there. So, the key is to just be mindful. If you open your eyes, you’ll see it. You always see hints of it.

Dave: [01:01:48] I agree. I had a family back when I was still working the caseload that said, “Hey, we already had this issue with our kid on Facebook. Should I be worried about him on Xbox Live?” And I said, “100%.” [chuckles]

Roo: [01:02:04] Yes.

Dave: [01:02:05] If you can get a message, if you can be contacted on that app, it is not safe. So, just be aware not to make the whole world look like it’s scary, but I’m just saying, every one of these places can be where someone intentionally puts themselves, so they have contact with minors. It just is the way the world is.

Roo: [01:02:24] Words with Friends, and then we’ve heard about it on the Fitbit app, and we heard about it on a Bible Devotional app. It’s not to scare everyone. It’s just to know that regardless of where you go, there’s probably somebody that wants to harm a child, and so that’s just something to keep in the back of your mind as you’re raising children.

Dave: [01:02:44] Absolutely. I want to close one thing. You had already mentioned your Season 2 finale, and I watched that episode, and I was very happy at the end of it without giving away too much of your season finale. I know that at the end of that case, you caught someone who was an online predator and also somebody who had historically been abusing someone close to them. I’m just wondering where that sits with you and your team, that kind of success of an operation, and where that sits with you guys when it comes to feeling like, did we make a difference today? I think the answer is obvious.

Roo: [01:03:30] In these times, and I remember after that happened, I had to go back after that arrest and talk to the team about it. We’re a bunch of people from a lot of different backgrounds, but I think what was probably the most, the thing that I wanted to get across to them was one that they’re doing amazing work and they’re doing important work. And regardless if you’re with me for two months or two years or longer, I have just so much gratitude for anyone who’s going to be here to work with me. When we get involved in a case like this, for a lot of us, it is a chance for us to be who we needed when we were younger. Being able to share that, like, we get to be that person that we didn’t have, that’s powerful. That’s powerful for a lot of us.

Dave: [01:04:22] Don’t stop doing what you guys are doing. It is fun to watch from a law enforcement perspective, but the gift and the value for that to anybody that watches Undercover Underage is fairly obvious. Once you watch one episode of that show, you go, “I get it. I love what they’re doing.” And if fans of the show or people that just want to get involved, can they donate to your page? How do they get involved with you guys without being the stars of a TV show, something reasonable like donations or any other way to help?

Roo: [01:05:00] Donating is so helpful. We are scrappy. We can do a three-man sprint over the course of a week for 10K. So, donations really, really help. If you want to be a monthly donor, that’s amazing because then we can budget for the year, budget the work that we do, whether it’s providing therapy to survivors or doing these decoy sprints or talking in schools. If you follow us on social, we’re @sosatogether everywhere, and we will post volunteer opportunities at times for when we need somebody to help with, whether it’s social media or we need a volunteer bookkeeper for a couple of hours a week. We do post those opportunities there. If you want to donate or get more resources, we’re at

Dave: [01:05:49] There you go. Thanks for your time, Roo.

Dan: [01:05:51] Awesome. Thank you.

Roo: [01:05:52] Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it. Thank you for telling these stories and I hope you’ll have me back on soon.

[TBR’s theme music]

Dan: [01:06:00] On the next episode of The Briefing Room–

Paul: [01:06:02] I think part of handling death, seeing it in a picture versus seeing it out in the field in real life is very different because now you have three dimensions, now you have smells, now you have emotional situations. You have a gunshot victim in the middle of the street, crime scene tape up, and then mom comes up to the crime scene, and is wailing, and you’re recognizing, this is a real person and there are loved ones that are impacted by the violence that occurred. The way I dealt with it is typical. You compartmentalize. You shut that emotion off and go, “I’m here to do a job.” You do this over and over where you just shoved that emotional and psychological state into your brain and then never let it out again. And you just keep shoving more and more in there until eventually it’s going to come out, whether you like it or not.

Dave: That’s next week on The Briefing Room.

Yeardley: [01:07:05] The Briefing Room is produced by Jessica Halstead and co-produced by Detectives Dan and Dave. Executive producers are Gary Scott and me, Yeardley Smith. Our production manager is Logan Heftel. Logan also composed theme music. Soren Begin is our senior audio editor. Monika Scott runs our social media, and our books are cooked and cats wrangled by Ben Cornwell.

[01:07:30] Thank you to SpeechDocs for providing transcripts. To read those transcripts or to hear past episodes, please go to our website at The Briefing Room is an Audio 99 production, and I cannot go without saying thank you to you, all of you are fans, you are the best fans in the pod universe. And I can say with complete confidence, nobody is better than you.

[Transcript provided by SpeechDocs Podcast Transcription]