JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – The Onslow County Sheriff’s Office is taking action to fight internet crimes against children.

The effort comes through grant money awarded by the North Carolina Sheriff’s Association. Sheriff Hans Miller said keeping children safe is critical for the community, especially when it comes to what they’re doing online. In 2021, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation received a record number of over 12,000 online child exploitation tips, with the top three sources being from Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram.

With the new grant, Miller hopes to combat these increasing numbers.

“Technology changes and new technology takes its place,” said Miller. “So we want to make sure that we have the new tools that are needed.”

The $63,000 grant will help to purchase a new forensic tower to examine data.

“Digital investigation is a forensic science,” said Miller. “So we have to take the evidence and make sure that it’s properly handled, that it’s properly documented because we need to take it to court.”

As well as provide proper education for his staff.

“The training, because you got to have specially trained detectives, agents to do those kinds of investigations, and that takes a long time to do,” said Miller.

Miller also wants to caution children about the dangers of the internet.

“Be aware, don’t give any biographical information out, don’t send pictures. Do not let anybody get you to send pictures of yourself, because then those pictures can be used against you in the future,” said Miller.

Miller encourages parents to keep an eye on who their children are talking to online and caution them about giving out personal information.