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Aug 14

Making Silicon Valley a safer place for children

Posted on August 14, 2013 at 12:00 AM by Communications Office

Sgt. Greg LombardoSgt. Greg Lombardo, leader of the Internet Crimes Against Children Joint Task Force (ICAC), has been with ICAC since 2011. In the past two years, Greg has established the San José Police Department as a leader and resource to the regional network of law enforcement agencies, stretching from Sonoma to Monterey, dedicated to protecting the safety of children.

Greg took a non-traditional career path to becoming an officer. His affinity for his current duties actually began during his younger days, programming on a Commodore 64 computer and Atari gaming system. His computer background led to opening an internet cafe in Hollister with a buddy. A few years later, he started his career with the City as a dispatcher. After sending others on calls, he soon realized - with encouragement from others - that he wanted to be closer to the action.

Fast forward to 2011. When Greg joined ICAC, there were less than a dozen detectives handling online child exploitation among the 85 law enforcement agencies throughout the Bay Area. Recognizing that this effort needed more labor than San José, he and his team took on the challenge of convincing other police agencies to get involved.

Starting at the top of the Bay, the team paid a visit to Sonoma County with the mission of making six cases in one day. With the Sheriff’s Office riding along, they succeeded not only in making arrests but also convincing the Sonoma Sheriff that they needed to be able to do this themselves.

Next stop was Monterey, and more followed. As a result more than 100 investigators are now handling these cases, and Silicon Valley ICAC has become a nationwide model of online law enforcement and interagency cooperation and training. Given Greg’s marketing and communications skills, this outcome is no surprise.

When asked what he finds most rewarding about his work, Greg answered without hesitation – it’s keeping children safe. While recognizing the expanse of the Internet, that doesn’t stop his team from pushing themselves to the limit. “All we can do is catch all the predators we can before they move from fantasy to reality,” he said.

“Our guys are really dedicated,” Greg said of his team. He makes sure they take care of themselves, and he also maintains a positive environment for them to do their work. Despite challenges facing the City and the Department, Greg keeps his team focused on what’s in their control: “arrest bad guys and save children” and serving our community.

Greg acknowledged that turnover and loss of institutional knowledge remain an ongoing challenge for the Department. However, he feels the Department can rebuild its pride and capacity.

He recounted a story of stopping a parolee on a minor offense that led to a drug violation. The parolee admitted he was “mad at myself for coming to San José. I knew you would stop me… and find the drugs.”

That’s the department Greg wants to see rebuilt – serving the city that crooks want to avoid.

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