UPDATE: The organizers are postponing this event until March for the health and safety of all involved amid this recent spike in COVID-19 cases. When a new date is set, we will promote the presentation again.
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The Berkshire District Attorney’s Office, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Massachusetts State Police, Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, and North Adams Public Schools are teaming up to provide parents, caregivers, and educators a presentation on how to best protect children from online exploitation.
The law enforcement agencies will present at Drury High School on Wednesday, January 12, 2022. The Berkshire Food Project is providing dinner starting at 5:45 and the presentations will follow. The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and Williams College will provide free child care to those who request it.
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The organizations request that those interested in attending RSVP to Stephanie Puc at the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition – 413-663-7588 or [email protected] by Friday, January 7. Please note if you would like child care.
“Our children now spend an enormous amount of time online where they can be vulnerable to exploitation. This presentation gives parents and educators the tools they need to ensure that our youth are safe and secure,” District Attorney Andrea Harrington said.
“I thank all of our partners for their expertise and effort to put this presentation together. The Northern Berkshire community truly embodies the concept of taking a village to raise a healthy and safe child.”
The topics include internet safety, social media 101, digital footprints, online gaming, cyberbullying, sexting, sextortion, and protection against online predators.
The speakers are Chief of the Berkshire District Attorney’s Office’s Child Abuse Unit Stephanie Ilberg, Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex Grant, F.B.I. Child Exploitation Task Force Officer Danielle Rex, Massachusetts State Police Troopers Deshawn Brown and Andy Canata, and U.S. Attorney’s Office Victim Witness Specialist Lauryn Myers. District Attorney Andrea Harrington and North Adams Public Schools Superintendent Barbara Malkas will provide opening remarks.
Alex J. Grant is an Assistant U.S. Attorney and has been prosecuting child exploitation and human trafficking cases since joining the Department of Justice in 1999. Prior to coming to the U.S. Attorney’s Springfield Branch Office in 2006, Alex worked in the Domestic Violence and Sex Offense section in the District of Columbia U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Stephanie Ilberg is the Chief of the Child Abuse and Human Trafficking Unit at the Berkshire District Attorney’s Office. Assistant District Attorney Ilberg joined District Attorney Harrington’s administration in January 2019 when she relocated to Berkshire County. She has been a prosecutor in several New England States for more than two decades. Stephanie has been prosecuting crimes against children including sexual and physical assault, homicide, cybercrime and sexual exploitation for much of her career.
Danielle Rex began her career in law enforcement with the Longmeadow Police Department in 2011 as a patrol officer. In 2017, she was assigned to the Detective Bureau as well as appointed a Task Force Officer with the F.B.I.’s Child Exploitation Task Force. She has received advanced training as a certified sexual assault investigator, background investigator, evidence discovery and recovery, child exploitation and internet crimes. She also works within the community teaching R.A.D. courses and instructing at their annual Citizen’s Police Academy. She feels strongly that bringing awareness to and educating the community about internet facilitated crimes against children can help protect and minimize their likelihood of being a victim.
Trooper DeShawn Brown has been a Massachusetts State Trooper for 3 and a half years and is presently assigned to the B-Troop Community Action Team, where he serves as the Community Police Liaison for Western Massachusetts. Trooper Brown was born in the City of Boston but spent his early years living in south Florida after his family relocated. In the Mid 1990s, the family moved to Western Massachusetts, where he still resides today. I had dreamed of becoming a police officer since I could remember because, even though I was young, I wanted to help people. My goal to become a police officer only intensified as I got older because of my personal experiences in life. I grew up in low-income housing, and at some points during my youth, it was too dangerous to play outside because of the neighborhood violence. As time passed, I noticed the elevated presence of police officers in my neighborhood, which resulted in a drastic decrease of violence. I remember vividly the feeling of invincibility I had when seeing a police cruiser turn onto my street; I knew I was safe and that nothing bad would happen while they were there. I became a Chicopee Police Officer in 2014 and made it a priority of mine to put the community first. It was rewarding to me to be able to give someone that feeling of safety that I had felt in my youth, and to be able to make a positive impact whenever I could. I hope to use my position as a Community Police Liaison to restore trust in the Law Enforcement profession by engaging in as many positive interactions with the public as possible.
Trooper Andrew Canata of the Massachusetts State Police is currently assigned to the School Safety Unit of the Troop B Community Action Team. He has earned both a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice Degree as well as a Graduate Certificate in Security Studies from the University of Massachusetts in Lowell. Trooper Canata has 24 years of law enforcement experience and has served with the State Police for the past 21 years. He has had patrol assignments throughout Western Massachusetts and served for several years as a State Police Detective assigned to the State Fire Marshal’s Office. As part of his current duties, he coordinates with area schools and public safety agencies throughout WMass on safety-related matters.
Lauryn Myers is the Victim/Witness Specialist within the United States Attorney’s Office who handles all crimes involving child exploitation throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. With a degree in psychology with an emphasis in forensics and her experiences within the field since 2015, she has helped hundreds of victims through criminal prosecutions in state and federal jurisdictions. Lauryn is an active.