The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and ChoicePoint today announced that the Wyoming Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) is the 2004 recipient of the IACP/ChoicePoint Excellence in Criminal Investigations Award.

The Wyoming ICAC task force, a unit of the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation, created and launched "Operation Peerless," an international undercover operation to combat the exchange of child pornography via the Internet. The Wyoming ICAC uncovered widespread computer programs that were sharing graphic images of child victimization.

"Through Operation Peerless, the Wyoming ICAC task force was able to leverage the resources of law enforcement around the world to identify and remove computers that were distributing these images," said Wyoming Attorney General Patrick Crank. "Of the more than 3,600 computers identified, investigators discovered nearly 2,000 were located in Wyoming. Hundreds of search warrants have been issued against these computers and additional warrants are forthcoming as law enforcement now has a new tool to combat the targeting of our children for sexual exploitation."

"The Wyoming ICAC task force demonstrates how law enforcement uses technology to help protect our nation's most vulnerable population, our children," said IACP President Joe Polisar, who is chief of the Garden Grove, Calif., Police Department. "The Wyoming ICAC program is a prime example of how society benefits from new technologies and innovation in criminal investigations."

The Picayune, Miss., Police Department was named first runner-up for the 2004 award for a miniature airplane video surveillance system, which helped gather intelligence against a major narcotics operation. The Toronto Police Service was second runner-up, honored for a unique interview technique that its officers used to identify and arrest a murder suspect.

In 2003, IACP joined with ChoicePoint to create the IACP/ChoicePoint Excellent in Criminal Investigations Award as a way to encourage the use of exceptional innovation and recognize outstanding achievement by law enforcement organizations in conducting criminal investigations. The award also promotes the responsible sharing of information on successful investigative programs and approaches.

"ChoicePoint is pleased to support IACP in its efforts to recognize and promote superior performance by law enforcement officers," said Jim Zimbardi, ChoicePoint vice president. "Our involvement in this important program makes sense as ChoicePoint is the leading provider of information solutions to more than 3,000 federal, state, and local law enforcement and Homeland Security agencies."

All law enforcement agencies, units and task forces are eligible to compete for the IACP/ChoicePoint Excellence in Criminal Investigations Award. Judging focuses on contributions to the advancement of the art or science of criminal investigations and innovations in the development or enhancement of investigative techniques.