ICAC Special Agent Shares Critical Details About the Job
Formed in 1998, ICAC (Internet Crimes Against Children) is a nationwide task force dedicated to stopping the sexual exploitation of children through the use of technology. ICAC’s impact in catching child predators is significant, with over 100,000 arrests made since the task force’s founding.
Strike Source interviewed Alani Bankhead about the requirements to become an ICAC Special Agent. Bankhead, who started working with ICAC in 2009, is an active ICAC Special Agent in Hawaii.
Bankhead said that most people working for ICAC have some type of investigation experience. Before joining ICAC, Bankhead worked at the International Justice Mission as the International Director of Investigations and Law Enforcement Development. Prior to that, she was a Special Agent with the U.S. Air Force.
“Generally, people affiliated with ICAC came into the agency doing a basic function. Most people have come in from patrol or a ground level and have gained basic investigation skills,” Bankhead said.
According to Bankhead, the most significant requirements to join ICAC are of a mental nature.
Bankhead emphasized how candidates need to be mentally sound. She then explained, “ICAC is a whole different beast. When people are screening for the job, we tell them you are going to be looking at child pornography and many other sex crimes. The crimes range from child rape to child sex assault and sextortion, and child human trafficking.”
What a Good Day on the Job Looks Like:
The best days are when multiple agencies come to together in joint operations to go after child predators.
Bankhead said, “The best days we have had are running an Operation called Keiki Shield. Keiki means child in Hawaiian. This is an op where we bring together all the federal, state, local, and military partners. We have anywhere between 50-100 investigators and intel analysts. We are running your standard ‘How to Catch a Predator’ operation.”
The U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations reported 25 arrests as a result of Operation Keiki Shield in 2019.
What a Bad Day on the Job Looks Like:
The days that ego gets in the way are bad days. “Worst days are when egos come into play. Rather than like putting ego aside to get the job done or protect kids or hold people accountable, people just want credit. That can be really frustrating,” commented Bankhead.
Also, Bankhead wants people to know that even when bad guys don’t get immediate justice, they still get apprehended. “There are times when someone is guilty and they avoid prosecution because of a technicality. They are eventually going to be caught.”
ICAC K9 Operations:
In Bankhead’s position at ICAC, she is also a K9 handler. Her dog, Lulu, is trained to find electronic devices in suspects’ homes.
Lulu can find anything as large as a laptop or hard drive to something as small as an SD card. She is ICAC’s 23rd K9. According to Bankhead, K9s are incredibly effective members of the ICAC team.
When disgraced Subway pitchman Jared Fogle’s home was searched, it was a K9 named Bear who found a micro SD card belonging to Fogle. Bankhead said that the micro SD card was taped to the back of an electrical outlet that Fogle had screwed back into his wall.
The Right and Wrong Motivations for Joining ICAC
Bankhead summed up the right motivation for joining ICAC in one sentence. “You have a passion for wanting to protect kids and wanting to seek justice on their behalf.”
Strike Source also asked Bankhead what the wrong motivations are for wanting to join ICAC. “The wrong reasons involve selfish reasons. If you think ICAC is a stepping-stone to being promoted or trying to set yourself up for political office in the future, you’re going to have a hard time being really successful. Those people don’t last very long because they can’t handle what the mission set requires. Even if they stick around and have a strong enough stomach to stay, they don’t produce good fruit.”
Bankhead then explained what ICAC means to her.
“I’ve worked these cases on multiple continents, and that’s just to say that the crime is prevalent everywhere. There is no corner of this planet where it isn’t prevalent. Ever since I was a young girl, I’ve always hated bullies, bigger more powerful people taking advantage of weaker people.”
“All crime is bad. This crime I find particularly heinous and I love kids and just want to help them. [In addition] there are not that many in this fight. There aren’t many people who can handle it.”