BULLHEAD CITY – Arizona Predator Prevention (APP) is a team of people who try their best to keep the local community informed of those who prey on the young.
According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, studies done by Crimes Against Children Research Center show that one in five girls and one in 20 boys is a victim of child abuse.
“We want to spread awareness of people who are trying to come after our kids online. It happens in the streets, but this is primarily online,” said Sabrina Ajack of APP.
“We are trying to get parents more aware of what their children are doing online and who they are talking to,” said Stephen Ajack from APP.
APP was started last September. Before Sabrina Ajack and her team launched the citizen action group, they did a substantial amount of research and talked to other groups. According to the Ajacks, in the APP’s first year they found that anybody could be a predator, including friends, co-workers, even family members.
The NCVC stated that three out of four adolescents who have been sexually assaulted were victimized by someone they knew well.
“They got a sick obsession for kids,” said Sabrina Ajack.
Working in this type of environment can be emotionally taxing on people but the APP team has a way to separate themselves from the work that they do.
“It’s basically being an actor and playing a part,” said Stephen Ajack. “You can walk away from it but there are times when you do need to get away from it so you aren’t stuck with things in your head.”
When the APP is decoying, it has a couple of protocols when engaged in conversation with the predators.
“We put an account on dating sites and within a few minutes they start talking to the underage child,” said Sabrina Ajack. “We give them a couple of phrases to where they can back out.”
One misconception is that the APP team works with law enforcement but it does not at the moment.
“We have tried. We turned in the first five cases to both Mohave (County Sheriff Department) and Bullhead (City Police) but they told us that the prosecutor won’t take action,” said Stephen Ajack. “We will completely keep it legal, by the book, hoping that somebody will prosecute someday.”
According to Emily Fromelt, Bullhead City Police Department public information officer, the department had taken some cases from APP, however, “The Mohave County Attorney’s Office advised that they would not be actively pursuing any additional charges,” said Fromelt.
Sabrina Ajack said that when they were in talks with the county, Greg McPhillips, of the Mohave County Attorney’s Office, told them that the county won’t work with civilians because they can’t guarantee the chain of evidence. When asked if the statement is true, Mohave County Sherrif’s Department spokeswoman Anita Mortensen said that was correct.
“The Mohave County Sheriff’s Office is an active member of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) and our detectives have received very specific training to aid in conducting these types of operations,” said Mortensen. “A lot of the time these ‘predator seeking groups’ do not have the necessary training, and while their intentions are good, the defendant’s attorney can have the case thrown out for entrapment.”
Sabrina Ajack said that if you see them in a sting operation, don’t get involved because it puts everybody in harm’s way.
“We love our supporters and our community, that’s why we are doing what we are doing,” said Sabrina Ajack.
For more information or to volunteer with the Arizona Predator Prevention, contact the team on its Facebook page to get started.