CSPD Commander Sean Mandel congratulates Public Safety Initiative program director Janet Van Kampen at the ENT Center. Photo courtesy of Anna Squires, UCCS.

The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs’ Public Affairs department provided more than $46,400 to the Colorado Springs Police Department, thanks to a statewide fund to combat online crime.

“The Public Safety Initiative spent $148,540 in Cybersecurity Initiative funds to enhance cybercrime investigative abilities at 16 area law enforcement agencies,” said Janet Van Kampen, UCCS Public Safety Initiative program director. “A good 26% of the funds went to the Digital Forensics Unit at Colorado Springs Police Department.”

“Every penny counts … ” Police Chief Vince Niski said. “There are things that we get to do now that we wouldn’t have been able to do without that partnership with the Public Safety Initiative.”

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Colorado Springs Police Commander Sean Mandel speaks at the ENT Center. Behind him are Public Safety Initiative program director Janet Van Kampen, CSPD Chief Vince Niski, and criminal justice instructor Rod Walker. Photo courtesy of Anna Squires, UCCS.

One of the programs, said Rod Walker, a UCCS criminal justice instructor, helps track millions of child exploitation images. Online photos and videos of child abuse surpassed a record of 45 million last year, according to the New York Times.

The child pornography-spotting software will help police build cases and rescue children, Walker said.


Colorado Springs Police Chief Vince Niski speaks at the ENT Center. Photo courtesy of Anna Squires, UCCS.

The software also limits police exposure to the images and videos, said Colorado Springs police Lt. Christina Sheppard.

“I think the chief said it best,” agreed Walker. “We bring training that they would normally not be able to afford … that’s our mission. We’re happy to do it.

Multimedia Journalist

Liz is a multimedia journalist who joined the Gazette staff in 2019.

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