Mike Harris

student art work from Cheezo at school
student art work from Cheezo at school
District Attorney Investigator Mike Harris
specializes in crimes against children, including crimes against children that begin on the Internet.

Harris has worked in law enforcement for 26 years. He was with the Lakewood Police Department for eight years before joining the District Attorney's Office staff in 1996. Since November 1996, Harris has headed the District Attorney's Office's Child Sex Offender Internet Investigations (CSOII) Unit working to stop Internet sex offenders from victimizing unsuspecting and vulnerable children they meet in Internet chat rooms. Mike and his team have established themselves as leaders in this field, providing assistance and training to other law enforcement agencies in and outside of Colorado.

"The Internet is a community of its own. I call it the 'street corner of today's society', as it relates to cyberspace,? says Harris.

mike harris 303.271.6800
mike harris 303.271.6800
In 1996, Harris was frustrated by the increasing number of sex assault on children cases. He wanted to do something proactive to stop children from being sexually assaulted, before it happened. He knew that child sex offenders kept up with the new and constantly changing technology. They utilized cameras, scanners, Polaroid cameras and video recorders. Now they were using the Internet. He decided to use the same technology to actively investigate these sex offenders.

One of the first things Harris noticed was the number of unsupervised children who use the Internet, specifically in chat rooms. He found that the Internet, and particularly these chat rooms, provided a perfect opportunity for child sex offenders to approach children. It's a safe and relatively anonymous way to meet victims. They see only the persona the perpetrator wants them to see. Often, sex offenders are very well rehearsed at how they approach kids. Through years of practice, they have learned how to read kids and how to developing their trust and begin what looks like friendships.

internet safety
internet safety
Harris?s continuing Internet education revealed that this new Internet community provided few, if any, safeguards or policing. Kids could meet new friends, buy drugs or stolen property and one could arrange prostitution. This was a place sex offenders could meet and lure children with minimal detection and apprehension.

Since Harris knew first-hand that perpetrators often presented themselves as someone they were not, possibly older or younger, he chose to use this to his advantage. He began portraying himself as a 12, 13, or 14-year-old boy or girl. Going into this community, (chat rooms) portraying himself as a child, Harris?s fear that child sex offenders lurked about was validated. Shortly after going into these chat rooms as a child, Harris was bombarded by adults. Adults who contacted him thinking he was an underage boy or girl.