LANSING (WXYZ) — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and the Michigan State Police are urging residents to stop targeting child sexual predators, adding that "vigilante activity will not be tolerated."
This warning comes after a vigilante in Grand Rapids recently lured suspected online predators to a public space, then recorded "violent interactions," according to a news release. The vigilante would then post the videos on social media.
Authorities are not able to prosecute cases that are initiated through the vigilante method, police say.
“It is reckless and dangerous for residents to take matters of law enforcement into their own hands. Not only does it put them directly in harm’s way, it actually hinders our ability to keep our kids safe and protect them from dangerous individuals,” Nessel said. “In fact, well-meaning vigilantes not only endanger themselves, but their actions may result in important evidence being suppressed, impeding our ability to properly and effectively do our job.
“Our office vigorously prosecutes crimes against children with our partners at the Michigan State Police, which has resulted in keeping hundreds of child predators out of our communities. I strongly urge the public to leave this work to career professionals.”
The MSP Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force is equipped and trained to pursue suspected child predators, and they do so under "strict guidelines," according to the AG's office.
Since January, there have been more than 20 child predators charged. Also, since 2011, the Office of the Michigan Attorney General has successfully convicted more than 250 child predators in the state.
If you notice suspicious activity, you can send tips to the Cyber Tip Line at http://www.missingkids.org/cybertipline.
Parents are asked to speak with their kids about safe internet practices. For a list of resources on how to do that, visit The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at http://www.missingkids.org.