Homeland Security Opens New Chattanooga Office
CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) — The investigations division of the Department of Homeland Security opened a new office in Chattanooga, this morning.
Located across from the TBI on Century Oaks Drive, the office will provide agents with resources for investigating crimes such as child sex abuse.
“Being in the federal government, we have a bunch of software devices, ways to analyze the huge amount of data, as you can imagine, getting somebody’s computer and going through thousands and thousands of pictures,” said Special Agent in Charge Jerry Templet, Jr.
Homeland Security Investigations deals with transnational gangs, drug smuggling, and human trafficking, but Special Agent Templet, Jr. says the office is investigating a high volume of online child exploitation.
“If I took every agent that I had, which in my two states is about 130, 140, I could put them full-time working child exploitation, and we wouldn’t make a dent,” said Templet, Jr.
But investigators such as Kayla Balinger are using the resources at the new facility to get justice for the victims of online child abuse.
“The partnership we form with the federal agency — it it was not for them, I would not have been able to have gone out and interview these child victims. we just would not have had the funding or resources for that, and so they’ve enabled us to be able to actually move forward with prosecution on cases involving crimes that happened here in Chattanooga,” said Balinger.
Balinger was one of several local law enforcement officers who were made task force agents for the Homeland Security Investigations division, this morning.