A computer program designed to help parents protect youngsters from predators has received wide acceptance in Southfield, according to police Chief Joseph E. Thomas Jr.

It also has an unintended – and surprising – consequence.


Thomas advised the council at its March 7 meeting, when he outlined some of his department’s successes.



Some wives are surprised to learn their husbands may have been viewing pornography on the Internet, Thomas said.



The program, called “Computer Cop,” was introduced last fall as police officials became increasingly concerned about youngsters talking to strangers in Internet chat rooms.



“Many of these youngsters who disappear from their homes are going out to meet somebody from the Internet,” said Thomas, “and we urge parents to know what their children are doing on the Internet.”



To that end, the department distributed 2,000 of the discs without charge, he said, mainly through the schools and churches. It enables parents to call up pictures and words that are considered questionable, the chief said.



Parents then decide what to do next, he said.



“It (Computer Cop) is not a blocking device,” said Councilman Kenson J. Siver who is also deputy school superintendent in Southfield. “It merely calls up pictures and any references to vulgarity, possible death threats or drug usage.



“The schools distributed the discs,” he said, “but we haven’t gotten much in the way of feedback.”



As for pornography that adults might view, Siver said, “I’m not a computer cop, and I’d never use it (the disc) to monitor what another adult might have been viewing.”



But pornography is a different matter when adults are involved, he said.



“When wives tell me they’ve found questionable material on their youngsters’ computer,” Thomas said, “I say the next step is their business. They can do whatever they think is appropriate.”



And, when wives complain about questionable material that may belong to their spouses?



“That’s also their business,” Thomas said.



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