SHERMAN, TX - We see it on crime shows all the time--a predator stalks a minor online and often times asks them to meet in person. Sherman Police say that's not just on TV, it happens right here in Texoma.
22-year-old Stacy Golston of Denison is serving 7 years in prison for online solicitation of a minor -- sexual contact. But Golston actually made contact with Sherman police, through social media.
"Well fortunately he didn't have contact with a real person, and his sentence would have been longer if he did," said Grayson County Criminal District Attorney Joe Brown.
"It was nice to know that we arrested him before he had the opportunity to meet someone outside a controlled environment," said Sherman Police Sgt. Bruce Dawsey.
Sgt. Dawsey says the department monitors social media sites, and has been doing so for about a year and a half, in conjunction with the department of homeland security, "and that's what we're trying to do just stay abreast of the new social media outlets that are out there and the technology that is available to just try and keep people safe."
"The goal is to stop the behavior, and we want people out there who might engage in this type of behavior to understand that there might be a police officer at the other side of your computer screen," said Brown.
Martha Nuckols with the Grayson County Children's Advocacy Center says it's important that parents monitor children's activity online, and that predators are reported, "if you feel threatened in any way then you need to talk to your parent, you need to talk to your teacher, and most importantly, you need to talk to the police."
In Golston's case, the police found him before he found a victim, but Sgt. Dawsey suggests parents talk to their kids about cyber predators, and connect with their children on social media.
"So that anything their child puts out, they see too. Some may say that's invasive, but really, it's not. It's a safety issue," said Sgt. Dawsey.
Sgt. Dawsey says the Department has successfully made multiple arrests using social media to find predators.
If you identify someone you think may be an online predator, you're urged to contact the police immediately.