Aptly named, The Human Exploitation Rescue Operative (HERO) Child-Rescue Corps is a program designed to give veterans a second career as a hero.
HERO specifically aims to, “recruit and train wounded, ill, or injured active-duty service members, transitioning active-duty service members, and military veterans for employment to support law enforcement” in the fight against child-exploitation.
HERO Is a Joint Venture Between Several Government Agencies
HERO is a joint venture created by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), and the non-profit National Association to Protect Children (PROTECT).
Combination of High Tech and Law Enforcement Skills
HERO is a career that combines high-tech computer forensics and law enforcement skills to work in conjunction with federal agents in the fight against online child exploitation.
Undoubtedly, boot camp was physically more difficult. However, the mental and emotional aspects of this job require a distinctive kind of strength.
This career is not for the faint of heart; veterans are in a unique position with their prior work experience to excel in combating the evil that preys upon and exploits innocent victims.
Training For a Second Career as a Hero
HERO has an initial three-month training in computer forensics and law enforcement support. This includes 3 weeks of training in child exploitation with The National Association to Protect Children and 9 weeks of intensive computer forensics training. Upon completion of the initial three-month training, HEROs will transition to ICE field offices across the nation to begin hands-on training experience.
Each HERO will be placed in a field office for 9 months in a paid law enforcement internship. During the internship HEROs earn practical experience serving as computer forensic analysts (CFAs) and assisting special agents with criminal cases and prosecutions.
While the focus of the internship is primarily on becoming a highly skilled CFA, there is also great emphasis on supporting case investigators where HERO’s knowledge and skills are crucial.
HERO duties include:
Assisting to identify high-value targets
Locating child victims
Crime scene investigations
Preparing for prosecutions
There is no need to have a strong background in computers and technology to enter the HERO training program. However, applicants should have an interest in and aptitude for this field of study. While training as a CFA, HEROs will learn computer forensic techniques such as: searching for evidence using hard drives and software, searching for embedded images and information, accessing and analyzing random access memory on a live system to search for evidence, and conducting analysis of internet artifacts. HERO participants will be given the knowledge and training needed to obtain a CompTIA A+ certification, which is a necessary component to demonstrate computer competency and advance in the HEROs training program.
Upon successful completion of the program (3 months of initial training, CompTIA A+ certification, and 9 months of paid internship) participants will have the knowledge, skills, and experience to successfully pursue careers with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies as well as jobs in the public and private sectors. While there is no guarantee of employment after completing the program, HERO Corps undoubtedly serves as a gateway to a wide variety of careers including law enforcement, child protection, victim advocacy, and computer forensics. The entire first graduating HERO class of 2013 was offered employment by HSI. Since that first class, additional classes have been held each year with the most recent 10th class graduating in September 2019.
Unfortunately, innocent children are victimized every day. The arrest of child predators and the rescue of their victims will not negate the damage that has been done but is an impressive attempt to help balance the scales. Since 2003, ICE reports that HSI has initiated more than 40,000 cases globally, recued more than 5,000 child victims, and arrested more than 15,000 child predators. On average, HSI arrests seven child predators and processes 17 terabytes of data every day. Not all superheroes wear capes!
Born in SoCal yet raised Tampa, Florida - Leah earned her undergraduate BA in Liberal Studies from the University of Central Florida. Leah earned her MA in the MALAS at San Diego State University, while also completing a graduate teaching certificate in English for Secondary Education. An avid traveler, she has visited more than 60 countries. With the birth of her son Spencer in 2012, Leah embarked on her biggest adventure (yet) as parent and Coast Guard wife.