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CSPD outlines process to arrest teacher accused of possessing child porn

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The Colorado Springs Police Department issued a news release Thursday outlining and explaining why it took more than a year to arrest a teacher at Russell Middle School, who is suspected of sexual exploitation of a child.

Police arrested 44-year-old Mike Hedges on Jan. 26. He was released from the El Paso County Criminal Justice Center on a $25,000 bond Tuesday. 

In the arrest affidavit, it showed the police first received a tip from the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children on Aug. 31, 2016 from Synchronoss Technologies, which provides cloud storage.

That led some to ask the question why it took more nearly 16 months from the tip until arrest.

Police said released the following timeline of events in a news release sent to local news outlets Thursday afternoon, which read:

"On August 31, 2016, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) sent a CyberTip to CSPD indicating five images of child pornography were uploaded on August 4, 2016, from an electronic device with a specific phone number. Of the five levels of tip prioritization, this specific tip was identified as the lowest level of priority by NCMEC. NCMEC tips are prioritized to ensure that reports of children who may be in imminent danger get first priority. CSPD ICAC personnel then drafted a search warrant for records pertaining to the specific device.

On September 20, 2016, ICAC investigators obtained a search warrant for records of the phones subscriber information through Verizon. This warrant was then served on Verizon and is the first step in the investigative process.

On October 6, 2016, Verizon provided the subscriber information. Subscriber information includes names, but does not provide information regarding potential employment status or employer information.

On December 2, 2016, investigators obtained a search warrant to obtain additional stored digital records relating to this device. This warrant was then served.

On July 27, 2017, the requested stored data records were provided to ICAC investigators. Although lengthy, this approximate eight-month timeframe for investigators to receive requested information is not uncommon. Unfortunately, some data storage providers take longer and others refuse to respond. However, the data initially provided was determined to be flawed and was unusable. Investigators requested the company resend the data.

On August 21, 2017, we received the correct data which included over 700 photographs and 27 videos. This data required extensive review to determine if there was evidence of criminal events. Once the items were reviewed, a total of two additional images of child pornography were located. During the following months, ICAC investigators worked investigations determined to be a higher priority. These investigations involved suspects actively producing child pornography who continued to victimize children until they were apprehended. 

On January 24, 2018, ICAC investigators obtained, for the first time, information that the suspect may be a teacher. Detectives immediately took action to determine additional information regarding the suspect’s identity and employment.

On January 25, 2018, ICAC investigators executed search warrants and obtained potential evidence.

On January 26, 2018, Mike Hedges was arrested without incident. There is no indication this suspect took or produced these photographs or that the child victims in the images were students of his."


According to the arrest affidavit, officers said they interviewed Hedges on Jan. 26. According to investigators, he confirmed the phone number that uploaded the pictures was his, but he denied having child pornography.

Hedges said he did not have the old phone in his possession, but said it was left in his classroom. Police said he left the room without yet serving a warrant to search him.

When police found Hedges, they said he was trying to delete data off of his phone. A detective also noticed Hedges' computer had a pop up screen, which requested confirmation that the user wanted to delete browser history.

Police seized the phone and eventually arrested him on suspicion of sexual exploitation of a child.

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