WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — Police chief Catrina Thompson wants citizen-led child exploitation investigation groups to stop trying to take the law into their own hands.

Chief Thompson held a late-night press conference Wednesday night at the Alexander Beaty Public Safety Training Center in Winston-Salem.

The meeting was to bring awareness to everyone in the city of the potential dangers of investigating crimes without the proper training.

Chief Thompson said these groups have become a growing concern in the state and city and have become a danger to themselves and innocent people in the community. “Simply put, what these groups are doing just isn’t safe.”

Thompson said the groups pose as children to lure sex predators into public places to bust them.

Thompson said the groups don’t have the proper training, and their investigation methods don’t meet the requirements for successful prosecution. More than likely, they harm law enforcement cases more than it helps.

“The Winston Salem Police department does not want to see any innocent person injured or possibly even killed because of these actions and of the actions of these groups,” said Thompson.

Thompson did not name any specific group during the meeting but said there was an increase in activity with the groups in question. She also did not give an exact number regarding how many times it’s happened in the city.

Thompson warns the groups to back off handling police matters.

She said anyone with concerns to report them to the department so they can be fully investigated and prosecuted accordingly.

“At the end of the day, we are charged with enforcing the law. If the groups have done something criminal, then, of course, we will deal with it from that aspect,” said Thompson.

In the last part of the meeting, chief Thompson encouraged parents to talk with their children about the dangers of the internet and social media and pay attention to what they surf on the web.