WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — A local citizen-run group trying to bust child predators is stepping back after the Winston-Salem police chief urged all groups not to operate.

“Her words have been heard. We took time to really think about it. And because of her superior training, we are going to acknowledge that,” said Chris Winfrey, the founder of the Minor Defense Force.

Winfrey tells FOX8 that his group will not operate within city limits for the time being to acknowledge and respect officers.

He created the Minor Defense Force in February.

“We’re an entertainment show at the bare bones, exposing something that is a real danger,” Winfrey said. “People often times don’t like to see the real truth of what’s happening around them.”

The group creates fake profiles of underage kids on social media and dating sites and waits for adults to respond.

Winfrey says all the interactions are initiated by the adult on the other side of the conversation.

Sometimes the conversations lead to a meet-up where Winfrey and the Minor Defense Force catch them on camera.

“Every catch we go on, we call the police out there. They do their report. I submit the information, and that’s about it,” Winfrey said.

In four months, the group has managed to catch what they believe are 23 suspected child predators and gave law enforcement enough evidence to charge three of them.

Winfrey says his rules are strict about online interactions, catches and law enforcement involvement so his group doesn’t cause more trouble for officers.

“We do not condone vigilantism and taking the law into your own hands and dolling out justice,” Winfrey said.

He’s seen other groups who engage in violence during a catch and believes that isn’t the way to curb a growing child exploitation problem.

Investigators with the Winston-Salem Police Department say turning over evidence of child exploitation is helpful.

However, not all evidence citizen groups turn over to the police can be used to convict someone.

Officers must do their own lengthy investigations.

One investigator worries about the risk of losing evidence if people feel like they’re constantly being watched.

“A lot of times if someone is involved, and they feel they’re the target of a law enforcement investigation, they could delete that evidence before law enforcement agents are able to effectively get it,” said Amy Gaudlin, a commander with the Criminal Investigations Division.

The WSPD gets anywhere from 15 to 20 tips a month.

Winfrey tells FOX8 he welcomes the chance to talk to officers in the future about ways his group can help them.