He's the Tommy Grand, if you will, of the online predator world. He's like Jack Flack from Cloak and Dagger because he doesn't start trouble, he ends it. And he does it with the humor and wit that is only rivaled by the previously mentioned Tommy Grand. And the dude kinda looks like a Jim Henson character--Guy Smiley, to be precise.
Do your homework, fool. Guy debuted in 1970.
The world of online predator apprehension was fairly unchartered until Chris Hansen blew on the scene. He spent a few years in the trenches, you know, covering things like war and homeland security--you know, those trivial backpage issues. But then he found his niche, his edge. And that niche was the sting--catching 'em with the pants at their ankles. In case you're not familiar with the background of the recurring To Catch a Predator series on Dateline, Chris Hansen works with a crew of three cameramen (and hidden surveilance), a kid holding a boom mic and about fifteen local law enforcement officers hiding in the bushes to catch sex offenders like Gump catches shrimp.
They hire a young actress to play a child, find an unassuming community to set up shop and then watch the pedophiles literally walk in the front door. It takes the sting to a level never yet discovered. I'm old school, man. I like the prostitute stings on C.O.P.S. where they lure a cat in off the street, the "prostitute" disappears into the bathroom to powder her nose and then twenty cops with artillery drawn toss the guy around like a sock monkey while he wets his pants in a panic.
Chris, though, is as cool as the other side of the pillow. And the dude just walks out from the other room with no gun, no yelling. Just walks in and says, "Can I ask you what you're doing?"
One episode, the young actress prepared cookies for her online boyfriend who travelled some 200 miles to meet this girl. He takes a seat and begins eating the cookies that were prepared for him. Chris walks in from the other room and asks politely, "Can I get you some milk to enjoy with your cookies?" Experienced journalist. Seasoned comedian.
What's fantastic about the design of the sting is that Chris gives them a little "talkin to." He reads through a portion of the chat that has been transcribed for him while the punks squirm on their stool. He then announces the key words (every sting has a key word) which are, "I'm Chris Hansen from Dateline NBC," and *ta-dah!* cameramen come out out of the woodwork by the bus-load (and, of course, the boom mic dude). In an attempt to completely embarrass the cat, they grill him with the lights on and then he nervously stands up and, usually, walks right out the same door that he walked in thinking, "I didn't break any laws. I was just here to meet someone. We didn't do anything." Next thing you know, an army of officers descend on him like roaches on rotting meat.
One night, they had a dude in the bushes actually dressed as a bush. Here's to these cats for taking the sting to a new level. And making fine entertainment of it along the way.
And here's to Chris Hansen, my man, for locking up all those creepy fellas. Dudes got issues.