Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole paid tribute to four individuals today during the National Missing Children’s Day ceremony at the Justice Department’s Great Hall. Deputy Attorney General Cole presented awards to a special agent, a detective, a 30-year veteran of the postal service and a prosecutor for their extraordinary efforts to recover missing children, rescue children from abuse and prosecute sexual predators. This annual ceremony honors missing children, their families, child advocates and those dedicated to the well-being and safety of children.
“Protecting children is one of the important jobs we have,” said Deputy Attorney General Cole. “There is no rest for a parent who has lost a child, and there should be no rest for any of us who are in a position to help. There may not be any words we could offer that would ease their pain, but we can and will offer our support – and all the tools at our disposal to help families of missing and exploited children. I am honored to recognize those who work on the front lines to rescue children and bring them home safely.”
Melodee Hanes, Acting Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, announced the release of AMBER Alert Best Practices , a guide to enhance the ability of law enforcement, broadcasters and child protection officials to safely recover missing and abducted children. The guide details effective practices for training law enforcement, activating and broadcasting an AMBER Alert, disseminating information to the public and approaching family members of an abducted child. Acting Administrator Hanes also announced the release of two publications translated into Spanish:
· No estás solo: El camino del secuestro al empoderamiento ( You're Not Alone: The Journey From Abduction to Empowerment ), presenting the stories of child abduction survivors and how their lives changed after their traumatic experiences; and
· ¿Y yo? Cómo sobrellevar el secuestro de un hermano o una hermana ( What About Me? Coping with the Abduction of a Brother or Sister ), offering insight from siblings of abducted children.
Deputy Attorney General Cole and Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs Mary Lou Leary highlighted a number of Justice Department programs to protect children, such as Project Safe Childhood , the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and the AMBER Alert Program, which has led to the successful recovery of 584 abducted children since its creation in 1996.
Other speakers included Yvonne Pointer, the mother of an abducted and murdered daughter and an international educator on child abduction and youth violence, and Ernie Allen, President and CEO of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Guests included families of missing children, child advocates and federal, state, local and tribal agency representatives who support programs to recover missing children.
During the ceremony, Deputy Attorney General Cole presented the following awards:
Attorney General’s Special Commendation: Recognizes the extraordinary efforts of an Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force, an ICAC affiliate agency, or an individual assigned to an ICAC task force or affiliate agency for making significant investigative or program contributions to the ICAC program.
Recipient: Special agent Tim Erickson, North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, whose investigation of a school technology administrator on child pornography charges resulted in the rescue of eight children from physical and sexual abuse and the arrest six individuals in five states and Canada on charges of sexual abuse and child pornography production.
Missing Children’s Law Enforcement Award: Recognizes the extraordinary efforts of a law enforcement officer who made a significant investigative or program contribution to the safety of children.
Missing Children’s Citizen Award: Honors the extraordinary efforts of private citizens for their unselfish acts to safely recover missing or abducted children.
Recipient: H. Keith Ray, Letter Carrier, U.S. Postal Service, Oakville , Mo., who participated in a search in his community and found a missing child.
Missing Children’s Child Protection Award: Honors the extraordinary efforts of a law enforcement officer who made a significant investigative or program contribution to protect children from abuse or victimization.
Recipient: Florida Assistant State Attorney Greg Schiller, Palm Beach County Sexual Predator Enforcement Unit, who secured a 25-year prison sentence for a sexual predator and worked to change Florida law to make intentional viewing of child pornography a crime.
Missing Children’s Art Contest Award:
Recipient: Elisa Martinez, a fifth-grader from Walter V. Long Elementary School in Las Vegas, who was selected as the 13th Annual National Missing Children’s Day Art Contest winner.
President Ronald Reagan proclaimed May 25, 1983, the first National Missing Children’s Day to remember Etan Patz, a six-year-old boy who disappeared from a New York City street corner on May 25, 1979. Missing Children’s Day honors his memory and the memories of children still missing.