Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Presents Awards for Service and Commitment to the Protection of Children
Maryland’s Project Safe Childhood Program and Human Trafficking Task Force Aim to Deter Pedophiles and Save Children from Abuse
Baltimore, Maryland – Federal and state law enforcement officers, prosecutors and victim advocates were recognized today by the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office for their service and commitment to the protection of children through Maryland’s Project Safe Childhood and Human Trafficking Task Force. In addition, one minor victim was recognized for courage and fortitude in the pursuit of justice.
Receiving awards for their work with Project Safe Childhood were:
- Montgomery County Assistant State’s Attorney Patrick Mays;
- Prince George’s County Assistant State’s Attorney Donine Carrington;
- Postal Inspectors Kai Pickens & Garrett Loughlin of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service;
- Lt. John Wilhelm, Maryland State Police;
- Forensic Examiner Joseph Ashman, Maryland State Police;
- Special Agent Christine Carlson, Homeland Security Investigations;
- Special Agent Joseph Mizell, Homeland Security Investigations.
The following individuals received awards for their work with the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force:
- Detective Daniel Dickey, Anne Arundel County Police Department;
- Anne Arundel County Assistant State’s Attorney Kimberly Dipietro;
- Sid Ford, You Are Not Alone (YANA);
- Dean Mears, The Salvation Army;
- Susan Ritter, Victim Advocate, Homeland Security Investigations;
- Special Agent Adrian Sanders, Homeland Security Investigations;
- Renee Murrell, Victim Specialist, Federal Bureau of Investigations;
- Special Agent Mark Zimmerman, Federal Bureau of Investigation.
In addition to the awards, in an effort to enhance cooperation among agencies and awareness of the prevalence of child sexual abuse, training for law enforcement and prosecutors on the latest developments in child exploitation offenses was also conducted. Experts from the Department of Justice’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, among others, presented information on the latest developments in investigative techniques, prosecution requirements and protecting victims.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said, “Investigations and prosecutions of criminals who sexually exploit children continue to increase in Maryland thanks to the coordinated efforts of local, state and federal law enforcement authorities. Unfortunately, recent cases demonstrate that we still need to warn parents about the extraordinary risks that pedophiles pose to children, both on and off the internet. Children are most vulnerable to victimization by people they know and trust, not by strangers. We must enhance our efforts to deter pedophiles and save children from abuse.”
Project Safe Childhood is a unified and comprehensive strategy to combat on-line child exploitation and abuse that combines law enforcement efforts, community action and public awareness. There are five essential components to Project Safe Childhood in Maryland: building partnerships, law enforcement coordination, training, public awareness and accountability. Additional information is available on the internet. < www.justice.gov/usao/md/Safe-Childhood/index.html >
The Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force was formed in 2007 to discover and rescue victims of human trafficking while identifying and prosecuting offenders. Members include federal, state and local law enforcement, as well as victim service providers and local community members. For more information about the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force, please visit www.justice.gov/usao/md/Human-Trafficking/index.html.
Since October 2006, the start of Maryland’s Project Safe Childhood program the U.S. Attorney’s Office has prosecuted cases involving the online enticement of children to engage in sexual activity, interstate transportation of children to engage in sexual activity, production, distribution and possession of child pornography, and other offenses. Maryland’s Project Safe Childhood Task Force also holds regular meetings and training sessions, including at least two events each year to which all members participate. At today’s meeting, held in Glen Burnie, approximately 73 local, state and federal police, prosecutors, and victim advocates discussed investigative techniques and recent cases.
For the fourth consecutive year, in order to increase community awareness, the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, along with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and other partners, is hosting “Safe Kids” Days at Maryland minor league baseball games. “Safe Kids” Days are again planned for this summer at the Frederick Keys, Hagerstown Suns and Bowie Bay Sox, Salisbury Shorebirds and Aberdeen Ironbirds games.
One of the most important roles of Project Safe Childhood is education. Law enforcement agents from the Project Safe Childhood Task Force have spoken at area schools on how to protect children from solicitation over the internet. The Task Force has developed a model awareness and education program for parents and teachers, and distributed it throughout the state.
U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stacy Dawson Belf, Judson T. Mihok, and Rachel M. Yasser, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney LisaMarie Freitas, and Law Enforcement Coordinator Steven J. Hess, for their efforts in spearheading the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s efforts to combat child exploitation and for coordinating today’s training and awards ceremony.