Courtesy of US Dept of Justice
The Department of Justice announced on May 20, awards to nine courageous individuals, which include law enforcement officers from Wisconsin, Louisiana and Florida, as well as a school bus driver from Florida, for their efforts in finding missing children and bringing child sexual predators and child pornographers to justice.
“The Department of Justice is proud to honor the law enforcement officers and private citizens who showed courage, presence of mind, and an unwavering commitment to protecting children from dangerous predators,” said Attorney General William P. Barr. “We thank these heroes, whose actions made it possible to bring to justice those who attempted to exploit our most innocent and vulnerable citizens.”
“The safety, indeed the very lives, of our nation’s children depend on constant vigilance by skilled professionals and citizens willing to keep a watchful eye on the young people in their charge,” said Katharine T. Sullivan, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs. “The honors we confer on these exceptional individuals come with our highest respect and our deepest gratitude.”
President Ronald Reagan proclaimed May 25, 1983, the first National Missing Children’s Day in memory of 6-year-old Etan Patz, who disappeared while walking to his bus stop in lower Manhattan on May 25, 1979. National Missing Children’s Day honors his memory as well as those children still missing. Etan’s killer was convicted in February 2017 for the 1979 murder, but the case remains active with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children because his body was never found.
The May 20 announcement is part of the 37th annual commemoration of National Missing Children’s Day. Due to restrictions resulting from COVID-19, the in-person ceremony to honor the recipients was canceled. Instead, a website features information about the awardees.
“The vigilance of these law enforcement officers demonstrates the crucial need for dedicated and timely investigative work in stopping those who would hurt children,” said OJJDP Administrator Caren Harp. “We applaud them for returning the missing children, holding sex offenders accountable and stopping further child victimization.”