Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Addresses 40th Annual National Missing Children’s Day Ceremony | Opa

Remarks at the time of delivery

Thank you Liz.

Before we begin today’s program, we would like to acknowledge the significance of this day to the Uvalde, Texas community.

I know every day has been difficult for Uvalde since May 24, 2022, but today was especially painful.

Today marks the one year anniversary of a shooting at an elementary school that killed 19 children and two teachers.

Today marks one year since the families of these victims spent mourning their unimaginable loss.

And today marks one year since that unspeakable act of violence ravaged the Uvalde community and shook our nation.

In the aftermath of the horrific shooting, the Justice Department launched a major incident review of law enforcement’s response that day.

Since then, the Ministry’s COPS Secretariat has worked closely with subject matter experts to conduct the review.

Last month, Deputy Attorney General Vanita Gupta visited Uvalde, met with families and local residents, and reiterated the ministry’s continued commitment to thorough and substantive scrutiny.

We know that nothing we can do can undo the pain inflicted on the loved ones of the victims, the survivors, and the entire Uvalde community.

However, the Department of Justice is doing its best to assess what happened on that day and provide the answers the Uvalde community deserves.

Today we are honored to have you join us in commemorating the 40th National Missing Children’s Day.

Last year, the FBI received more than 359,000 missing child reports.

Thankfully, many returned home safely within a short period of time. But sadly many others were not. Nearly a third of the FBI’s current missing person reports are children and teens under the age of 18.

Whether a child has been abducted or simply wandered off, the fear parents feel when their child is gone is immense.

I, like the people in this room, work every day to protect children from harm, reunite missing children with their families, and provide support to communities affected by traumatic events. , with great respect to the brave, resourceful and dedicated professionals. .

There is no greater honorable cause. The Department of Justice is honored to work with you.

As the Department of Justice, we also know that this task is too important for any one of us to undertake alone.

And we know that partnerships with law enforcement and advocates are some of the most effective tools we have to keep our communities and children safe.

So in March, the U.S. Marshals Service launched the first nationwide missing children search operation of its kind.

Federal Marshals worked with the National Missing Child Exploitation Center to identify and focus 15 geographic areas with high outbreaks of missing children.

The Find You Operation ended on May 15 and 225 children were located. This includes rescuing 169 of her missing children and securing safe places for a further 56 of her children.

This is an important achievement, but we know how much work remains to be done.

Last year, our Office of Youth Justice and Delinquency Prevention spent more than $50 million to support nationwide efforts to find missing children, prevent child abductions, and provide skills training and assistance. donated.

We will continue that effort next year.

As many of you know, National Missing Children’s Day was established 40 years ago in memory of a six-year-old boy named Ethan Patz. He disappeared in 1979 while walking to a bus stop in New York City.

His memory is a tragic reminder of why we do this work and what is at stake.

I know this job is challenging. These cases, especially those involving children who have been harmed or exploited, are among the most difficult for us. And I recognize that these cases can be emotionally taxing for investigators and her colleagues.

I thank all of you here for taking on the task of protecting our children, our future.

The outstanding individuals we recognize at today’s ceremony represent the very best of that achievement.

We are honored to be here to honor the heroes who found missing or kidnapped children and reunited them with their families.

who have protected children from exploitation and abuse.

Those who brought predators to justice.

I would also like to thank the winner of the Poster Contest, Grade 5 Ayoub Al-Saidi. Ayoub, your artwork inspires us all.

To today’s winners – you have worked hard to build a safer and better world for our children. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

And now, I am especially honored to present this year’s Attorney General’s Special Commendation.

This award recognizes the Internet Child Crime Task Force or related agencies for their significant research and program contributions.

This year’s award goes to MTF Commander Lieutenant Silas Zafrani.

Sergeant Kelly Renfro, task force deputy commander.

Texas Ranger Bruce Sherman.

Jeffrey Rich, Tony Godwin, Detective Chris Meehan.

and Community Outreach Officer Anthony Newsom.

They are all members of the Task Force Against Internet Crime Against North Texas Children.

The task force covers 112 counties, covers more than 96,000 square miles, and has more than 250 active member agencies.

From November 1, 2021 to October 31, 2022, the task force processed over 22,000 calls from the National Exploitation Center for Missing Children’s CyberTipline. More than 500 people were arrested and over 50 children were rescued in this effort.

In addition to excellent investigative work, the recipient has also dedicated himself to training others in investigative techniques related to Internet crimes against children.

To the recipients of the Task Force on Internet Crime Against North Texas Children: Endless gratitude.

Our community is safer because of you.

And thanks to you our children are safe.

thank you.

And thanks to all of you.

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