AUSTIN – State Sen. Craig Estes on Tuesday hailed the creation of the Texas Crimes Against Children Center within the Texas Rangers Division of the Texas Department of Public Service.
“This Texas Crimes Against Children Center will be a major asset in the fight against crimes that endanger children,” said Estes, R-Wichita Falls, who chairs the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Rural Affairs and Homeland Security and whose District 30 includes Parker County. “This center will provide the type of resources that are essential in helping tracking down, arrest and prosecute the depraved criminals who harm our children.”
The new center is dedicated to protecting children through the collection and dissemination of vital intelligence, investigative support and cooperation with victim-assistance counselors.
“The exploitation and human trafficking of children is a deplorable crime, and it is critical that we use all available resources to keep them safe,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw.
The TCACC will be providing support to local, state and federal partners on investigations related to missing and exploited children, the trafficking of children, child abductions and other high-risk threats to children. In these instances, the TCACC will work to identify known child victims or at-risk children through reports or ancillary investigations, facilitate communications between multiple agencies and identify investigation resources.
Texas records from the DPS Missing Persons Clearinghouse show more than 4,400 active cases of missing children up to 17 years of age. Additionally, DPS has already successfully implemented the Interdiction for the Protection of Children program, which educates law enforcement officers about indicators to help identify and recover missing or exploited children during the course of a standard traffic stop, and to arrest suspects for sexual assault of a child.
As a result of IPC training, DPS has initiated more than 30 criminal investigations and recovered 112 missing or endangered children since 2010. Since the program’s inception, DPS has provided the IPC training to approximately 7,120 officers in Texas, nationally and internationally.
“Crimes against children are especially disturbing, because childhood should be a carefree time. Thankfully, this center will enhance the ability of Texas law enforcement agencies to effectively get offenders off the streets and protect children,” said Rep. Joe Pickett, chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety.
Other means used by DPS to try and protect Texas children include:
• Using the DPS Sex Offender Registry and enforcing sex offender compliance.
• Posting information on the Missing Persons Clearinghouse website.
• Activating AMBER alerts throughout the state when a child goes missing.
• Speaking to children about how to recognize and avoid dangers in their community.