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DPS' new investigative center protects, rescues children

Special to the Courier

Law enforcement administrators with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) announced on Tuesday, March 18, the creation of the Texas Crimes Against Children Center (TCACC) within the Texas Rangers Division. This 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. "DPS has led the way in providing officers with the training and resources needed to identify and rescue abducted, trafficked and abused children from these vile predators. The Texas Crimes Against Children Center will strengthen that effort and further empower law enforcement officers to protect our most vulnerable population - our children."
The TCACC will provide 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.
"This Texas Crimes Against Children Center will be a major asset in the fight against crimes that endanger children. 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," said Senator Craig Estes, chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Rural Affairs and Homeland Security.
"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, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety.
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 (IPC) 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.
DPS has long been committed to protecting Texas children and supports that goal through these additional means:
• 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.