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FDLE Recognizes National Missing Children’s Day

 
 The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) joins the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), broadcasters, transportation officials, emergency management officials and law enforcement throughout the nation today to commemorate National Missing Children’s Day.

Each year, the U. S. Department of Justice sponsors the National Missing Children’s Day Poster Contest to promote awareness of missing and exploited children issues. Each of the state missing person clearinghouses select one winner to represent their state. Florida’s winner was Thomas DeLeon, a 5th-grader at Old Kings Elementary School in Flagler Beach, Fla. Out of 43 state entries, Thomas placed second nationally for his poster, “Bring Our Missing Children Home.”

Since 1983, the nation has observed May 25 as National Missing Children’s Day. On this day in 1979, Etan Patz disappeared from a New York City street on his way to school. His father, a professional photographer, disseminated black-and-white photographs of Etan in an effort to find him. The massive search and media attention that followed focused the nation’s attention on the problem of child abduction and lack of plans to address it. Patz has never been found. NCMEC and FDLE urge parents to take 25 minutes to talk to their children about their safety. NCMEC has produced safety tips as a part of its Take 25 national child safety campaign. Visit www.take25.org to learn more.

In 2009, 46,965 children were reported missing in Florida. Florida’s Missing Endangered Persons Information Clearinghouse (MEPIC), housed at FDLE, serves as a liaison between citizens, private organizations and law enforcement officials regarding missing persons information. Last year, MEPIC provided direct assistance in the recovery of 108 children. Florida will hold its official statewide commemoration of missing children on Sept. 13 at an annual event held at the state Capitol. Officials will recognize the extraordinary efforts of Florida’s police officers, private citizens, and individuals in the search and recovery of missing children.

In 2009, the Florida Legislature created the Statewide Human Trafficking Task Force to examine and analyze the problem of human trafficking and to plan for a coordinated, humane response for victims of human trafficking through a review of existing programs, a clarification of existing options for such victims, and revised policy efforts to coordinate governmental and private efforts. The Task Force is co-chaired by the Secretary of the Department of Children and Families and FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey.

Florida was the second state in the nation to create a statewide AMBER Plan. FDLE encourages the public to sign up to receive free Amber Alerts and Missing Child Alerts via e-mail or cell phone text message at www.missingchildrenalert.com. To learn more about the Amber Plan and Florida’s Missing Endangered Persons Information Clearinghouse, visit www.fdle.state.fl.us

For Further Information Contact:
Heather Smith, Kristen Perezluha or Mike Morrison
FDLE Office of Public Information
(850) 410-7001