United States Attorney General Merrick Garland awarded special honors to four members of the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office and a Fresno police officer this week.
Fresno agents were among nine people from across the country named for their work. Instead of an in-person ceremony on Tuesday due to the pandemic, the recipients were recognized at a National Missing Children’s Day commemoration. website.
âThese brave and resourceful professionals have earned our utmost respect and deserve our deepest gratitude.â – United States Attorney General Merrick Garland
Caught 34 Potential Predatory Children in 2020 Sting
The five were honored primarily for catching potential child sexual predators during the two-week COVID Chat Down operation last summer.
All of them are part of the Central California Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
Fresno County SO Sgt. Chad Stokes, Detectives Scott Schwamb, Randy Heckman and Steve Souphasith, and Fresno Police Detective Cassandra Stevens received accolades.
âThese brave and resourceful professionals have earned our utmost respect and deserve our deepest gratitude,â Garland said in a press release. âThe Department of Justice is proud to support these heroes and we are grateful to the thousands of law enforcement officers and missing child advocates across the country who work so hard to protect our children.
The unit’s work during the Chat Down sweep resulted in the arrest of 34 men seeking sex online who they said were children aged 12 and 13. However, no child was used during the injection. From July 20 to August 2, 2020, members of the unit communicated with approximately 190 suspects through online platforms.
“During their conversations, these suspects used sexually explicit language and sent graphic photos to the detective posing as a child,” Fresno County Sheriff’s spokesman Tony Botti said in a statement. Press. âAfter the suspect requested to meet the child, detectives arrived at a predetermined location and arrested them.
âThis award only consolidates what we already knew – that these are hard working people who are dedicated to protecting children and their communities.
Honored on National Missing Children’s Day
President Ronald Reagan proclaimed National Missing Children’s Day in 1983 in memory of 6-year-old Etan Patz. The child went missing on his way to his Manhattan bus stop on May 25, 1979.
National Missing Children’s Day pays tribute to her memory and to those children still missing. Etan’s murderer was convicted in February 2017, but the case remains active because his body has never been found.
The FBI received more than 365,000 reports of missing children last year.