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On May 18, 2007, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales presented 11 awards to law enforcement officers, missing children’s advocates, and citizens for their efforts to recover missing children. The awards were part of the annual National Missing Children’s Day Ceremony organized and hosted by the U.S. Department of Justice.
William W. Mercer, Acting Associate Attorney General, also participated in the event, delivering remarks and assisting in the presentation of awards. Regina B. Schofield, Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) and National AMBER Alert Coordinator, served as master of ceremonies. Tamara Brooks, who was abducted in 2002 and recovered through the aid of an AMBER Alert, also spoke and introduced a new OJP-funded video designed to help siblings of abducted children.
“I am grateful for the commitment and sacrifice of people from every walk of life who have worked for the safe recovery of missing children,” said the Attorney General. “While many of these children return home safely, the death or disappearance of just one child is a price that no parent should have to bear—and no civilized society should accept. That’s why today I’m proud to honor those who have given their time and energy to protecting our country’s most valuable resource.”
During his remarks, Attorney General Gonzales announced a new publication, What About Me? Coping With the Abduction of a Brother or Sister. The publication was written by sisters and brothers of abducted children and contains information to help and support children of all ages when a sibling is abducted.
Among this year’s award recipients were the San Diego Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which received the Attorney General’s Special Commendation Award for its work in identifying and arresting a respiratory therapist who had molested children at the San Diego Children’s Hospital. Sergeant Mark Simpson (retired) of the Arlington, Texas, Police Department was presented with the AMBER Alert Law Enforcement Award for his investigative work in the abduction and murder case of Amber Hagerman and for helping to develop the Nation’s first AMBER Alert program. Also honored was Clay Moore, a 13-year-old boy from Florida who was abducted at gunpoint but managed to escape and give authorities the information they needed to find and arrest the suspect. A complete list of the honorees can be found on the OJP Web site.