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MADISON - Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen commemorated Wisconsin's Missing children and adults in a state capitol ceremony today. The Department of Justice's Clearinghouse for Missing and Exploited Children and Adults produced the program to commemorate Wisconsin's 904 missing children and 258 missing adults.
Attended by families of missing persons and law enforcement from across the state, the ceremony was an opportunity to reflect on those who continue to be missing; to acknowledge their families; and to recognize the ongoing work of Department of Justice staff, other law enforcement professionals, and volunteers to recover missing persons and to provide services to the families of missing persons.
Attorney General Van Hollen outlined two important programs that compliment the efforts of the Clearinghouse and Wisconsin law enforcement.
"The DO - Internet Crimes Against Children program teaches parents and kids about Internet safety at all grade levels, beginning with the innovative, interactive "NetSmartz" program. We have also recently worked with the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association through a public education campaign to encourage parents to get and remain involved in their children's online lives." said Attorney General Van Hollen.
The Attorney General also highlighted the Wisconsin Amber Alert Plan and his ongoing initiative to establish a Wisconsin Crime Alert Network based on a Minnesota program. Van Hollen described a case last year where four Wisconsin children were abducted. Upon receiving information that the suspected abductor was taking the children north, the Wisconsin Department of Justice initiated an Amber Alert. That Amber Alert, which contained information about the abductor and the abducted children, was transmitted by the Minnesota Crime Alert Network, a network that connects law enforcement and participating businesses:
"A participating [Minnesota] hotel received the crime alert and hotel staff recognized the suspect from the crime alert message," Van Hollen said. Hotel staff "contacted area law enforcement and the children were recovered safely. A Crime Alert network in Wisconsin could have the very same benefit. It could actually save lives young lives."
In addition, the Attorney General presented the following awards at today's ceremony:
Amber Alert Law Enforcement Awards to:
Internet Crimes Against Children Awards to:
Wisconsin Clearinghouse Community Awards to:
Van Hollen also acknowledged Jada Hutcherson, a student at Milwaukee's Elm Creative Arts School, who was the winner of this year's statewide Amber Alert Poster Contest. Hutcherson received her award on April 30, 2008.
Finally, Van Hollen presented Cindy Ross with the Special Service Award (pictured below). Ms. Ross established the Christina Ross Memorial Scholarship, which provides scholarships to law enforcement investigators to attend training programs about missing persons. The Scholarship honors the memory of Cindy Ross' daughter, Christina. Christina went missing in November 2004 and was found deceased a short time later.
(Pictured below, Special Service Award Winner Cindy Ross and Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen)
For more information about the Wisconsin Clearinghouse for Missing and Exploited Children and the Wisconsin Amber Alert Plan, please visit the Wisconsin Department of Justice home page at http://www.doj.state.wi.us/ and click the appropriate icons on the left panel.
(Attorney General Van Hollen's testimony on legislation that would allow the Department of Justice to establish the network. The legislation, sponsored by a bipartisan group of legislators, passed the Assembly last session and passed through a Senate committee but was not brought up for a vote in the Senate.)