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OJJDP News @ a Glance

This issue highlights program site visits by OJJDP Administrator Liz Ryan, virtual reality tools connecting incarcerated parents with their kids, OJJDP’s support of programs designed for girls, and one young person’s plans to reach the White House.
Message From the Administrator: Justice-Involved Youth Face Unexpected, Damaging Outcomes
OJJDP Administrator Liz Ryan - News @ a Glance

Staff Spotlight: OJJDP Program Manager Alex Sarrano

Photo of Alex Sarrano
OJJDP Program Manager Alex Sarrano manages the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force program.

Alex Sarrano says that it is easy to find motivation to go to work every day when your primary focus is supporting OJJDP’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force program. A program manager in the Delinquency Prevention and Child Protection Division, Mr. Sarrano supports professionals who protect children from online sexual abuse and who investigate and prosecute people who prey on kids.

Mr. Sarrano’s responsibilities include tracking the number of investigations and arrests carried out by the multiagency, multijurisdictional network of ICAC task forces, and the number of resulting prosecutions—a task Mr. Sarrano finds especially satisfying. “Every month you can see that the grants you are working on are actually making a difference,” he says. In fiscal year 2022, the program’s 61 task forces—which comprise more than 4,719 federal, state, and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies—conducted approximately 167,397 investigations and made 10,240 arrests.

Mr. Sarrano and two colleagues work with the task forces to ensure they have sufficient resources to investigate suspected cases of online child exploitation, conduct forensic examinations, and make arrests. The task forces also support children who are victimized and offer community education on Internet safety. In fiscal year 2022, OJJDP allocated $31.2 million to maintain the national network.

Mr. Sarrano also manages three grants that support the ICAC program: a training and technical assistance provider, which hosts a range of workshops and conferences highlighting best practices and the latest investigative techniques and forensic tools; trainings to strengthen task force members’ skills in investigation, forensics, prosecution, and community outreach; and a program to develop and enhance investigative tools and technologies, and train law enforcement and prosecutors in investigative methods. OJJDP allocated more than $8.4 million for the three programs in fiscal year 2022.

The start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 brought a dramatic increase in the number of cybertips and investigative leads received by the ICAC task forces. The volume of leads tripled—in some cases, it quadrupled—after schools turned to online learning and many other employees worked remotely. It has remained at heightened levels even as the pandemic has subsided, Mr. Sarrano says.

He also manages the AMBER Alert Training and Technical Assistance program, which supports state and local efforts to strengthen the national AMBER Alert network, online and classroom training sessions, and the annual AMBER Alert and AMBER Alert in Indian Country Symposium. Mr. Sarrano also participated in planning OJJDP’s commemoration of the 40th Annual National Missing Children’s Day, held May 24, 2023.

Growing up, Mr. Sarrano knew he wanted to work with government programs benefiting youth, and he pursued his education with that in mind—a bachelor’s degree in public administration from George Mason University and a master’s degree in education policy studies from The George Washington University. Mr. Sarrano began his federal career in 2009 as an intern with the Department of Labor. He then served as a grants management specialist in the Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education, overseeing programs to increase the number of low-income, first-generation students who complete high school and attend college. Mr. Sarrano joined OJJDP in 2020.

Date Created: June 21, 2023