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OJJDP News @ a Glance

This issue highlights the National Missing Children’s Day commemoration, the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the annual symposium for AMBER Alert coordinators, and a Tribal community of practice.
Message From the Administrator: When a Child Goes Missing
Action Plan - Administrator Liz Ryan

Top Story: Justice Department Commemorates National Missing Children’s Day

National Missing Children's Day winning poster and poster winner Ayoub A.

The Justice Department commemorates National Missing Children’s Day each May, honoring organizations, law enforcement officials, and others whose extraordinary efforts helped to recover missing children and prosecute people who harm them. As it celebrates exemplary contributions, National Missing Children’s Day also underscores the need to prioritize child safety nationwide.

This year’s commemoration—in person for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic—marked the 40th National Missing Children’s Day. President Ronald Reagan proclaimed the first in 1983, designating May 25 in memory of Etan Patz, a 6-year-old who disappeared on that date in 1979.

"Whether a child has been abducted or has just wandered away, the terror felt by a parent when their child has disappeared is overwhelming,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said at the commemoration on May 24. “I have great respect for the brave, resourceful, and dedicated professionals—like those in this room—who work every day to protect children from harm, reunite missing children with their families, and provide support for the community in the aftermath of a traumatic event. There is no cause more worthy of honor.

The FBI’s National Crime Information Center tallied 359,094 entries for missing children in 2022, nearly 22,000 more than in 2021. Those figures are undercounts—many missing children cases go unreported.

The Attorney General was joined by Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, Office of Justice Programs Assistant Attorney General Amy L. Solomon, and OJJDP Administrator Liz Ryan. Michelle DeLaune, President and CEO of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, and guest speaker Paul Jack Fronczak, a former missing child, also joined the Attorney General on stage. Now an author and advocate, as an infant Mr. Fronczak was foundabandonedon a street corner in New Jersey. He is now searching for his twin sister, Jill, who was last seen in 1965.

The Department of Justice made these awards:

Attorney General's Special Commendation. Members of the North Texas Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force in Dallas received this award: Lieutenant Cyrus Zafrani (Task Force Commander), Sergeant Kellie Renfro (Deputy Task Force Commander), Texas Ranger Bruce Sherman, Community Outreach Officer Anthony Newsom, and detectives Tony Godwin, Chris Meehan, and Jeffrey Rich. With more than 250 active affiliate agencies, the North Texas task force covers 112 counties and spans nearly 97,000 square miles. Between November 1, 2021, and October 31, 2022, the force processed more than 22,000 tips from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s CyberTipline. They contributed to more than 500 arrests and the rescue of more than 50 children.

Missing Children's Child Protection Award. Palatine (IL) Police Detective Mike Myerson’s fast response to a CyberTip led to the safe recovery of a 14-year-old girl. The girl’s mother reported that a 19-year-old man was travelling from California to begin a sexual relationship with and marry the girl. Detective Myerson gathered intelligence, tracking the man to Chicago O’Hare International Airport. Detective Myerson collaborated with Chicago police officers to apprehend the man, who confessed his plans. The detective quickly used preservation orders and search warrants to access the man’s cell phone and social media accounts. He pleaded guilty to felony charges of traveling to meet a minor and is listed on the National Sex Offender Registry.

Missing Children's Law Enforcement Award. Detective Agnes Watson of the Rialto (CA) Police Department performed an extensive investigation in California and collaborated with the New York Police Department to safely recover a 17-year-old girl. A search of the girl’s social media accounts confirmed reports that she had met a New York man online; she said she was dating him. Detective Watson used a phone-ping warrant to track the 23-year-old man from California to New York, where officers forcibly entered his home and rescued the girl. In a subsequent police interview, the man described his plan to take the girl to Puerto Rico and to sell her.

“Today, we recommit ourselves to reuniting missing children with their families and to honoring those who are dedicated to this vital cause,” Assistant Attorney General Solomon said in closing, acknowledging the award recipients and thanking law enforcement officers, missing children’s advocates, the nation’s Internet Crimes Against Children task forces, the AMBER Alert network, and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. “Brave and dedicated professionals like all of you are working so hard every day to make our communities, and our world, safe for our children. We are grateful for all that you do, and we are so proud to be your partners.

Lived Experience Informs When Your Child Is Missing: A Family Survival Guide

OJJDP has released the fifth edition of When Your Child Is Missing: A Family Survival Guide, a resource to help families identify, prioritize, and take actions that can assist law enforcement efforts to locate their children and return them home safely. The guide opens with a letter from eight parents who helped to develop and write the resource, drawing on their own experiences with a child’s disappearance and the steps that helped them survive “life at its darkest point.”

“We know how difficult this will be for you and your family, and how it can become overwhelming very quickly,” the letter begins. “We have walked in your shoes in our search for our own missing children.”

The guide includes checklists of critical information families should provide to law enforcement officers, the media, and search and rescue professionals, and suggests steps families can take to maintain their own emotional, physical, and financial well-being. It defines terminology related to cases involving missing children, and points to The AMBER Advocate webpage for related videos and other resources. The final chapter includes contact information for federal, state, Tribal, local, and nonprofit entities that work with and support families with missing children and the law enforcement agencies working their cases.

OJJDP released the first edition of the guide in 1998, when fast communication relied on fax machines and pagers. Now, wireless emergency alerts activate cell phones during AMBER Alerts, Child Abduction Response Teams can be mobilized in moments, and training for law enforcement personnel has improved. Updates to the guide reflect these and other changes.

“We have seen so many positive changes to help us search for our missing children,” the parents say in their letter. “Our hope is that you will soon be safely reunited with your child. In the meantime, know that we understand what you are going through and are with you always—in spirit, and in these pages.”


With OJJDP’s support, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children assisted law enforcement officials, families, and child welfare professionals with 27,644 missing children’s cases in 2022. The child was safely recovered in 88 percent of those cases. The National Center operates a 24-hour CyberTipline and call center (1–800–843–5678), and manages the secondary distribution of AMBER Alerts to notify the public when a child goes missing.

Date Created: June 13, 2023