Each year, the U.S. Department of Justice recognizes individuals, organizations, and agencies for their extraordinary efforts to find missing children, protect children from harm, and bring perpetrators to justice.
On this 38th annual National Missing Children's Day, the Department of Justice and OJJDP honored nine individuals with the following 2021 National Missing Children's Day awards.
“These outstanding law enforcement professionals, committed advocates and compassionate citizens show us at our collective best – as a nation dedicated to protecting the most vulnerable and determined to secure a bright future for its youngest members.”
– PDAAG Amy Solomon
Attorney General's Special Commendation
This commendation recognizes the extraordinary efforts of an Internet Crimes Against Children task force, an affiliate agency or an individual assigned to either for making a significant investigative or program contribution to the ICAC task force program.
This year’s recipients, Sergeant Chad Stokes, Detective Cassandra Stevens, Detective Scott Schwamb, Detective Randall Heckman and Detective Steven Souphasith from the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office’s Central California ICAC Task Force in Fresno, California, were recognized for their investigation that resulted in the arrest of 34 sexual predators. Read the news release for more details about the award recipients and their extraordinary efforts to bring sexual predators to justice.
Missing Children's Citizen Award
This award recognizes the extraordinary efforts of private citizens for their unselfish acts to safely recover missing or abducted children.
This year's recipient, Keith Rollins, from the United States Postal Service in Washington, D.C. helped locate a 2-year-old boy who had been reported missing after he followed an adult out of the house and wandered away. Read the news release for more details about the award recipient and his extraordinary efforts to safely recover a missing child.
Missing Children's Law Enforcement Award
This award recognizes the extraordinary efforts of law enforcement officers who have made a significant investigative or program contribution to the safety of children.
This year's recipient, Sergeant Stefan Bjes from the Addison, Illinois, Police Department developed several programs that have enhanced the safety of children with special needs. He has also trained officers at 15 police departments across the Midwest and frequently presents at police conferences nationwide. Read the news release for more details about the award recipient and his extraordinary efforts to enhance the children's safety.
Missing Children's Child Protection Award
This award recognizes the extraordinary efforts of child protective service agency personnel, law enforcement officers or other professionals who have made a significant investigative or program contribution to protecting children from abuse or victimization.
This year's recipients, Amanda Leonard and Kaleilani Grant from the Department of the Attorney General’s Missing Child Center-Hawaii in Honolulu were instrumental in implementing Operation Shine the Light, a cooperative effort between Missing Child Center-Hawaii; federal, state and local law enforcement agencies; and four nonprofit organizations, which recovered 180 missing children in Hawaii between November 2019 and November 2020. Read the news release for more details about the award recipients and their extraordinary efforts to protect children.