Law Enforcement Nationwide Honored for Bringing Home Missing Children and Combatting Child Victimization

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Monday, 19 May 2003

National Missing Children's Day Observed At Eighth Annual Congressional Breakfast and National Law Enforcement Awards

WHO: The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), the Fraternal Order of Police and the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention join Members of Congress, child advocates, law enforcement professionals and victim families in hosting the 2003 Congressional Breakfast and Eighth Annual National Missing and Exploited Children's Awards. Law enforcement officers will be honored for their exemplary performance in recovering missing children and apprehending dangerous child sex offenders.

Celebrity guest Bryan Cranston, who plays the father "Hal" on "Malcolm in the Middle," will attend and speak about his efforts for NCMEC.

WHAT: National Missing Children's Awards will be presented to:

Special Agent Stacey L. Mitry of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in San Jose, California, will be presented with an award for the safe recovery of Sara Brin, a three-year-old girl abducted at knife point by her non-custodial father in Paris, France. Congressman Mike Honda (CA) will recognize Special Agent Mitry for Sara's recovery. Sara and her family will attend.

Detective Larry A. Johnston of the Box Elder County Sheriff's Department in Brigham, Utah, will be presented with an award for the investigation and conviction of Mark S. Jensen, a notorious child predator. Congressman Robert Bishop (UT) will recognize Detective Johnston for his investigative skill in resolving this case.

Lieutenant Stephen M. Smith of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in Lancaster, California, and Senior Deputies Lawrence Thatcher and James Stratton of the Kern County Sheriff's Department in Bakersfield, California, will be accepting an award on behalf of their agency for the swift and successful recovery of Jacqueline Marris and Tamara Brooks. Tamara and Jacqueline's disappearance and recovery gained national attention by being California's first AMBER Plan activation. Senator Dianne Feinstein* (CA) will recognize representatives of the two agencies, along with Jacqueline and Tamara, who will attend.

National Exploited Children's Awards will be presented to:

Special Agent Benjamin Yen of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Oakland, California, will be honored for his extraordinary investigative skills and commitment in dismantling a child prostitution ring. Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA) will recognize Special Agent Yen's efforts.

Assistant Attorney General Maya Guerra Gamble and Sergeant David A. Torsiello of the Texas Attorney General's Office Internet Bureau in Austin will be honored for their collaborative efforts in capturing a pair of dangerous predators and successfully putting them behind bars. Senator John Cornyn (TX) will recognize Assistant Attorney General Guerra Gamble and Sergeant Torsiello for their work in this case.

Postal Inspector Elizabeth Bendel of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Miramar, Florida, will be honored for her investigative expertise in exposing a worldwide child pornography business and identifying several child victims. Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart* (FL) will recognize Postal Inspector Bendel for her persistence that led to the capture of Angel Mariscal.

National Courage Award will be presented to:

NCMEC will present its fourth National Courage Award to Erica Pratt, a seven-year-old girl from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who freed herself after being abducted by two dangerous criminals, physically restrained and left alone in an abandoned home. Erica will be honored by Congressman Robert Brady (PA) for her steadfast confidence, quick thinking and unyielding persistence. Erica and her family will attend.

Additionally, a special award of recognition will be presented to Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Garcia for the U.S. Customs Service's investigation of a child pornography ring, dubbed Operation Hamlet.

WHEN: 8:30 to 9:30 a.m., Wednesday, May 21, 2003.

WHERE: 345 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, D.C.

WHY: NCMEC's mission is to assist law enforcement personnel in finding missing children and helping to prevent child sexual exploitation. NCMEC works with federal, state, and local law enforcement on a daily basis and recognizes their efforts through a special annual awards ceremony, which takes place on or around National Missing Children's Day, officially observed on May 25th.

*not confirmed

For more information, or to contact National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, see their website at:

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