In an effort to impact the number of child victims of crimes against children, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) announced Tuesday afternoon the creation of the Texas Crimes Against Children Center (TCACC). The new center will focus on protecting children by collecting and distributing to other law enforcement agencies, vital intelligence, and to provide investigative support and cooperation with victim-assistance centers across Texas.
In a press release obtained by Breitbart Texas, DPS Director Steven McCraw said, “The exploitation and human trafficking of children is a deplorable crime, and it is critical that we use all available resources to keep them safe.”
The function of the TCACC is to provide “support to local, state and federal partners on investigations related to missing and exploited children, the trafficking of children, child abductions and other high-risk threats to children,” according to the release. With over 4,400 active cases of missing children under the age of 17, the DPS will move quickly to provide resources to organizations across the state who works to recover missing and exploited children. The DPS will provide training to law enforcement officers through an already implemented program called the Interdiction for the Protection of Children (IPC) program. Officers across Texas are being trained on indicators that help officers identify and recover missing or exploited children during routine traffic stops and then make arrests of suspects where sexual assault of a child is involved.
Slate.com takes a much lighter view of these types of crimes and seems to downplay the seriousness of predators against children. An article this week titled, “Parents, Stop Panicking about Sexual Predators Online” by Hanna Rosin tells parents the panic from the 80’s about “stranger danger” has led to the demonization of public playgrounds and even the Internet. Rosin quotes a story about a Texas girl who was 14 at the time her story was told in a book by Danah Boyd titled, It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. According to the book, in 2007 Sabrina was the daughter of military parents who were living in Texas. The story reads:
She liked to read messages in online communities, but she did not post messages or talk to anyone in online forums because “any person could be a forty-year-old man waiting to come and rape me or something. I’m really meticulous about that, because I’ve heard basically my whole life, don’t talk to people you don’t know online, ’cause they’ll come kill you.” Sabrina has never personally known any victims of such crimes, but she told me that she had seen episodes of Law and Order in which terrible things happened to people who talked to strangers online.
Rosin then lays out her case that parents are over-reacting in regards to the potential of online predators. She questions the fears of parents and if these fears have any basis in reality. Breitbart Texas, revealed this week, just why those fears are justified in an article about Brian Caputo, a California man who allegedly created fake Facebook pages to befriend very young girls and talk them out of nude or revealing photos and then use those photographs to extort more photos and videos from the girls and their friends.
The article reveals court documents stating:
By his own admission, the defendant has been extorting sexually explicit images of girls all over the United States since he was age 16, and he did this while he lived with his mother in the Los Angeles area and in Kern County. The defendant was able to sexually exploit girls ages 8-15 for several years without his mother’s knowledge or intervention.
In declaring Caputo to be a threat to the community, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Gappa said in the government’s memorandum asking for the revocation, “the defendant terrorized a minor female in San Antonio, Texas. She is now fifteen years of age, but she was only approximately thirteen years old and in seventh or eighth grade when the defendant contacted her while purporting to be a 12 year-old female. The defendant sent to the minor female in San Antonio several images of a different minor female being sexually exploited.”
“Situations like this can and do lead to children being hurt, kidnapped or otherwise exploited,” said Texas State Representative Allen Fletcher in an interview with Breitbart Texas. Fletcher, the only retired police officer in the Texas Legislature, serves as vice chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety.
“The Texas Crimes Against Children Center is in the Texas Ranger Division of the Texas Department of Public Safety,” Fletcher explained, “and is the Interdiction for the Protection of Children Program (IPC). This Program has been integrated with other DPS capabilities related to child sex trafficking.”
“Human trafficking is hidden under a veil of underreporting,” Fletcher continued. “In Texas, Human trafficking involves the recruitment, harboring, transporting, or procurement of a person for labor, or services for the purpose of involuntary servitude, slavery, or forced commercial sex acts. The sex trafficking of children is reason enough for the Texas Legislature and the Texas Department of Public Safety to spare no expense of manpower or monies to protect our innocent children from these predators.”
“After being appointed to serve on the Human Trafficking joint subcommittee for our Texas Legislature I have made the passing of legislation to give our Texas Peace Officers the enforcement tools they need a priority,” Fletcher concluded
Texas State Senator Joan Huffman, who serves as vice-chair of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, said yesterday in a post on Facebook, “I applaud the efforts of the Texas Department of Public Safety for creating the Texas Crimes Against Children Center, a division of the Texas Rangers.”
“It is our job to protect our young Texans,” Sen. Huffman continued, “and pursue justice for those who seek to harm them. This center will provide support to local, state and federal partners on investigations related to missing and exploited children, the trafficking of children, child abductions and other high-risk threats to children.”
The DPS press release states, “As a result of IPC training, DPS has initiated more than 30 criminal investigations and recovered 112 missing or endangered children since 2010. Since the program’s inception, DPS has provided the IPC training to approximately 7,120 officers in Texas, nationally and internationally.”
Director McCraw concluded his remarks in the release stating, “DPS has led the way in providing officers with the training and resources needed to identify and rescue abducted, trafficked and abused children from these vile predators. The Texas Crimes Against Children Center will strengthen that effort and further empower law enforcement officers to protect our most vulnerable population – our children.”
On Thursday, Congressman Michael McCaul will host a field briefing on human trafficking and crimes against children in Houston. DPS Director McCraw will be one of the hearing’s witnesses. Breitbart Texas will be on hand to cover the event.
Follow Bob Price on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX