Amarillo, TX - The Department of Public Safety is trying to protect more children in our area by creating a new division within the Texas Rangers called the Texas Crimes Against Children Center.
The goal of the center is to share information and improve investigations involving the exploitation and human trafficking of children. DPS officials said the center is an expansion of a program they started in 2010. "We started the Interdiction for the Protection of Children program where we taught our troopers what to look for," said Trooper Chris Ray. "A lot of times we would stop someone and we didn't realize they were missing or exploited because they were under the control of the predator. Now we're able to see some indicators and maybe rescue those kids."
Since 2010, the DPS has recovered 113 missing or exploited children. "That doesn't seem like a lot," said Trooper Ray. "But considering we didn't know what we were looking for and now we do, hopefully we can get them because we know that they're out there and that they travel the interstate. I-40 is a major thoroughfare for child predators."
Trooper Ray said the new center will improve the sharing of information between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
Amarillo police said communication between agencies is key to solving cases involving crimes against children. "This type of success that we have with people really hinges on communication and our ability to talk to each other," explained Sgt. Brent Barbee. "State lines don't stop these people, international lines don't stop these people. So anything that the state does that enables us to communicate more and to compare information and to help each other solve cases is great."
Trooper Ray said there are currently 4,400 active cases of missing or exploited children in Texas.