Maplewood Meeting Planner to be Honored at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
|FBI St. Louis December 18, 2012|
ST LOUIS, MO—Today, Dean C. Bryant, Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the FBI St. Louis Division, presented the 2012 Director’s Community Leadership Award (DCLA) to Kimberly Ritter at a surprise ceremony. Ms. Ritter is being honored for her efforts to protect children from sex trafficking.
Sex trafficking is distinct from prostitution. With sex trafficking, a person is tricked into prostitution by force, fraud, or coercion. Victims are often controlled mentally, physically, or with drugs to ensure they do not escape. With minors, force does not have to be proven for prosecution. It is automatically considered sex trafficking when minors are involved.
As a senior account manager at Nix Conference & Meeting Management based in Maplewood, Ms. Ritter uses the opportunity during meetings with hotel general managers to raise awareness about sex trafficking. Ms. Ritter first became aware of the problem four-and-a-half years ago when a client wanted to know if the hotel she was booking for them had a policy on sex trafficking.
Since that time, Ms. Ritter’s employer, Nix, initiated and signed the first-ever Meeting Planners Code of Conduct in January 2012. The company hopes to encourage industry peers and competitors to join them in addressing the issue at every hotel where they do business.
Violent crimes against children, to include child sex trafficking, are among the top priorities for the FBI. SAC Bryant said, “Raising awareness goes a long way to preventing sex trafficking or any crime. By challenging their industry peers to raise awareness, Ms. Ritter and Nix are creating a force multiplier that could eventually have a nationwide impact.”
Today’s ceremony was held at the Millennium Hotel-St. Louis, the first hotel in St. Louis to sign an international code of conduct. By signing the code, the hotel vows to educate employees on how to spot red flags and what action to take in cases of sex trafficking.
On April 5, 2013, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III will personally present the award at a national ceremony in Washington, D.C. to all honorees selected by each of the 56 FBI field offices.
The DCLA was created in 1990 as the principle means for the FBI to honor individuals or organizations for their efforts in combating crime, terrorism, drugs, and violence to help keep America and its kids safe.
Past local DCLA recipients (years not listed did not have a recipient):
- 1990 Joseph Cunningham, former Cardinals player
- 1991 Martin Mathews, president/CEO/co-founder of Mathews-Dickey Boys’ & Girls’ Club
- 1993 Jean Leible, neighborhood activist
- 1995 Pastor Harry Douma, founder of Camp Penuel
- 2005 Martin Mathews (two-time recipient)
- 2006 Karen Aroesty, regional director of Anti-Defamation League
- 2007 Pastor B. T. Rice of New Horizon 7th Day Christian Church
- 2008 Dave Sinclair, the late chairman & CEO of Dave Sinclair Auto Group
- 2009 Bill Wilkerson, executive director of Reach Out St. Louis
- 2010 Dr. Stephen Bander, Bander Center for Medical Business Ethics
- 2011 Anthony Thompson, Kwame Building Group