FBI Cleveland
Public Affairs Officer Susan Licate
May 23, 2019

Join Law Enforcement from 11a.m. to 2 p.m. in Cleveland Public Square on Thursday, May 23rd

Etan Patz was only six years old when he disappeared in New York City while on his way to his school bus stop on May 25, 1979. The date of his disappearance was designated as National Missing Children’s Day by President Ronald Reagan in 1983. At the time, cases of missing children rarely garnered national media attention, but his case quickly received extensive coverage. His father, a professional photographer, distributed black-and-white photographs of him in an effort to find him. The resulting massive search and media attention that followed focused the public’s attention on the problem of child abduction and the lack of plans to address it.

The FBI’s Violent Crimes Task Force is one way the FBI and its law enforcement partners combat crimes against children. The FBI’s Violent Crimes Task Force is comprised of law enforcement agents from the FBI, Cleveland Police Department, Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office, the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, and the Adult Parole Authority. The Task Force investigates missing and exploited children, child prostitution, and other significant violent crimes.

Eric B. Smith, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Cleveland Division, announces the FBI’s continued support of National Missing Children’s Day. Smith states, “National Missing Children’s Day is a reminder to talk to your children about community safety and online safety. A few recommendations parents/guardians should discuss with their children are: who is safe to talk to online and in person; who is safe to get in a car with; what personal information should not be provided to others; why it is imperative that a parent or guardian always know a child’s location and who they are with; additional tips are available online at www.fbi.gov. The FBI will devote all necessary resources in order to bring a missing child home.”

“It is so important to recognize the contribution that the community can provide in terms of missing persons investigations. Members of the public are our eyes and ears and often times what can seem like a minor tip can crack a case open for investigators,” said Cleveland Police Chief Calvin D. Williams. “We are here to listen. If you have information, please call us.”

“We just commemorated National Police Week, and our promise that We Will Never Forget,” said Sheriff Cliff Pinkney. “We have always kept that same pledge to those that are missing. We will never forget; we will keep searching, until we bring you home.”

Chief Andres Gonzalez, Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority stated, “We must never allow another tragedy to occur in our community. We must remain vigilant and watchful for all our children. Always be aware, if you see something suspicious, take immediate action and call your local police department. Time matters.”

“More than 200 youth are missing in Cuyahoga County right now, yet might be virtually invisible to most people,” said Karen McHenry, Program Manager of Homeless and Missing Youth Program of Bellefaire. “Bellefaire JCB’s Homeless and Missing Youth Programs, which include our street outreach team, see youth every day who are in crisis and in need of food, clothing, and shelter—many are unstably housed, couch surfing, and victims of trauma, such as sexual abuse and exploitation. On National Missing Person’s Day, Bellefaire JCB asks you to take a closer look and call us for help (24/7 Hotline: 216-570-8010).”

The FBI was given jurisdiction under the “Lindbergh Law” in 1932 to immediately investigate any reported mysterious disappearance or kidnapping involving a child of “tender age”—usually 12 or younger. However, the FBI goes one step further, any child missing under the age of 18 the FBI can become involved as an assisting agency to the local police department. There does not have to be a ransom demand, the child does NOT have to cross the state lines or be missing for 24 hours. Research indicates the quicker the reporting of the mysterious disappearance or abduction the more likely the successful outcome in returning the child unharmed.

The National Child Identification Program is a community service initiative dedicated to changing statistics by providing parents and guardians with a tool they can use to help protect their children. The ID Kit allows parents to collect specific information by easily recording the physical characteristics and fingerprints of their children on identification cards that are then kept by the parent or guardian. If ever needed, this ID Kit will give law enforcement vital information to assist their efforts to locate a missing child. Kits are available to order from the National Child ID Program, to download from Google Play on Android phones and on iPhones.

According to a National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) Internet safety pamphlet, a survey of 12 to 17 year olds revealed that 38% had posted self-created content such as photos, videos, etc. on line. Another survey of 10 to 17 year olds revealed 46% admit to having given out their personal information to someone they did not know. The likelihood that kids will give out personal information over the Internet increased with age.

Law enforcement reminds parents to be aware and involved, a few tips include:

*Monitor your child’s use of the Internet, keep your computer in an open, common area of the house. *Tell your kids why it is important not to disclose personal information online. *Check your kids’ profiles and what they post online. *Explain to kids that once images are posted online they can lose control of them and can never get them back. *Remind kids to only add people they know in real life to their contact lists. *Ask your kids about the people they are communicating with online.

Additional tips for keeping children safe are listed on www.fbi.gov and www.missingkids.com .

According to FBI reports, 424,066 NCIC entries were made in 2018 for missing children.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates that approximately 92% of missing children are endangered runaways, 4% are family abductions, 1% are lost or injured, 1% are nonfamily abductions and 3% are critically missing young adults between the ages of 18 to 20. Of the nearly 23,500 runaways reported to NCMEC in 2018, one in seven were likely victims of child sex trafficking.

To date, the AMBER alert program has been credited with the safe recovery of 957 children. Each state, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have an AMBER alert plan.

The FBI, along with various law enforcement and community partners will be raising awareness about efforts to keep children safe at Cleveland Public Square on Thursday, May 23rd from 11 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. The media and community are invited to join us.

The FBI is fully committed to support our local law enforcement partners investigating missing and endangered children.

Any questions regarding this news release can be directed to SA Vicki D. Anderson at the Cleveland Office of the FBI, 216-522-1400 or Vdanderson@fbi.gov.