Protecting Children From Predators

It is another year and another major effort to keep children safe from dangerous predators. Houston Police and the Harris County Sheriff's Department helped Crime Stoppers launch the 6th Annual "Safe Child Initiative."

The Safe Child Initiative brings attention to the month of April, which is child abuse prevention month. Crime Stoppers puts out information about dangerous felons, men and women who have harmed children.

"They're predators. They're horrible people that are preying on our children, and we have no place for them."

Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia says there some 1600 fugitives charged with crimes against children in the county, and that frustrates law enforcement.

"When we have these predators leave TDCJ, there is an incredible drop-off to their initial compliance. They want to go out and look for new victims right off the bat. We got individuals that are trying to gain the process. So this is what this whole effort is all about, is making sure that we get those guys that we're looking for, making sure that we put them in jail, making sure we send a clear message to the other individuals out in our community."

Katherine Cabaniss with Crime Stoppers says the Safe Child Initiative will highlight 847 fugitives on the Crime Stoppers website and on billboards all over the area. She talks about the first two fugitives.

Fugitives"The first is Rick Garcia, charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child. He broke into a home in June 2011 and sexually assaulted a 13 year old girl. She also reported that that it wasn't the first time that he had victimized her. We're highlighting a second case today. A female Mirshad Pineda, who is wanted for injury to a child. She struck her infant child, and is charged with injury to that child resulting in that child's death."

Garcia and Pineda are the first two wanted felons to appear on the billboards.

Cabaniss says Safe Child will highlight a different fugitive every day during the month of April in an effort to protect the kids.

"There are more that 3 million reports nationwide every year of child abuse. In 2010 in Texas alone, there were 66,897 children who were confirmed abused. Four children die every day. So this is the most important initiative that we will conduct this year."

Crime Stoppers pays $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest in these cases.

To date, Safe Child has led to the apprehension of 195 fugitives wanted for sex crimes against children, and 127 who failed to register or violated the terms of their probation. For more information, visit the Child Safe Initiative.

Bio photo of Pat Hernandez

Pat Hernandez

Reporter

Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...