Initiative Against Child Predators Starts On High Note

A month long Crime Stoppers initiative to catch convicted child predators is paying off. The executive director credits media coverage, getting the community involved in helping to take these fugitive predators off the street.

In the 6 years since Crime Stoppers began the Safe Child Initiative, Katherine Cabaniss says hundreds of dangerous child predators have been apprehended.

"This year, the very first felon that was featured, Rick Garcia was featured on April 2nd at our press conference, the media helped us to highlight this fugitive in our community, someone who hadn't been arrested yet. The pressure was too great, because on Tuesday morning less than 24-hours later, he was driving to the police station to turn himself in."

She says it's an example of the power of the partnership between Crime Stoppers and the media.

"It really does work to keep our community safe. Whether we get a tip from a citizen about an unsolved crime, or about a fugitive who hasn't been arrested, or whether those fugitives feel so pressured that they are compelled to go and turn themselves in — either way, the community is safer as a result."

Jorge Hernandez
Jorge Hernandez, charged with the Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child

This month, Child Abuse Prevention month, Crime Stoppers' Safe Child Initiative is the focus, as there some 1600 fugitives charged with crimes against children.

At this week's announcement, we learned about the partnership with many agencies in law enforcement, including the city, county and the U.S. Marshals service. Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia says their involvement means zero tolerance period.

"For individuals who knowingly, willingly, and intentionally go after children, I got no mercy for them. I suggest we find a jail in Louisiana and put them there for the rest of their lives, because they're predators. They're horrible people that are preying on our children, and we have no place for them."

Eight hundred and forty-seven fugitives are being featured on the Crime Stoppers Website and at a dozen billboards throughout the city.

"We all know that this is a sickness, obviously. But we want to make sure that we send a clear message: we don't need them in our society — we don't need them free in our society."

Houston city councilmember Ed Gonzales chairs the Public Safety committee, where policy matters that involve citizens are a primary focus.

"We're educating the community, in finding best practices on how we could improve from a policy making position, law enforcement in our city and hopefully, in our broader region as well, such as child abuse prevention, and what else could be done in the early warning signs to try to curtail this."

A $5,000 reward is being offered for any information that leads to the arrest of these fugitives.

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...