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2009-04-16 digital edition

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2009-04-16 / General Stories

DPS Hosts Class on Identifying Exploited Children

Identifying a child who may have been abducted or abused can be difficult for law enforcement officers who don't know what to look for, so the Texas Department of Public Safety is hosting the first-ever class that will teach officers how to recognize these atrisk children during contacts with the public, either in traffic stops or visits to homes.

DPS Training Academy instructors worked with representatives of the Texas Attorney General's Office, the FBI and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to develop the class curriculum. The FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit is using information gleaned from a study of 150 convicted murderers and their use of motor vehicles to assist with developing the class.

"Most police officers have not received training on recognizing the indicators of this type of crime during a traffic stop or if they've been dispatched to a home on a call," said DPS Sgt. Derek Prestridge, one of the course instructors. "They need specific questions to ask and knowledge of behavioral patterns of suspects and victims that can help them determine whether there is potentially a crime occurring."

The 24-hour class, which is the first of its kind anywhere in the United States, will teach law enforcement officers and communications operators appropriate investigative techniques and make them aware of investigative resources available to them, such as the state's Missing Persons Clearinghouse, the Texas Fusion Center and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The first class will be held at the DPS Training Academy in April. Representatives of 24 police agencies in Texas have been invited to attend the first presentation of the class.

"We are proud to have developed this course and look forward to sharing it with law enforcement agencies across the nation," said Col. Stanley Clark, director of the DPS.

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