For Immediate Release
Florida Sheriffs Association Takes Action to Combat Child Abuse
and Endorses the Funding of Healthy Families Florida
April 1, 2011...Florida Sheriffs Association (FSA) Executive Director Steve Casey spoke at Prevent Child Abuse Florida’s Pinwheels for Prevention press conference today, kicking off Child Abuse Prevention Month. As one of FSA’s top Legislative priorities, Casey used this opportunity to urge lawmakers to maintain the current funding of $18.1 million for the Healthy Families Florida program.
The FSA believes that crime prevention, especially where the crime of child abuse is concerned, is the foundation of public safety. “Sheriffs know the crime of child abuse affects vulnerable children in horrible ways,” Casey said, “and that’s why we believe the best and smartest way to address child maltreatment is to prevent it before it ever happens.”
The Healthy Families Florida program helps prevent child abuse in Florida’s highest-risk families. This nationally accredited home visiting program spares children from the trauma of abuse, reduces a significant burden upon the law enforcement community, and saves Florida taxpayers millions of dollars. For a fraction of the cost of serving victims after abuse, Healthy Families Florida provides services for less than $1,700 per child. According to conservative estimates, Florida pays more than $64,000 a year for each young victim to cover associated child welfare services, hospitalization, special education, and juvenile justice costs.
FSA has been a prominent force in preventing child abuse for decades through a variety of community efforts. In 1989, FSA formed the Florida Sheriffs Task Force, which has assisted in the mass arrests of sexual predators. The most recent sting, during Sumter County’s Spring Break, netted 22 arrests. This was a joint undercover operation between the Task Force and the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office. The Task Force also had a significant sting in the fall of 2010, when a weeklong, joint undercover operation that involved more than 700 hours of chat time with sexual predators resulted in 22 arrests. “Operation Grim Reaper,” dubbed for its proximity to Halloween, was spearheaded by the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office and involved Central Florida Internet Crimes Against Children, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and top Hernando, Orange, Polk and Sumter County Sheriffs’ Offices.
“We are proud of the arrests we made during the undercover operation to catch sexual predators in Sumter and surrounding counties, improving community safety and reducing the threat of abuse to children,” says Sumter County Sheriff Bill Farmer.
Florida’s Sheriffs fully endorse Healthy Families Florida and agree that continuing funding for this program is a wise investment and is the right thing for Florida’s highest-risk children. To find out more about the FSA and the Florida Sheriffs Task Force, please visit http://www.flsheriffs.org. For more information on Pinwheels for Prevention, visit http://www.ounce.org.
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About the Florida Sheriffs Association
The Florida Sheriffs Association is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 corporation made up of Florida’s Sheriffs, approximately 3,500 business leaders and 70,000 citizens throughout the state. Founded in 1893, FSA has quietly served the citizens of Florida by supporting the needs of the state's law-enforcement community. Through the Florida Sheriffs Association, Sheriffs are given a forum to address lawmakers to push for positive changes in Florida’s public safety arena. FSA also provides Sheriffs' Offices much-needed programs such as affordable training, special task forces and legislative and legal services. Dedicated to the prevention of juvenile delinquency and the development of lawful, productive citizens, FSA has established and continues to support the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches, which manages facilities and programs throughout the state to help restore hope, fulfill dreams, and prepare boys and girls for the future. The Florida Sheriffs Association has grown to be one of the largest and most successful state law enforcement associations in the nation. For more information on the Florida Sheriffs Association, visit http://www.flsheriffs.org.
For more information:
Nanette Schimpf, APR
Moore Consulting Group
850-224-0174 work or 850-528-2639 cell