Cantwell Announces Grant for Snohomish County to Fight Child Prostitution

Nearly $500,000 going to Snohomish County Prosecutor and County Sheriff to protect communities and children from sexual predators that commercially exploit children

SEATTLE, WA – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) announced that the Snohomish County Prosecutor’s Office is receiving $449,908 in grant funding to protect children and communities from sexual predators that commercially exploit children. The funding is made possible by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Child Sexual Predator Program.

Cantwell is a longtime advocate of the COPS program, which has been helping local law enforcement stop crime in Washington state communities since the program was created in 1994. On June 22, 2011, Cantwell joined Senators Herb Kohl (D-WI) and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) in leading a letter to the Senate committee with jurisdiction over COPS urging Committee leadership to adequately fund this program for the 2012 fiscal year.

“This investment will help law enforcement keep Snohomish County families safe and put child predators behind bars,” Cantwell said. “This grant will enable Snohomish County law enforcement and prosecutors to strengthen their fight against child prostitution. I will continue to fight to ensure that the COPS program gets the resources it needs to support local law enforcement in cracking down on crime.”

The Snohomish County Prosecutor’s Office is working with the Snohomish County Sheriff to utilize the nearly $500,000 in grant funding for the apprehension, investigation and prosecution of child sexual predators who commercially assault children. As a result of receiving this grant funding, the County Prosecutor’s Office hopes to hire approximately three additional staff to be housed at the nationally accredited Dawson Place Child Advocacy Center. This Center brings together the detectives who investigate child sex crimes, the nurses who conduct the forensic medical examinations, community-based sexual assault advocates, mental health services and therapists, as well as offers resources such as child-friendly interview rooms and a child interview specialist.

“This grant is an enormous shot in the arm for us and gives us the ability to help children who are being sexually exploited, get them out of that life and punish those who treat them that way,” said Snohomish County Prosecutor Mark Roe.

“This $500,000 grant is a great illustration of the wonderful partnership law enforcement has with our federal officials,” said Snohomish County Sheriff John Lovick. “In my 35 years of law enforcement I have never seen a better partnership with our congressional delegation, our U.S. Marshal Service and our U.S. Attorney. Senators Cantwell and Murray, U.S. Marshal Ericks and U.S. Attorney Durkan continue to provide us with the resources we need to protect our community.”

The COPS Child Sexual Predator Program (CSPP) provides funding directly to law enforcement agencies to establish and/or enhance strategies to locate, arrest and prosecute child sexual predators and exploiters and to enforce state sex offender registration laws. CSPP aims to support community policing initiatives throughout the United States by promoting partnerships between law enforcement, U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, the U.S. Marshals Service, and other community partners to collectively reduce and prevent child endangerment by sexual predators.

Cantwell has long fought for federal programs that provide support to local law enforcement to fight crime. In 2005 she called on then Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to launch an investigation into gang related meth trafficking in the Washington state area. In 2006 Cantwell led the charge to pass the Combat Meth Act and secured $99 million for state and local law enforcement agencies to combat the problem.

On June 22, 2011, she led a bipartisan letter signed by 39 Senators encouraging Appropriators to continue to provide robust funding in fiscal year 2012 for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) program, which helps states and communities across the country reduce crime, prevent juvenile delinquency, and reduce recidivism.