Washington, D.C. – A U.S. Marshals Service employee has been named the 2020 National Missing Children's Day Law Enforcement Award Winner.
Deputy U.S. Marshal Gerald "Jerry" Dysart, a senior inspector based in New Orleans who was one of the first two people assigned to the agency's Missing Child Unit in 2016, was announced the award winner Wednesday in a Department of Justice virtual commemoration ceremony held online this year due to restrictions resulting from COVID-19.
Through its Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Department Of Justice recognizes the extraordinary efforts of individuals, organizations, and agencies that have made a significant contribution to protecting children between January 1 and November 14, 2020.
During a two-week period in April 2019 Dysart led an operation in Atlanta to recover 16 at-risk children - victims of sex trafficking, exploitation, and sexual and physical abuse.
Operation Empty Nest involved the U.S. Marshals Service Missing Child Unit, the U.S. Marshals-led Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
"This has been a longtime coming for the agency, and Jerry's the perfect first recipient of this award," said U.S. Marshals Service Deputy Director Derrick Driscoll. "There is no one more deserving. He is tireless, dedicated and committed to bringing missing children home and protecting America's most vulnerable population."
The U.S. Marshals Service supports National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's mission to protect children from victimization by providing assistance to federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. Since the U.S. Marshals’ partnership with National Center for Missing and Exploited Children began in 2005, the Marshals have helped recover 1,507 missing children.
The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015 enhanced the U.S. Marshals' authority to assist federal, state and local law enforcement with the recovery of missing, endangered or abducted children, regardless of whether a fugitive or sex offender was involved. The Missing Child Unit was set up to oversee and manage the implementation of its enhanced authority under the act. Without additional staff or funding, Dysart built the unit using existing resources and developed a training curriculum used nationwide. In collaboration with National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Dysart helped recover 500 critically missing children in just the past two years.
In Fiscal Year 2019 the U.S. Marshal Service received 368 requests from law enforcement for assistance in missing child cases, and assisted in the recovery of 275 missing children.