June 25, 2014

Senators Introduce Bill to Strengthen Role of U.S. Marshals in Missing Children Cases

Measure clarifies the authority of Marshals Service to assist local and state law enforcement

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL) introduced the Strengthening Investigations of Missing Children Act of 2014 (S. 2528), legislation to provide explicit authorization for the U.S. Marshals Service to assist other law enforcement agencies, upon request, in investigating missing children cases.  The Marshals Service is often called on by state and local law enforcement officials, as well as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, to assist in investigating missing children cases.  This bill makes it clear that the Marshals Service has the express statutory authority to provide such assistance.  The bill does not expand federal jurisdiction or create new crimes. A similar measure was recently passed by the House of Representatives.

“When a child goes missing, we need to put every resource we have into action,” said Whitehouse.  “For decades, the U.S. Marshals Service has played a critical role in the recovery of missing children.  We must ensure that we can continue to rely on the Marshals’ sophisticated tools and experience when they are needed most.  I hope our colleagues will join Senator Sessions and me in seeing this necessary proposal become law.”

“It has long been a priority of mine to make it easier for law enforcement to protect vulnerable members of society,” said Sessions.  “The Marshals’ capabilities and expertise is a key asset in these cases and may help to save many innocent lives.”

“The U.S. Marshals Service is a key partner in the search for missing children,” said John D. Ryan, the president and CEO of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.  “Not only is it the oldest federal law enforcement agency in the nation, but it also has a long history of assisting in missing child cases.  We applaud Senators Whitehouse and Sessions for introducing this bill, which will permit any law enforcement agency in the U.S. to benefit from the U.S. Marshals Service’s unique capabilities in the time-critical search for a missing child.”

Whitehouse and Sessions introduced legislation in 2011 to clarify the Marshals Service’s role in missing children cases as well as investigations involving an individual who violates a sex offender registration requirement.  The bipartisan bill was passed unanimously by the Senate in 2012, but not taken up by the House.  The provision relating to sex offenders was subsequently included in other legislation and signed into law.


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