- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 26, 2002

Four law enforcement officers have been honored by the Justice Department for their work in the recovery of and assistance to abducted and abused children.
Honored at a ceremony last week at the department were Sheriff William Barron and Undersheriff Michael Sargeant from the Lake County Sheriff's Office in Polson, Mont,; FBI Agent Douglas Schreurs from the bureau's field office in Grand Island, Neb., and investigator Tony Cordova from the Kearney, Neb., Police Department.
Each received an Officer of the Year Award for their efforts that led to the recovery of Anne Sluti, a 17-year-old abducted from a shopping mall parking lot in Kearney, Neb. Seven days later she was recovered in Montana and reunited with her family through investigative work stemming from a routine "breaking and entering" call.
"Today we remember the valiant efforts of these fine, dedicated professional men and women who steadfastly work to bring these cases to successful conclusions," said Associate Attorney General Jay Stephens, who presented the awards.
"But our work is not over until all children are reunited with their families and every child is safe," he said.
The Officer of the Year award was part of a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of National Missing Children's Day, which also honored two children with a Courage Award; recognized ChoicePoint Inc. with a corporate leadership award; and honored Stephen Cullen as the volunteer of the year.
The Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children selected the 2002 honorees from 46 nominations.
In the recovery of Miss Sluti, Justice Department officials said an eyewitness alerted the police immediately and a widespread national search was initiated by the FBI and the Kearney Police Department. A week after her disappearance, a call came into the Lake County Sheriff's office in Montana about a possible "breaking and entering" at a cabin near the caller's house.
They said Mr. Sargeant responded to the call with the awareness of the recent abduction and that after eight hours of "careful negotiations by Undersheriff Sargeant and skillful investigative work by Special Agent Schreurs, Officer Cordova and Sheriff Barron," the suspected the abductor emerged from the cabin and surrendered to police.
Miss Sluti, in good condition, was reunited with her family in Nebraska that same night.


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