Weekly AG Newspaper Columns
Observing National Crime Prevention Month
Observing Naitonal Crime Prevention Month
By Attorney General Greg Abbott
Each October, National Crime Prevention Month challenges communities to make crime prevention a priority. The Office of the Attorney General General (OAG) is committed to crime prevention, and each October brings new focus on this worthy endeavor.
Protecting Texas children from sex crimes is a top priority. Our Cyber Crimes Unit, which targets online sex predators, and our Fugitive Unit, which locates convicted sex offenders who have violated the terms of their parole, have combined to arrest more than 600 offenders. With the help of city, county and federal law enforcement, we are taking sex offenders out of Texas neighborhoods. Our investigators are also helping to educate parents and educators about cyber safety by offering tips, training and other valuable resources through our Web site: www.oag.state.tx.us.
Young Texans can also help improve community awareness. To help students get involved, we developed the Texas Teen Page, which is an interactive and comprehensive online Web community that encourages Texas teens to make good choices, including coming forward to report suspicious behavior at school. The Texas Teen Page educates students about the costs and consequences of crime and their ability to bring about meaningful change through mentoring and other volunteer activities. The Texas Teen Page can be accessed by clicking on the “TXT” icon on the OAG Web site.
Our Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) works diligently with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to protect the neediest Texans from physical abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation. Texas taxpayers spend more than $17 billion on the Medicaid program each year, so we also focus on fraudulent reimbursement claims. We are committed to reducing waste, abuse and fraud. Texans can report waste, abuse or fraud by a Medicaid provider by contacting the MFCU at (512) 463-2011.
The OAG is also committed to cracking down on identity theft. Our consumer and senior alerts and educational outreach programs provide Texans with fast, up-to-date warnings about fraudulent sweepstakes offers, foreign “lotteries” and similar financial schemes. We also took action against several companies that carelessly discarded sensitive personal information in violation of the law. Texans who fall victim to identity theft can use the OAG’s ID Theft Kit to help speed the recovery process. The kit, available for download on our Web site, includes forms and agency contact information that can help victims restore their credit and prevent further damage to their good name.
Our duty to protect Texans also compels us reach out to victims who are left battered and broken – physically, emotionally and often financially – in the wake of violent crime. Our Crime Victim Services Division administers the Crime Victims’ Compensation Fund, which helps innocent victims and their families when they have no other means of paying for the financial cost of crime.
We also partner with crime victim advocates across Texas who walk victims through the recovery process. Many advocates are victim assistance coordinators (VACs) or crime victim liaisons (CVLs) who work for local law enforcement agencies and prosecutors. Others are sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs), who are highly-trained professionals who work in local hospitals and help recover forensic evidence that is critical to prosecuting sexual assault cases. Together, crime victim advocates help victims in their communities find counseling, emergency shelter, or funds to cover expenses associated with the crimes committed against them.
Through our strong network of law enforcement, crime victim advocates and caring neighbors, we can help reduce crime and make our communities stronger.
Points to Remember
NATIONAL CRIME PREVENTION MONTH
The Office of the Attorney General offers many resources for crime prevention and crime victim support, including:
• Cyber Safety Tips for Parents, Students and Consumers
• Texas Teen Page
• Medicaid Fraud Prevention
• Online ID Theft Kit
• Crime Victim Services
• Consumer Protection Brochures
Access these and other useful crime prevention tools online at: www.oag.state.tx.us