Let’s face it: A big law enforcement agency like the FBI, even with its substantial political clout, doesn’t have the resources to keep the smaller cases from falling through the cracks.Crime victims deserve justice even if their attacker doesn’t make the Most Wanted list.
In that spirit, Oprah Winfrey has brought the full force of her considerable fan base and bank account to bear on a particularly insidious breed of criminals: child predators.
In cooperation with law enforcement, Winfrey profiles deviants and their victims on her show. Fans with information regarding the whereabouts of these offenders are encouraged to contact law enforcement agencies and follow procedures for submitting investigation tips.
Giving the victims airtime to tell about their personal tragedy isn’t the end of this crusade.
Law enforcement agencies inform Harpo Productions Inc., Winfrey’s production company, when the criminals are caught and tell the company if Oprah fans’ tips led to the capture. If the individual was profiled on the show, Winfrey will award the fan a $100,000 reward.
Far from a call for vigilante justice, Winfrey’s cooperation with law enforcement agencies gives a much-needed boost to investigators through a vast network of daytime-television-viewer watchdogs.
Within two days of posting profiles Oct. 4, Winfrey’s efforts led to the capture of two sex offenders.
Crimes against children have received a great deal of media and legal attention as the Amber Alert program was adopted nationally. Local television frequently carries stories about abduction, molestation and murder of children.
While all crimes deserve justice, added attention to crimes against those less capable of defending themselves is of vital importance.
Any attempt to expedite the capture of these particular criminals should be applauded.
Opinion Editor Brian Chatman for the Editorial Board.