Photo shows U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland awarding seven members of the North Texas Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force for their outstanding work in preventing child exploitation. “There is no cause more worthy of honor,” the Attorney General said during the 40th annual National Missing Children’s Day commemoration. Task Force members (shown holding awards) are, from left, Anthony Newson, Chris Meehan, Tony Godwin, Jeffrey Rich, Bruce Sherman, Kellie Renfro, and Cyrus Zafrani.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland awarded seven members of the North Texas Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force for their outstanding work in preventing child exploitation. “There is no cause more worthy of honor,” the Attorney General said during the 40th annual National Missing Children’s Day commemoration. Task Force members (shown holding awards) are, from left, Anthony Newson, Chris Meehan, Tony Godwin, Jeffrey Rich, Bruce Sherman, Kellie Renfro, and Cyrus Zafrani.

 

Photo showing North Texas ICAC Task Force Member/AATTAP Instructional Associate Tony Godwin (on right) accepting his Commendation Award from U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland (on left) at the U.S. Department of Justice for a Missing Children's Day event May 24, 2023.
North Texas ICAC Task Force Member/AATTAP Instructional Associate Tony Godwin accepts his Commendation Award from U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland on May 24, 2023, at the U.S. Department of Justice.

Tony Godwin, an Instructional Associate with the AMBER Alert Training and Technical Assistance Program (AATTAP) and veteran detective with the Garland Police Department—is one of seven North Texas Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force members who were honored with the Attorney General’s Special Commendation Award during the 40th annual National Missing Children’s Day commemoration in Washington, DC.

The ceremony took place May 24, 2023, in the Great Hall of the U.S. Department of Justice.

The Attorney General’s Special Commendation honors an ICAC task force individual or team for extraordinary efforts to hold those who commit child sexual abuse and crimes against children legally responsible for their actions.

Graphic that reads: The North Texas ICAC Task Force was recognized for processing more than 22,000 tips from the National Center for Missing & Exgloited Children's CY.berTigline­work that resulted in more than 500 arrests and the rescue of more than 50 children between November 1, 2021, and October 31, 2022.“Whether a child has been abducted, or has just wandered away, the terror felt by a parent when their child has disappeared is overwhelming,” said U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “I have great respect for the brave, resourceful, and dedicated professionals who work every day to protect children from harm, reunite missing children with their families, and provide support in the aftermath of a traumatic event. There is no cause more worthy of honor.”

Additional North Texas ICAC Task Force honorees included Lieutenant Cyrus Zafrani, Task Force Commander; Sergeant Kellie Renfro, Deputy Task Force Commander; Detective Tony Godwin; Detective Chris Meehan; Texas Ranger Bruce Sherman; Detective Jeffery Rich; and Community Outreach Officer Anthony Newson.

The North Texas ICAC Task Force encompasses 112 counties, spans more than 96,000 square miles, and involves more than 250 active affiliate agencies.

“What a tremendous honor to be recognized along with the best group of task force men and women working in child protection anywhere,” Godwin said after the event. “The dedication, commitment, and sacrifice is so very worth it.”

Godwin has served the Garland Police Department for nearly three decades and worked with the North Texas ICAC Task Force since 2006. He is responsible for proactively investigating child sexual assault cases, child sexual abuse material, and online child sexual exploitation. He has conducted more than 3,900 criminal investigations involving such crimes.

Godwin also is a certified computer and cell phone forensic examiner. He has handled more than 5,500 cell/computer forensic acquisitions during the past 10 years, collaborating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Postal Service, and numerous law enforcement agencies working to combat Internet child exploitation.

“In addition to their successful investigative work, they have also dedicated themselves to training others on investigative techniques related to Internet Crimes Against Children cases,” said Attorney General Garland. “For that, they have my unending gratitude.”

AATTAP Curriculum Development Project Coordinator Cathy Delapaz feels the same.

Tony is a hard charger who has relentlessly pursued exploiters of children for years,” she says. “His willingness to share his extensive knowledge through AATTAP training impacts the work of so many who are dedicated to finding missing children and holding their exploiters accountable.” – Denise Gee Peacock