Families of murdered/missing children push child safety - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

Families of murdered/missing children push for bills on child safety

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

Virginia lawmakers on both sides are pushing for several bills aimed at protecting abused and neglected children.  Some of the major supporters include the families that know the pain of burying a murdered child.

It's been four years since Morgan Harrington's remains found near Charlottesville. She had been brutally murdered.  Her parents, Dan and Gil Harrington, have fought to keep her story in the spotlight hoping it will help other missing persons case.

 "In all of these cases, time is critical," says Dan.

Right now, they are pushing for the Virginia General Assembly to pass a package of bills meant to improve a child's chances for protection and promote safety.  The legislative initiative is called, "Every Second Counts."  Some of the most recent local missing person cases are being used as examples including Harrington and Alexis Murphy's case.

There are eight bills going through the General Assembly right now, one would include giving police cross jurisdictional powers, something victim's families say would make a big difference.

 "Police were working the crime and working on trying to find Morgan but in hindsight, looking back, it was a pretty disconnected, disorganized…process," says Dan.

Investigators say technology has blurred jurisdictional lines.

 "Very quickly an investigation can go from one county to another county to a city, from one part of the state to the other," says Sgt. Steve Anders who works in the Southern Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce.

The other bills in the package include:

Establishing a "Governor's Child Safety Test" which gives children the tools to recognize potential threats.

A study to examine the readiness of law enforcement when somebody goes missing.

Allowing officers to go beyond territorial limits when it comes to investigating sex offenses.

And a requirement that all suspected abuse and neglect cases are reported to police within two hours of the information being received.

Supporters say these bills will limit the loss of life and are calling this legislative initiative, "Every Second Counts."

NBC12 asked for a statement from Virginia State Police regarding Morgan Harrington's case and the concerns from her parents.  Here it is:

Since Virginia State Police took the lead on the disappearance, search, and eventual death investigation involving Miss Harrington, there has been significant regional cooperation among local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Throughout the course of this still ongoing investigation, the Virginia State Police has continuously worked with the UVA Police Department, Charlottesville Police Department, Albemarle County Police Department, Albemarle County Sheriff's Office, Fairfax City Police Department, FBI, and the Virginia Department of Forensic Science.

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