Man working to assist families of missing, exploited children awarded special accolade

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It's a time for remembering lost loved ones, especially those who were victims of violent crimes.

Each year, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri gives a special honor to those who protect children from exploitation. This year's honoree says child predators have easier access to kids that ever before.

Some say Craig Hill's greatest work has been accomplished after his retirement. While some people retire to a life of leisure, he's still working to assist the families of missing and exploited children.

Hill's contributions to society continue, 10 years after spending three decades as an officer with the Leawood Police Department. Hill is credited with founding a Johnson County-based agency in 1984, that has, over time, morphed into the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a non-profit agency that searches for abducted and missing kids, as well as tracking the activity of child predators.

"The children in Kansas City are only going to be as safe as we want them to be," Hill said.

On Wednesday, Hill accepted this year's Kipper and Kemp Award, recognizing him for his efforts to shield the innocent.

"It's unbelievable when we consider how our kids are at risk in this country," Hill said.

Hill points out that it's now easier than ever for predators to make contact with kids via social networks.

"We've had children enticed online who've become victims of not only abduction. but homicide, thinking they were going somewhere to meet somebody they were going to talk to about a job or to earn some money, and it's all been a facade," Hill said.

"I met him when we lost Ali in 2002," Roger Kemp said.

Kemp nominated Hill for the recognition. He says he gained respect for the former Leawood Police officer when his daughter, 19-year old Ali Kemp, went missing. She was later found dead, having been strangled.

"He was relating some stories today that just chills you over what some of these predators have done and how they responded and got the child back. He stands head and shoulders above," Kemp said.

Kemp says Hill helped provide his family with comfort after his daughter's demise, and it's because of advocates like him that families of missing kids can keep their hopes going.

Families of victims gathered at that ceremony also took to the streets, staging a march to support the rights of those affected by violent crimes.

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