Sheriff Troy D. Berry is pleased to announce Detective George Higgs of the CCSO’s Criminal Investigations Division, Special Victims Unit, received theDepartment of Justice Missing Children’s Child Protection Awardrecognizing his relentless work in the investigation of a child sexual predator and the identification of 42 child abuse victims. “This was a tough case to investigate, but Detective Higgs was committed to bringing justice to each and every victim,” said Sheriff Berry.

The Missing Children’s Child Protection Award honors the extraordinary efforts of a law enforcement officer who made a significant investigative or program contribution on behalf of missing, abused or victimized children.

In November 2016, Detective Higgs began an investigation after he received a report that a 16-year-old was receiving sexually suggestive text messages. Higgs determined the messages were coming from an employee for the Charles County Board of Education. A search of the suspect’s home led to the discovery of computers and cell phones containing photos and videos of the suspect sexually assaulting local children in both his residence and at local schools. Interviews with students identified 42 victims—including the original complainant—between the ages of 13 and 17. Higgs’ work with prosecutors resulted in 219 charges of sexual assault, production of child pornography and other charges against the suspect, who was sentenced in federal court in March and in the Circuit Court of Charles County, Maryland, in April.

Acting Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio presented Detective Higgs with the Missing Children’s Child Protection Award during the Justice Department’s National Missing Children’s Day ceremony held May 23. “The Justice Department proudly commends Detective Higgs for his dedication to preventing child victimization and bringing this sex offender to justice.”

Detective Higgs is a 20-year veteran of the Charles County Sheriff’s Office, serving nearly 14 years in the Criminal Investigations Division. Previously, he served as a Corrections Officer, patrol officer, and was a member of the Emergency Services Team for six years. Detective Higgs has also served as a coordinator in the Sex Offender Registry program. Detective Higgs is a certified polygraph examiner and a drone operator.

In his career, Detective Higgs has received twoMeritorious Awardsfrom the agency: one for actions he took during a barricade, and the other for rescuing a man who was trying to kill himself. “Detective Higgs is truly dedicated to the mission of our agency and we appreciate all that he has done for us and the members of our county,” said Sheriff Berry.