WASHINGTON – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) welcomed 18 new cyber forensic analysts into their ranks today during a graduation ceremony held at the National Law Enforcement Museum in Washington, D.C.
The newly minted graduates, all military veterans, joined HSI as members the 13th class of the Human Exploitation Rescue Operation (HERO) Child Rescue Corps Program, Sept. 28.
Assistant Director of the HSI Cyber and Operations Technology H. Ray Shuler, Deputy Assistant Director of the Cyber Crimes Center (C3) Michael Prado, and Chief Executive Officer of NCMEC Michelle Delaune, attended the ceremony.
“The HERO Child Rescue Corps is a great way to leverage the formidable attributes of our nation’s veterans for such a formidable mission,” said HSI Cyber and Operations Technology Assistant Director Ray Shuler. “Today we are honored by joining these graduates in opening a new chapter of service to our nation in the defense of children throughout the world.”
The HERO Child Rescue Corps Program recruits, trains, and hires wounded, ill, or injured transitioning active-duty service members and veterans to support HSI field offices in the areas of child exploitation investigation, child victim identification, traveling child sex offenders, and digital forensics.
Initially established as a pilot initiative in 2013, the HERO Act, signed into law by President Obama on May 29, 2015, formalized and endorsed the HERO Corps program administered by the HSI C3.
Congress strengthened the HERO Program through passage of the Abolish Human Trafficking Act of 2017, which made the HERO Program a DHS agency-wide program, ensuring that the program would be open to all military service branches and providing pay for HERO Interns.
“A decade ago, the HERO Program was born out of a vision – a vision to combat the growing problem of child exploitation by recruiting, training, and equipping wounded, ill, or injured veterans to become computer forensic analysts. As we stand here today, we proudly carry forward the legacy of those who came before us, in assisting in the prosecution of predators who exploit our children.” said Ray Lowe of Albuquerque, New Mexico, a member of the graduating class.
The 2023 HERO class graduated after an initial 13 weeks of HSI agency introduction and computer forensics training. After graduation, the HERO Corps graduates will continue the one-year internship with nine months of hands-on training, mentored by HSI Computer Forensic Agents at field offices across the country.
The 18 graduates of the HERO Child Rescue Corps program will support the Fairfax, Virginia-based C3 and HSI field offices in Norfolk, Virginia; Bakersfield, California; San Antonio, Texas; Spring, Texas; Jacksonville, Florida; Grand Forks, North Dakota; Cary, North Carolina; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Lubbock, Texas; Honolulu, Hawaii ; Fresno, California ; Greenville, South Carolina ; San Juan, Puerto Rico ; New Orleans, Louisiana; Miami, Florida; El Paso, Texas, and Reston, Virginia.
The HERO Child Rescue Corps Program is managed by the C3 and supported by numerous partners that include the Department of Defense Soldier transition programs, Veterans Affairs programs, as well as federal and state veteran employment agencies.
HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of more than 8,700 employees consists of more than 6,000 special agents assigned to 237 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.