Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County (CACCC) recently was honored with the FBI’s Director’s Community Leadership Award from FBI Director James Comey in recognition of its efforts to inform children and parents of online dangers through its Internet Safety education program.

Center CEO Lynne McLean accepted the award at CACCC’s annual gala on Saturday. Special Agent in Charge Thomas M. Class Sr. presented the award.

The FBI has been presenting its Director’s Community Leadership Awards (DCLA) for more than two decades to residents and organizations striving to build stronger, safer and more cohesive communities, and CACCC officials said they are honored to be among this year’s recipients.

Class noted that prevention is key to reducing the occurrence of technology-facilitated crimes against children and to protect children from becoming victims of pornographers and traffickers.

“Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County’s Internet Safety training program is an effective and engaging way to reach children and parents with information that can help children stay safe from online threats and help them become better digital citizens,” he said. “We work incredibly hard to investigate these crimes, but prevention is the key to decreasing online risks for children and keeping them safe.”

Detective Jeff Rich, a member of the FBI Dallas Child Exploitation Task Force, nominated CACCC for the award in recognition of the CACCC’s efforts to efficiently train children and adults to avoid online threats while allowing local cybercrime detectives to remain focused on the work of apprehending predators and identifying victims.

Since the program’s inception in 2013, more than 14,000 adults and children have received valuable information on how to stay safe online – either from a CACCC staff member or from a Collin County school resource officer, according to CACCC officials.

This year’s DCLA honorees, as in past years, were selected by FBI field offices and represent many different sectors – nonprofits, business, military, academia, the clergy, behavioral sciences, media, sports and civic groups.

CACCC co-houses two cybercrime detectives who work in conjunction with the FBI’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and Innocent Images International Task Force to investigate online crimes against children and apprehend pedophiles who produce and distribute child pornography.

As one of the only children’s advocacy centers nationwide to have in-house cybercrime detectives, these local experts quickly became known throughout Collin County for their community trainings focused on educating children and parents about online dangers.

Working closely with Sgt. Chris Meehan of the Collin County Sheriff’s Office and Rich of the Plano Police Department, the CACCC identified key staff members and local school resource officers who could facilitate these trainings for parents and children.

“We are honored to be included among so many incredible community service providers from across the country,” McLean said. “We believe education is empowering and are extremely proud to have reached more than 14,000 adults and children with information about how to stay safe online.