Photo/Story Gallery 2003

Florida’s Missing Children Remembered

Trooper Stephens receives FDLE award presented by Governor Bush.On September 8, 2003, FDLE held the Fifth Annual Florida Missing Children’s Day Ceremony. A crowd of citizens gathered at the Capitol in Tallahassee to remember our state’s many missing children and to show support for their families in their struggle. They also gathered to commemorate special individuals who worked hard to help protect our children over the past year.

Pictured left, Trooper Aaron B. Stephens receives FDLE award presented by Governor Jeb Bush.

The Ceremony opened with a selection by the Lighthouse Children’s Home Chorus, the Color Guard’s presentation of colors, and the pledge of allegiance, followed by a welcome from FDLE’s Interim Commissioner Daryl McLaughlin. Lieutenant Governor Toni Jennings introduced the keynote speaker, Governor Jeb Bush, who made the presentation of awards to law enforcement officers and others who were recognized for their hard work and dedication in the protection of Florida’s children.

Lt. Colonel Gregory, Trooper Stephens with his wife, Nicole.Among those receiving an award was Trooper Aaron B. Stephens, Troop D (Cocoa), who was honored as the 2003 Florida Missing Children’s State Law Enforcement Officer of the Year for his help in ensuring the safety of three small children by contacting the Department of Children and Families when their mother exhibited irrational and erratic behavior during a routine traffic stop.

Pictured right, Lt. Colonel Rick Gregory, Trooper Aaron Stephens with his wife, Nicole.

The Color Guard retires the colors to conclude the ceremony.After evaluating the parents, DCF determined that the children should be removed from their home for their own safety. Several months later, the children were illegally and forcefully abducted from their foster home by their father and were in imminent danger until both parents were arrested on a fugitive warrant for aggravated assault and interference with custody. Trooper Stephens was commended for his swift action in protecting the young children from a possible abusive situation.

Pictured left, the Color Guard retires the colors to conclude the ceremony.