Archive for Thursday, January 22, 2009

Police begin training for missing child plan

Police Officers attend training Wednesday for a new alert program called  "A Child is Missing."

Police Officers attend training Wednesday for a new alert program called "A Child is Missing."

January 22, 2009

In abduction cases, 74 percent of children will be sexually assaulted and murdered within three hours. After 24 hours the percentage jumps to 91.

The stark statistics were part of a presentation Monday in Bonner Springs by Kent Bauman, a law enforcement trainer with A Child Is Missing Alert .

An Amber Alert may take at least one to two hours to be issued across the state, wasting valuable time, Bauman noted. With the A Child Is Missing Alert system, the average time for assisted recovery is 90 minutes.

“It’s a win-win situation for police departments, Bauman said. “It can help police find missing kids faster, and it doesn’t cost them anything. It’s a good program and it’s effective.”

On Wednesday, the Bonner Springs Police Department invited area law enforcement and government agencies to the George Meyn Building in Wyandotte Park to get trained on the system.

The system was developed to work for cases that may not meet the requirements needed for an Amber Alert.

In Kansas, an Amber Alert is only issued if the child is younger than 17 or has a proven mental or physical disability; police must believe the child is in danger of serious bodily harm or death; finally, there must be enough information to disseminate to the general public which could assist in the child’s recovery or the apprehension of the suspect.

Bauman said those requirements can be problematic when time is of the essence.

“Sometimes it can take a while to develop that criteria,” Bauman said. “I remember a case where it took us eight hours to develop the criteria to issue an alert.”

The A Child Is Missing Alert system covers a wider variety of cases that don’t meet the Amber Alert criteria, such as helping to locate children that wander off or runaways where foul play is suspected.

The system also does not have an age restriction and can send out a notice of elderly residents who may wander off, missing college students and pregnant women who go missing.

The system can also be used to alert residents if a registered sex offender has moved into the area, notify residents of criminals on the run or escaped convicts.

The system works in six steps and Bauman said the first step could be done as soon as an officer confirmed there was a missing person. The officer calls a toll free number to get in contact with an A Child Is Missing Alert technician. The technician than inputs the important information and creates a recorded message with the information.

Bauman said the message can be created in different languages to service a variety of different populations.

A target area is chosen and the system will start making calls to phone numbers in that area. The system is able to make 1,000 phone calls in one minute. If needed, the target area can be expanded, giving the system more phone numbers to dial.

Bauman said the system has access to more than 60 million listed phone numbers.

Bonner Springs Police Chief John Haley said he was impressed with the system when he found out about it and in December, the department signed up.

“It is going to be a vital tool for our department,” Haley said.

After the training sessions, representatives from the Tonganoxie Police Department and the Lansing Police Department said they were interested in signing up for the program. Basehor police did not attend the meeting.

Although the system does have a large database of phone numbers, Bauman said it does not have a list of personal cell phone numbers.

Just like the Amber Alert system, people can sign up for the system to call them on their cell phone. Anyone interested in signing up their cell phone or unlisted number for A Child Is Missing Alert can visit www.AChildIsMissing.org.

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