Visit the The Jones County News website
July 19, 2007
A Child is Missing program helps locate lost youngster
GRAY, Georgia (STPNS) -- A program to find missing children was proven effective recently in Jones County with the recovery of a 5-year-old child within an hour of being reported missing.
A Child is Missing is a program sponsored by a non-profit organization of the same name. The program makes technology available to all law enforcement agencies in the state and allows 1,000 alert calls to be placed within one minute to aid in the recovery of a missing person.
Sheriff Butch Reece said the June 30 incident was the first time the program was used in Jones County. Reece said he was at home during the recent incident and received one of the phone calls.
?One of the calls was received by a neighbor of the missing child, who was looking at the child as she was listening to her description,? Reece said.
The neighbor told officers said she had no idea the child did not have permission to visit and immediately contacted her grandmother.
?Thankfully, this child was in no danger, but you never know. We had several deputies on the scene and tracking dogs on the way when the child was found,? Reece explained. ?These phone calls saved us a lot of manpower.?
Lt. Shane Moody was the officer who responded to the call and took charge of the investigation. He said the first thing he did was to make sure the child was not with another family member, and when that was ruled out, the search began in full.
?I was impressed with the way the community turned out. People who didn?t know the family came to us and offered their help after they received the call that a child was missing,? Moody said.
The lieutenant said the grandmother was cleaning out a room and asked the 5-year-old to put a cup in the sink. When the child did not return in a reasonable length of time, the grandmother started looking.
Moody said the Sheriff?s office was called within 20 minutes of the child being missed, and both Jones County and City of Gray officers responded to the call and assisted in the search.
The A Child is Missing program was officially launched in December of 2003 at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth, and Reece announced Jones County?s implementation of the new law enforcement tool days after its launch.
Reece explained that the program was not intended to replace anything but to give law enforcement another tool. The call system is used in conjunction with the national AMBER (America?s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response) Alerts, which are broadcast when law enforcement determines that a child has been abducted and is in imminent danger.
Deputy Philip Green was in charge of implementing the program in Jones County and explained that it is also used to find mentally disabled individuals as well as Alzheimer?s victims.
The A Child is Missing program was founded in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 1996 and has been available to law enforcement since 1997. When law enforcement informs the agency of a missing person, a CodeRED is initiated and the calls are made. A computer makes calls in a uniform manner to ensure their acceptance. The calls have an incredible 98 percent acceptance rate by recipients.
CodeRED can make more than 60,000 phone calls in an hour, instantly putting a community on notice of an emergency. The message begins: This is an urgent message from your local sheriff?s office. We are currently looking for a missing child in your area. A description of the child including name, last location and clothes worn follows.
Statistics bear out the need for fast notification. The U.S. Justice Department reports that nationwide a child goes missing every 40 seconds. According to the Washington State Attorney Generals Office, 74 percent of slain abduction victims are killed within the first three hours.
The program is endorsed and co-sponsored by the Georgia Sheriff?s Association. Reece said each sheriff?s department donated money to get it started, and it will be supported with donations and grants. Using the program does not cost local agencies anything.
The sheriff said Jones County has had good success in the past finding missing children before the A Child is Missing program, but he and Green agreed that there is no such thing as too much help.
The calls are made at reasonable hours unless there was an extreme emergency, according to the sheriff.
Since the program?s beginning, over 3.2 million alert calls have been made, and, according to the programs website, www.achildismissing.org, it has been credited with over 250 safe recoveries since its inception.
Reece said the Sheriff?s Department will be sending a donation to the program from money confiscated in drug cases.
?This is such a good cause,? he added.
© 2013 The Jones County News
Gray, Georgia. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from STPNS