Child is Missing program

Wednesday, October 27th 2004, 12:10 pm
By: News On 6

Tulsa has a new way tonight to speed up the search when a child goes missing. The program allows police to call a thousand homes or businesses in 60 seconds when someone is missing, whether a child, an elderly person or a first time runaway.

News on 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright explains how the system works.

A child is reported missing every 40 seconds in this country, which means two children, will disappear from their families before you finish reading this story.

Finding them fast is critical, considering those who are kidnapped are generally killed within three hours. The Amber Alert system helps get information out to TV and radio stations and highways signs whenever there's a kidnapping. The Child is Missing program goes one step further and can be used in more cases.

Tulsa Police Sgt Dave Roberts: "An Amber Alert is only appropriate for abductions where there's a witness and a description of the suspect. This program can be used when there's no abduction but, a four year old wanders off and parents are out looking. We can use this we can't use an Amber Alert."

This system can also be used when elderly people with Alzheimer’s wander off or when a teenager runs away for the first time. The program recently helped find a little girl in western Oklahoma. Child is Missing trainer Ralph Caporale: "In the last 30 months, we've had 66 safe recoveries. Just last week, we had one in Spencer, Oklahoma where we found a seven year old child."

When someone reports a missing person to police, officers call a 1-800 number and that starts the process of calling hundreds or thousands of people in the immediate area. Sgt Roberts: "This would allow us to reach people who don't watch TV or listen to the radio. We can call homes and businesses and a lot of businesses don't have a radio playing, to let them know."

Letting as many people know as quickly as possible can mean the difference between life and death. The Child is Missing program is non-profit and free for police. Tulsa's system has been activated once already to help find an elderly man.