Three missing Arizona children in particular - two young girls and a little boy - have been in the news for months now because they have disappeared, and despite widespread and exhaustive searches, police have found no traces of them.
For a child to vanish is every parent's nightmare, and this is likely a reason more and more parents accompany their children to school anymore if they are not on school bus routes. All too frequently, we hear horror stories of children gone missing, even within blocks of their homes or schools.
One case prompted creation of the Amber Alert, named for Amber Hagerman, a 9-year-old child who was abducted and murdered in Arlington, Texas, in 1996.
When law enforcement confirms an abduction, an Amber Alert is disseminated broadly to radio and television stations, satellite radio and cable TV by the Emergency Alert System and NOAA Weather Radio. Alerts are also issued through email, electronic traffic condition signs, LED billboards and text messages.
Locally, the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office has launched an effort to join 20 other law enforcement agencies across the country that have implemented a certified multi-agency Child Abduction Response Team (CART) to respond quickly when they determine a child may possibly have been kidnapped.
The goal is to respond to any missing child call with 120 to 150 trained personnel within the first hour, YCSO Lt. Tom Boelts said, adding that all the police agencies in the county are participating in CART. This team will be available to any county law enforcement agency that requests it.
Protocols for the team are expected to be final by January, with training for first-responders to begin in March. After this, the team will apply for certification by Wisconsin's Fox Valley Technical College, which has developed the program in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Justice.
The formation of CART is good news for Yavapai County whose children have become more vulnerable with the growth in population we have experienced in the past decade, at least.
There was a time when Prescottonians didn't have to lock the doors when they left their homes for a few hours or a even weekend. Crime rates were low.
That's not so true anymore as our once rural areas become more urbanized.
Studies show that when a person kidnaps a child with intent to commit murder, that child will likely die within three hours of the abduction.
Once CART is up and rolling, chances of that happening grow slimmer.
Thank you, YCSO, for taking this step to protect our children.