Police get latest tools to find missing children
By By Thomas Tingle
Record Managing Editor
Madison's police department has been given the latest technology, tools and resources to search for missing children – not only in Madison, but also throughout the country.
Eleven police departments in North Alabama have received and implemented the new LOCATER (Lost Child Alert Technology Resource) technology from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, co-founded and co-chaired by U.S. Rep. Bud Cramer.
Cramer came to Madison to commend the 11 departments that are actively seeking the tools needed to quickly find missing children.
The technology is the latest step in equipping law enforcement agencies with the technology to better respond to missing child cases.
"The first three hours are critical in the search for a missing child," Cramer said. "This is why the LOCATER technology is necessary to find these children."
The LOCATER program gives local law enforcement the computer hardware and software needed to easily scan images of missing children and rapidly distribute this information to other law enforcement and to the public. It is designed for missing child posters, but can be used for other purposes such as finding stolen vehicles, wanted persons, and getting out crime alerts.
"At the present time, we (the city of Madison) do not have any missing children. But this tool is needed and we can use it for other purposes as well, Madison Police Chief Dan Busken said. "I, as the rest of the police departments represented here in North Alabama, are very appreciative of this technology that has been given to us."
The tools and equipment provided to law enforcement include poster creation software, state of the art computers, color printers, scanners, three years of technical service and support and three years of Internet service if needed.
To date, there are more than 500 such programs being used across the United States with a backlog of up to three months for delivery of the technology to other communities.
The 11 North Alabama communities that received this technology are Madison, Huntsville, Anderson, Sheffield, Woodville, Moulton, Lexington, Killen, Athens, Falkville, and Rogersville.
Through the FBI's Law Enforcement Online (LEO) network, the LOCATER system allows law enforcement to tap into the full database of active missing child cases and images 24 hours a day.