South Bend, Ind. There's perhaps no bigger fear for a parent than to realize their child is missing. And when a child goes missing, time is of the essence.
South Bend Police are offering parents something that could be very helpful in those initial minutes after you've lost track of your child, information that can help police help find your missing child.
It is information every parent should have in their purse or wallet at all times. As well as at home, where important family documents are kept.
South Bend Police will help you get these important tools, and it won't cost you a dime.
It will be years before Emily poses for her driver's license photo. On this day, she's posing for a photo that her parents hope they'll never need.
“No parent ever wants to think that their child is going to turn up missing and it's just that extra safety mechanism to say we do have their prints, we do have identifiers, we do have something to give to the police if the worst should happen,” says Lt. Patrick Hechlinski a crime prevention specialist with the South Bend Police Department.
Parents can now bring their children to the South Bend Police Department for the Child Safety Fingerprint/ID program.
“The kids will come in, we get all their pertinent information; it covers height, weight, eye color, whether they wear glasses, where they reside at, whether they have any nicknames they're called by, whether they're allergic to anything,” says Lt. Hechlinski. “And then what we do is we get their fingerprints and we get their picture taken. At the end, we print that out and you have a copy to give to the parents: one to keep at home and the bottom half makes two wallets, and that's something the parent can carry along with them in case they're not at home when their child comes up missing, they have something to hand the officer that has all the identifiers on there.”
Unlike the old days everything's high tech with no messy ink to deal with.
“There is a device called a biometric scanner,” explains Lt. Hechlinski. “There is no ink. You know parents use to get those paper kits at home and they used to have to tear those little ink strips that they would have to tear apart, and then they’d have to try to maneuver their fingers and get them right. It takes all the guess work out of it now everything's biometric; they leave here with clean fingers, no mess, no fuss.”
Back in May, South Bend Police hosted a fingerprinting/ID event to get the word out. More than 50 parents took advantage.
“I think it's very important and I think a lot of parents don't bring their children because they teach their children to be fearful of the police,” says parent Boobie Milligan. “And I believe my children should be raised to believe police are there to help them and to protect them. I think more parents should do it.”
But if you missed that event, there are plenty of opportunities to take part in the summer ID program before school starts again in August.
“We're going to be hosting regular hours here at the police department on Tuesday mornings between 8 a.m. and noon and then Thursdays between noon and 4 p.m.,” says Lt. Hechlinski.
Hechlinski says the optimal age for the fingerprinting/ID system is four to 16. But given all the growing kids do, how often do you need to bring your child here and get new IDs?
Every couple of years I would recommend,” says Lt. Hechlinkski. “The first couple years they may not change a lot, they notice changes in height as they grow older, things like that, that might be a good indicator to stop back by and get this done.”
Again, this is a free service that parents can take advantage of the rest of the summer.
Here's the information again about days and times: You can bring your child to the South Bend Police station at 701 West Sample Tuesday mornings, between eight and noon, and then Thursdays between noon and four.
This program runs until August 15.