Troy police employ new tool

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 3, 2003

Troy police will soon be utilizing a new tool to help in the location of missing people.

LOCATER, the Lost Child ALert Technology Resource, is being offered to law enforcement agencies in Alabama at no cost, and Troy's department has applied for the grant.

"Basically, it's a computer with a scanner and a printer and it's internet-ready, and it's sole purpose is to get the word out about missing persons a rapidly as possible," said Sgt. Bennie Scarbrough, the department's spokesman.

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"It will enable us to produce posters of the missing individual and will help us alert the public and other law enforcement agencies," he said.

LOCATER works in addition to the AMBER alert, a program designed to utilize the emergency alert system to broadcast abducted child information.

"This system can be used for anyone, not just children," Scarbrough said.

The program is funded jointly by Congress and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Alabama currently has 17 missing children, according to Sen. Richard Shelby, who has been active Congress' charge to address the missing child problem.

"With technology like computer imaging, the internet, e-mail and blast faxing, a family can notify NCMEC of their missing child and, in a very short time, posters will be available and distributed and the child's information will be accessible on NCMEC's website," he said in a statement.

"Improvements in technology have increased their ability to recover missing children."

Shelby said that the center has a proven record of success. Since 1989, the center's efforts have increased the rate of recovery of missing children from 66 percent to 93 percent in 2002. Nationwide, NCMEC has helped to recover 68,900 children.

Congress acted on that record, funding their request in this year's federal budget.

"We must continue to invest in them, so one day, we will reduce that number of missing children in Alabama from 17 to zero," Shelby said.

"We want to do everything possible to be prepared in case something like this happens in Troy," Scarbrough said.