Trinity Mount Ministries

Sunday, October 14, 2012

SJPD Partners with National Group to Find Missing Children:


SJPD Partners with National Group to Find Missing Children:

St. Joseph Police Dept.

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) The St. Joseph Police Department is working to get the upper hand when it comes to finding missing children.

Missing children reports are nothing new, but the department wants to improve on how they handle the calls.

Dispatchers say it gets hectic, especially when someone is reporting a missing child.

"They're hysterical. All they want is somebody there, and they're screaming, and they're panicked, and they're not listening, and it's very difficult to even get 'What's your child's name? How old are they? What do they look like? How long have they been gone?'" says Jada Thomas, of the communications center.

The communications department knows how to handle all types of calls, but striving to be the best, they've volunteered to partner with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

"It puts you into a position to adjust your policies and your procedures and your call taking techniques, so you're in line with the best practices that have been proven across the country," says Capt.Jeff Wilson, St. Joseph Police Department.

With the NCMEC, the department has received new training. When responders take a call, it starts with keeping a parent calm, and assessing the situation.

This is nothing new for dispatchers, but small policy changes will make a big difference when time is of the essence.

"Where are you? How old is this child? What does this child look like? Where were they last seen? If there's suspect information, we need that information quickly," says Thomas.

"The operator is now trained to recognize the situation that they're dealing with, and maybe rule out some questions that take out valuable time and go straight to the other ones," Wilson says.

The new partnership is also changing the way the center looks at runaways.

"It may not be an abduction situation, but that's still a child that we don't know where they are, so immensely important that we follow these best practices even in situations may have left on their own," Thomas says.

Now after taking a missing child report, responders are being graded.

"In any type of mission that you perform, it's always important to do an after actions review, and go over the things that went right and the things that went wrong, and try to improve yourself," Wilson says.

The communications center takes about 20 calls a month related to missing children or runaways. They say calling right away is key. They can always cancel if needed.

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