Hundreds of area parents are now equipped to provide law enforcement with vital information if their child goes missing.
Law enforcement officials, aided by members of the NEO Criminal Justice Club, have been traveling the area providing parents with child identification kits.
“We hope parents never have to use them,” said Ottawa County Deputy John Dalgarn, who heads the department's public relations efforts. “But, if a child comes up missing, these kits are helpful in bringing them home.”
On Sept. 22, the child safety team set up a booth alongside many other attractions at the Flying Cow Arena, which hosted part of this year's Pelican Festival.
Parents were provided with an identification kit that included a fingerprinting card, two swabs for DNA collection and a personal information card.
On the card is an area for parents to write down their child's physical description, including medical and dental records, and two places to paste the child's photographs.
“The most time consuming thing is getting the child's fingerprints,” Dalgarn said.
Dalgarn added that fingerprints are especially important to law enforcement when a child is missing.
More than 800,000 children go missing in the United States each year, but less than 2 percent of parents have copies of their children's fingerprints, according to the National Child Identification Program, but local law enforcement is hoping to change that statistic.
In the event a child is not recovered safely, the DNA swabs, which are new to many identification kits, can be helpful in the identification process.
“We always hope this is something we never have to use,” Dalgarn said. “But, it does happen.”
Saturday, Dalgarn and members of the NEO Criminal Justice Club will be at the first annual Dotte Days Fall Festival in Wyandotte.
The event is sponsored by the Bank of Wyandotte, the Town of Wyandotte and the Wyandotte Fire Department.