MIDDLESEX COUNTY – Middlesex County Acting Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey and Middlesex County Interim Executive Schools Superintendent Todd Flora announced today that plans are being enacted to quickly reach out to educators, parents and school children for help when a child is reported missing.
Under the plan that has been presented to school districts throughout the county, police will be able to access automated telephone notification systems that commonly are used to let parents know about special school events, such as early school closings or cancellations due to severe weather.
The same system, currently in use in all 24 municipal school districts and at three charter schools in Middlesex County, could easily be used to contact parents after regular school hours to alert them to a report of a missing child.
Such notices may prompt a parent or a child to recall vital information, such as some suspicious activity in a neighborhood, or the location of where a missing youngster was seen last.
“When schools are in session, it is a relatively simple task to dispatch police to the school to question teachers, administrators and school children about the whereabouts of a missing child,” Carey said. “But reaching out to the school community after school hours can be very time consuming and can extend the time it may take to safely recover a missing child.”
“Granting police access to the automated telephone notification system will greatly enhance the ability of police to find missing children quickly,” Carey said.
“As much as the speed in which we distribute information is important, transmitting it to the particular target groups is greater,” Carey said. “Once such group would be the missing child’s classmates, as they may have important information that could assist in the investigation.
“For instance, they may have seen a suspicious vehicle in the area, or may have information regarding something the missing child may have confided to another student prior to the disappearance,” Carey said.
Flora said he is encouraging municipal schools superintendents to arrange for each community’s participation in the project.
“Since these automated systems have been in place for a number of years, there is virtually no cost to the schools to allow police to make a special recording seeking the help of parents and children to find a missing child,” Flora said.
He said school officials from around the county also are being asked for ideas on other ways to help find missing children quickly.
The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office established the Middlesex County Child Abduction Response Team in 2008 under a statewide directive by the state Office of the Attorney General to create a team of law enforcement and emergency response agencies that are trained and work together to quickly investigate reports of abducted or missing children in the county.
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