Keeping your child safe when time is of the essence
Everyday children go missing in the United States. For many parents, you can never be too careful.
"That's like the biggest fear you have, is something will happen to them," Shalom Walund told Channel 3.
Walund is a mother of a toddler. She says she has made it clear to her daughter that safety is their family's top priority.
"So many kids don't seem to realize people will steal you. They can pick you up and lead you away." said Walund.
Channel 3 spoke to Sergeant Vinny Holoman with The Chattanooga Police Department's Missing Person's Unit. He says time is everything when a child goes missing.
"The first few hours are crucial. Of course, the longer the case goes on, the longer the time goes on, the colder the case gets." Said Holoman.
After the initial report is made, his department begins the process of finding the missing person.
"All missing parties are immediately entered into NCIC," Holoman told Channel 3.
The N.C.I.C is The National Crime Information Center. After children are reported missing, their stats go into this database, which can be accessed all across the U.S by law enforcement.
Once the missing child is entered into the database, The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation begins a complex process of issuing the Amber Alert. Their site notes, "It's not as simple as pressing a single button to issue the alert."
Sergeant Holoman says there are things parents can do in the event their child goes missing.
"It's hard to say don't panic but try to keep a level head. Try to remember what the child had on. It's crucial. Did he have a blue t shirt or a red t shirt?" Holoman added.
Knowing what your child is wearing makes it easier for officers to tell the public what to look for.
The Chattanooga Police Department is offering a National Child Identification Program. The kit features mouth swabs and finger print identifiers. It also has a spot to add your child's photo and medical records-- all things that will help law enforcement if your child ever goes missing.
These kits can be picked up at The Chattanooga Police Department's front desk Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Their office is located 3410 Amnicola Highway.
To see the criteria a case must meet to issue an Amber Alert, visit the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's website.