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Free Child I.D. Kits to Assist Law Enforcement in Child Abduction Cases

Stefano Mortellaro

Nearly 2,000 children are abducted or reported missing across the country every day, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.  Experts say the first few hours after an abduction are vital to a child’s recovery. KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann has more on a local program aimed at better assisting law enforcement in those crucial moments.

The Missouri Childhood Identification Program or MOCHIP was started by the Missouri Freemason Grand Lodge eight years ago.  Regional Coordinator Dale Roller says the program has created kits for around 200,000 kids to date. He explains these kits provide a resource for parents that contain essential information to help police in the event of an emergency.

"It's a very comprehensive program.  We take the information that the parents put in—name, age, weight, doctors—all this is entered in on a form. Then we enter it into a computer.  We take three pictures [including] a headshot and two sides.  And then we go on down and take finger prints and then get DNA from a dental swab or bite impression," Roller says.

Afterward, all of the computers are wiped clean, explains Roller.  He says all the information they collect goes onto two laminated cards and a computer disk for the parents to keep. 

"It [the disk] is Amber Alert compatible with all of the Missouri Highway Patrol and [Missouri] sheriff patrol cars.  And on this disk is all of this information that will just pop up in case you and your child are separated," says Roller.

Captain Greg Higdon with the Springfield Police Department says identification kits like these help not only law enforcement, but the public as well toward finding the child as quickly as possible. The first few hours after an abduction are the most critical, says Higdon, any lag in gathering identifying information waste valuable time.

Roller adds that across Missouri the identification program has already proven useful.

"The MOCHIP program has been used eight times [across the state] every time thus far successfully where each child has been recovered," Roller says.  

Saturday in Republic, MOCHIP will host the first of two events for parents to receive free identification kits.  Parents should bring the name and contact information for their child's doctor, says Roller, and the process takes about 20 minutes to complete.  He adds these kits should be updated every two years to have your child's most current information. 

The event in Republic is free and open to the public and takes place at the Republic Community Center from 10 am to 2 pm.  A second event will take place the following Saturday, July 19 at Springfield Incredible Pizza Company.

Theresa received her undergraduate degree in sociology at Missouri State University, as well as her Master's degree in Social Work at MSU. Theresa enjoys writing, drawing, reading, music, working with animals, and most of all spending time with her family. She wishes to continue to use her experiences, combined with her pursuit of education, to foster a sense of empowerment and social awareness in the community. Theresa loves working with KSMU and attributes her passion for NPR, and love of learning, to her father.