6-23-05 - Seconds count when a child disappears or is kidnapped - but now a new system could not only save time, but save lives. The Chickasaw Nation has helped institute a system where thousands of phone calls can be made within minutes of the first report to enlist the help of area residents in finding a missing person.
This innovative and potentially lifesaving service is available in south central Oklahoma thanks to a partnership between the Chickasaw Nation Lighthorse Police Department and A Child Is Missing (ACIM).
“One of the most impressive features of this program is how fast it can provide results,” said LPD Chief Jason O’Neal. “Even if a person has been missing a very short time we won’t hesitate to initiate the process because it is such an efficient use of resources.
“Rather than sending officers out to knock on doors this system contacts people in the area immediately by phone. That type of immediacy can literally mean the difference between life and death.”
Once a LPD Officer has verified that an individual is missing the officer makes a report to ACIM, including a description of the person and other relevant information.
An individually recorded message is made by the technician describing the missing person and asking residents and employees of local businesses to search their property for the individual and call the police if they have any pertinent information to report.
After that, it takes only 60 seconds to deliver the message to up to 1,000 residents and businesses in the area.
“This program has incredible potential to help find missing children and others,” said Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby. “We want to make sure everyone in the area knows that help is just a phone call away.”
Because the LPD works in cooperation with other law enforcement agencies, the system is available to anyone in the Chickasaw Nation’s 13- county area.
“We are prepared to work with any agency in the area to activate this system,” said Chief O’Neal, who also indicated he would be eager to offer information about the free service to other agencies.
More than100 missing persons nationwide have been located using the ACIM program.
One success story involves and 83-year-old man with dementia who wandered off while shopping with his daughter in Coweta, Okla.
Shortly after the report of the missing man reached ACIM 1,366 calls went out. A bank receptionist on lunch break phoned to report she had seen a man fitting the description sitting and reading a book in the bank lobby.
Within 15 minutes of the calls going out, the man and his daughter were reunited.
Beyond enlisting the support of the public, the system also provides high technology assistance to officers to aid in the search.
Computer mapping and satellite imagery programs help identify “hot spots” that may attract the missing individual.
“This technology may point to prime search areas officers may not have been familiar with otherwise,” said Chief O’Neal. “By identifying bodies of water, warehouses, wooded areas or other likely hiding places or places of shelter, the program can help officers concentrate on the most likely search areas first. That can save valuable time.”
For information, call the Chickasaw Lighthorse Police at (580) 436-1166.