DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE LAUNCHES INITIATIVE TO TRAIN CHILD ABDUCTION RESPONSE TEAMS
FT. MYERS, Fla. - The Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs (OJP) today announced an initiative to train regional Child Abduction Response Teams (CART) nationwide to respond quickly to incidents of missing and abducted children.
During the next year, OJP will conduct CART training in ten regions across the country. The first training will take place in San Diego, Calif., January 23-27, 2006. The regional teams will include law enforcement investigators, forensic experts, AMBER Alert coordinators, policy makers, search and rescue professionals, crime intelligence analysts, victim service providers and other interagency resources.
"When a child is abducted, time is of the essence. Trained regional teams will soon be poised to bring additional resources to help recover children safely and return them to their families," said Cybele K. Daley, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs. "CART is a much-needed tool that will help law enforcement recover missing and abducted children." Daley made the announcement at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's (FDLE) Ft. Myers Regional Operations Center during a regional CART training event.
The CART program began earlier this year as a result of the abduction of 11-year-old Carlie Brucia in Sarasota, Fla. in February 2004 that ended in tragedy. Members of FDLE's Orlando Regional Operations Center determined a need for their region to have trained experts in the field of child abduction investigation and response who could respond to an abduction immediately, assist the lead local law enforcement agency and bring addition regional resources to the recovery effort. OJP has modified Florida's local CART model so it can be adopted by regions nationwide. To date, OJP has conducted four regional CART training sessions in Florida. CART has been activated 13 times and as a result of those activations, 11 children have been recovered in Florida.
OJP's nationwide development of the CART program builds upon the remarkable success of the AMBER Alert program. AMBER Alerts have helped save the lives of 231 children nationwide. Over 80 percent of those recoveries have occurred since October 2002 when President Bush called for a nationally coordinated AMBER Alert program at the first-ever White House Conference on Missing, Exploited and Runaway Children.
CART can be used for all missing children's cases and can be deployed as part of an AMBER Alert or when a child is abducted or missing, but the abduction/disappearance does not meet the AMBER Alert criteria.
AMBER Alerts are issued only when a child abduction meets the specific AMBER Alert criteria, when law enforcement has enough descriptive information about the abductor or the abductor's vehicle to alert the public. CART can also be used to recover runaway children if they are under 18 and are in danger.
In May, OJP joined the wireless industry and other government officials to announce that wireless users can opt to receive geographically specified messages on their wireless devices through an AMBER Alert wireless messaging system. In February, OJP announced that with the addition of Hawaii, all 50 states now have statewide AMBER Alert plans.
The PROTECT Act, which President Bush signed into law in April 2003, statutorily established the National AMBER Coordinator and required the coordinator to facilitate AMBER network development, support development of state AMBER plans, help eliminate geographic gaps in AMBER networks, provide regional coordination, and establish guidance on criteria for issuing an AMBER Alert. More information can be found at www.amberalert.gov.
The Office of Justice Programs provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist victims. OJP is headed by an Assistant Attorney General and comprises five component bureaus and two offices: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; and Office for Victims of Crime, as well as the Office of the Police Corps and Law Enforcement Education and the Community Capacity Development Office, which incorporates the Weed and Seed strategy and OJP's American Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Desk. More information can be found at www.ojp.usdoj.gov.