According to the FBI, about 400 children are kidnapped by strangers every year in America. For that reason the Marion Police Department sponsored its annual Child Identification Program over the weekend. Each family that comes to the event will leave with a packet of information about their child. Included in that packet is a fingerprint card, a DNA swab, and a disc that contains pictures of the child. This information is used by parents and law enforcement to help locate and identify a missing child.
"All they have to do is get that packet that we're giving them, put it in a safe place, keep it all together, pick it up and fill out the card that we give them, fill out all the information. Bring it with them to the local agencies. They will go in and take out what they need--the fingerprint card, the disc, and the disc is most important. It's going to be the first thing they get," said Marion Police Chief Ben Langston.
Stephanie Mimbs brought her 18-month-old son Steven Michael to Marion for the program. She says that with all the uncertainty of the world now, it is important to have this record of her child.
"I'm here to get his fingerprints and a DNA swab done so that we've got it on record in case anything ever happens," said Mimbs.
Officials say that one of the best things about using this packet to locate a missing child is the speed at which the information can be given to authorities and to the public as well.
"You can help the local and nationwide law enforcement identify an adult that might have wandered off, a child that might have wandered off, or been taken. You do that so that we can quickly get the info out to local agencies. With the World Wide Web we can get it out real quick now," said Langston.
Officials say the identification packets are also available for adults that may not be able to identify themselves, such as those with Alzheimer's or disabilities.