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Link into missing persons program

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opinion Fargo, 58102

Fargo North Dakota 101 5th Street North 58102

Law enforcement agencies in both Cass and Clay Counties are asking for help in getting the word out about a fairly new free service program, that has received some press recently but is worthy of mentioning again.

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The program is called "A Child is Missing," a high tech method to search locally for missing children, missing elderly (often with Alzheimer's), college students, and missing persons who may be mentally or physically challenged or disabled.

The idea behind the program is powerful providing another tool to use to find missing people when the criteria is not met to utilize The Amber Alert.

Here is how it works.

Upon receipt of a missing person's call, law enforcement agencies in both Cass and Clay Counties will make a phone call to a toll-free number that rings in Fort Lauderdale, Florida - the national headquarters of the A Child Is Missing Alert Program. The call, answered 24/7/365 by an information and mapping technician, initiates a rapid process of information gathering and use of sophisticated mapping systems. A Child Is Missing then launches potentially thousands of calls within minutes to residents and businesses in the area where someone has gone missing, with an alert message detailing the missing person's description, last known whereabouts, and pertinent information. This alert message will also include a phone number for people to call that may have information relating to the missing person.

Phone numbers that are called by this program include listed numbers and mobile numbers available to ACIM in the selected area. Mobile numbers, unlisted numbers, broadband/voice-over IP numbers, or TDD/TTY devices can be added to ensure they, too, are called in the event of an alert.

This is where you can come into the picture.

West Fargo Police Chief Arland Rasmussen sums it up best by saying: "We know it will get plenty of publicity when something bad happens, but the idea is to have people sign-up so we can utilize the program when it is needed, and not have to wait to have folks sign up after the fact."

Rasmussen said people are needed to register because most people have cell phones now instead of landlines and those cell numbers aren't listed in the phone book for contact. "By signing up, we have a cell phone number and a way of getting a hold of people if someone is missing in a particular quadrant." For instance, if a child or elderly person goes missing, calls would go out in that particular area to help with the search, i.e. Second to Fifth Avenue or First to Nineteenth Street.

Also, the more people signed up, the greater the chance of finding the missing individual because of the larger people network.

The process is both simple and fast and the information will be used only for the emergency message alerts.

To sign up your cell phone, unlisted, broadband/voice-over IP or TDD/TTY device number visit www.achildismissing.org and click on "add your name" to enter your name, number, and address.

  To date the efforts of A Child Is Missing have been credited with more than 750 safe-assisted recoveries, including some in our own state.

If you would like to be a potential link in helping locate a missing person, don't hesitate, visit the website and sign up now.

Participating agencies include: West Fargo, Fargo, Moorhead, Glyndon, Dilworth, Barnesville and Hawley Police Departments and the Cass and Clay County Sheriff's offices.

khuber@westfargopioneer.com

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