News


FDLE Commemorates National Missing Children’s Day

5/23/2008
 
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) joins the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, broadcasters, transportation officials, emergency management officials and law enforcement officials throughout the nation to commemorate National Missing Children’s Day on Sunday, May 25.

Florida will hold its official statewide commemoration of missing children on Sept. 8 during the Florida Missing Children’s Day ceremony, an annual event held at the state Capitol. On this day, recognition is given for the extraordinary efforts of Florida’s police officers, private citizens, and individuals on behalf of missing children.

“Today we join our partners and the nation in remembering our missing children,” said FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey. “Our state will never stop searching, and we will continue to work aggressively to find new ways to bring these children home.”

In 2007, approximately 50,940 children were reported missing in the state. Florida’s Missing Children Information Clearinghouse was the first of its kind in the nation. MCIC serves as a liaison between citizens, private organizations and law enforcement officials regarding missing children information. Last year, MCIC provided direct assistance in the recovery of 136 children.

In 2000, Florida was the second state in the nation to create a statewide AMBER Plan. The plan is designed to broadcast critical information about child abductions. Of the five AMBER Alerts issued to date this year, all were resolved as a result of the AMBER Alert. FDLE encourages the public to sign up to receive free Amber Alerts and Missing Child Alerts via e-mail or cell phone text message at www.missingchildrenalert.com.

In 2005, Florida created Child Abduction Response Teams (CART). CART is an inter-agency child abduction team designed to provide assistance and investigative resources to the lead investigative agency when a child goes missing. Many states have adopted Florida’s CART concept.

FDLE partnered in 2007 with the Florida Outdoor Advertising Association (FOAA) and its member outdoor advertising companies to expand the Florida AMBER Plan. This partnership allows for advertising companies to donate space on digital billboards in order to post both AMBER and Missing Child Alerts. This unique partnership has been a valuable model for other states around the nation to utilize digital billboards during AMBER Alerts. FDLE recognizes that FOAA and its members were the pioneers in their response to abducted children and have set the benchmark for the rest of the country. Next month, other states will be partnering with their outdoor advertisers to utilize digital billboards during AMBER Alerts.

The outreach provided by the donation of space on digital billboards is a crucial component of the Florida AMBER Plan. It extends the outreach for alert activations and helps to raise community awareness in the search for missing and abducted children. In addition to this partnership, FOAA and its members have been providing donated space on traditional billboards to raise community awareness in the search for missing and abducted children.

Since 1983, the nation has observed May 25 as National Missing Children’s Day. On this day in 1979, Etan Patz disappeared from a New York City street on his way to school. Etan’s case quickly received a lot of coverage. His father, a professional photographer, disseminated black-and-white photographs of Etan in an effort to find him. The massive search and media attention that followed focused the nation’s attention on the problem of child abduction and lack of plans to address it. Presidential Proclamations have been issued asking that families, law enforcement officials, broadcasters, and child advocates join together to highlight and demonstrate a societal commitment to stopping the abduction and exploitation of children.

To learn more about the Amber Plan and Florida’s Missing Children Information Clearinghouse, visit www.fdle.state.fl.us.

For more information, contact:

Heather Smith or Kristen Perezluha
FDLE Public Information Office
(850) 410-7001