SIKESTON - The Sikeston Department of Public Safety is spending months developing procedures and policies on a program they hope never to implement.
During Thursday's meeting of the Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce, DPS Director Drew Juden explained the AMBER Alert program, which provides a rapid reaction in the case of a child abduction.
"We hope by getting the word out these will be policies we never have to use. That criminals will know that we are prepared and ready and this isn't a place to come (to try to abduct a child)," he said.
AMBER Alert, which stands for American Missing Broadcast Emergency Response, will be coordinated locally with the assistance of Zimmer Radio and the Chamber. Modeled off a program started in Arlington, Texas, the plan seeks to get information to the public about an abduction immediately.
Before an alert is issued, Juden said officers will first confirm an abduction has taken place, the victim is in serious danger of bodily harm and there is enough information either on the assailant or the victim to provide some benefit to locating the victim.
According to the DPS director, 74 percent of victims are killed within the first three hours of abduction. "We have a very small window of time to deal in," he stated.
As the alert is issued, DPS will also activate the Major Case Squad for the area. The squad is made up of the Scott and New Madrid county sheriff departments and the Highway Patrol.
Also the alert would be broadcast by the radio station and the Chamber would provide notification to its membership by e-mails or FAX.
"It is important for the citizens and businesses to get involved," Juden emphasized. "Every citizen will be our eyes and ears."
Also in the case of a local abduction, Juden said DPS is looking at closing all exits of the city, shutting down avenues for a suspect to escape.
According to Juden the policies for the local AMBER Alert should be in place by the end of the year.
Scott County Sheriff Bill Ferrell praised Juden and his department for their efforts in developing the program. Also adding praise was Chamber Executive Director Missy Marshall, who encouraged Chamber members to provide the SACC with e-mail addresses in order to implement the alert.
Also during the Chamber meeting:
* The St. Francis Youth Group was recognized by the Chamber for having the most participants in the Communitywide Clean-Up Day. Chamber President Shad Old presented a plaque to the Rev. Stephen Schneider.
* A Chamber open house is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 6.
* The SACC membership drive resulted in 26 new members to the local Chamber, Marshall said.