BENTON - When it comes to missing children, time is crucial. With ever hour that passes, it becomes less and less likely that the missing child will be safely recovered.
"We cannot block out what is happening around the country and assume it will not happen in Scott County - we have to be ready," stated Scott County Sheriff Bill Ferrell in a press release Tuesday.
Ferrell noted the 1979 missing person case of Cheryl Ann Scherer who, at 19 years old, was abducted from a self-service gas station on Main Street in Scott City during the day. Investigators are still following leads to find out exactly what happened and who is responsible for Scherer's disappearance.
In light of this abduction and recent incidents around the nation, the Scott County Sheriff's Office has implemented the LOCATOR, the Lost Child Alert Technology Resource.
Among the many challenges facing law enforcement personnel in missing child cases, one of the greatest is collecting and disseminating the child's description quickly. With that in mind, LOCATOR was created to provide the computer hardware and software needed to rapidly distribute critical missing child data on a local, statewide or nationwide basis.
The system is comprised of a Dell Pentium IV computer, HP DeskJet 940C printer, high-resolution scanner and customized software.
United States Congressional funds allow the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to provide the LOCATOR system free-of-charge to law enforcement agencies that investigate missing child cases. NCMEC has found that when pictures of missing children or abductors are made available to the public, one in six children are recovered as a direct result.
LOCATOR is not limited to missing children cases, however. It also includes templates for more than 100 different types of posters such as missing adults, wanted persons, and crime alerts and is also compatible with the AMBER Plan (see missingkids.com for more information).
Sgt. Jerry Bledsoe has worked with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children since April of this year to obtain the LOCATOR system for the Sheriff's Office, according to Ferrell.