An initiative launched in 2005 by the DCJS to promote child safety, Operation Safe Child uses three tools to help parents keep a closer watch on their kids.
It allows them to obtain a free Safe Child identification card for their children, which allows law enforcement officials to respond quickly in the unfortunate event of a missing child.
Operation Safe Child also allows parents to learn about Internet safety so that they could know who their child’s friends are online, and it utilizes the New York State Sex Offender Registry to allow parents to know their neighborhood better.
The service to obtain the free cards will be available on Monday, November 14, from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Woodside Library, located at 54-22 Skillman Avenue; Thursday, November 17, from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Maspeth Library, located at 69-70 Grand Avenue; and Saturday, November 19, from 10:00 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Broadway Library, located at 40-20 Broadway, Astoria.
A photograph is taken of the child and a fingerprint image of both index fingers are taken. Biographical information such as date of birth, height, weight and hair color are also included.
The Safe Child ID Card is then kept by parents and in the event of a disappearance, information from the card is available only to law enforcement officials and can be used in conjunction with the New York State Amber Alert and the Missing Child Alert programs.
Interested parents can choose to store the fingerprints, basic biographical information and photographs of children who are not missing, this way, the chances of a swift return if the child goes missing are significantly higher. According to the DCJS, the storage of information is entirely voluntary and requires the written consent of a parent or legal guardian. The information gathered is digitally recorded and stored in a database at DCJS.
In the event DCJS receives a missing child report, the fingerprints of that child are included in a special search file and compared against all incoming fingerprints submitted to the agency.
According to the DCJS, the cards and database also allow essential missing child information to be electronically disseminated, statewide if necessary, within minutes, increasing the possibility of bringing a missing child home unharmed.
The card is made in under five mintues.
“The photograph of the child may also be digitally altered to show what a missing child may look like after missing for several years. It allows the transfer of the information statewide within minutes of a child being reported missing,” said Markey in a statement. “Information is removed from the database once a child turns 18 years old, or may be removed earlier if a parent chooses to do so.”
Accoring to the DCJS, 34 percent of parents in the United States are unsure about their child’s height, weight and eye color. The DCJS website states that up-to-date and detailed information “is extremely important to help local law enforcement officials to respond to a missing child case.”
“The safety of our children is a paramount concern these days,” added Markey. “And this program will help parents be prepared when the unthinkable happens and they need useful, accurate information and photographs to help authorities in the event of a disappearance.”
For more information on the Safe Child ID Cards call the assemblywoman’s office at (718) 651-3185.