“The sooner we’re notified, the sooner we can get involved, the better off we are, too,” Devlin said.
May 25 is National Missing Children’s Day, Nayor noted. And on Friday, the NCMEC’s New York/Mohawk Valley Office in Utica will hold its Ride for Missing Children to honor missing children, increase awareness of their plight and raise money to support efforts to find them and promote prevention of abduction and exploitation.
Citing U.S. Justice Department data, about 800,000 children are reported missing annually, Nayor said, of which about 58,000 are non-family abductions and more than 200,000 are custodial cases.
Nayor urged parents to develop “open relationships” with their children so that they communicate about activities, who is involved and when plans change. Children can — and should — be taught about looking out for themselves, being witnesses and communicating about themselves, he said.
The police department has been reviving and enhancing programs that reach out to and help children, Nayor said.
One significant steps taken toward protecting children were restoring the Drug Abuse Resistance Education, a program better known as DARE, early last year, Nayor said. Through DARE, children learn about potentially dangerous situations and develop creative and critical decision-making skills to address them, he said.
Another key step was sending Kerriann Harrington of the department’s communications staff to the NCMEC training for dispatchers earlier this year.
Nayor said the department will begin an investigation immediately upon receiving a call about a missing child.
Most abductions occur within a quarter-mile of where a child was last seen, Nayor said in his departmental memo, which instructed officers to conduct a thorough search at a child’s house and yard. In one case cited at training, he said, a child crawled into a clothes dryer and couldn’t get out.