The Shawnee Hills Police Department has entered into a national program designed to protect endangered children in the community. In a press release, the department announced its involvement in the Missing Kids Readiness Program, developed by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC).

“From the moment the report of a missing child comes in, to the resolution of the case, every action taken has the potential to make the difference between a successful recovery or a tragic outcome,” the release stated.

NCMEC promotes best practices for responding to calls of missing, abducted, and sexually exploited children. Law enforcement agencies and 911 call centers are recognized for meeting essential training and policy elements demonstrating preparedness for responding to a missing child incident.

Criteria for joining the program include the chief or sheriff of a law enforcement agency attending a CEOMEC seminar or completing all the Missing and Exploited Child modules. Shawnee Hills Police Chief Russell Baron told The Gazette he completed a weeklong training in Alexandria, Virginia, centered on executive leadership during a missing child incident.

All sworn telecommunicators must also complete the required online modules in their respective course catalog. Baron completed his required training, and he ensured his officers in the department completed the training required for membership.

A law enforcement agency must also adopt the model policy or present a policy meeting the critical components of the Missing Kids Readiness model.

The Shawnee Hills Police Department is one of just three departments in the state to be a member of the program, joining the Powell and Circleville police departments.

“By demonstrating remarkable leadership, and making this commitment of training and preparedness, the Shawnee Hills Police Department is communicating to its citizens and families, that protecting the lives and safety of their children is a top priority,” a spokesperson for the program stated. “Armed with the information, knowledge, and operational resources gained through meeting the Program criteria, the Shawnee Hills Police Department positions itself to respond more quickly, comprehensively, and effectively when a child’s life may be at stake.”

Baron said of the program, “As a member of the Delaware County Child Abduction Response Team, we have responded to missing child incidents all over the state. I have seen how little prepared we are in law enforcement to deal with these types of incidents when they go beyond one hour.

“These types of incidents can quickly overwhelm an agency. Participation in this program ensures our agency is ready, trained, and able to respond to such an incident. Our community, specifically, is growing, and we are seeing a younger demographic. The threat of a child going missing is very real and something we have to prepare ourselves for. We owe it to the kids to be the best we can be.”

The Shawnee Hills Police Department is located at 40 W. Reindeer Drive. Shawnee Hills Police Department is located at 40 W. Reindeer Drive. Dillon Davis | Gazette file photo

By Dillon Davis

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Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.