On Tuesday morning, the Delaware County Child Abduction Response Team (CART) was certified by the United States Department of Criminal Justice, becoming the first such team in the state of Ohio.
Delaware County Sheriff Russell Martin and other representatives of all the partner agencies that make up the team gathered together to receive the certification at the Delaware County Fairgrounds.
The certification was earned after an assessment and exercise was completed earlier this year, according to National AMBER Alert Program Administrator Janell Rasmussen, who presented the certification Tuesday.
“You all deserve a huge pat on the back. This is no easy task,” Rasmussen said. “It’s significant, the amount of work that goes into it.”
She said teams have to train individuals, prepare equipment, and develop a network of community resources to help assist in any abducted child investigation.
“By establishing and building strong relationships on the front end of an event, you will be more prepared to respond on the day it actually occurs,” Rasmussen said. “No one agency can do this alone.”
Rasmussen praised the work of the Delaware County CART partners, which include the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office; The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation; Delaware Police Department; Genoa Township Police Department; Powell Police Department; Shawnee Hills Police Department; Westerville Police Department; Marion County Sheriff’s Office; Franklin County Sheriff’s Office; Delaware County Emergency Medical Services; Delaware County Emergency Management and Delaware County Juvenile Court.
“Delaware County is a leader because of your work to plan and prepare for these incidents,” Rasmussen said. “Kids are safer in Delaware County, Ohio, today because of the work you have done to implement this CART team. Delaware County went above and beyond to prepare for and successfully complete this exercise.”
Martin said the sheriff’s office may be the face of the certification but said it wouldn’t be possible without the other agencies.
“Obviously, we’ll take some credit for being the first in the state of Ohio, but I know full well that we don’t get here without our partners,” Martin said. “When you get notice that a child is missing, there are few calls that are more critical than that and all eyes are on law enforcement agencies. If you response is not the most professional and the most competent, you’re going to be under incredible scrutiny.”
Martin said there may be a low number of incidents but added they are all high risk when they occur. He said he’s thankful that agencies in the county, along with Marion and Franklin counties came together to get the certification.
“I am so grateful that we work in a county and region where we set egos aside, we set territory aside, and we determine to do what’s best for the community,” Martin said. “That’s the way public safety and law enforcement should do it. That’s what the people in the community deserve. I’m telling you we’re one best in the state, and it’s because I’m surrounded by good people. That’s what it takes.
“I’m extremely proud to be associated with all of you consummate professionals,” Martin told the representatives of the gathered agencies. “Thank you to your commitment.”
Martin credited DCSO Lt. David Buttler for being the point-man on the certification.
“I’m grateful for Dave Buttler’s leadership,” Martin said. “I commend him for taking on (this) task and working with the entire team to help us cross the finish line.
Buttler said he appreciated the commitment of all the agencies and said the team is still at full strength because whenever a member retires or is promoted out of the team, the agencies always replace them.
“Without any of the members on the team, this wouldn’t have happened,” he said. “Everyone did an amazing job.”
Buttler said he’s pleased with the certification, and the team will remain focused and continue to improve.
“It’s absolutely breathtaking for us to get this,” he said. “This has been seven years (in the making.) It feels amazing. We will stay focused and ensure we stay ready. We’ll be looking for new and innovative ways to make our team work.”
Martin said he’s proud of the team and added the team will benefit the whole state, not just Delaware County.
“It’s certainly a feather in our cap to be recognized as the first in the state to receive this accreditation,” Martin said. “But more importantly, it’s another reminder to me that I’m surrounded by some of the most caring and competent law enforcement partners and that’s what makes this successful. Our philosophy at DCSO has been a willingness to help statewide and nationwide partners who need help in these critical times. We’re all better when we work together and share resources.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.