When a child is reported missing, time is one of law enforcement's greatest enemies. Every hour a child is missing, decreases the likelihood of a safe recovery. There are many challenges facing law enforcement personnel in a missing child case. One is collecting and disseminating the child's descriptive information quickly to other law enforcement agencies, the media and the public. With that goal in mind, LOCATER (Lost Child Alert Technology Resource) was created to provide the computer hardware and software needed to rapidly distribute information on missing children.

In order to ensure a high level of preparedness for child abduction cases, the Jasper Police Department has implemented the LOCATER program. By using the program, the police department can quickly create their own missing-person posters that can be distributed to the community. Posters can also be electronically transmitted to other agencies, the media, and the public via the Internet.

When a law-enforcement agency receives a missing-child report, they can obtain the child's film or digital photograph from a parent or legal guardian. After entering the missing child's information into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), the investigating officer can generate a poster through the LOCATER secure web site. A poster can be created in English and Spanish.

All LOCATER posters are available to other participating law-enforcement agencies in a secure database, where they can search for the most recent posters by child's name, agency name, file number, date, and other key factors. The program is used in more than 4,500 law-enforcement agencies across the United States.

Although the program is designed for missing child posters, the technology may also be used for a number of other purposes, such as posters for missing adults, wanted persons, and crime alerts. If an agency participates in a voluntary partnership with the media to send out emergency alerts when a child is abducted, such as the AMBER Plan, LOCATER has a template for that as well.

"Florida has had a high number of missing kid cases," said Ptl. Martin Lee. "The Jasper Police Department is taking steps to prepare for a missing child case by using all the resources available to ensure that if, in the rare case, a child from Jasper or Hamilton County should go missing, the agency will be able to do all it can to ensure a safe recovery."

Working in cooperation with the US Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is the national resource center and clearinghouse for missing and exploited child cases.

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