Montana has joined a nationwide program that uses automated phone dialing systems to alert residents of missing children.
The program, called A Child is Missing Alert, is intended to immediately get word out to area residents by phone about missing children, but also has been used to help find victims of Alzheimer’s disease, people with disabilities and even missing college students.
On Tuesday, Marlin Price, a retired police chief from Texas, trained a roomful of Montana police officers and sheriffs deputies in how the program works.
The rapid call alert system can send recorded phone messages to hundreds of homes at a time, alerting residents that police are searching for a missing child.
The recording begins: “This is an urgent message from Montana law enforcement. We are currently looking for a missing child in your area.”
We can never have enough resources at hand to prevent missing children cases.
“This program is beneficial for worst-case scenarios,” Price said. “But it works in lots of other scenarios, too. It can notify an entire neighborhood that someone is lost or if they’ve run away.”
Using satellite technology, a technician compiles information directly from an investigator on a missing child or person. The technician enters the address where the person was last seen, as well as other pertinent information, then defines an area in which to begin notifying residents.
The system won’t notify cell phones or unlisted numbers, but people can register to have those numbers also alerted.