If a child is missing, abducted or endangered, the Rutherford County Child Abduction Response Team will immediately launch a coordinated search, said Sheriff's Detective Phil Brooks, who leads the team.
The purpose of the team organized this year is to recover children safely and prosecute people who abduct children.
This multi-agency team performs rapid response to missing and abducted children cases, bringing experience to help families and other agencies speedily recover the missing. The team educates children, parents and communities on now to prevent children from becoming victims, build their self-reliance and emergency skills and to overcome fear.
About 14 team members trained together at the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation with training provided by Fox Valley Technical College.
Sheriff Robert Arnold said the team will work in their specialized areas to recover a missing or abducted child.
"We hope the team never has to become activated," Sheriff Arnold said. "If they do, the team is trained together to use all resources to recover the child safely."
Team members included representatives from the Child Advocacy Center, the Tennessee Department of Children's Services, the Emergency Medical Services' Special Operations Response Team, several units from the Sheriff's office and volunteers.
"If a child is missing, we can be on the scene within a matter of minutes," Detective Brooks said.
Executive Director Sharon DeBoer of the Child Advocacy Center said law enforcement will enter the child into the National Crime Information Center Missing Persons File, issue a "Be On the Look Out" bulletin, issue an Amber Alert and notify the members of the Child Abduction Response Team. All members of the team will drop everything and work together to investigate the case.
"Nearly 1.3 million children are reported missing every year," DeBoer said. "Child abduction is the most devastating crime for parents to experience. Most missing children are returned home within a short period of time. But, this is little consolation for parents whose children remain missing. The Rutherford County Sheriff's Office has developed the Child Abuse Response Team. This is a multidisciplinary team of professionals who work together to investigate and find missing children, and safely return them to their families."
A detailed plan assigns tasks for the team members and volunteers who respond to a missing child. For example, some team members will search the neighborhood while others will search houses. Another team member may determine if any sex offenders live in the neighborhood.
Christina Moody, an Investigations Coordinator with the Tennessee Department of Children's Services, said DCS has tap into its child-welfare databases and files to see if there in anything in a child's history that might pinpoint his or her whereabouts.
"When it comes to finding a missing or abducted child, DCS is always ready to help the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office in any way it can," said Moody.
Detective Brooks said the team hopes to prevent abductions by teaching younger students what to watch for and how to respond if a stranger approaches them.
"We're trying to have something in place in case something happens," Detective Brooks said. "We want to be prepared if that day happens."