Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Missing child alerts to begin

By Jane Prendergast, jprendergast@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Greater Cincinnati will soon become the latest area to sign on with a national program that sends automatic phone calls to thousands of households when a child is missing.

        Officials of A Child Is Missing, based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., will be downtown today to launch the project. It makes Ohio the fifth state where police departments are involved.

        The nonprofit group sends calls to households in areas where children and sick elderly people are missing, and asks people to search their property.

        In Woonsocket, R.I., in April, authorities credited the program with helping them find a missing woman who suffered from memory problems as a result of brain surgery. A 12-year-old girl heard the recorded message when she got home from school and remembered seeing the woman.

        “It's really a credit to Hamilton County that this is coming there,” said Claudia Corrigan, the project's national expansion director.

        A Child Is Missing started in March 1997 with support from Crime Stoppers, the Broward County Sheriff's Office and police departments in Miami and Hollywood, Fla.

        They hope to take the program nationwide. It's now available to police departments in Florida, Rhode Island, Alaska and Colorado.

        Departments do not have to pay to use it now, but the group plans to ask other states for money in the future. Founder Sherry Friedlander was raised in Cincinnati.

        Commanders from the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office, the Cincinnati Police Department and other law-enforcement agencies will kick off the program with a 10 a.m. ceremony at the Cincinnati Club.


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