CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- The Chesterfield County Police Department unveiled two new tools that it said will help with missing persons cases.
For the first, CCPD said it is the first law enforcement agency to become certified by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s (NCMEC) “Missing Kids Readiness Program”. The county’s 911 call center was also certified, becoming the seventh in the state to do so.
At a virtual presentation Wednesday, an official from NCMEC presented the certificates to CCPD Chief Col. Jeffrey Katz and Emergency Communications Director Tommy Tucker.
“The objective…is to promote policies and best practices for communications and law enforcement agencies regardless of size, location and resources in order to ensure that unified response to each report of missing and abducted children. Each year, the National Center receives over 30,000 reports of missing children,” said Alan Nanavaty, Executive Director of NCMEC’s Missing Children’s Division. “That first call regarding the missing child through investigation and safe recovery of that child — each step along the way is important, it must be done swiftly, and without delay.”
CCPD said in order to obtain the certification every person at the department had to complete training with NCMEC.
“Everybody's attended the same exact training and so everybody knows…what needs to happen when you respond out. What needs to happen during the investigation, the risks associated with…runaways, and missing kids,” said Lt. Brad Conner, with the Crimes Against Persons Unit of CCPD.
NCMEC also reviewed and offered revisions to CCPD’s policies for handling missing children’s cases.
“The National Center, through work with law enforcement agencies at large and the International Association of Chiefs of Police, has a model policy. In this case, we found much of what the organization was doing was on point with that policy,” said Nanavaty.
Conner said one of the biggest changes CCPD made as a result of the certification was how they handled runaway cases.
“The oversight, as far as the investigation that's contained with those runaways. The assignment to investigations after a predetermined amount of time or depending on different circumstances,” added Conner. “Because there are some risk factors associated with with runaways and human trafficking and stuff of that of that nature. Nationally, they look at one-in-six, one-in-seven kids, that’s a runaway, as being a potential victim of human trafficking.”
CCPD Unveils Latest Additions to the K9 Team
Also on Wednesday, CCPD held a meet and greet with the two newest members to its K9 division — bloodhounds: Rudy and Mazie.
The two dogs are brother and sister and are around six-months-old. They were donated to the department from a breeder in North Carolina who breeds and donates the dogs to public safety agencies.
Maj. David Shand with the Uniform Operations Division said they had initially only received Rudy.
“There were so many things going on with COVID, several of the agencies that had answered up for the other puppies — due to budget cuts, or whatever, weren't able to come in to acquire the their dogs. So, we had the opportunity to go and get a second dog. That's the female, Mazie,” said Shand.
Shand said the department has drug and apprehension dogs that can also track, they wanted a dog dedicated to tracking.
“As Chesterfield County's population grows, as the population gets older, we're seeing an increased need to respond to missing individuals,” said Shand. He added while their other dogs, such as a German shepherd or Malwa, will pick up the freshest scent on a scene, the bloodhound can track older scents and ‘scent articles’ from the missing person. “They can track based on their introduction to the scent.”
CCPD said Rudy and Mazie are still undergoing training and should be ready to begin work when they are between 10-to-12-months old.