Starting this week, the Costa Mesa Police Department will have a new tool
that will alert schools, businesses and the media about pressing matters
in a timely fashion.
The system, known as Technology to Recover Abducted Kids, is nothing more
than a computer, printer and a scanner. Used together, the components
allow law enforcement to respond rapidly and effectively.
"It's not a stretch of any imagination these days to have a missing child
and to inform nearly everyone within five or 10 minutes about the
abduction," said Costa Mesa police Lt. Ron Smith. "This system could be a
huge benefit in a big case, but also with the little ones, too."
Using the program, officers can create fliers in a matter of minutes
instead of the hours spent the old-fashioned way.
Not only can police send bulletins just minutes after a crime, but the
system simplifies the process. As long as police officers have a picture,
they can produce the bulletins quickly.
One key benefit of the system is the ability to send the fliers
electronically. Police departments compile a mailing list and once the
fliers are finished, they are sent to fax machines at various
The program was launched by a Bay Area company in 1996 after the
well-publicized kidnapping and murder of Polly Klaas. More than 350
police agencies across the nation now use the system.
"Unfortunately, it takes a tragedy to cause some of the action," said
Todd Bower, executive director for the company that operates the system.
"With anything new, agencies are slow to adapt."
The city's police department and the Orange County Sheriff's Department
are the only two law enforcement agencies in the county that have
utilized the system. Smith said the department was fortunate that a
United Way grant funded the $8,000 system at no cost to the city.
The benefits are priceless, Smith said, because the bulletins won't be
limited to missing children. The system can be used if there is a murder
suspect on the loose, a bank robber on the run or an elderly person who
can't be found.
The department will also be linked with other agencies that have the
system. Crime bulletins can be distributed electronically between
agencies instead of waiting to receive it by mail.
"We hope to be the pioneers for Orange County," Smith said. "It takes
just one success story before more agencies sign on to the system."
Police are welcoming any businesses, schools or organizations to contact
the department if they are interested in being added to the list to
receive the fliers.
For more information, call (714) 754-5206.