It’s a parent’s worst nightmare when their child disappears. Authorities say child abductions by strangers are rare, but there is enough of a concern about it to cause the FBI to develop a multi-agency response team.
The specialized team is made up of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. The goal is to mobilize resources to any part of the state as soon as possible.
The first few hours following an abduction are believed to be the most crucial and can determine whether a child makes it home safe.
Special Agent in Charge Aaron Rouse is joined by some of the members of the newly developed Joint Child Abduction Rapid Deployment Team. The agency is called J-CARD for short.
Rouse leads the Las Vegas division of the FBI.
“We want to prepare for that day because you have to have good cohesive law enforcement response,” Rouse said.
A total of 40 law enforcement officers from 10 different agencies make up the J-CARD team, and every one underwent three days of training.
“I feel a thousand times better now that I did the training, and being part of a team to actually recover any child,” said Sgt. Matthew Kirkland with the Esmeralda County Sheriff Office.
Esmeralda County Sheriff’s Office is one of the smallest agencies involved. The agency only has six deputies and five jailers.
With that said, it doesn’t mean finding a child after they have been abducted is easier in a big agency. For example, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is the largest agency in the state, and it says child abduction investigations can be challenging.
“These don’t happen too often, fortunately, and because of that really, if you have one of these, there’s initial lag, if you don’t have a predetermined team,” said Deputy Chief Chris Jones, Metro Police.
Although rare, Deputy Chief Jones says there are about 105 and 110 child abductions by strangers throughout the country every year.
“Unfortunately, many of them do not end well,” Deputy Chief Jones said. “This team is meant to change that.”
Nevada has one of seven J-CARD teams in the nation. The majority of the agencies are from southern Nevada.
The FBI hopes to expand their efforts to the northern part of the state as well.