When a child goes missing, time is the greatest enemy.
And first responders from all over Winnebago county are trying to be the best at solving these cases.
The county put together a proven team and after years of preparation, it’s certification day.
They’re all here–Neenah, Omro, Menasha, and thensome. All perfecting a preplanned response to abduction.
“We get everybody together,” said Todd Sweeney from the Fox Crossing Fire Dept. “We train, we plan things ahead of time so when the event happens–the unfortunate circumstance happens–we can get everybody together and everything’s already done and people are trained up and ready to go.”
Winnebago County’s been building up to this moment for six years.
“All of the fruits of our labor are hopefully going to come to fruition today,” said Sheriff John Matz of the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office.
The county’s Child Abduction Response Team–CART for short–is trying to become the 27th certified team in the country.
Time is of the essence, so the team needs to be able to know when to spring into action.
“Is it just a child that wandered off, or do we have an abduction?” he said. “And if we do, what do we do then?”
The team’s broken up between the EAA and Sunnyview Expo Center, conducting the drills it needs to in order to act quickly.
“Identifying sex offenders in the area, child predators in the area,” he said. “And there are things we can do–warrantless searches, if necessary.”
The Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office says that half of the kids abducted end up dead if they aren’t found in the first hour of an incident.
And with this team, the county intends to shorten the response time.
“In a lot of instances, we have an opportunity to think and we have an opportunity to react,” said Matz. “In these particular instances, we don’t. We have to use the methodology that we put in place and speed and accuracy are very important.”