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New county-wide plan to respond to child abduction

Erie County Sheriff's Department announces CART program
WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Erie County Sheriff's Department announces CART program

By Eileen Buckley

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wbfo/local-wbfo-904187.mp3

Buffalo, NY – Erie County has a new way of responding to reports of a missing or abducted child. A county-wide child abduction response team known as CART is now in place.

Click the audio player above to hear Eileen Buckley's full story now or use your podcasting software to download it to your computer or iPod.

The first several hours after a child abduction remain the most critical. A murder can take place within the first three hours after the child disappears.

"We know that after three hours past, changes of the child being killed are about 75%," said Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita.

800,000 children are reported missing each year. 200,000 are abducted by family members.

If a child is reported missing, the CART team goes into action. It is made up of local law enforcement, search and rescue, victim advocates, mental health providers and the District Attorney's Office.

Erie County is only the second county in the state to form a CART team. 58-thousand of the children abducted each year are taken by a non-family member for the primary purpose of committing a sexual act. Doug Fabian is with the County's Crisis Services.

"We are often the very first agency that is engaged to look or at least support a family that has lost a child or lost a loved one through these kinds of situations," said Fabian.

In Erie County, there are about 1,100 missing children each year. Ed Suk is with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in New York. Suk said the vast majority are runaway or throw away cases where they are actually kicked out of a home.

"Thankfully the number of family abductions and non-family abductions is signficantly lower," said Suk.

Authorities say these abductions can be a parents worse nightmare. But now law enforcement agencies can ban together with a CART team. When they receive a missing or abducted child report, they can now deploy the experienced people that will provide the right investigative, technical and resource assistant to safely return a child to their home.