I-SEARCH program available in local area

By Donald R. Roth Jr.

Thanks to an innovative program initiated by the State of Illinois, parents of missing children now have a powerful weapon at their disposal arsenal: I-SEARCH.

The Illinois State Enforcement Agencies to Recover Children was founded to help parents and police agencies in their team effort to recover lost and kidnapped children.

“The purpose of I-SEARCH is to provide information, fingerprint cards and equipment and videotape equipment to schools and agencies in DeKalb County interested in the program,” said Mary Zell, DeKalb County Sheriff Secretary-Deputy.

She said the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department, DeKalb Police Department and the DeKalb County I-SEARCH Unit all coordinate their activities to provide blanket coverage for the local area schools.

“Schools who are interested call one of the participating agencies. First, all the parents fill out background information cards on their children,” Zell said. “Then we have all the kids fingerprinted and videotaped. Lastly we give the fingerprint cards, videotapes and information cards to the parents to hold on to in case of a tragedy.”

Interested parents need to take advantage of the program before a situation occurs, she said, and prevention is the key since we are limited once an abduction happens.

While the DeKalb County I-SEARCH program has never been used for an actual kidnapping since its inception, it should still have a great importance in our community, she said.

“Interest has died down since there has been no scare lately, and this is wrong,” Zell said.

The I-SEARCH program is free of charge to all parents who are interested in participating, she said, since all of its costs are underwritten by the State of Illinois.

Anyone interested in participating in the I-SEARCH program should contact their local school district or call them direct at 895-6318.