By Jena Johnson - email
HOUSTON COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - It's an unimaginable situation. A child or an elderly person missing, often ending in tragedy.
Now, a major push is underway to expand a missing persons alert program here in East Texas. The Houston County Sheriff's Office has teamed up with a Florida-based program called "A Child is Missing."
It's Sheena Meziere's worst nightmare: the thought of her two little girls missing.
"Being a parent of two kids, you want to be able to know that if anything were to happen, God forbid, that somebody's going to be there to take care of it as quickly as they can," she said.
"A Child is Missing" alert program was created in 1997 to make sure missing children get home safely. On average the program locates missing persons within 90 minutes.
The name is a bit misleading. Although the program focuses on children, it also helps find missing elderly people, often suffering from Alzheimer's. Eighty-eight year old Blanche Moffett supports the program.
"Well, at my age and the possibility of having Alzheimer's, I think it's good," said Moffett.
Houston County Sheriff Darrel Bobbitt adopted the program a few months ago. It's a free resource he's encouraging other agencies to use.
"It's just a great tool for law enforcement to use and to get the public on the lookout for these missing people," he said.
The program dispatchers will call thousands of people throughout the county, alerting them of the missing child or elderly person. "A Child is Missing" trainer Chris Brey spoke to 19 law enforcement agencies Tuesday morning at the Crockett Civic Center. As a former police officer, he believes in the program and is encouraging other agencies in East Texas to join.
"Missing children and abductions and the elderly, they don't pick where some body lives. It happens all over the country in big and small cities," said Brey.
The program draws a sigh of relief from grandmother's like Moffett.
"I happen to have two or thee great grandchildren, so I've very aware of the need for something like that because you never know what's running in the street's these days," she said.
Currently 117 law enforcement agencies in Texas have joined forces with "A Child is Missing". They've successfully recovered 18 missing persons.