The Amber Alert System has saved many lives by helping police find abducted children. But what happens when other loved ones go missing, like the elderly with Alzheimer’s or the two Bay County teens who ran away to commit suicide a couple weeks ago? Now, there’s a program that has a broader profile.
When an officer reports someone missing, whether they ran-away, wandered off, or were abducted "A Child Is Missing" goes to work.
Law enforcement officers from as far away as Franklin County came to hear how the program could help them.
The company brings up a satellite map of the last area where the missing person was seen.
From there they pull thousands of phone numbers within the search area and call each with a recorded message, telling businesses and residents in the area to be on the lookout for the missing person.
"It gets people to know right away so we can start looking and there's more eyes out there than just us."
Panama City Police say they used the free program just a couple weeks ago when two local teens went missing. Because the two ran away and there was no evidence of abduction, the Amber Alert System wasn't available.
“We like the flexibility, that it dealt with the elderly as well, that could be endangered. It gave us a lot more flexibility that we could use, because the Amber Alert Program just strictly deals with abduction."
"Right away you're expanding your search. So you know if there is a perpetrator, if there is an abduction then you're getting ahead of him, or that person. So we can pull that circle in tighter and get that child back as quick as possible."
A Child Is Missing is funded through federal and state grants and private donations. It started in Ft. Lauderdale and in March will go nationwide.
A Child Is Missing Alert System boasts 81 safe recoveries in the last five months. Every 40 seconds, another child disappears.