LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Police agencies across Arkansas can soon claim to be certified specialists at solving child abduction cases as a team. Several law enforcement officers spent Tuesday and Wednesday going through CART training.
“They know the roles and responsibilities of everybody,” said Dr. Cheryl May, the head of the Criminal Justice Institute at the Univ. of Arkansas. “They know what resources they have available.”
May oversaw the series of tests that required officers from different cities and counties, work under the direction of Arkansas State Police. They gathered at the Game and Fish training center and went through mock exercises at Pepper’s Pond outside Mayflower. That’s where they deciphered clues from “witnesses” and “parents” after “Lacy Lost” was reported missing by her grandmother.
A Mayflower officer relayed details of an interview to a state police coordinator. Community Correction officers questioned three men from a “halfway house” across from where the supposed abduction took place. A crime scene detective photographed and bagged a backpack on the ground near the “bus stop.”
“Anytime a child is abducted the stress level skyrockets,” said Capt. Jason Aaron, from ASP Troop H, as he commanded the operation center. “This helps us go in there with a plan. That speeds the process up.”
After graders judge the teams on 47 criteria, Arkansas can claim a unique honor compared to other response teams.
Colleen Nick and members of the Morgan Nick Foundation mingled in the crowd of police. She could see firsthand the advancements made since her daughter disappeared in 1995.
“What we've been able to do in Arkansas is we will become the first state in the country to have statewide certified child abduction response teams,” said Dr. May. “And that means is that every kid in this state is protected.”