- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Justice Department yesterday announced an initiative aimed at training regional Child Abduction Response Teams (CART) to quickly respond to incidents of missing and abducted children.

“When a child is abducted, time is of the essence,” said Cybele K. Daley, acting assistant attorney general for the department’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP). “Trained regional teams will soon … bring additional resources to help recover children safely and return them to their families.

“CART is a much-needed tool that will help law enforcement recover missing and abducted children.”

Justice Department spokeswoman Catherine E. Sanders said that during the next year, OJP will conduct abduction response team training in 10 regions across the country, beginning in January in San Diego. She said the regional teams will include law-enforcement investigators, forensic specialists, Amber Alert coordinators, search-and-rescue specialists, crime analysts and other interagency resources.

The abduction response team program began earlier this year following the February kidnapping of Carlie Brucia, 11, in Sarasota, Fla. Her disappearance set off a massive search in the Sarasota area. More than four days later, her half-naked body was found at a church property, about two miles from where she was abducted. She had been raped and strangled.

Mrs. Sanders said the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s regional operations said at the time there was a need to have trained investigators in child abduction and response who could react immediately to an incident, assist the lead local law-enforcement agency and bring additional resources to the recovery effort.

She said OJP has modified Florida’s local abduction response team model so it could be adopted by regions nationwide.

To date, she said, OJP has conducted four regional training sessions in Florida and the statewide response team has been activated 13 times — recovering 11 children.

Mrs. Sanders said regional response teams can be used for all missing children and can be deployed as part of an Amber Alert or when a child is abducted or missing but the disappearance does not meet the Amber Alert criteria. Amber Alerts are issued only when law-enforcement officials have enough descriptive information about the abductor or the abductor’s vehicle to alert the public.

She said the Justice Department saw that the regional response teams could be an effective way to recover children and, as a result, acknowledged a need for law-enforcement agencies to have greater ability to recover missing and abducted children.

The OJP provides federal leadership in developing the nation’s ability to prevent and control crime, administer justice and assist victims.

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