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Technology could help locate children

Christina Proctor

When a child is abducted, every minute counts. Disseminating information and photographs about the children increases law enforcement’s chances of recovering them.

El Dorado County is now better equipped to get the necessary information out to the public.

The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department received one of 16 computer systems donated to Sacramento region law enforcement agencies by Roseville, California-based Hewlett-Packard. The Technology to Recover Abducted Kids program allows the department to create and distribute color flyers to other law enforcement agencies and the media within minutes.



“I have always believed that getting the information out there to the most people who might be looking makes the chances of a successful conclusion much better,” said Lt. Mark Getchel. “This technology was developed through the Polly Klaas Foundation. It is cases like Polly’s and Jaycee Dugard’s where this tool will come in most handy.”

The TRAK system, valued at $7,000, includes a HP personal computer, color inkjet printer, scanner and modem. A photo of the missing child is scanned, automatically enhanced and placed on a flyer that can be printed with photographic quality or transmitted electronically.



“Fax to fax is pretty unreliable. The photo quality is often very poor,” Getchel said. “With this system we can fax high-quality photos. It doesn’t help officers much when they can barely see the photo.”

Getchel said the system hasn’t been used yet for abducted children.

“What it will be used for more is putting out wanted bulletins,” Getchel explained.

The system is located in the Placerville office but Getchel said the South Lake Tahoe substation of the sheriff’s office has the ability to scan photos and send them on e-mail to Placerville.

“They can easily get the information to us so we can create and send out a bulletin from here,” Getchel said.

The TRAK system was used when 13-year-old Christina Marie Williams was abducted June 12 from her neighborhood, Presidio of Monterey. Christina left her home around 7:30 p.m. to walk her dog on Nijmegen Road in Presidio of Monterey Annex, near Seaside, Calif. When she didn’t return home her family began a search but only found the dog loose in the neighborhood.

People interested in learning more about Christina’s abduction and other missing children can check the Polly Klaas Foundation website at http://www.pollyklass.org.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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