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Rotterdam police gain child ID technology

The Rotterdam Police Department is participating in a new program designed to keep children safe.

The state Department of Criminal Justice Service's Missing and Exploited Children Clearinghouse sponsors the program called Operation Safe Child, which creates digital identification cards for children.

Rotterdam's Deputy Chief Bill Manikas said children's safety is important to the department.

Obviously protecting children is important to the community and to us, Manikas said. "We have always had a good relationship with the area youth organizations, and they have been asking for this for years."

Manikas said the technology cost $13,000 and includes a special printer, computer system, digital camera and infrared fingerprint technology.

Manikas said any youth organization is able to schedule a time for officers to come and set up the equipment to make the identification cards for the children. Parents have to sign a waiver form first. The equipment creates a credit card-sized ID card with the child's picture, and biographical information including height, weight, hair and eye color. The back of the card contains a print of both the child's index fingerprints. Parents could also sign a waiver to allow the Department of Criminal Justice to hold the information on a database until the child turns 18.

Manikas said the information this technology provides is vital to finding a missing child. He said if a child is found missing, the Department of Criminal Justice can easily disseminate the information to any department looking to find the child.

Manikas said five youth organizations are participating in the program this fall. Any child who participates in a youth program in Rotterdam is eligible to use the technology.

Manikas said youth organizations that wish to participate in the program should call the department's patrol division at 355-7331 to set up an appointment.

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