Contact: Janine Kava, Press Office
New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services
(518) 457-8828
janine.kava@dcjs.ny.gov
www.criminaljustice.ny.gov

Missing and Exploited Children Clearinghouse staffer Ken Olsen, a 21-year law enforcement veteran, is available for interviews about Halloween safety today (Monday, Oct. 29) and tomorrow (Tuesday, Oct. 30) until 4 p.m. Reporters should contact Janine Kava to schedule an interview.

For immediate release: Monday, Oct. 29, 2007

Operation SAFE CHILD cards available in Guilderland this week
Missing and Exploited Children Clearinghouse staff offer tips for a safe Halloween

Parents and guardians will be able to obtain free Operation SAFE CHILD cards for their children in Guilderland this week.

Representatives from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services' Missing and Exploited Children Clearinghouse (MECC) will be at the following locations:

  • Tuesday, Oct. 30: 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Halloween Safety Day festivities at Town Hall, 5209 Western Ave.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 30 through Thursday, Nov. 1: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, 4 Tower Place, behind Stuyvesant Plaza.

Operation SAFE CHILD provides parents or legal guardians with a card that includes their child's vital information: date of birth, gender, height, weight and eye color, along with a photograph and fingerprints of both index fingers.

And with Halloween just two days away, MECC staff offers the following safety tips to parents and their trick-or-treaters:

  • Before your children venture out, consult the New York State Sex Offender Registry 518-457-5837 or 1-800-262-3257, or www.criminaljustice.ny.gov to determine whether there are any registered sex offenders in your neighborhood or the neighborhood where your children will be trick-or-treating. Avoid those locations and any other houses that are dark or don't have a porch light on.
  • Tell your children to scream and make a scene if they are approached by someone who tries to grab them or force them, in any way, to go with them.
  • Accompany your children or require that older children trick-or-treat in groups. Advise trick-or-treaters to be aware of their surroundings at all times and caution children not to enter any houses they visit.
  • Make sure trick-or-treaters carry flashlights and wear reflective costumes.
  • Remind your children to tell you if they see or experience anything suspicious.
  • And, as always, check the treats that have been collected and discard anything that seems to have been tampered with, opened or unwrapped.

The Division of Criminal Justice Services and its Missing and Exploited Children Clearinghouse partnered with the New York State Police, New York City Police Department, New York State Sheriffs' Association and the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police to create Operation SAFE CHILD in 2005.

In addition to receiving a free SAFE CHILD card, parents or guardians can choose to have their child's vital information stored in a DCJS database; storage in the database is entirely voluntary and requires written consent of the parent or legal guardian.

If DCJS receives a missing child report, the fingerprints of that child will be included in a special search file and compared against all incoming fingerprints submitted to the agency. Time is the greatest enemy if a child goes missing. Having up-to-date photographs and detailed information about a child can greatly assist law enforcement officials as they respond to a child's disappearance.

DCJS partners with 42 law enforcement agencies across the state to offer Operation SAFE CHILD cards. For more information about Operation SAFE CHILD, call 1-800-FINDKID or visit www.operationsafechild.org.

The Division of Criminal Justice Services is a multi-function criminal justice support agency with a variety of responsibilities, including collection and analysis of statewide crime data; operation of the DNA databank and criminal fingerprint files; administration of federal and state criminal justice funds; support of criminal justice-related agencies across the state; and administration of the state's Sex Offender Registry and a toll-free telephone number (1-800-262-3257) that allows anyone to research the status of an offender.