Contact: Janine Kava, Press Office
(518) 457-8906
janine.kava@dcjs.ny.gov
www.criminaljustice.ny.gov
For immediate release: Friday, June 6, 2008

Kiosk at Walden Galleria calls attention to missing children
Public can play key role when a child disappears

The slim, five-foot tall kiosk with a computer touch screen looks like a sleek new style of ATM, but the currency it dispenses is information – information that could be invaluable to a family’s search for a missing child.

Located near the Macy’s and Key Bank on the upper level at the Walden Galleria in Buffalo, the kiosk is an interactive, electronic version of traditional “missing” posters and provides a direct link to photographs and information about the 100 missing children currently featured on the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) website (www.criminaljustice.ny.gov).

The kiosk is a project of the Missing and Exploited Children Clearinghouse, which is housed at DCJS. Established in 1987, the clearinghouse tracks missing children cases, provides investigative support services and training for law enforcement, assistance to family members of missing children and free community education programs for parents, educators, schools and civic organizations.

It will be at the Walden Galleria through Saturday, July 19. Another kiosk is located at the New York State Museum in Albany.

“The kiosks are simply another way for us to get the word out about the services we provide to the public in general and families of missing children in particular,” DCJS Commissioner Denise E. O’Donnell said. “It’s important to keep these cases in the public’s eye because, often, that is the key to finding these children. We have reunited children with their parents after getting calls from people who saw a child and suspected that something just wasn’t right and confirmed their suspicion through our website.”

Last year, 21,100 children were reported missing in New York State, with the vast majority of reports – 19,306 – involving runaways. Abduction cases accounted for approximately 1 percent of the total reports, with abductions by family members or acquaintances being the most frequent forms of abduction. Only one stranger abduction was reported in New York last year, and that report ultimately was determined to be unfounded.

In Erie County, 1,136 children were reported missing and in Niagara County, 375 children were reported missing. In each county, 95 percent of the missing children reports involved runaways, lost children and abductions by family members or acquaintances. At the end of 2007, there were a total of 2,102 active missing children cases in New York State. 2007 Annual Report of the Missing and Exploited Children Clearinghouse.

In addition to featuring a direct link to the state’s Missing Children Register and the clearinghouse’s website, the kiosk provides links to a host of resources designed to educate the public, including:

  • The DCJS website, which includes information about Operation SAFE CHILD, a program that provides parents or legal guardians with a free card that includes their child/children’s vital information: date of birth, gender, height, weight, eye color, along with a photograph and fingerprint images of both index fingers.
  • AMBER Alert, an early-warning system to help find abducted children; 
  • The Center for HOPE, a non-profit organization founded by Doug and Mary Lyall of Ballston Spa, parents of University at Albany student Suzanne Lyall, who was 19 when she disappeared in March of 1998; and
  • The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s website, which lists information about missing children from every state in the nation.
The New York State 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.