Recent parent-teacher conferences in the Seymour Public Schools included an added emphasis on safety with the distribution of child identification kits made possible through a national partnership between AFSCME and the National Child Identification Program (NCIP).
Officer Jonathan Martin, president of AFSCME Local 564 (Seymour Police), joined with parents, teachers, administrators, PTO members and fellow police officials at Bungay Elementary School Nov. 14 to launch the program, which will provide 3,000 kits free of charge throughout every school and day care center in town.
"We do a lot of missing person cases where the families don't have the pertinent information readily available" Martin said. "Having the information contained in these kits available to us will help expedite the investigation so we can get in front of the case."
Jennifer and Yugo Ferreira, who have two young children, received their kits during their parent-teacher conference on Nov. 14.
"In this society, you can never take too many precautions to keep your kids safe. We're lucky to have this program rolled out in Seymour," Jennifer Ferreira said.
The kits come with easy-to-follow instructions for collecting your child's personal information, fingerprints and DNA.AFSCME announced its partnership with NCIP at the 2016 International Convention in Las Vegas. AFSCME members across the country received a free ID kit with the fall issue of AFSCME WORKS magazine.
When Seymour School Security Director Richard Kearns learned that AFSCME had partnered with NCIP, he reached out to NCIP Program Director Kenny Hansmire and Officer Martin, who in turn contacted Council 4 to have the kits sent to Seymour. Kearns, a retired Wallingford police officer and AFSCME member, worked with Martin to arrange the program launch and logistics.
The Seymour roll-out is the largest in Connecticut and one of the largest in the country.
"Having a kit is important because it contains about 85 percent of what law enforcement needs to start a missing child investigation," said Mark Salmans, director of operations for the National Child Identification Program.
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, more than 460,000 U.S. children went missing in 2015. Some children run away from home, while others are abducted by family members or even strangers. The child ID kits from the NCIP, first distributed in 1997, have helped law enforcement in their search for missing children.
Pictured above from left, Kindergarten Teacher Katie Furino; Bungay School Assistant Principal Lauren Reid; Bungay School Principal Mary Sue Feige; Seymour schools Director of Security Richard Kearns, Police Chief Michael Metzler, Deputy Police Chief Paul Satkowski, Community Police Officer John Harkins and Officer Jonathan Martin; and seated, parents Jennifer and Hugo Ferreira.