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Sparks police celebrate National Missing Kids Day
by Garrett Valenzuela
May 26, 2012 | 2442 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sparks SWAT Officer Matt Marquez, a 23-year veteran of the force, allows Romeo Cohen of Wapato, Wash. to experience firsthand some of the equipment worn by SWAT members. Marquez and a group of fellow officers were at Legends at Sparks Marina on Friday to recognize “National Missing Kids Day.”
Sparks SWAT Officer Matt Marquez, a 23-year veteran of the force, allows Romeo Cohen of Wapato, Wash. to experience firsthand some of the equipment worn by SWAT members. Marquez and a group of fellow officers were at Legends at Sparks Marina on Friday to recognize “National Missing Kids Day.”
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SPARKS — The Sparks Police Department pulled out their gadgets, patrol horses and a SWAT truck Friday at Legends at Sparks Marina to attract parents and children to their Take 25 event for National Missing Kids Day.

Sparks Police helped parents through detailed paperwork designed to provide as much information about their children as possible.

“When a parent has a missing child they are in a very different frame of mind,” Crime Prevention Officer Alex Mendoza said. “The preparation we provide today will be readily available in their time of panic.”

Mendoza and other officers offered tips to parents on DNA attainment for their children through hair samples and swabbing their inner cheek. They suggested keeping them in plastic bags and in safe storage in case a disappearance occurred.

Children were assisted in having their fingerprints scanned on a digital recording system and having their picture taken for parental records. The parents were given a Sparks Police Department “ID-a-Child” packet with the children’s information and a letter from Chief of Police Steve Keefer. The children were then showered with free items like coloring books, stickers, police trading cards and coupons to outlet stores at Legends.

In his letter, Keefer highlighted several strategies for parents to keep their child safe including knowing the location of dental records and X-rays and knowing the child’s habits, routines and friends.

Parked outside of the customer service center at Scheels was an official SWAT vehicle with Officer Matt Marquez’s weaponry and gear inside for children to see.

“We’re taking some of the scariness out of the police in some ways,” Marquez said. “It gives the kids a chance to see that we have the equipment and resources to help keep them safe.”

Children were able to try on Marquez’s flak jacket and camouflage helmet throughout the day, which Marquez said was a good way to get people’s attention and get them inside to participate in Take 25.

Carlo Velasco and his daughter Amanda were visiting Scheels from Daly City, Calif. and took a few minutes to update Amanda’s information. He said the recording of her fingerprints was the best reason to stop in.

“It is important to have her fingerprints in the system since they are never going to change,” Carlo said adding that Amanda’s school had a similar program but without fingerprinting. “The rest of her information, like her measurements and picture, will have to be continually updated.”

The significance of Take 25 dates back 33 years when six-year-old Etan Patz disappeared on May 25, 1979. His picture began being printed on milk cartons, a trend that became famous nation wide. Pedro Hernandez, the man suspected in the murder of Patz, was arrested Thursday in New York and appeared in court Friday after he implicated himself during police questioning, according to a CBS News report.

Mendoza found it interesting that Hernandez’s court appearance was happening on National Missing Kids Day.

“It just helps raise awareness for parents and hopefully will encourage them to keep updating their child’s information,” Mendoza said.
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