Lawrence County Sheriff Jody Dotson has made quite an effort since the beginning of the year to prepare officers if a child goes missing. And it's that effort that now has the department receiving recognition from a national organization.
"I've always been a firm believer on training. And you know, being a small department we don't have a lot of money set aside for training," said Dotson.
But while searching online, Dotson came across a free online training course offered by the Department of Justice and National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. "The course gave you a good detailed list of everything to go through and all the information to ask when you arrive on the scene taking a missing child call. So I got all my officers to take it," said Dotson. Which he says, puts everyone on the same page to better serve the community if a child went missing.
"You know every time you turn it's on the news somewhere. This one in Missouri is the closest one here in a while. It's better to be prepared for the worst, and pray it never happens," said Dotson.
Through Dotson efforts, he was nominated to take part in an all-expense-paid special Chief Executive Officer Training Seminar this weekend in Washington. Dotson was the only law enforcement officer invited in state of Arkansas.
"For a little small department like this that's pretty good," said Dotson. He expects to bring back even more knowledge to help provide the public with the best assistance possible to protect children in the county. "They want us to bring a copy of our policy for when we issue an amber alert. They'll go over those and work with you to adjust your policy to make sure you're doing the best job you can," said Dotson.
It's a huge honor for the county, and will certify the department's 9-1-1 Call Center as a branch with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. "It just means that were prepared and then we do put a call into the national center that they'll really jump on ours because they know we've been through the training," said Dotson.
But it's not only important for officers to be prepared, but for parents too. And Region 8 News will be on hand to help do that Friday August 12th and Saturday August 13th for "Operation Kids Safe" at the Mall at Turtle Creek. Parents will be equip with a free kids safety kit to be ready if the unthinkable were to happen.