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Putnam, Surrounding Counties Get Certified in Recovering Abducted Children

8:04 PM, Feb 9, 2011   |    comments
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PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. - The call echoed across the parking lot. An 11-year-old boy had been abducted in Bradford County and the message blared from every officer's radio. 

The abduction was a scenario made up as part of Child Abduction Response Team (CART) certification for law enforcement officers in our area.

"They all have to practice and work together to respond to one of the most serious things that can happen to our children and that's a child abduction," explained Alan Wolochuk, a consultant and evaluator from Fox Valley Technical College. 

Deputies from the Putnam County Sheriff's Office performed a mock traffic stop on the "suspect" and arrested him for the crime. 

Wolochuk said the team proved it is ready in case a child is missing.

"Our goal is to bring the child home safely," said Wolochuk. "The faster law enforcement can spool up their resources and gather their equipment and train together to respond to these things, the better the chances of success are."

The drill was close to home for some of the deputies from Putnam County. Two years ago, Haleigh Cummings vanished from her father's house. 

Putnam County deputies had already been through extensive CART training at the time of her disappearance and said they knew how to respond. 

"Because we used CART, we were experts at CART when Haleigh went missing... our investigators were given the best tools to find Haleigh and that nothing was left undone," said noted PCSO Major Gary Bowling. 

Northeast Florida was one of just 13 regions to complete CART certification, though more than 200 areas across the United States have received CART training.

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