Operation SAFE CHILD
Operation SAFE CHILD was created in 2005 to promote child safety. Through a partnership with the New York State Sheriffs' Association, New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, New York State Police and the New York City Police Department, the DCJS Missing and Exploited Children Clearinghouse expanded Operation SAFE CHILD into a multi-pronged campaign which provides parents and guardians with three tools to promote child safety:
- Know your child's information by obtaining a free SAFE CHILD card
- Know your child's friends by learning about Internet safety
- Know your neighborhood by using the New York State Sex Offender Registry
In 2009, DCJS transferred the public outreach portion of the Operation SAFE CHILD program to the New York State Sheriffs’ Association. This includes relying solely on partner law enforcement agencies to handle all outreach events across the state. This did not change the DCJS role with respect to receiving Operation SAFE CHILD record data obtained and submitted by partner agencies. DCJS continues to be responsible for accessing and using information during AMBER and DCJS Missing Child/College Student Alerts.
Know your Child's Information by Obtaining a SAFE CHILD card
Statistics show that 34 percent of parents in the United States do not know their child's exact height, weight and eye color. And, when a child is reported missing, time can be the greatest adversary. Possessing up-to-date photographs and detailed information about a child are important proactive measures that greatly assist law enforcement to quickly respond to a child's disappearance.
SAFE CHILD equipment uses digital fingerprinting technology and high resolution photography capabilities to produce SAFE CHILD cards for parents and guardians.
The cards contain a child's name, biographical information (date of birth, gender, height, weight, hair color, eye color, etc.), and a fingerprint image of both index fingers. The card is made in less than two minutes and can be easily carried in a wallet or pocketbook. Interested parents can choose to store the fingerprints, basic biographical information and photographs of children who are not missing -- information critical to expediting the return of a missing child. The storage of information is entirely voluntary and requires the written consent of a parent or legal guardian. The information gathered is digitally recorded and stored in a database at DCJS. In the event DCJS receives a missing child report, the fingerprints of that child are included in a special search file and compared against all incoming fingerprints submitted to the agency.
In addition to being able to quickly provide important details to police agencies investigating child disappearances, the SAFE CHILD card serves as an important tool when used in conjunction with the AMBER Alert and DCJS Missing Child/College Student Alert programs. The cards and database allow essential missing child information to be electronically disseminated, statewide if necessary, within minutes and dramatically increases the possibility of bringing a missing child home unharmed.
Know your Child's Friends by learning about Internet Safety
The Internet offers exciting and unprecedented opportunities for children and families to obtain and share information. However, all roads to the Internet are not as safe as they may seem.
Since parents and guardians play such a crucial role in promoting online safety, the DCJS Missing and Exploited Children Clearinghouse offers concise Internet safety information online. Written for use by parents, guardians and teachers, it includes a PowerPoint presentation with video segments which provides straight-forward information about safety challenges and preventative actions that can be taken to protect children.
Know your Neighborhood by using the New York State Sex Offender Registry
New York State's Megan's Law became effective in 1996, and has since been expanded on several occasions It requires a sex offender convicted of a designated sex offense to register with the New York State Sex Offender Registry.
There are three ways to obtain information about sex offenders in New York State:
- Call the New York State Sex Offender Information Line: 518-457-5837 or 1-800-262-3257. You need the name of the offender and one of the following four identifiers: an exact address, a complete date of birth, a driver's license number or a social security number.
- Search the online New York State Subdirectory. There, interested individuals can search for level 2 and 3 offenders by name, county or zip code.
- Contact the law enforcement agency where the offender currently resides. If the agency chooses to, it can release information on sex offenders residing in the community.