In recent weeks since the start of the school year, officers of the Rapid City Police Department have responded to multiple incidents in which children were unaccounted for a short period of time.
The RCPD would like to remind parents of a few safety tips that can drastically decrease the amount of time it takes to locate a missing child, especially as the fall weather begins to set in. As the weather gets colder, the urgency to find these children in a timely fashion will heighten. In addition, the colder weather will most likely move these kids inside and away from some of the common locations we tend to find children who have gone missing.
- Have a plan A, B, and C. Plan A should be the routine plan after school. This includes pick up location, what to do if the ride doesn’t show up in a timely fashion (go back to the school office), and knowing family phone numbers in the event a child misses their ride. Go over these plans monthly with your kids. If you deviate from Plan A because of situations for a particular day, make sure to notify your child’s teacher or school so they are aware there is a different plan for the day.
- If Plan A is to use the public transit system, make sure you know busing schedules, as well as drop off and pick up locations. If the kids are under 10-years-of-age, have another more-responsible juvenile or adult meet them at the drop off locations to ensure they get home after getting off the bus.
- Rehearse your backup plans with the kids to make sure they know what to do if plans change. Make sure your family and friends know what plans A, B, and C are so they also can be prepared.
- Know what your child is wearing so you can provide an accurate description. Know what their back pack looks like, what coat they are wearing, and shoes. These are some of the first things we ask. Having an accurate description is critical for us as we begin looking for missing children.
- Use your support group. If your child is missing, make sure you reach out immediately to your family and friend network to help us check locations where your child likes to go.
- Know your child’s friends and playmates. Go to their homes and meet their friend’s parents and family. Exchange contact information so you are able to communicate with them as well in the event your child goes missing.
“These are a few of the things you can do to help keep your children safe as they travel to and from school,” says School Liaison Officer Brian Pitts. “We have seen an increase in the number of missing children calls after school this year in our community and want to work with you to reduce these types of calls.”