Police offer kits to help identify children faster if they go missing

What happens if a child goes missing?

By Meaghan St Pierre - Producer

CANTON, Mich. - No parent wants to think about this next statement, but what happens if their child goes missing?

Police say having essential information at the ready can help them find your child faster. That's why many police departments offer free child identification kits.

"We never want to think about the fact that maybe our child may run away or our child may get lost, but drawing that awareness and attention to 'Hey there is information out there that can help in a situation like that' helps alleviate some stress on the parents," said Patty Esselink, community relations officer for the Canton Police Department.

The kits provide a place to put fingerprint information, a picture, dental records, DNA hair sample and a spot to note scars, marks, tattoos or anything else that would help distinguish and identify a missing person.

Michigan State Police detective Sgt. Sarah Krebs works in the missing-persons coordination unit and said there is another way parents can keep a DNA sample of their child.

"You can actually swab the inside of your child's mouth with a Q-tip, write their name on a baggy and put it in the freezer, just in case," Krebs said.

Current pictures of children are crucial to help missing-persons cases. Esselink said pictures in the child identification kits should be updated every six months.

"Pictures are a big thing. So I get asked a lot of times why Amber Alerts take so long -- a lot of times it is delayed because we don’t have a photograph of that child," Krebs said.

Another safety measure is taking a picture of your children when you attend big events like festivals, fairs or amusement parks. Take the picture that day so it includes what they are wearing in case they get lost.

"If we have a photo of that child, we can send that to officers so the officers know exactly who they're looking for," Esselink said.

Call your local police department to see if they offer free child identification kits. Once you have filled out the kit, keep it in a safe place at home.

Copyright 2017 by WDIV ClickOnDetroit - All rights reserved.