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Fingerprints can safeguard the lives of children

A potentially lifesaving child safety event was offered to families in Freehold from Saturday.

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Child with bio-document
Child with bio-document (Photo courtesy of Operation Kidsafe)

Operation Kidsafe, a free program for families that provides digital fingerprints and photographs of children, has protected more than one million kids in North American since its inception 13 years ago.

Parents were offered the opportunity to have free bio-documents made during Saturday’s event at Volkswagen of Freehold on Route 9.

“We’re hoping to give parents a form they’ll never use,” said Operation Kidsafe founder Mark Bott, referring to a bio-document containing critical information in the event a child goes missing. “You would have some pretty strong, pertinent information — a full set of digitized fingerprints.”

Families are encouraged to update the photo on the bio-documents about every six months.

Bott said if approved by the parents, the fingerprints could be loaded into the national crime computer immediately.

Time is of the essence in giving authorities information immediately when a loved one goes missing.

“The first hour is golden,” Bott said, stressing that parents don’t want to be left sorting through a pile of photos and digging for information when an emergency situation arises.

During the event on Saturday, parents will also be encouraged to gather information that could be needed in an emergency, like the name, addresses and phone numbers of their child’s friends.

Operation Kidsafe uses the same machine as law enforcement in producing the digital fingerprints, according to Bott.

“It’s the same machine the FBI and Secret Service use,” he said. “It is the absolute cleanest fingerprint you can get in the world, and it’s only going to be there one day.”

Bott said the program is also effective for special needs adults.

“It’s totally free and totally private for families,” Bott said. “You do not have to bring anything, you don’t have to give any information on yourself or your family, or your children.”

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