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Ohio Lottery joins the effort to find missing children

Nov 10, 2003, 4:54 am

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The Ohio Lottery will join the search for missing children this week.

Working with the Northern Ohio Amber Alert, the Lottery Commission will display the names and descriptions of abducted children in a "crawl" across the screens of its sales terminals.

Lottery tickets also will have information about the abducted children printed on them, Waite Hill Police Chief Arnold Stanko said at a public forum on missing children yesterday at the Eastern Campus of Cuyahoga Community College. Stanko is on the board of the local Amber Alert system.

Jeff Johnson, Cleveland's director of community relations, represented Mayor Jane Campbell at the forum. He said a statewide program called "A Child Is Missing" was discussed at the forum and he promised to get it started here.

Cincinnati began using the program in June 2002. The program, created in Florida six years ago, is now available across Ohio. Eleven days after 11-year-old Shakira Johnson disappeared, Cleveland police officials attended a seminar to learn about the program.

When someone is reported missing, a police supervisor contacts the headquarters of "A Child Is Missing" and provides the missing person's name and description, along with information about where the person was last seen. A program technician reads the information into a tape recorder, then activates a computer database of all listed telephone numbers in the ZIP code where the person disappeared.

The computer can make 1,000 calls a minute, relaying the recorded information when a resident or a machine answers.

The program also can help find seniors with Alzheimer's disease who wander away.

A Cleveland official said the Police Department will begin using the program as soon as officers complete the training needed to activate the system.

For more information on "A Child Is Missing," visit www.achildismissing.org. Parents of missing children do not need police assistance to get help from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, at 1-800-THE-LOST, or www.missingkids.com.

Cleveland Plain Dealer

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