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Tue., Oct. 6
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Nearly 300 Potsdam children receive id cards through Operation Safe Child


POTSDAM - Nearly 300 students from Lawrence Avenue Elementary now have child safety identification cards thanks to a donation from the Potsdam Elks Lodge.

The cards, which include a photograph of the child as well as their gender, height, weight, hair color, eye color, finger prints and date of birth, were produced in conjunction with Operation Safe Child.

“If all goes well by the end of the day, we’ll have created 280 child id cards for the Operation Safe Child Program,” said Potsdam Village Police Officer Kyle Fink, who was working with St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Suzanne Williams to photograph the children and get the finger prints off each of their index fingers.

Ms. Williams said parents in the district owe a thank you to the Elks Lodge for making the program possible.

“The ribbons are actually very expensive,” she said, referring to the ink cartridges need to print the plastic id cards.

Mr. Fink said the donation from the Elks Lodge was enough to purchase 3 ribbons, noting each ribbon can print roughly 200 cards.

While nothing has been formally scheduled, Mr. Fink said it’s his hope to spend a couple days at the middle school later this year to create id cards for students there too.

Mr. Fink said since the program was implemented in 2005 605 children have been safely returned to their parents as the result of Amber Alerts, a child safety program connected to Operation Safe Child.

According to Mr. Fink, the program was created because police agencies found that in a time of crisis parents were having a difficult time locating recent pictures or remembering basic information needed to help find their child.

In an informational letter sent home to parents that also included a permission slip (cards were not made for children without their parent’s permission), Mr. Fink wrote, “In the event of a child abduction, and the activation of the Amber Alert system, the child’s photograph, fingerprints, and biographical information would be immediately disseminated to very law enforcement agency, thruway authority, toll plaza, airline, train and bus terminal in the immediate area.”

When asked what children and parents should do with the cards, Mr. Fink said he would recommend the parents holding onto them and keeping them in a safe place.

“If the child is carrying it around because they want to carry their own id card that kind of defeats the purpose,” he said.

While Mr. Fink said this was the first time, the program has been brought into the school, he said hopefully it won’t be the last.

“Ideally we can come back every couple of years to update the cards,” he said.

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