By Eric Grosso
The program also can help look for elderly people who leave a group home.
NEWTON FALLS — City council is looking to raise awareness of missing children by supporting the Ohio Child Abduction Response Team as well as donating funds to a training exercise May 17.
The city recently joined the Ohio CART program earlier this year. On Monday, council donated $100 to a Trumbull County CART training exercise here.
The Ohio CART is a network of trained public safety and other individuals from various agencies, jurisdictions, and disciplines who are prepared to respond to specific at risk, missing, endangered or abducted children.
Ohio is divided into eight regions, each encompassing multiple counties. The Region 5 team, which includes Trumbull, Mahoning and 11 other counties, has about 120 members.
Unlike the Amber Alert system, the CART team can respond to a number of cases and can be called in less-specific situations.
“A child doesn’t have to be missing; we can be called in if a child is simply out of his or her safety zone,” said Jim Luonuansuu, Ohio CART representative.
He said the team also can be used in other cases, such as a drug user escaping a treatment facility, a mentally impaired individual leaving an institution, or an elderly person leaving a group home.
He says longer abduction cases have cost agencies more than $1 million in past cases, but the CART team can significantly lower those costs. “Most of the people responding are doing so on their own time,” Luonuansuu said.
He said that many local agencies do not have the resources to handle cases quickly, noting that most abduction cases end with the death of the child in less than three hours.
The nationwide CART response team started in Florida in 2004, and has expanded to more than 109 groups.
Also, council adopted a resolution to support a balloon release in conjunction with National Missing Children’s Day on May 26.
CART teams will release balloons from Newton Falls Middle School and St. Mary & Joseph School on May 23. Each balloon released will contain information on missing children.
“It’s a great program,” said Councilwoman Catie Karl-Moran. “I’m glad our city is jumping on the bandwagon and taking part in a program like this.”