|CodeRED alert issued for missing teen last week|
By Jan Rahn
For the first time other than a county-wide test or automated severe weather notification, the Perkins County Sheriff’s Office activated the CodeRED Emergency Alert System last Thursday night.
The sheriff’s office launched the call to send a voice message to 1,695 phone numbers in the county at 10:27 p.m. Nov. 4 following a 6 p.m. report of a 14-year-old rural Brandon girl who had run away from home and could possibly be in danger.
“The runaway juvenile’s exact whereabouts were still unknown at 10:30 p.m. after the Perkins County Sheriff’s Office and Grant Volunteer Fire Department conducted a preliminary ground search and used the fire department’s thermal imaging devices,” said Sheriff Jim Brueggeman.
“However, we had reason to believe she was still somewhere in Perkins County and on foot. With the juvenile having acquaintances throughout the county, temperatures hovering at the freezing mark and the uncertainty of the emotional state of the juvenile, there was no question a county-wide CodeRED call requesting information and assistance from the public was warranted.”
Brueggeman said immediately after the CodeRED call was launched, the sheriff’s office started getting tips and information from the public.
“The system worked exactly as it was designed to work and quickly notified the public of the search for the runaway juvenile,” said Brueggeman.
The search continued through the night.
The runaway juvenile was located in Grant the next morning, Friday, Nov. 5, and was found to be safe and unharmed.
She was turned over to the custody of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.
After locating the teen runaway, another CodeRED alert was issued at 11:01 to notify the public that she had been found.
Sheriff Brueggeman said special appreciation is extended to rural Grant residents Edwin Kuskie and Shirley Kuskie who remained in contact with the sheriff’s office following the CodeRED Emergency Alert System notification and voluntarily left the warmth and comfort of their home to assist in the overnight search.
“The compassion, cooperation and willingness to assist the Perkins County Sheriff’s Office demonstrated by the Kuskies is respectable and praiseworthy,” said Brueggeman.
Some Residents Complain The sheriff’s office received some complaints from the public about the late hour of the CodeRED Emergency Alert System notification, said Brueggeman.
“I fully understand the call did not come at the most convenient time of the day for some, however, the call was warranted, prudent and we would have been remiss in our duties if we had not issued the call,” he said. “We are fortunate to have CodeRED in Perkins County and everyone should remember the system was put in place in the best interest of increased public warning and safety.”
Also received were questions from the public about why an Amber Alert was not issued.
A runaway juvenile does not meet Amber Alert issuance criteria and law enforcement agencies must use local resources and media, explained Brueggeman.
Amber Alerts are used only in cases where there is a child abduction in which the victim is 17 years of age or younger, there is a belief the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily harm or death and there is sufficient information available concerning the suspected abductor to which the public can respond, he said.
The Perkins County Sheriff’s Office placed the CodeRED Emergency Alert System into operation in January 2009.
The annual CodeRED system subscription was initially paid for with local tax dollars, but for the next two fiscal years the entire southwest region of Nebraska is being paid for with money received from the Federal Government 2009 State Homeland Security Grant Program.
The CodeRED Emergency Alert System is used to notify the public of natural disasters, man-made disasters, health department notifications, search and rescue operations, public works announcements, crime information and for internal use.
The system also has an automated severe weather notification feature the public can subscribe to by accessing the Internet and going to http://www.perkinscoso.com and clicking on the CodeREDWeather Warning graphic.