Bridgeport officials mark AMBER Alert Day

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch and Police Chief Joseph L. Gaudett Jr. commemorated national AMBER Alert Awareness Day Tuesday, Jan. 13, with tips to make kids, families and seniors safer.

“Our police officers work hard to keep our kids and families safe, and we are building on that every day. We invested in the Smart911 system. Our police department invested in state-of-the-art equipment to provide free child safety kits to parents,” said Mayor Bill Finch. “As a father of four boys, I can’t imagine a better investment.”

Tuesday marked the 19th anniversary of AMBER Alert Awareness Day, which remembers the day 9-year-old Amber Hagerman was abducted while riding her bicycle in front of her family’s home in Arlington, Texas.

In recognition of this day, Mayor Finch and Chief Gaudett are encouraging parents to do three things to keep their children safer.

• Determine a password with your children.  If you ever need to send someone to pick them up or when an emergency happens, they can ask that person for the password to ensure it is safe to go with them.

• Be aware of how much information about your child is available. Do not add their names to backpacks or post information about them, including name, address or school on social media websites which can be viewed publically.

• Create a free, private and secure Safety Profile for your household at www.smart911.com, which can include current photos and physical descriptions of your children. If a child goes missing and a family member calls 9-1-1, their Safety Profile will be displayed to the dispatcher allowing them to share the child’s photo and description to responders in the field immediately.

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the first three hours are the most critical when trying to locate a missing child. When a child is reported missing it can take an hour or more just to distribute a current photo to law enforcement officers in the field.  Smart911 is available to all residents through the Bridgeport Public Safety Communications Department and families are encouraged to take advantage of the free service by signing up today.

“As a parent, having a child go missing can be the most terrifying moment: you may not be able to think straight, remember critical information or even communicate effectively,” Gaudett said. “Smart911 can have a dramatic impact on these situations and we encourage families to be proactive about safety and sign up today”

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