These days, it seems as though a missing child report is featured on the nightly news far too often. Lisa Irwin was taken from her home in Kansas City, Missouri. Ayla Reynolds is missing in Maine, and Isabel Mercedes Celis was taken from her bed in Arizona.
These are just the cases lucky enough to hold a national spotlight. What about all the others who go missing each day and don’t receive media attention or even spur an Amber Alert?
According to the Center of Missing and Exploited Children the following criteria must be met in order for an Amber Alert to be issued:
There is reasonable belief by law enforcement an abduction has occurred
The abduction is of a child age 17 years or younger
The law-enforcement agency believes the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death
There is enough descriptive information about the victim and abduction for law enforcement to issue an AMBER Alert to assist in the recovery of the child
The child’s name and other critical data elements, including the Child Abduction flag, have been entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) computer
The Center for Missing and Exploited Children urges those with a missing loved one to get photos up everywhere, as quickly as possible– on facebook, twitter, through Amber Alerts, at Walmart stores, and through the media, but Polly Klaas father, Marc Klaas wants families to have the opportunity to spread the information through a much bigger network– truckers.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, there are more than 3.5 million truckers in the United States.
In 1993, Polly Klass was abducted at knife-point from a slumber party in Petaluma, California. On his blog, Klass states, “My family’s introduction to the long-haul trucker community came when my daughter Polly was kidnapped in 1993 and the drivers helped circulate flyers far and wide. You rapidly realize that truckers are out there on the roads and at highway rest stops, convenience stores, gas stations, and fast food restaurants where persons on the run frequently try to escape.”
Klaas says many truckers want to help when a child is missing. He believes that Trucker TV is the answer to getting the word out to other truckers about a child who might be missing in their area, saying “Trucker TV” could reach thousands of long-haul truck drivers, the very folks who travel the same roads and stop at the same rest areas where missing and exploited children often happen to be.
Klaas’ non-profit organization KlaasKids and other child advocates are campaigning for Trucker TV to be approved by the FCC.
Writing in the Washington, D.C., Roll Call newspaper, Klaas said that “… [for] many of us, this frustrating case just seems like such a no-brainer: It costs the taxpayers nothing; it provides professional drivers with a service they want and need; it saves lives. We will never know how many people might have been saved in the years this has languished in the FCC process…”
In his blog, Klass illustrates just how valuable truckers are in helping spot missing children, saying that in July 2011, “North Carolina truck driver Beano Francis spotted a white Ford Escort headed south on Interstate 85 in July, he recognized the car from an Amber Alert” and quickly notified authorities. Police say the West Virginia man driving the car had “met” the 13-year-old girl online before abducting her and credited Mr. Francis for his fast action, but he was actually just the latest trucker to answer a family’s prayers and help an abducted child return safely home.”
Diane Russell, Maine state lawmaker and advocate for Trucker TV said, “It’s time to level the playing field so these kids have a shot at home.” Russell believes Trucker TV is that shot.
The FCC has been resistant to approve Trucker TV, although advocates of the station have been campaigning its importance for years. Why?
Many believe that traditional broadcasters are worried about competition. A new proposal to air Trucker TV on low-frequency channels is gaining momentum. Like low-frequency radio, the signals are too weak to leave the immediate area or interfere with broadcasters.
To join Marc Klaas and other advocates of Trucker TV, add your name to the KlaasKid’s Call to Action here.
What truckers can do when they join together is amazing. It’s time for the FCC to allow truckers to join the nation in the search for missing children.