May 13, 2013 7:44 PM by Cameron Polom, KSBY News
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, about 2,100 children are reported missing every day in the U.S.
As part of their outreach programs, law enforcement officials were invited to participate in a weekend seminar in Washington, DC.
Two Five Cities police chiefs were selected to attend the conference and were able to bring back critical techniques that enhance the way law enforcement handles child abduction cases on the Central Coast.
When Chief Jeff Norton of Pismo Beach PD looks at the pictures of missing children littered throughout the national database, he can't help but get emotional.
"These cases are devastating. They can really affect a community for years and years," said Norton.
He says more often than not, children are found within a few hours, but after that, every second counts.
"Time is critical. There's certain things that law enforcement has to do, from Amber Alerts, and containing areas," said Norton.
Studies have shown that up to a third of children kidnapped by strangers are abducted less than a few hundred feet from their home.
"Often times these subjects can be very charming, very outgoing, they can use techniques to lure a child," said Norton.
Much like we saw in Cleveland when a simple ride home led to ten years chained inside a house of horrors.
He says his department is now making strides to share crucial data from local cases to the national databases.
"It's just a tremendous resource when you're trying to find similar descriptions, similar vehicles that may be involved in a case," said Norton.
He adds it's all about gathering clues, no matter the size.
The department has also begun doing more in-depth interviews with runaways to understand their motivation for running and to determine if any foul play was involved in their case, something they weren't doing in the past.
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, more than 800,000 children under the age of 18 were reported missing last year.
The majority of those cases involved abduction by a family member.
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