Opinion: Amber Alert (Missing Girl)

POSTED: 10/23/11 11:01 AM

We read with some dismay the story about 13-year old Diamond Elisa who went missing on October 14, that’s nine days ago since yesterday. The story was buried on page 7 of The Daily Herald. We’re not criticizing our brethren on Bush Road; we’re just pointing out that the story about this missing girl was never reported by the police and that when the parents finally went to a newspaper to ask for help, their story did not even make the front page.
Maybe by the time this newspaper hits the streets, the girl is safely back with her family. That’s always possible and we sure hope that this will be the case. What we do not understand is that the police treated the disappearance in such a lackluster way.
A child that goes missing is a family’s worst nightmare. There are ways to deal with these situations, and the treatment Diamond’s family feels inadequate.
How difficult could it possibly have been for the police to issue a press release complete with the girl’s picture the moment the parents reported her missing? And how difficult would it be to contact mobile telecom providers and ask them to send out a text message to all subscribers. Had this been done, thousands of eyes would have been on the lookout for “diamond” more than a week ago.
Since it is no use crying over spilt milk (the slow reaction cannot be undone) it is time for the competent authorities to look at the future and to put a system in place that offers better chances to locate missing children. We’re pretty sure that the mobile telecom providers are more than ready to pick up their social responsibility by making their networks available. But someone will have to take action, and we think that the appropriate man to do this is our Justice Minister Roland Duncan.
Many countries around the world, including the United States and the Netherlands, have an Amber Alert system in place. In the States, Amber Alerts are issued after law enforcement has confirmed that there is an abduction and that the victim is at risk of serious injury or death. In the Netherlands the alerts also go out after reports that a child is missing.
The police have established a national warning system to which cell phone users can describe. They will get a text message when a child goes missing plus a link to a web site that contains a picture of the missing child.
Systems to locate missing children have therefore already been created, and St. Maarten does not have to reinvent the wheel. All we have to do is put such a system in place. Why wait for the next missing girl?

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