York County CARE team ready to help when child goes missing

K9 Sargent Prince was on someone’s trail.

After getting a good whiff of clothes, the 5-year-old sleuth took his handler, York County Sheriff’s Department Corporal, away. Shane Kauffman, during a hasty walk through PeoplesBank Revolution Park in York.

After a few minutes, Prince found Sheriff’s Department intern Kayla McKinney in a closet in one of the stadium’s upper rooms. Her reward for finding McKinney was a handful of cheesy whale crackers which she gratefully gave to him.

It was a test of Prince’s abilities to do what he’s primarily tasked with – finding missing children.

Prince is the face of York County’s Child Abduction Response Team – or CARE – which combines the talents of a number of local, state and federal agencies that are responding to help find abducted, missing and endangered children. The team is made up of volunteers from these organizations and supported by donations and fundraising. They receive no government funding.

The CARE team is the only such team certified by the United States Department of Justice’s Amber Alert program in Pennsylvania and only one of 27 nationwide. The team was formed in 2006 and certified in 2010.

CARE team coordinator Scott James said the team is available to any police department in York County when a child goes missing.

“If a police department has a missing child and it’s more important than a lot of police departments are really capable of handling, we are a resource that police departments can call on to bring in the necessary things,” he said. said James.

The CARE team has 42 members from 22 different agencies who volunteer their time to find missing children. These agencies include: York County District Attorney’s Office and Detectives’ Bureau, York County Sheriff’s Office, West York Police Department, York Region Regional Police, Township Police of West Manchester, Southern Regional Police, Pennsylvania State Police, York City Police, Northern York County Regional Police. , FBI, Summit Search and Rescue, South Central Search and Rescue, York County Adult and Juvenile Probation, York County Department of Emergency Services, York County Children Youth and Families, Pennsylvania State Parole and York County Children’s Advocacy Center.

“If it’s K-9 assistance, we’ve got the K-9s through the sheriff’s department. If it’s search and rescue, Kurtis Timmer and his guys in South Central handle it. “, said James. “Let’s say someone is found and we want to bring them back to their family, we have the victim witnesses from the DA’s office.”

The team can also get legal advice on things from volunteers at the district attorney’s office, James said.

“The CARE team as a whole is a positive resource for the county,” James said. “We found out pretty quickly that most departments knew there was something out there to help missing children, but I don’t think most departments knew we were that organized and ready to help.”

CARE team coordinator David Kahley said the team trains every year. They did a mock exercise last October. They also have additional training through organizations such as the AMBER Alert program.

“These are primarily for our investigators, but there is also training for other members of our team,” Kahley said.

Search and rescue teams and dogs are constantly training, he said.

“We have to make sure our training is up to date,” Kahley said. “It helps retain our certification.”

From its inception until 2018, Kahley said the CARE team was only called upon to help find missing children one to three times a year.

“It’s certainly increased a lot since we’re bringing more of our resources into local departments,” Kahley said. “We are getting a lot more calls.”

Last year, they participated in six searches.

“A lot of times it’s for the abduction response effort,” Kahley said, “But we also help children who are at risk or missing. That’s primarily what most of these cases are. Children with special needs specials can stray and that’s where our search and rescue comes in and that’s what the majority of our cases were last year.”

With all the assets at their disposal, the CARE team hopes to have all their bases covered when searching for an abducted or missing child. Kahley said having these resources available at all times saves time and could ultimately save lives.

“Time is precious with these types of incidents,” he said. “There is a certain percentage of kidnappings. How many die in an hour? It’s 44% that would be killed in the first hour; 74% in the first three hours; and 91% in 24 hours. So with a kidnapping, time is precious.”

The team has a number of dogs available when a child goes missing. There are five Bloodhounds and two German Shepherds assigned to the CARE team as well as others managed by other agencies.

sergeant. Prince is the lead dog when it comes to finding someone. Prince was donated to the group in 2017 by the Jimmy Ryce Foundation and the Prince Athletic Club.

“We have other dogs on the team, but he’s our main resource when it comes to tracking men,” Kahley said.

James said Prince is an exceptional resource for the CARE team, but when you take him to public events, people love him and bond with him.

sergeant. Prince has worked with Kauffman for two and a half years now.

“They bonded really well,” James said. “They practice all the time. It’s amazing what the sheriff’s department is doing with their K9 unit. They practice regularly. They always do something and it’s good for the managers and the K9s just for a bonding process.”

Lt. David Godfrey, who leads the York County Sheriff’s K9 unit, trained his dogs with Prince at Revolution Stadium. Godfrey became a member of CAR.E. The team nine years ago when K9 Dargo, a German Shepherd, was part of it.

“Getting people home safely is our No. 1 goal,” Godfrey said. “I had a vital tool, a K9, that could help with that. It made sense that you weren’t on the team.”

Kurtis Timmer of South Central PA Search and Rescue also trained his dogs with Prince and the others. Timmer’s group, which is also part of the CARE team, began training with the Sheriff’s Department dogs two years ago. They do this once a month to keep them ready.

“The training is a lot of teamwork with not only the Sheriff’s Department dog handlers and our team, but our dogs are also trained in the same setting and it challenges them,” Timmer said.

Most of Timmer’s group work areas are outdoors, so training in a covered area is valuable and gives handlers an opportunity to see what the dogs’ abilities are.

Timmer said being part of the CARE team to help find missing or abducted children means a lot to him.

“The partnership we have developed with them is simply outstanding,” he said.

That’s what many think of being part of the team.

Kahley has been with the team for 13 years while James has been with it for two years. Kahley coordinates team members and group formation while James coordinates fundraising for the non-profit group.

James, who is the County Chief Detective for the York County District Attorney’s Office, never thought he would be involved with a group like this. After 17 years with the county forensic team and missing so much family time during that time, James wasn’t sure he wanted to be part of another group that could be called in at any time of the day. . After getting involved, he changed his mind.

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“It’s the people who make the team and make it special,” James said. “Just the fact that they’re willing to come out and help is so amazing to me. These people are so passionate about this stuff that it doesn’t matter if it’s 2 p.m. or 2 a.m. , they’re ready to go.”

Kahley, who is a lieutenant in the West York Borough of Police, was originally recruited to join the group by its leader at the time.

“As an investigator, he thought I would be a good resource for the team,” he said. “I think they’re a great team to be involved with. The way I always look at things if something happens to my kids is the people I want to answer to.”

– Contact Anthony Maenza at [email protected] or @atmaenza on Twitter.

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