From Staff Reports
PITTSBURGH – The Allegheny County Child Abduction Response Team (CART) was certified by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) at a formal presentation in December.
“Since 1932, the Allegheny County Police Department has provided investigative services and other assistance to local, state and federal agencies,” said Fitzgerald. “The department’s leadership in convening a child abduction response team, and pursuing its certification, is another tool to assist those in our community who are in need. I’m extremely proud of the work that they’ve done to get to this point and congratulate everyone involved with this effort.”
Allegheny County CART is a multi-disciplinary, rapid response team that is trained and prepared to respond to a missing, endangered or abducted child through investigation. Organized and managed by the Allegheny County Police Department, CART pulls together resources to aid in the search and rescue effort and to assist the agency of jurisdiction in its investigation using an Incident Command Model (ICM). CART creates a mutual aid resource inventory and allows for the rapid and organized response required in these investigations.
The team is comprised of, but not limited to, law enforcement, victim advocates, child protection team members, mental health specialists, public information officers, search and rescue groups, and district attorneys in addition to resources from other government and non-government organizations. The current composition includes representation from the Allegheny County Police Department, the District Attorney’s Office and the Allegheny County Office of the Medical Examiner Mobile Crime Unit as well as these agencies:
Allegheny Mountain Rescue Group
Bethel Park Police Department
Federal Bureau of Investigation Pittsburgh
Mt. Lebanon Police Department
Ohio Township Police Department
Penn Hills Police Department
Ross Township Police Department
Allegheny County CART also includes supplemental support from Allegheny County Emergency Services, A Child’s Place at Mercy Advocacy Center, State Probation and Parole, and US Marshal Service.
The purpose of CART is to quickly and effectively recover a child that has been abducted or is missing under suspicious circumstances by utilizing resources and a team of individuals with prior training and experience related to child abductions. The swift deployment of pre-identified resources and personnel is the primary CART objective as well as a key factor in the safe recovery of a missing and endangered or abducted child.
“In our investigative efforts, we never work alone. We rely on our partner agencies,” said Police Superintendent Christopher Kearns. “The CART is another collaborative venture to provide the organized and professional response the community expects when a child is missing. We appreciate the DOJ’s guidance and the recognition of the team through accreditation.”
In 2005, OJJDP launched the CART Program as part of its AMBER Alert Training and Technical Assistance Initiative. As a result of its effectiveness and acceptance by law enforcement professionals, OJJDP create the Child Abduction Response Team Certification Program. Leading subject matter experts, practitioners, policymakers, and other child protective specialists developed operational standards of excellence and evidence-based best practices related to the recovery of missing children. When a CART team is certified, it means the team has met those standards and can effectively respond to any missing and endangered or abducted child incident. Specifically, a CART must comply with 47 standards that cover 12 topic operational areas.
Requests for the CART will be handled like all other investigative and emergency service requests, through the local municipal police department.
For more details about AATTAP’s CART certification, or for CART-specific resources, visit amberadvocate.org/cartresources.