From Staff Reports
The Iowa Department of Public Safety (DPS) Child Abduction Response Team (CART) recently earned national certification from the U.S. Department of Justice for its work to develop, train, and activate a multidisciplinary team equipped to respond to and recover missing children.
The certification event, held February 17, 2023, in Des Moines, was the culmination of the Iowa DPS’s work with the AMBER Alert Training and Technical Assistance Program (AATTAP) in partnership with the DOJ and Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP).
The Iowa DPS CART was recognized as the 36th certified team in the nation and just the seventh team in the state to obtain such certification.
Designed to further the Iowa DPS’s commitment to protecting children, the Iowa DPS CART provides dedicated assets in response to a reported missing or abducted person and offers incident management, expertise, and resources for search and recovery.
Since its inception, the state's CART program has grown through the training and experience of its nearly 900 employees, and the relationships forged with law enforcement, first responders, emergency management agencies, search professionals, and the public. The certification aligns with the Iowa DPS’s continued efforts to the protect all Iowans, whether through the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force, AMBER Alert, Missing Person Information Clearinghouse, Office to Combat Human Trafficking, or the Governor’s School Safety Bureau.
Throughout the certification process, Iowa DPS CART members demonstrated the knowledge and capacity required to locate and recover a missing or abducted child and exceeded the requirements set forth by AATTAP.
In May 2022, a mock abduction exercise was held at the Dallas County Fairgrounds. The exercise, monitored onsite by AATTAP members, allowed the CART to showcase its operational readiness, implementation of protocols, and coordination with local agencies and non-governmental services. The exercise also served to prepare the team for an actual CART deployment.
“Having the Department’s Child Abduction Response Team become nationally certified recognizes our ongoing commitment to provide professional service to our law enforcement partners and our communities,” said Iowa DPS Commissioner Stephan Bayens. “Having witnessed a CART deployment firsthand, I am honored to have the Department of Justice join me in recognizing the professionalism and determination that CART puts towards the recovery of missing or abducted children.”
AATTAP’s Child Abduction Response Team (CART) Certification Program works to assist local, Tribal and state jurisdictions in the creation and implementation of CART Programs. Leading subject matter experts, practitioners, policymakers, and other child protection specialists have developed operational standards of excellence and evidence-based best practices related to the recovery of missing children. These professionals have worked with the U.S. DOJ and AATTAP to develop the certification process and criteria for jurisdictions to voluntarily seek an opportunity to demonstrate CART policy, procedures, and continuous improvement strategies that meet 47 standards of compliance for operational readiness.
The CART certification process culminates in a rigorous practical field exercise that is observed, and evaluated by a team of trained professionals who can attest to a CART program’s ability to rapidly and effectively deploy, work as a team and with specialized resources, and maintain critical documentation and equipment during an endangered or missing child incident.
For more details about AATTAP’s CART certification, or for CART-specific resources, visit amberadvocate.org/cartresources.