FBI and local law enforcement train for a child abduction

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Text and photos by Steven H. Robinson

On Thursday, April 6, 2017 between 8:30am and 3:45pm a field training exercise was conducted as a culmination of an FBI sponsored Child Abduction Response Training for 16 local law enforcement agencies. The agencies were from Clark County, King County, Kitsap County, Skagit County, Snohomish County, and the Portland Police Bureau. Washington State is the 11th state to receive this training.

Annually there are 110 children abducted by strangers in the United States. To solve these types of cases it is imperative to begin the investigation as soon as possible after the abduction is suspected. The FBI recommends that 76 investigators should be involved in these cases. To increase the number of available trained investigators the FBI provides this training.

Conducting the training were agents from the “Child Abduction Response Deployment Team" and the Behavioral Analysis Unit. The FBI’s role is to help investigate the disappearance, recover the child, and apprehend the person or person responsible. They support local law enforcement with investigative resources and technical assets to work hand in hand with state and local law enforcement agencies on cases involving the mysterious disappearance of a child.

The training exercise was held in the city of Snoqualmie and included three separate neighborhoods, the business district and a middle school. The role players for the exercise were recruited from the specific neighborhoods, the middle school students, drama programs from the local schools and universities located in Seattle.

The scenario for the exercise was developed in cooperation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This training scenario was the disappearance of a middle school student on her way to school. She had taken a shortcut on a trail through the woods instead of her normal route. She was abducted by an individual in a car.

The role players acting as neighbors, citizens, family, school classmates, and others, provided clues to investigators. Investigators spread out through the neighborhoods following leads developed from interviews. Local businesses were contacted for videos to try to identify the suspect and the vehicle.

Roadblocks were set up in the neighborhoods to check with drivers and develop any possible leads. School classmates were interviewed. Searches of the abduction site were made to collect possible evidence.

All clues and information weere processed to determine which were substantive and which were not. From that information leads were followed. Depending on the decisions the investigators made, the abducted child was recovered safely - but the successful end to this exercise was not a forgone conclusion. The child was recovered from a house in another neighborhood from where she was abducted.

The participating law enforcement investigators were monitored by FBI staff during the exercise. A review of the exercise will take place on Friday April 7, 2017 with a follow up report on what was done well and what could be improved in a real incident.

Carlos Mojica, FBI Assistant Special
Agent-in-Charge of the Seattle Office

According to Carlos Mojica, FBI Assistant Special Agent In-Charge of the Seattle Office, this training is valuable for law enforcement personnel who may be called to investigate a child abduction in the future. Not only does this training inform investigators on techniques and procedures but creates working agreements between local agencies and the FBI to respond quickly with adequate numbers of trained investigators.

He acknowledged the role of media in assisting in getting information to the citizenry in the case of an abduction and allowing the public to assist in quickly locating a missing child.

Snoqualmie Police Chief Perry Phipps

Snoqualmie Police Chief Perry Phipps thanked his community for their willingness to provide time, personnel and resources to make the exercise a real experience for the investigators.

He reported the citizens are now better experienced in providing good information and having a clearer understanding of reporting crimes as well as assisting police in have a positive outcome. The middle school students have a better understanding of personal safety issues and how to keep themselves safer in the community.


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