Fingerprinting leaves indelible mark of protection

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Published on August 04, 2010 with No Comments

… their fingerprints

The city of Portage seems to be on the right track.

Walgreens aims to keep kids safe, via fingerprinting, by sponsoring Kids Day, set for 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Aug. 7 this year at its store at 6030 Central Ave.

Kids Day offers free fingerprinting by the Portage Police Department, free blood pressure readings and giveaways from the Portage and South Haven fire departments.

Debbie Martinez, who has coordinated the event for the past seven years, a pharmacy tech at Walgreens, says Kids Day ranks at the top of necessary community priorities, with the aid of many community volunteers.

“It’s like an insurance policy, a blanket of safety, for our kids,” said Martinez.

Martinez said members of the Portage Police Department and the Portage Fire Department agree fingerprinting has gained popularity throughout the nation and work to benefit child safety and identification.

If the unthinkable happens and a child is missing, the police department can start processing his or her information as soon as they are contacted by the child’s parents.

“Here at the police station, we are on a nationwide system called “A Child is Missing.” Their name and information is sent out throughout the nation on a police basis, from police department to police department, and also information is put out along the roadways like an Amber Alert system,” Sgt. Keith Hughes said.

The Portage Police Department utilizes another program, as well. When a child is missing from a certain area, people in that proximity will be notified by phone of the disappearance. This program is also called “A Child is Missing”.

“It’s kind of like a telephone tree,” Hughes added, “Passing the information out to the people in that particular area.”

Fingerprints are kept on file and can be extremely invaluable if a child were ever abducted or missing.

Information can be quickly transmitted throughout numerous police agencies, nationwide.

At least 75 youngsters (from grade school to high school) took advantage last year of the free service that was designed to protect them.

“I think parents also appreciate what we offer,” Martinez said.

After the fingerprinting is completed, every child gets a backpack filled with a variety of necessary school supplies. The session will include refreshments, hot dogs, chips and the opportunity to enjoy a good laugh with Maxine the Clown, who will offer creative face painting and ballooning (making the facsimile of animals out of balloons).

Darla Hernandez, of Portage and a longtime member of the Michiana Clowns organization, said she’s more than happy to lend a hand.

“This is a great thing, and I think the community will enjoy the efforts of everyone who takes part in this,” Hernandez said.

This free service is being offered this Saturday Aug. 7, at Walgreens, 6030 Central Ave. (and Willowcreek) in Portage from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Portage Police Department and Portage and South Haven fire departments will assist.

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