"It filled a niche somewhere between where we didn't have anything," said Nashville Police Chief William Creech.
The program, called A Child is Missing, is run by a nonprofit group in Florida and is used to help find missing people of all ages. When it's activated, an officer dials a phone center in Florida and gives the name and description of the missing person, along with the last known location of the person and whether it's known if they were traveling on foot or in a car.
Using that information and satellite systems, the operator plots the last known location and comes up with a list of all business and home phones in the area. An automated system then dials as many as 1,000 numbers in just 60 seconds, and people in that area hear a message with information about the missing person.
"I could theoretically have 5,000 telephones called and that many people checking back yards, sheds, roads that we couldn't get to in that length of time," said Creech.
The program is available at no cost to any law-enforcement agency that wants to use it. It's funded by grants and donations. Nashville was the first department in North Carolina to get involved. Law-enforcement agencies across the state are expected to join the system by the end of the year.
"I look at it like I'm bringing something in that can help all law enforcement and help the citizens, and I'd like to see it spread all across the state," said Creech.
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