When a child is kidnapped, time is the worst enemy of a group attempting to find the person responsible and bring that child home unharmed.
That’s why the local Child Abduction Response Team held a live drill Thursday in North Rome. The key agencies got a realistic experience in working with each other to track the kidnapper and save the victim.
“Our main goal is to return the child safely ... and it takes different departments working together to do that,” said Joe Montgomery, GBI special agent in charge of the Northwest Georgia region. “Time is the most critical element. Using drills helps us realize what resources each department has and what they do well.”
In its 10th year of operation, this CART team — led by the Rome and Floyd County police departments as well as the Georgia Bureau of Investigation — was the second such team to be certified in the state.
Numerous other agencies also are involved, including the Georgia State Patrol, Rome-Floyd County Fire Department, the Floyd County District Attorney’s Office, Harbor House Child Advocacy Center and Floyd County EMA.
All of these organizations must act together in the event of an abduction, since time is so critical.
“We don’t have the luxury of learning these things on the fly,” said Sgt. Chris Fincher with the Floyd County Police Department. “It’s also good experience for new officers to be under joint command. Combining agencies without experience can get hairy real quick.”
As the call came in during Thursday’s drill, each of the agencies stepped up. They devised a plan to find the abducted child and executed it with a successful outcome. Montgomery said Wednesday’s drill went well, and it wasn’t a surprise.
“We’ve always worked well with Floyd, Rome, the sheriff’s office and Metro,” he said. “I try to tell everybody the best asset we have in Northwest Georgia is the relationships.”
Much of the activity was based in North Rome and Grizzard Park, under a scenario mapped out in advance. Up to this point, the team’s training is typically an exercise on paper rather than hands on.
“We tabletop these situations every year, which takes a few hours, but there’s no better experience than getting out in the field,” said Rome Assistant Police Chief Debbie Burnett.