October 22, 2009
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Contact: Public Affairs Office
This week, a canine unit from Cross City Correctional Institution was requested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to assist them in locating a missing Clay county girl, seven-year-old Somer Thompson. She was last seen alive walking home from school Monday with her twin and her 10-year-old sister, and her body was found Wednesday at a Georgia landfill. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family.
Cross City CI Sgt. Edmonds and CO J. K. Cooper and their canines assisted in the search, and probation and parole officers supervising sex offenders in the area made contact with each of them after Somer went missing.
The Department has a partnership with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to assist in child abduction cases. The partnership consists of Canine Tracking teams partnering with FDLE’s Child Abduction Response Teams (CART). Our tracking teams are prepared to respond at a moment’s notice when missing children cases are reported.
“Our agency serves in the statewide CART program and provides assistance to FDLE and local law enforcement during Amber alerts like the current Somer Thompson case,” according to Robert Hendry, who oversees the K-9 Tracking Teams for the Department.
The CART program began in early 2005 as a result of the abduction and subsequent murder of 11-year-old Carlie Brucia in Sarasota in February 2004. Members of FDLE’s Orlando Regional Operations Center saw a need for their region to have trained experts in the field of child abduction investigation and response who could respond to an abduction immediately, assist the lead local law enforcement agency, and bring additional regional resources to the recovery effort.
The Department has a total of 37 Canine Tracking Teams spread out statewide so that each region has an adequate number of teams to cover all of our facilities. Our Canine Tracking Teams stand ready 24 hours a day, seven days a week to assist any agency or department in locating missing or abducted children.