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January 18, 2008 - 2:03:38 PM

Ontario: Child ID Program Thunder Bay Source Thunder Bay ON

Local Masons have launched a program in the city that will assist police in the critical first response after a child is reported missing. Six Masonic Lodges in Thunder Bay felt introducing the identification kits to the area would be a valuable tool considering the high number of children reported missing each year in Ontario.

Area Masons will be offering free Child ID kits to parents which contain a description, a photo, a video and digital fingerprints of their child as well as a dental print and a DNA swab that is then downloaded onto a CD ROM.

Mason Chip Ontario Regional Project director Pat Curran explains the organization does not keep any records of the children, they are given to the parents for safekeeping. Statistics show that the first two hours after a child has gone missing are the most critical. It takes under two minutes from the time a CD ROM is loaded into the police computer for the Amber Alert broadcast to be sent throughout their system.

''It's an interactive program using computers, which downloads all the permanent information about a child onto a disc and a piece of paper. And in the event that the child ever goes missing, the police can then use that as a record to identify the child and hopefully bring them back to their parents,'' Curran said.

The Masonic program has already been launched in southern Ontario and is supported by the 1,200 Masons in Thunder Bay's six lodges. The local lodges have a long-term plan to hold regular clinics and parents will always have access to the kits. The first ID clinics will be held at the Intercity Shopping Centre on Sat. Jan. 19 and Sun. Jan. 20 as well as the following weekend at the promotional court.