Tuesday, July 23, 2002

Hebron Crossroads 7-28
By Jeff Gill

“When a child is abducted, we’ve got about three hours to find and safely recover them in most cases,” says Sgt. Larry Brooks of the Hebron Police Department. In recent training he’s received, information about the unique situation of stranger abduction Sgt. Brooks said “gave me chills.”
Because the fact of the matter is, in most cases the family takes a while to notice, calls neighbors and friends, and looks around themselves before calling the police. That takes up about two of the three hours, studies show . . . which means the police have often less than an hour.
Now please note that stranger abductions of children, which we’ve all heard tragically too much of this summer, constitute only about a 100 per year in the US, and this year is actually a bit behind the average. Like shark attacks last summer, clusters of events and media coverage (like this column!) creates a perception of crisis.
On the other hand, the Hebron area has had one attempted child abduction in the last few years, blessedly unsuccessful: but it got Sgt. Brooks focused on the issue, and led to some conversations which started our “Community Response Team” which Sgt. Brooks and Chief Carney asked me to head up. This is simply a pre-response plan where a data base of names of folks who are able and willing to quickly join in a search across an end of town or along some neighboring fields is already on paper, and saves precious minutes of that “golden hour” left to successfully recover the child.
After the police follow their investigative procedures to verify that this is not the much more common circumstance of runaway, custody disputes and misunderstandings, or just late for dinner, the Hebron Police Department would activate this CRT, and names would be called with a location where we’d converge (usually the municipal building). Each pre-planned area would have an officer assigned as “in charge,” and a team would be sent.
One of the values of a CRT is not only the speed of calling names already understanding what they’re being asked to do, but also the efficiency of not having large, well-intentioned groups covering the same areas again and again. Plans are already underway to co-ordinate with Union Township where practical. Special needs, such as farmers up high on tractors looking down into fields where crops have started to grow tall, or noting those with map and compass skills, are noted on the CRT database.
A simple one page form is available for anyone interested to fill out and return to the Hebron Police. This form then is entered into the database. Sgt. Brooks has spoken at worship for the Methodist church, both services at the Christian church, and at the Nazarene church. He plans to visit other community groups in the near future, where he’ll give a brief explanation of the CRT plan and distribute copies of the form. You can also just drop by the municipal building and fill one out during the day at the police station.
Please note that this is not “search and rescue,” we’re not generating a scuba team or a posse to identify and apprehend suspects. This is simply a list of people ready and able to turn out quickly to search a designated area our vicinity under direct police supervision! This fall we will likely have a drill to work out any last bugs in our calling and organizing plan. We hope drills are all that we get called for, but it is good to know that we’ll be ready to calmly and swiftly get the job done as needed.

Speaking of crops getting high, it is good to see the corn finally up and over our heads. The rains last week couldn’t have come a day later, and we still need a bit more. But it does feel right to drive down Beaver Run Road and not be able to see anything other than straight ahead . . . drivers, be aware that sight lines are limited in the Hebron-Union Township area these next few weeks! Canyon Road is starting to live up to its name along some stretches, and everyone knows you can’t see around corners in a canyon.

Finally, and finally a little less seriously, I got the chance to share a podium at the Ohio Fire Chiefs’ Conference with Granville’s Lea Ann Parsley last week. Before the program, we talked about how as her town is now a recognized center for skeleton racing with her silver medal, perhaps if Licking Park District built a bobsled run between our villages at Infirmary Mound Park, then Hebron could work on becoming the luge capital. If Mayor Mason just got one of those skin-tight bodysuits on and started racing feet-first in contrast to Lea Ann’s headfirst plunge down the track, what a great promo for Hebron that would be!
Well, Lea Ann agreed, but some of Cliff’s fellow fire chiefs seemed a little uneasy about the whole idea; whether it was the danger of luge and skeleton or the idea of our Mayor in a bodysuit wasn’t clear. More research is needed, I guess.

Jeff Gill is pastor of Hebron Christian Church and is happy to help the HPD search for the lost; if you have other interests that should be looked for, e-mail him at disciple@voyager.net or call 928-4066.