Bryan’s Web-based document management system gave BVCART members the flexibility they needed so that decision-makers could work remotely and still be tied into the newest information in real time.

“If you get a sheriff or police chief, they aren’t going to want to be sitting in a call center outside of their own jurisdiction,” Fleeger said. “They are going to want to be where the offense occurred.”

GIS Improving Efficiency

The Bryan IT department has assisted the BVCART in other ways. In addition to the leads tracking system, Bryan has opened its GIS capability to the team. 

When a search for an abducted child or missing person is initiated, those taking part in the rescue use handheld GPS devices or attach GPS devices to dogs aiding in the search. As areas are investigated, the locations are recorded. When the search of a location has concluded, the data from the devices are downloaded onto Bryan’s existing GIS maps so that an accurate account of areas searched is maintained.

“Data has shown that if a child is abducted and murdered, 75 percent of the time they have been killed in the first three hours,” Fleeger said. “So the ability to track and have documentation of what was searched, where it was searched and how thoroughly it was searched — even from the initial responding officers — is very critical.”

To the relief of parents in the region, there hasn’t been a need to activate the BVCART for a child abduction case. But the team was scrambled to assist in various missing persons’ cases. In one situation, an elderly woman went missing in a heavily wooded park area. The woman was found thanks in part to the GIS capabilities at the abduction response team’s disposal, according to Fleeger.

Roman said GPS has improved the speed and efficiency of searches, but more importantly, the system is easy to use. He called simplicity a key factor, given the stress involved during a child abduction case. He said the goal of his IT group is to make sure things run smoothly.

“We just want to make sure when [members of the BVCART] boot up their computers, they work,” Roman said. “When they key up the radios, they work and when they do the GPS, we have a map ready for them when they get back.”

Brian Heaton  | 

Brian Heaton was a writer for Government Technology magazine from 2011 to mid-2015.