GPS Used by Police To Track Missing Children
Police are now using GPS tracking devices as a tool to track autistic children as well as other missing kids. This technology is normally used to locate elderly individuals who have a tendency of wandering away.
An autistic child in Steilacoom, Washington went missing. The police took an hour and a half to locate the boy. Luckily, the boy was alright; however Detective Tom Yabe was unhappy with the amount of time it took.
Yabe declared “Time is absolutely of the essence”. The town of Steilacoom has many hazardous areas such as active train tracks and the waterfront. Yabe does not want the police department to wait until there is a tragedy for them to do more for the families with more vulnerable children.
Approximately 50% of autistic children tend to wander or bolt. That is why Yabe started looking into wearable GPS tracking technology commonly used by Alzheimer patients or other elderly individuals. Some of the systems use radio transmissions and others use global positioning to track people.
GPS tracking is much more precise, but the devices can be more expensive and they require recharging frequently. Yabe worried that the children might try to wander away when devices are charging.
Radio transmitters just give the missing person’s general location, but they last almost 30 continuous days without charging.
Steilacoom Police Chief Ron Schuab says the promise of the new technology is to help the police as well as other agencies work much smarter. He thinks there is great value in using this technology for the parents.
There is a program offered by the U.S. Department of Justice that provides a grant for tracking devices. The town of Steilacoom is requesting a grant from this program. They hope to have the new program in place before winter. The county of Snohomish has a program called Project Care-Track. Other cities throughout the United States are also using GPS tracking technology to find both adults and children.