‘Speed is key;’ Do you know the details police would need if your child goes missing?

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — When a child goes missing, every second matters.

That’s why TBI is urging parents to have important details about their kids before it’s too late.

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“You’d be surprised how often parents don’t have a photo of a child, don’t know their weight or height and at the moment, in crisis, when law enforcement is asking the question there’s a delay,” said Shelly Smitherman, TBI’s Assistant Special Agent overseeing the Bureau’s missing children efforts.

TBI launched TN KidKit this week so parents can understand the details police will need if that scary moment ever comes.

Saving Lost Kids is an organization that works to address missing, exploited and sex trafficked children right here in Shelby County.

Brian Callies, Saving Lost Kids CEO, said: “Speed is key.”

For the last five years, Callies and Saving Lost Kids have worked diligently to lessen the number of missing children around Tennessee.

They focus on three key things with their program: prevent, rescue and restore.

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Let’s say your child goes missing at a mall. Callies said having an accurate picture could be what saves your child’s life.

“We want you to be able to pull something out of your purse, hand it to the security guard,” Callies explained. “They can put that out as like an APB to all the other security guards and now they can be looking for that child because this is what that child looks like.”

TN KidKit allows parents to fill out important details about their kids before an urgent situation ever happens.

On TN KidKit’s website, there are downloadable documents where you can fill out your child’s age, weight, hair color and even a spot for you to add a current picture.

TBI said when it comes to photos, the most important thing is that parents have high-quality photos that could help strangers recognize and identify their child. Also, have a photo of your child by themselves.

TBI said if parents don’t have quality pictures ready, it will require a TBI analyst to spend valuable time fixing photos for use on an official poster.

TBI would ideally like to have photos that include:

  • Full body – front and back
  • Close-up of the child’s face with no filters (examples: school photo or sports photo)
  • Recent photo, as children are rapidly changing

Photos that you upload should not have any social media filters.

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Once you finish it, you can download it and keep it on your phone just in case you ever need it.

“So we don’t want you to keep these IDs in a drawer at home because the time it would take you to probably find it, it just takes too long,” Callies said. “So we want you to have them available and ready. In our world, we have them redone every six months.”

Saving Lost Kids has created over 8,500 child and teen safety IDs for absolutely zero costs.

After dealing with so many missing children, Callies has one major piece of advice for parents.

“If you just get into the habit of when you get out of the car, take a picture of what that child looks like that day,” he said.

If you get into this habit, he said then the police will know exactly what to look for if the child goes missing that day.

Saving Lost Kids is always working to bring awareness to the community.

The organization launched a Digital Deputy program. Community members can receive an APB whenever a child is reported missing in Tennessee. Click here to learn more.