County to buy program to find abducted kids

November 08, 2002 12:00 am

By SCOTT PESZNECKER

To more quickly spread the word about missing children or dangerous fugitives, the Calaveras County Sheriff's Department is ready to buy a computer system capable of contacting thousands of law enforcement agencies nationwide.

The TRAK system — which stands for Technology to Recover Abducted Kids — would cost the county $3,810. System users can send out color pictures, suspect information or lookout bulletins.

Calaveras County supervisors will vote to adopt the system when they meet Tuesday (The meeting was postponed one day because of the Veterans Day holiday). The item is on the consent agenda — usually approved without controversy.

"A lot of other agencies have it," said Calaveras County Undersheriff Randy Grasmuck. "Going to different conferences, a lot of agencies say it's a very good thing to have."

If supervisors approve the TRAK system, the Sheriff's Department would get the software, a computer, a 15-inch monitor, a scanner and an ink jet printer.

But why not just use normal e-mail? Why not set up an address book, scan a suspect's photo and then simply e-mail other law enforcement agencies — without dropping four grand?

Grasmuck said the TRAK system because it is faster then e-mail. Alsio, the agencies using TRAK share the same software, so there's no worry about one agency not being able to receive a transmission.

Plus, the TRAK system updates itself as more agencies join, and it's not limited to law enforcement. The system can send a flier to anyone with a fax machine.

"If it's going out to all of California with a picture, it would save us a lot of time because we don't have to look up individual numbers," Grasmuck said. "It won't be near as cumbersome as what we're doing now."

Three other costs are incurred when using the system: a dedicated phone line; a fee for each transmission to each law enforcement agency (about 4 cents to TRAK users and about 8 cents to standard fax machines) and a membership fee — $250 for Calaveras County.