IRONWOOD - The Michigan Child Identification Program visited Ironwood this weekend, giving parents the opportunity to preserve a packet of identifiable information about their children, in the event of a missing child.
"Hopefully they would never need to use it," John Tincher, Michigan Masons member and volunteer, said. "But at least when you're panicking and trying to get everything together, here you got a packet, ready to give to the police."
Volunteers and the Michigan Masons helped parents and children proceed through the various steps of the program.
Parents first filled out a form containing the information specific about their child, including height, weight, age, nicknames and identifying marks. Children were then weighed and their heights recorded.
The next step is fun for the kids, they get digital copies of their fingerprints taken which are uploaded into a special program that burns a CD of all the information collected.
After the fingerprints, four photos are taken and a short video interview is recorded with the hopes that it will provide police with more complete information about the child.
"I try to get different faces, a serious face, a funny face, give me a face like you're mad," Tincher said. "That way we get their different mannerisms, we give a better idea who the kid is."
Throughout the process, volunteers offer tips to parents on what a child can do to help the police if they are ever kidnapped.
"I tell parents, and kids, too, if you are taken in someone's car or in someone's house, spit," Tincher said. "The child's DNA will be there, it will help the police."
After all the information is collected, photos taken and interview recorded a volunteer burns the information onto a cd which is placed into the packet.
According to Tincher, parents are often concerned about the safety of the information given during the program but that isn't an issue. All the identifiable information gathered is deleted immediately after the CD is burned and given to the parents to ensure privacy.
Also inside the packet is a dental impression plate for parents to complete at home. The plate, when soaked in warm water, becomes soft and pliable. The child then bites down on the plate, leaving a dental record and DNA sample. After letting the plate dry, it is placed in the provided sealed bag and preserved.
"I would say parents should have this done every year until a child is 12 or so, just because the teeth fall out and new ones come in, so much changes," Tincher said. "After that, maybe every two years it should be done, but we will do it every year if the parent wants."
The Michigan Child Identification Program works with the Amber Alert program and the finished packet is Amber Alert ready.
The program travels through the U.P. and is sponsored, scheduled and organized by the Michigan Masons through the Grand Lodge of Michigan.
For more information visit ironwoodmasons.com/michip.html.