Media Archive

Volunteers conduct child identification program at SAD 41

Article from Bangor Daily News, Tuesday, November 11, 2003

By Diana Bowley
of the NEWS Staff

MILO - Area children are becoming safer thanks to members of Pleasant River Masonic Lodge.Over the next several weeks, with parental permission, Masons and volunteers will fingerprint and videotape the approximately 900 children enrolled inSAD 41 schools as part of the Grand Lodge of Maine Child Identification Program. The program is free.

"If we can bring it to the schools and they're willing to accept it, what a great idea," Jef Hamlin, past master of Pleasant River Masonic Lodge and current junior warden, said of CHIPS on Monday.

The fingerprints and videos are given to parents for safekeeping. The packet can be used almost immediately by law enforcement agencies to help find a missing child.

Hamlin, who heard about the program at Grand Lodge, approached school officials earlier this year and found great support. Hamlin said children in the Brownville Elementary School participated in the program last week. Thirteen of the 17 volunteers assisting in the project were Masons.

"We had a wicked good time. The kids were great," Hamlin said. He said he hoped to process all district children in kindergarten through grade 12 by the end of February, making SAD 41 the first in the state to have completed the program districtwide.

For the video, children are asked questions to capture unique appearances, mannerisms and voice inflections. Hamlin stressed that the video and fingerprint cards are the sole property of the parents and the only item retained by the Masonic lodge is the permission slip.

Hamlin said this program will augment fingerprinting performed by local police, and will provide a complete package for those children who have never participated in any identification program.

A parent of a preschool child also took advantage of the program last week, Hamlin said. The organization welcomes walk-ins during the scheduled times.

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.