South Dakota Masons offer layer of family security with CHIP
RAPID CITY, S.D. — In an act to save your child in case they go missing, a South Dakota Child Identification Program was offered at the Black Hills Sports Show and Outdoor Expo.
On average, a child is reported missing every 43 seconds, that’s where CHIP comes in. It’s not computer chips, but it is the South Dakota Masons Child Identification Program. South Dakota has been running the program for the last ten years, and the intent is to help parents take preventative measures to keep their children safe.
Jack Welker, the West River Coordinator for CHIP says it is the Masons’ way of helping parents protect their children. The program is free to parents and the ID process involves several different steps. Volunteers record the heights and weights of the kids, take fingerprints and photographs, and create toothprints, making for peace of mind.
AJ Furtwangler brought his 11 and 13-year-old daughters to be ID’d, and said,
“Well we just moved to the area, and we don’t know that many people yet. So I think just something like this to have in place for if they got lost would be wonderful for law enforcement to have all their information and everything to be able to find them easier. Unfortunately kids go missing a lot, and I think any tools that they could have to help better find them is a wonderful program.”
The combination of questions and prints taken have been effective in helping parents find missing children in some cases. Welker said,
“We had one (child) in Nebraska, and they found, they got the stuff from Amber Alert, the best friend, because they said he keeps talking about pipes, he likes to hide at the pipes. They had culverts for the road construction, and they’d go there and hide in them and watch traffic go by on the Interstate. That’s where they found the kid, he fell asleep.”
There is no age limit, with CHIP having worked with children as young as three months, to a case of a mother having her 60-year-old son identified because he had Alzheimer’s. Children are also asked questions and with parents, learn from Pennington County dispatchers about the appropriate time to call 911 and what to do during emergencies. SD-CHIP and Pennington County both have websites detailing the steps that may be taken to ensure your child’s safety as well.