By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
May 25 was National Missing Children’s Day. It is a day dedicated to the organizations and individuals that protect children and a day to show encouragement to parents, guardians and caregivers who are dedicated to children’s safety.
The day began in 1983 under President Ronald Regan according to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, an office under the Department of Justice. Each year, the DOJ honors the children who have gone missing and recognizes the efforts of law enforcement.
In Milwaukee, the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office (MCOS) uses the day to remember Milwaukee’s missing children and teach children about safety.
Throughout the month, MCOS attended events throughout the city such as the MLK Heritage Health Center Community Baby Shower and the Clarke Square Park’s Bloom & Groom.
During the events, MCOS provided individuals with Child ID Kits on behalf of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. The kits were free of charge and are to be used in case of a missing child.
In the kit, parents and guardians are asked to include photo identification of the child, which shows the child’s face in color. It should be in a digital format, readily accessible and updated every six months.
A description of the child including their name, nickname, date of birth, hair color/style, eye color, sex, weight, height, glasses and braces and identifying marks such as tattoos or piercings.
Also included in the kit should be dental x-rays, charting and biting impressions, fingerprints, a DNA sample and medical reports.
The kits are to be used if a child goes missing to help law enforcement and volunteers find the child.
This year’s events were held in memory of Alexis Patterson who disappeared in 2002. According to the Journal Sentinel, Alexis was last seen on Friday, May 3. She was walking to Hi-Mount Community School, less than a block from her home.
At 7-years-old, Alexis disappeared without a trace. At the time, the Journal Sentinel reported that Alexis’ stepfather dropped her off at the corner where she would cross the street for school. While students reported that they had seen Alexis that morning, she did not appear in class.
Upon the news that Alexis had gone missing, relatives, friends and individuals looked for her, however, the search for Alexis eventually became a cold case.
In 2016, the Journal Sentinel reported that the Police Department’s Cold Case Unit had compiled 5,000 interviews and that the case file was over 10,000 pages long.
If your child is missing, call 911 immediately. Individuals are encouraged to call the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800- 843-5678).
This article originally appeared in the Milwaukee Courier.