HOLT, Dec. 4, 2016—Children toured fire trucks, jumped in bounce houses, had their faces painted or visited with Santa Claus during Saturday’s annual Kid’s Day hosted by the Holt Fire District.
But in a quieter corner of the fire station, members and volunteers with the Low XII Riders Masonic Bikers Association of Milton sat at computers and, with parents’ consent, photographed, fingerprinted and videotaped children as part of a nationwide child identification program.
Begun in 1997 by the Grand Lodge of Florida based in Jacksonville, the Florida Masonic Child ID Program focuses on prevention by providing child identification kits to parents or guardians to have on hand should their child go missing.
Each Masonic district conducts its own program; however, the Low XII Riders based in Milton was asked to attend the Kid’s Day event outside its district by Holt’s assistant fire chief, Michael Peterson who is also a member of the motorcycle club.
Each volunteer who works with the program must go through a security background check by the Jacksonville, Fla., police before participating in the ID program, said Dave Danielson, Low XII Riders member.
Information collected includes the name and nickname of the child, his parents or guardians, a high-quality photo; any distinguishing marks such as scars or birthmarks; physical description; medial information such as allergies; contact information and fingerprints.
“Also included is a video of the child answering questions specific to him or her, such as ‘Where do you go when you’re mad?’ and ‘Who’s your best friend?’” said Danielson. The video provides voice description and body language and also information on where a child might go if he or she disappears unexpectedly.
Information is saved in an Adobe .pdf format on a DVD and given to participating parents. Once the DVD is turned over, the information is erased from the computers, said Danielson.
“No permanent records are maintained by the Masons,” he said.
The Low XII Riders conducts 12-20 identification events a year, Danielson said. By the end of Saturday’s two-hour event, 35 identification kits were completed and distributed.
Some parents return to the Masonic program each year, Danielson said, to update their DVDs as their children grow.
When a child disappears, it’s the first 24 hours that are the most important, he said. Having that information in one place makes it that much easier to help law enforcement locate a missing child.