KlaasKids strives to remain on the cutting edge of child safety. To that end, on July 23, 2011 we introduced a revolutionary concept in child abduction and exploitation response. The Polly Center, located in Pensacola, Florida is a proactive missing child resource center. It was created to provide a preemptive response network to serve families of missing persons. This regional resource center will also provide abuse prevention programs for children and services for victims of exploitation.
Responding to a missing person case is akin to communities responding to natural disasters. When a 911 call is placed reporting a missing person, the response must happen very quickly as time lost can be critical and even life threatening. So it is with natural disasters: communities must respond from the ground up. Currently, most communities have an emergency disaster response plan which consists of pre-planning and the identification of resources necessary to respond to a give disaster. The Polly Center will mirror that approach as it applies to missing person and human trafficking cases.
The concept behind the Polly Center is based on events that happened and surrounded my daughter Polly’s case in 1993. The entire community of Petaluma: business; churches; individuals; fraternal organizations all came together to assist in building the search effort for Polly. For the past 18-years KlaasKids has been responding to communities that are grappling with predatory or highly suspicious missing child cases. However, each time that we respond we have to invent the wheel all over again by locating relevant resources. With the Polly Center much of that work will already be in place and resources will be put on alert to respond as necessary.
A preemptive response plan includes creating key partnerships with law enforcement, businesses, civic organizations and churches willing to participate during the search for a missing person or willing to assist in the rescue and recovery of victims of exploitation these partnerships allow the Polly Center to create a response framework prior to a missing response or rescue attempt.
Currently, we have the support of local authorities including the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.
Several agreements have been established with key organizations. California based BeyondMissing will provide parents with a parent flyer tool. They will be able to upload pictures, fill out form fields and quickly create a professional English or Spanish language missing child flyer that can be shared via fax or email. The Florida Coalition against Human Trafficking will provide assistance in identifying and placing victims. The Gulf Coast Kids House, a Children’s Advocacy Center, will provide services to child abuse victims. Area Search and Rescue teams will provide professional services in the search for missing persons
The Polly Center is the brainchild of Brad Dennis, the KlaasKids Foundation National Director of Search Operations. Brad, who has more than 25-years of experience in search and rescue and crisis management, has managed search efforts for more than 180-missing and exploited children throughout the United States, including the community assisted search effort following Polly’s 1993 kidnapping. Most volunteer search protocols currently being used were developed by Brad during the search for Polly.
If KlaasKids finds success with the Pensacola based Polly Center we intend to replicate the template throughout the United States. We know that such an ambitious vision will be difficult to implement and will take time, but we believe that our children are worth it. Don’t you?