A new program launched at Jenner Chevrolet on Wednesday offers parents the opportunity to get their children’s photos and fingerprints in case of an emergency.
The one-year program at the West Shore car dealership is intended as a free service to raise awareness and help families in creating a family safety plan.
“As a father I know that my children are one of the most important things in my life,” said Fred Jenner, general manager. “That we can help with the communities within Victoria, the Mainland, the rest of Canada and even North America, is an absolute great opportunity.”
Jenner partnered with Operation Kidsafe for the project. Kidsafe is a safety system based out of the United States.
The service is free and private, and is not linked to any sort of database. The software associated with the service is intentionally designed to only hold the information for one child at a time, to alleviate fears of databasing.
With the system, a child first has their photograph taken, and then has each of their fingerprints scanned digitally. The photo and fingerprints are then printed out on paper, which is then given to the parents to keep and give to the police if ever necessary.
“I know a little something about safety and I know some things probably some of you don’t want to know,” said Kidsafe founder Mark Bott, who has worked as a child safety advocate for over 15 years. “I have seven children of my own. This is a focus for my life.”
West Shore RCMP Kathy Rochlitz said while child abductions in Victoria are rare and she’s hard pressed to remember one since Michael Dunahee disappeared in 1991, any up-to-date information is useful should the worst happen. The information is also handy for runaway children, with a recent photo being an important tool in locating missing persons.
“We like to see anything positive in regards to childhood safety, and this is a great initiative,” Rochlitz said. “It helps us because they’re able to provide that information to us quickly in a time of stress. … As much information as possible is always better for us.”
“I think it’s very important,” said Nadine Nesbitt, whose father works at the dealership. Nesbitt brought her two children down to get their fingerprints taken. “If anything was ever to happen you would want some sort of recourse to go back on. I think it’s important for everybody to do it.”
Sooke School District chair Wendy Hobbs said information about the project will be put into all the school newsletters to make sure parents are aware of the service.