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Thompson celebrates Senate passage of bill to create child abduction response teams

Thompson celebrates Senate passage of bill to create child abduction response teams

OKLAHOMA CITY – Sen. Roger Thompson, R-Okemah, on Tuesday secured unanimous support in the Senate for his bill that would ensure a quick and coordinated law enforcement response when a child is abducted.

Senate Bill 1407 authorizes the creation of child abduction response teams that would rapidly engage all levels of law enforcement when a child age 15 or younger has been abducted. Under the bill, law enforcement would be required to contact the Oklahoma Counter Terrorism Intelligence Center within four hours of receiving a verified report of a child abduction.

Although some child abduction response teams have been operating in an unofficial capacity in Oklahoma, SB 1407 would appropriate $300,000 so the state could hire someone to coordinate the teams and develop rapid-response strategies in conjunction with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, the Department of Human Services, local sheriffs, district attorneys, police, tribal law enforcement and other law enforcement entities.

Thompson said he came up with the idea after last year’s highly publicized search for 4-year-old Athena Brownfield, of Cyril. The weeklong search for the missing girl ended in tragedy when law enforcement officials discovered Brownfield’s remains. Thompson officiated Brownfield’s funeral.

“This bill aims to give law enforcement all the tools they need to find a missing child as soon as possible,” Thompson said. “A quick law enforcement response when a child is abducted can mean the difference between life and death.”

“SB 1407 does not make any changes to local jurisdiction, it simply deploys resources and encourages law enforcement entities to work in tandem when a child is abducted,” Thompson said.

Thompson said SB 1407, which would also authorize law enforcement agencies to utilize automated license plate readers during their search, is based on child abduction teams formed in Georgia. He said he’s discussed the bill with members of the Oklahoma Sheriffs’ Association, Oklahoma Highway Patrol and Oklahoma Association of Chiefs of Police in the hopes of coming to a consensus.

After passing the bill on the Senate floor, Thompson recognized child abduction survivors Corri and Jessica Patterson, who are both graduates of OSU-OKC. Georgia’s child abduction response methods led law enforcement to find Jessica Patterson within two hours of her disappearance. Her sister-in-law Corri was not so lucky. Corri Patterson is a human trafficking survivor who was abducted at age 13.

Thompson’s bill is now eligible to be heard in the House where it is co-authored by Rep. John George, R-Oklahoma City.

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