Eight-year-old abducted from Castle Pine Safeway? Don't worry -- it was only a test

Yesterday, the Douglas County Sheriff's Office received a 911 call about a missing child: An eight-year-old had been abducted from the Safeway on 560 Castle Pines Parkway. Patrol deputies and detectives promptly retrieved a video of the abduction from a Safeway surveillance camera, and both the victim and the suspect were located in under three hours. Why didn't this story make more of a splash? Because the eight-year-old was an actor.

The DCSO partnered with Safeway and other local businesses to conduct a mock child-abduction field exercise -- the first in a series of planned training sessions. The goals include further developing a Child Abduction Response Team (CART), as well as establishing a nationally certified Amber Alert unit through Fox Valley Technical College. There are currently no other certified CART agencies in Colorado.

"Time is of essence" when it comes to child abduction cases, says Sergeant Ron Hanavan, public information officer from DCSO. "We want folks who are knowledgeable in what they're doing, so they can do it with minimal delays...because every minute that goes by, the child is in harm's way."

CART is a multi-agency team made up of members from the sheriff's office, the Douglas County District Attorney's Office, the Colorado Bureau of Investigations, the Department of Human Services and Douglas County Schools. CART was launched two years ago, and the agency has been training for yesterday's exercise for more than two months. The trial is currently under evaluation to determine the proficiency of the team's response strategy.

"Overall, I think it was a successful day of training," Hanavan says. "The bottom line as a professional organization is we need to look at the things we do well and what we need to improve upon so we can continue to better ourselves, which ultimately betters our community."

More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Jose Garcia, who prompted Amber alert after 9-year-old went missing: Serial child molester?"

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