The Laramie/Albany County Records and Communications Center recently became the first law enforcement agency in Wyoming certified as part of the Missing Kids Readiness Project developed by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

The project promotes best practices for responding to calls of missing, abducted and sexually exploited children. Certification recognizes 911 call centers and law enforcement agencies for meeting essential training and policy elements demonstrating preparedness for responding to such reports.

"It gives everybody a sense of focus when the need arises," says Steve Morgan, public safety answering point administrator for the Laramie Police Department.

"When these best practices first came out, the Laramie Police Department was quick to adopt the practices," Morgan says. "This recognition just formalizes the fact that we've done so."

Morgan says all 13 dispatchers of the LARC Division completed training as part of the certification, along with Chief Dale Stalder, the assistant chief, Morgan himself, and dispatch supervisors.

"We reviewed our own internal policies and procedures to get the blessing and the certification," Morgan says.

Patrol officers and their command staff have also been engaged in the training, Morgan adds.

"The biggest challenge for us was getting all of our dispatchers on different shifts and different times of the day through the training and to successfully pass the test," Morgan says.

The training emphasizes the importance of certain pieces of information that must be gathered with a child is reported missing, abducted or sexually exploited, according to Morgan.

"It also emphasizes the importance of the speed with which the information is broadcast to the patrol officers and other agencies in the area," says Morgan.

The training was completed while employees were on-shift, Morgan says. Additional staffing was required to allow employees to focus on the training during their shifts, so the only cost was a small payroll increase while the certification was completed.

"Our dispatch staff really did an excellent job in getting the required education, and everybody passed with flying colors," Morgan says. "They have the full support of our administration and management team."

The LARC is now one of over 200 public safety answering point agencies across the country that have achieved the certification.

A news release from the Laramie Police Department reads: "Armed with the information, knowledge and operational resources gained through meeting the project criteria, the LARC is now positioned to respond more quickly, comprehensively, and effectively when a child's life may be at stake."