Duxbury offers to participate in mock child abduction training

This morning two Duxbury police officers will engage in a realistic simulation of one of the most chilling crises they could ever face: a child abduction.

Around 7 a.m. two of the department’s four Metropolitan Law Enforcement Council (MetroLEC) members, including Sgt. Kristin Golden and Officer Ryan Cavicchi, will respond to a dispatch from Norwood detailing the mock kidnapping of a child from one of their town’s neighborhoods.

Then, in their cruisers, they will rush from Duxbury and organize into respective units at an impromptu staging area across from Norwood's police station. The officers, under a four-hour time crunch, must then gather information, interview witnesses and ultimately locate the missing kid before the golden window passes.

Upon successful completion of the drill, MetroLEC will become one of only 19 nationally certified Child Abduction Response Teams (CART) and the first in New England. The unique team has been training for years. Today’s high-stress exercise is the only test left before official certification.

“When a team like this gets certified it shows that they are more professional and they can do the job well,” Norton Police Lieutenant Todd Jackson said. “And it benefits the whole region.”

For Duxbury’s MetroLEC officers, the mock kidnapping won’t be their first brush with a wide-scale emergency situa- tion this year. For nine straight days following the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, four Duxbury officers collaborated with state and fedral agencies to secure Boston area hotels, follow leads in the search for the Tsarnaev brothers and help transport President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden safely around the city.

As they were on that Monday afternoon, Golden and Cavicchi will again be ready for the call this morning.

This time, timing will be everything. It’s not only critical that the job is done well, but that it’s done well immediately. The first few hours after abduction are crucial.

According to a 2006 report cited by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, while murder is rare in the case of an abduction, 72.6 percent of abducted children who are killed are dead within the first three hours of their disappearance.

The Norwood Police Department has already briefed people in residential areas of the town that there may be officers walking door to door and a SWAT team securing buildings they believe may contain the missing child or abductor. The officers involved only know that a child will be abducted, but they don’t know when or where specifically within Norwood.

Canton Police Deputy Chief Hindlen said getting information out to reporters is a key step in locating a missing child - but it’s not always a simple task.

“Managing the media during this type of crisis, like you saw in Newtown, is its own special operation,” Findlen said. “If a child goes missing, we can’t do it without them. I don’t know why the adversarial relationship still exists.”

Golden will serve as one of the CART team’s coordinators while Cavicchi will participate from the K-9 squad. Duxbury Sgt. Dennis Symmonds and Officer Thomas Johnson were originally slated to join MetroLEC’s mobile operations unit but will instead deploy to a real event in Norwell assisting with an escort for a large funeral.

By noon, the drill will be over and a team of evaluators will assess the performance of each unit and individual member. A successful review doesn’t hinge solely on the return of the abducted child, though that is the ultimate goal. Perhaps more impor- tant is that the CART team will have the chance to build chemistry and get experience working together.

“If something like this really happens, at least they won’t go cold turkey,” Findlen said. “Practice makes perfect.”

Recalling the recent incident in Ohio, during which three women held captive in a basement for more than nine years were returned safely to their families, Findlen said this exercise was a particularly timely one. Abductions are especially painful for the communities they affect and Findlen wants to make sure MetroLEC’s CART receives as much training as possible.

Though large-scale mock abductions like this one are highly expensive to run, today’s training will provide Duxbury officers and dozens of others with a rare and important opportunity to specialize in an emergency situation that can have a potentially devastating effect on any town.

“Our goal with Metro is to help the community get through incidents like this,” Findlen said. “At the end of the day they still have to find this little kid.”