Eau Claire (WQOW) – On Wednesday, law enforcement trained on how to handle a parent’s worst nightmare – a child abduction.
Law enforcement wanted Wednesday’s child abduction training to feel like the real thing. They even had an actor playing the missing child’s mother and an actor playing the role of the suspect.
It is all to help law enforcement train for the unthinkable.
Detective Don Henning with the Eau Claire County Sheriff’s Office said investigators combed the campground – searching for where the child went and anything that seemed out of place.
“So, you can only imagine in a campground they may collect hundreds of pieces of evidence, and then it becomes the task of whittling down what is really important and what is not,” Henning said.
It was not just law enforcement training on how to respond to a child abduction. It takes a full crew of people to help with the search.
Probation and parole along with multiple child protective services also play a big part in the search for missing children.
“As a forensic interviewer our job is to interview kids in a developmentally appropriate manner and gather facts,” said Kayla Lauderdale with the Chippewa Valley Child Advocacy Center.
Officials said the training is invaluable for everyone involved in the search.
“As we know around the country and around the world, children get abducted frequently,” Henning said. “It is important to train so that we’re prepared for if something like that were to happen in our community.”
Henning said the most rewarding part about being on the child abduction response team is being able to reunite a family.
“Finding a lost child, finding a child that has been taken away from their parents or from their rightful caregiver and reuniting that child with that family safely and healthy. That is the reward,” Henning said.
The response team hosts the training every year.
After Wednesday’s exercise was complete, the team discussed what went right and what improvements need to be made to better the response to the situations.