Chief Deal: If kidnappings occur, EPD would act quickly

By Greg Miller

If a child kidnapping incident such as the highly-publicized events of recent months were to happen in Elizabethton, Roger Deal, the city's police chief, says his department would immediately spring into action.
   "We would send officers to the scene," Deal said. "As information came in, in most cases we would get it out to the media, to use it as a resource, to get information funneled back through us to a command center that we could set up to handle the calls, send leads to investigators, and so forth."
   An army of volunteers would also probably be called into action, according to Deal. "Deputy Chief Shell and I have had some preliminary discussions about setting up this kind of program to utilize volunteers and see how we could expand any search for abducted children."
   Time is of the essence when looking for a kidnapped child. "The more time that passes, your chaces go down of getting your child back safely," remarked Deal, who said the first three or four hours are critical in the searching process.
   The media, Deal says, "is a vital part of the recovery and rescue plan, because that's the fastest way to get the word out." He hopes that local broadcasting outlets would air announcements about the abduction at least hourly.
   "A lot of drivers would be listening to different radio stations," he said. "We would want to get that information out as quickly as possible, to have more eyes than we have here out looking.
   "We would want to utilize that," he said, "because I feel like that is a vital part of a tool that we could use, and if we didn't, we'd be shooting ourselves in the foot."
   The City of Elizabethton, Deal said, has an agreement with Charter Communications to have a government information channel. Hopefully, within the next month or so, "we will be showing everything, similar to Johnson City's channel," showing road construction locations, etc.
   "We'll also have crime tips, prevention tips, fire safety tips, basic general information that we want to get out to the media, as well as the common household. So I think that's another step in the right direction."