Attorney General Jeff Landry, Iberville Sheriff Brett Stassi distribute child ID kits

Staff Report

An envelope Iberville Parish K-5 students brought home last week could help their parents or guardians in a situation they hope to never endure.

State Attorney General Jeff Landry and Sheriff Brett Stassi, seen here with MSA West director Stacy Blanchard, issue child identification kits to Iberville Elementary MSA K-5 students during a ceremony Friday. The students are asked to bring the kits to their parents or guardians to log information they would need in the event the kids turn up missing.

The Louisiana Attorney General’s Office and Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office joined forces last Friday to distribute child identification kits for students.

The first round began Iberville Elementary MSA West.

The free, easy-to-use kits are designed to help Louisiana families reunite after an abduction or a runaway.

The 350,000 kits are being delivered by each parish sheriff’s office through school resource officers.

Every 40 seconds, a child goes missing in the United States.

“When a child goes missing, time matters and it’s often hard for parents to think about all the information the law enforcement needs to quickly locate their, and we don’t want them to have to be thinking about all of that in such a distressed time,” Attorney General Jeff Landry said. “The sooner law enforcement has the right info, the sooner they can locate the child – and the better the chance is for safe recovery.”

“These kits help folks like me, and the sheriff, be able to locate you or your friends in the event you turn up missing,” he said. “One of the most important jobs we have every day is ensuring the community and neighborhoods in the state and parish you live in are safe.”

Through help from corporate sponsors, the AG’s office purchased 350,000 kits for distribution to students in grades K-5.

“We’d really like to have one for every student in Louisiana,” he said.

The kits provide 80 percent of the information law enforcement needs.

“We don’t want parents having to think about all that during such a distressed time,” Landry said.

The Child ID kits – provided at no cost to Louisiana families due to sponsors including American Electric Power, Ochsner Health, and Our Lady of the Lake Health – contain an inkless fingerprinting kit, a DNA sample collection, physical identification information, a place for a recent photo, and easy to use instructions.

The information parents provide will not be entered into a database. It will be stored in the security of their own homes, Landry said.

Once the kit is complete, parents are urged to keep in a safe spot in the event the child turns up missing.

The sooner law enforcement has the proper information, the sooner they can use it to locate the child, with better chances for a safe recovery, Sheriff Brett Stassi said.  

“This is something we hope we never have to use,” Stassi said. “But when a child is missing, it’s too late to come up with that information, so it’s better to have it and not use it rather than not to have it when you need it.

“I can’t imagine how a mother and father feel when a child their child is missing, but if they get that ID kit that the Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office with the help of the Attorney General’s Office, you can get that envelope and save us time – and time saves lives.”

MSA West director Stacy Blanchard said she knows the value of the kit.

“As a mother of three herself, I’m thinking what I would do if something like that would happen,” she said. “Just having that kit as extra resource is important because anything can happen at the blink of an eye.”

All K-5 students parishwide will receive the kids from the Sheriff’s Office, Iberville Parish School Superintendent Dr. Arthur Joffrion said.

The National Child ID Program celebrated its 25th anniversary last year.

The program was created in 1997 following the abduction and death of Amber Hagerman, the namesake for the AMBER Alert. More than 75 million child ID kits have been distributed nationally via public-private partnerships since the program began.