DES MOINES, Iowa-- The family of Elizabeth Collins pushed for the state to form a new Child Abduction Response Team or CART.
The 8-year-old girl was abducted with her 10-year-old cousin, Lyric Cook, in Evansdale in July 2012. Hunters found their bodies in December of that year.
“Drew and Heather Collins have taken their tragedy and really turned it into sharing information to make sure it doesn't happen to another family,” said Waterloo Police Investigator Stacy Hesse.
Hesse is one of more than 120 officers in Des Moines for training on the program. She will be one of the CART coordinators in eastern Iowa. The teams of trained investigators and searchers can respond anywhere in the state at a moment’s notice.
“The Collins family really helped kind of get this going and get this coordinated because there really was a need. The most important thing we can do is protect children and this is one way that we can go about to bring these kids home safe,” Hesse said.
When needed, the CART trailer is a mobile command center. It is equipped with the tools and technology that law enforcement needs to conduct and investigate a missing child case.
Officials say the program is a “force multiplier” to find and bring kids home.
“Hopefully, it never happens again, but chances are, it will so we want to be prepared when that does happen,” said SAC Mike Motsinger with the Iowa DCI.
CART can respond even in cases where an Amber Alert has not been issued. The team will deploy at the request of local law enforcement, but is encouraging the public to ask for their help.