They came from across Colorado and Wyoming to be trained for the unthinkable: a child abduction. The Westminster Police Department coordinated with the Denver Division of the FBI to provide a Child Abduction Rapid Deployment (CARD) training for 60 police officers from Monday, July 17, through Friday, July 21. The highlight of the training was a field exercise where they simulated an abduction scenario with two boys reported missing in the Northpark neighborhood near 104th Avenue and Federal Boulevard.
“This is an intense and highly sought after training that the FBI hosts only a couple times each year at various points across the country,” said Sergeant Tim Read. “Since the Jessica Ridgeway case, Westminster has had close ties with the FBI and their CARD team. In fact, the Ridgeway investigation is now used by the FBI as a ‘model’ for how investigations of this sort are supposed to be conducted.”
The training provides officers with the necessary skills and investigative techniques to successfully respond to a child abduction incident. The training consists of both classroom and field training exercises.
The exercise started at The Crossing Church of the Nazarene, which was used as the muster point and command post. Officers learned about the two “missing” boys and the neighborhood where they were last seen. Officers then divided themselves into groups by task and headed to the neighborhood.
With vehicle checkpoints, neighborhood canvassing and neighbor actors providing information and leads, the scenario was designed to test officers’ abilities and lessons from earlier in the week. Officers talked with the families or neighbors, searched homes, open space and parks discovering suspicious items including the boys’ backpacks and bicycles. Other officers followed clues that led to obtaining surveillance video at local businesses, schools and homes.
FBI instructors closely followed the progress as officers came closer to tracking down the two “missing” 11-year old boys, who were played by one of the Westminster officer’s sons.
“The exercise is designed to be very realistic and mirror how it would actually play out,” said Sergeant Read. “We try to make organized chaos from chaos. With this scenario, we planted evidence and role-players to help lead to a successful reunification.” The scenario ended when the two boys were found and reunited with their families.
Over 100 volunteers including businesses, churches, schools and residents helped with the training by role playing and allowing access to their property. Westminster PD is extremely grateful for the community’s support and its partnership with other law enforcement agencies.