Sparta police giving parents a digital tool to protect their children

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:13

    Sparta-The Sparta Police Department is offering a service that it hopes will never have to be used. By giving child identification kits to Sparta residents free of charge, the department is arming parents with the tools needed to help deal with the unthinkable n a missing child. Included in each kit is a compilation of a child's fingerprints, photos, and description that includes weight and height, as well as emergency contact information. By participating in the program, parents of children three years of age or older will have quick access to the information in case of an emergency. "I would highly recommend it for the peace of mind that it gives you," said Cathy Chute, a Sparta mother after receiving the ID kits for her two daughters earlier this month. The data collection, which takes about 10 minutes to complete and is performed at the Sparta Police Station on Main Street by appointment only. Sergeant Mark Rozek, who creates the kits, is currently arranging appointments with parents to coincide with his work schedule. Rozek said that interested parents should visit the project's Web site at, where they can download a fingerprint enrollment form. Parents will then be able to fill out the information at home before arriving at the police station for their scheduled appointment. Each kit contains an emergency information sheet, two ID cards and a CD containing all of a child's personal data. The ID cards can be used to protect children in public areas like malls, where they can easily be separated from their parents. Rozek emphasizes that the department does not keep any of the information collected from children who participate in the program. Although the information is collected digitally on the township's computer, the information is deleted after each kit is completed. Sparta's Finest plan to run the program indefinitely, and will continue issuing ID kits as requested. "What makes this possible is a joint effort between the township and police union," said Rozek. "We use the township equipment, and the Fraternal Order of Police is providing the consumable supplies." The sergeant expects that the program will "really take off" now that school is out for the summer. Parents wishing to set up an appointment or who have questions regarding the kits can contact Rozek directly at (973) 729-6121 Extension 240.