Kevin Sanchez, 11 and his brother Saul Sanchez, 9, gathered around their brother 9-year-old Sergio and watched intently as he sat in front of a camera and individually placed his fingers on a scanner to copy his fingerprints.
Several children like the Sanchez brothers went through the same process on Saturday at Walmart as part of the LEO (Law Enforcement Officer’s) Custom ID Digital Fingerprinting program — which helps identify a child in the event he or she goes missing or runs away. Saturday’s event was hosted by the Guadalupe County Sheriff’s Office.
When Ernesto Sanchez first learned about the program on Facebook, he said he had to bring his sons.
“I took them to eat and told them we were coming over here to do this,” he said. “I feel like if something happens in the future — you never know maybe a kidnapping or runaway — it’s the easy way to find out when I contact the police. It’s an easier way to try to look for them with these photos and prints. I feel safe for them.”
Jeff Davis, who also stopped by the table on Saturday with his daughters Elynn and Addison, thought the program was a great idea.
“We’d never done it before. I think it’s an awesome idea that we get to keep these. It’s really cool,” Davis said. “You never know what can happen. If you have this and if something does happen then you’re just one step closer to a better outcome. You never know.”
Those who stopped by the table were asked to fill out a sheet with their information while their children were photographed and their fingerprints were scanned. They were given a copy of the photo, prints and two identification cards to take home with them.
“The Sheriff’s Office has been doing this for quite a while, but we just got this brand new machine maybe a month ago so now we’re back in the community,” Guadalupe County Sheriff’s Deputy Chris Lynch said. “We’re just restarting the program.”
Mary Graf, whose 11-year-old daughter Hailey, participated in the program believes it keeps parents at ease.
“With today’s society — it’s crazy out there. It’s not just about little kids anymore they’re taking teens, adults,” Graf said. “I like to think the fact that when she goes to school they’ll have a quicker system to just get on it and go. The fact that they’re trying their best to keep the parents at ease while their kids are at school it’s even greater. What parents most feel at work is what can happen when their kids are not at home.”
Lynch said he encourages all parents to get their child in the LEO program.
“We’ll eventually set up more events at Walmart, HEB and library. There’s not specific times or dates, but we’re ready to get back into the community,” he said. “I would suggest parents do this so law enforcement can have a current photo and fingerprints on file. It’s a good program.”