Dubuque County Adds "A Child is Missing" System

By Katie Wiedemann, Reporter

A poster with photos of Lyric Cook-Morrissey, 10, and Elizabeth Collins, 8, who disappeared in Evansdale last Friday, adorn a utility pole across from the entrance to Meyers Lake in Evansdale, Iowa, Monday, July 16, 2012. Their bikes were found Friday afternoon near a bike trail at the edge of Meyers Lake in Evansdale. (AP Photo/Waterloo Courier, Brandon Pollock)

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By Katie Wiedemann

DUBUQUE, Iowa - Dubuque County is changing the way it handles missing child reports. The county is now using an alert system called, "A Child is Missing". That system alerts communities when any child, mentally ill, or elderly person disappears.

Terri Wainwright, of Dubuque, is collecting signatures for "the cousin's law". In an effort to help police issue alerts earlier in the event of a missing child search.

Wainwright is the great-aunt of Lyric Cook and Elizabeth Collins, two cousins now missing from Evansdale for more than two months.

Wainwright said, "I think 'A Child is Missing' is fantastic and it will be basically supplemental to when the cousin's law goes into effect."

When the Black Hawk County cousins first disappeared, Dubuque County Sheriff Don Vrotsos decided to make a change to his county's missing child alert policy.

Vrotsos said, "if they have a missing child we can't always use the Amber Alert because the Amber Alert is more restrictive. They're going to know we are out there doing what we can to immediately find that child."

In order to send an Amber Alert law officers must know the child is in immediate danger. Until now, Dubuque County relied on that system. Using the "A Child is Missing" system, Vrotsos will send out an automated landline telephone message. Vrotsos said, "they will put it out to approximately 1000 individuals per minute who are living in that geographical location."

Wainwright encourages anyone and everyone to sign up to get those alerts sent to their cell phones. She said, "it's positive. I wish it was something that would have been in place when our girls went missing."

At 1000 calls per minute Vrotsos says the system should be able to hit a lot of homes in a short amount of time.

You can visit the website for "A Child is Missing" here.

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