Balloon Launch Held To Remember Missing Ohio Children


UPDATED: Friday May 24, 2013 5:25 PM

On the eve of National Missing Children's Day, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine says he's reorganizing the Missing Persons Unit in his office.

"In 2011, I made a decision to move the victims section over to BCI," said DeWine. "I did it, because I want to put more emphasis on it."

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is located in London, Ohio.

DeWine says five employees will be affected. Two of them have already relocated from the Columbus office to London.

"We want to put them in the same place, and we've just completed that," said DeWine. "We have the criminal intelligence people working side by side with the new unit we created a year ago to focus on child predators. This missing persons unit will be there as well, because a lot of these cases you need to pull these resources in."

On Friday, DeWine joined students at Columbus Preparatory Academy as they released 690 balloons, one for each of the missing children in Ohio.

The AG said that a total of 19,219 reports of missing children were made in Ohio in 2012. Of those children, 98.8 percent were recovered safely.

Officials also urged parents to work with children on ways to stay safe.

  - Teach children how and when to use 911
  - Walk their route to school and point out landmarks and safe places to go
  - Remind children it's OK to say no if they feel scared or confused
  - Practice 'what-if' situations

According to the Missing Children Clearinghouse annual 2012 report, 72 family abductions and 12 non-family abductions were reported in Ohio.

There were also 62 attempted abductions. Of those incidents, officials said 53 percent of the children were able to walk or run away without contact with suspects.

DeWine says no one is losing their job in the reorganization.  Employees who don't want to relocate to the London office will be reassigned.

"We're trying to take it up to a higher level," said DeWine. "We still have too many kids out there who are missing. I think we're going to get some amazing synergy.  When you can be working on a case, get some information and walk 20 feet to somebody else who may have some expertise to help find that person, that's what we want."

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