LAKE TOWNSHIP, Ohio — After receiving a tip there was a possible runaway, missing juvenile, the Lake Township Police Department sprang into action and found the juvenile at a local hotel.
“Once we ID'd him, we talked to him, and he was transported to the Wood County Juvenile Detention Center that way he’s in safe hands, you know, at that point and they can work on figuring out where he’s going to go for safety from there," said Sgt. Matt Simon of the Lake Township Police Department.
The juvenile recovered is the first in the new Missing Children Program within the Lake Township Police Department.
Two officers with Lake Township recently specialized in anti-human trafficking training and brought back ideas to help identify those in danger. One of those ideas is a binder.
As Simon showed NBC 24 the binder of missing children, he explained, “If they are in this book or on the poster.. They’re still missing.”
The missing juvenile the police recently rescued was a part of that binder and that’s why police officers were able to recognize him.
“The hotels and the truck stops are huge around here. This is a big hub for that kind of thing, you know, runaways, missing's, sex trafficking, drug trafficking, it’s like a major river that flows through Lake Township. This is just helping us become a little bit more proactive," Simon said.
When speaking about the use of binders in finding missing children, Dr. Celia Williamson, the executive director of the University of Toledo's human trafficking and social justice institute, said, "The tactics that they’re using are very progressive and I wish all communities actually operated the way that they’re starting to operate now because they have the potential to change the life trajectory of a young person."
While the police have not ruled the missing juvenile was being human trafficked, they are looking deeper into the case. The Lake Township Police added every day they work to learn something new regarding their training and they are watching.
“You have to be able to be willing to learn every single day and change your ways or, you know, adapt because there’s no way you can know everything," Simon said. "We are watching the truck stops, we are watching the hotels, and we’re vigilant on what to look for.”